-Franklin D. Roosevelt
“The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”
The captions fully categorize the rather demure implication. All things weighed, and they were mostly weighed yesterday, 89 senators – a bi-partisan collection of liberals, conservatives and every other point within the gradient of extremes passed a payroll tax-cut extension, which would have given long-term unemployment benefits for nearly 3 million people. Never mind your subjective moral constitution at this point. Put that aside for now. We know the argument, which requires us to give all of our money to big business with hope that the goodness will trickle down thusly. We get it, but the proponents of said argument may not grasp the basic foundation of economics 101 – but let that slide for now. Despite what my fellow conservatives might think Anatole meant when he was conjuring those nasty bits in Emile Zola’s manifesto, I highly doubt he was worried about the malcontent, penniless hordes driving the rich minority under bridges.
Here’s what happened: Sophisticated conservatives not wanting to accept responsibility for tax-hikes attempted to abridge their differences with their left-leaning counterparts, and a compromise was reached. If you were like me, half asleep, at work, fading in and out of consciousness, budgeting those precious moments between the drive home, the last meal of the day and bed-time, you weren’t paying much attention to the general-assembly live-streaming its angst all over the interwebs. What happened shouldn’t have surprised us, really, because when the senate passed the tax-cut extension to the House, the Tea Party ass-hats proceeded to drown out the rational conservatives with due regard for racial division. That’s what this is all about, isn’t it? It must be – the Tea Party represents everybody that isn’t a minority.
Epochs generally define themselves by the relationships to their anxieties. This was never about the constitutional writ of law. For the Tea Party, this has always been about the very real fear of the minorities becoming the majority – of a small minority of paranoid white folk fearing the loss of majority rule in the body politic. And if this terrible imbalance never happens, then the next best fear is becoming a minority in prevalence.
The argument was that the money would have been coming from Social Security. Capital Hill liquidated itself for the holidays after the initial vote, and Obama went on record saying, “the issue right now is this: the clock is running out. If the house refuses to vote for the senate bill, or even allow it to come up for a vote, taxes go up in 11 days.”
If the Tea Party cows everyone in the House into not voting through the extension, the payroll tax-cut that has been working all year at 4.2% is slated to return to 6.2% on January 1st, meaning that our bi-weekly paychecks will be $40 dollars smaller. That’s a tank of gas. That’s a week worth of groceries or something. That’s apparently $40 dollars more that us middle-classers can spare than the business-owners, bankers, and shareholders. Lo, the free-market ideology – corporate America will take our $40 and use it to create new jobs, secure bonuses, better benefits and better wages for its working class. Why not just shave off a little of that profit margin and let us keep our $40 dollars outright? If they are trying to teach us some lesson about immediate-gratification, I’m going to be very upset.
The point is that this absolutely humiliating movement in the House, this Tea Party, which was relatively harmless at the beginning, is really starting to shed light on the erosion of our body politic. They are giving conservatism a very, very bad name – a worse name, to be honest. They are making it irrevocably harder for us single-issue, non-partisans to explain ourselves.
This is essentially one-sided, unprovoked class-warfare. On the one side, you have a small cadre of loud-mouthed, know-nothing isolationists, and on the other side you have the rest of us face-palming ourselves, wondering at what point they’ll get bored and go away. The more I read about the Tea Party, the more unqualified their supporters seem. I’ve been uncharacteristically snobby and pretentious in this article so far, and to be fair I will admit that I admire their zeal. But don’t make the mistake of forgetting their blatantly racist underpinnings. Their ideology at the beginning was to try everything smear related at least once. They started calling Obama a closet Muslim, which graduated to him being a closet Kenyan, and at one point they were even saying that he was the bastard love-child of Malcolm-X. You can’t make this stuff up.
The Tea Party is really just hijacking an ideal which is centered round the unfair taxing of the colonists by the Brits, and rewriting the message to make it look as if it always applied to rich people emancipating themselves from the big, bad, mean ol’ gum’nt. Pardon my habitual framing, but either they have way too much faith in the goodness of greed and business, or they want the legal writ of law to be replaced with company policy. What’s the difference? Think of how much your job seems like a dictatorship. Sure you can quit at any time, but try paying the rent with righteousness.
What the trickle-down analogy doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge is the mechanism within business that requires it to increase its profit margin at all cost. It doesn’t matter how often their hearts are in the right place, they cannot allow themselves to compromise the foundation of their establishment, which thousands of peons like you and I rely upon. Business must, must reinvest in the establishment, and ration its profits before it ever has the capacity to trickle down its grace to the rest of us. Of course, in this fractional-reserve lending system, that capacity can never be reached. This is the fundamental flaw of the system. This infinite growth paradigm cannot allow businesses to be liberal with its profits, because you never know when the market is going to switch on its fecal ventilator. Either the Tea Party is simply too ignorant to know that, or they genuinely want to dismantle the United States government. Both options are horrifying as hell. Contrary to what most of my colleagues probably believe, I don’t think it’s the latter, if that’s any consolation.
If all things were equal, and even if everyone had the initial propensity for upward mobility – which we don’t – there will always be someone who loses. Always. In this never ending game of musical-chairs, it isn’t enough for the game to be fair – which it can’t be – the basic truth is that we have to take care of the losers too. Consider it the price of doing business. I hope the House can come to a similar conclusion before the end of next week.
Shane Lindemoen is an American author, journalist, and sometimes literary critic; he is also the National Affairs Editor of Secret Laboratory. Shane is a self-described “poor white boy from the east side who happens to read about politics and stuff.” In 2007, Shane won honorable mention in the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition with “Mount Airy”; he was also a finalist for the 2011 Glimmer Train Award with his short story “Lucretius.” He published his novel, Empire Dirt, in 2008. Visit Shane at http://www.shanelindemoen.com/.
E-mail Shane at firstname.lastname@example.org.