Saturday, November 28, 2009

What Ayn Rand and Reagonomics Mean to The Poor

Money. It's What I Want?
By Joel Straley

The tea-baggers have spoken! Tax cuts for the rich! And its about fuckin' time!
But why, screaming lower middle-class laborers, should we cut the taxes on our nation's wealthiest, most prosperous and, by default, hardest working Americans?

The answer was brought to us by a Hollywood actor turned pandering politician, so as you can guess the shining example of what it takes to become a Republican Leader. His name was Ronald Reagan. Always one for modesty, Reagan used his economic wisdom to create Reaganomics (a phrase coined by Radio Personality Paul Harvey, you believe that?) based around the trickle down system. Which is very similar to tea-bagging but in sort of a reverse manner--so think of it as Washington helping the rich to Teabag you.

While America is hardly an example of pure capitalism with its constant bail-outs and use of socialist and even communistic rulings to secure the wealth of its ruling class, I have decided to use it as such since it is the strongest example out of the worlds leading superpower(s) (This is assuming someone out there still considers America to in fact be a Superpower).

To represent the perfect example of how prosperous an individual can be in a capitalist system (also referred to as 'achieving the American Dream') a citizen must be born and/or raised in impoverished conditions and then rises to a higher level of economic status through determination, hard-work and/or a combination of ingenuity and luck.

While nepotism, whether be within a family or an elite social circle, is common place in capitalism and the rewards of which exists in all aspects of American culture, it is for good reason not normally viewed as being a positive attribute to the American capitalist system. Surprisingly, contrary to the way American capitalism is currently run, nepotism is the greatest negative attribute in capitalism when viewed threw the spectrum of Reaganomics or Ayn Rand's objectionism.

In a purely capitalistic society nepotism cannot be avoided as the rich will generally maintain a stronghold of much of their wealth until their death thus securing the prominence of their family name within elevated social circles for generations.

This has lead to many complications on how capitalism should be controlled. One of the strongest examples of this is the "Estate tax", which in the 1990s was occasionally referred to as the "Death tax". This was changed once republicans realized many Americans supported an Estate tax since most Americans didn't own an Estate. But since most Americans don't want to be taxed for dying they were against the Death tax..even though it is completely synonymous with the Estate Tax.

Today there are some concerns, most of which are extremely overblown and almost all of which are absurdly unfounded, that the government is attempting to conduct a "redistribution of wealth". Most of these concerns are from far-right conservative 'commentators' and their loyal band of unquestioning minion voters who are still upset that their policies of fucking everything in America up over the past 6 - 8 years (depending if Congress or the President gets most of the credit) cost them an election one year ago.

Ayn Rand suggest that we should praise and encourage the greed and selfishness that creates the determination within the individual to work hard and obtain wealth. Since wealth is not necessarily a pie of which everyone fights for the largest piece but is closer to being a pile where everyone is able to receive the amount of which they earn, hard work and determination will be greatly rewarded. (This is contrary to the idea that wealth is a pie and inflation relates to the accommodation of the individuals and the work they can obtain).

The ideals of capitalism and Ayn Rand's objectionism mainly appeal to the ever-growing constantly-consuming American middle class that is made up of 90% of Americas population (this figure would probably be accurate if a poll asked the question "Which class are you in?" and excluded stupid answers like "Trig. 101").

Reaganomics, which apparently makes a better 80's shit-rock band name than it does an economic stance, is based on one basic and simple flaw: That the rich will waste away their money. The basis of Reaganomics, or 'the trickled-down theory' or 'just because its warm doesn't mean its piss' is that the rich are just like you ... the poor, when the fact is they're not. That is why they're rich. Rich people know the value of saving money and spending money on assets rather than liabilities.

Reaganomics suggested that tax cuts for the wealthy would benefit everyone since the rich loved to buy expensive things (Yachts, mansions, golden unusable ipods) and thus it would benefit everyone as the poor would then work in factories making lots of money manufacturing all the crazy things the rich would now be more readily able to purchase.
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Essentially Reaganomics fools the poor into thinking that the rich view money the same way that they do. The fact is they don't. When the poor receive money, they spend it. This is generally a necessity as the poor are purchasing essentials like food and shelter and are relying on paycheck to paycheck. The hard-working determined Americans pulling themselves up by their boot-straps have saved money and work to save more so that it will accumulate into wealth. Since the poor wish to be wealthy, or at least appear so, they often forgo saving money to purchase contemporary luxuries that will have the appearance of wealth (iphones,flat-screen TV's,homes they can't afford).

This does not suggest that the rich do not buy ridiculous and needless bullshit,....they obviously do, but many earn too much money for their spending habits to have any affect since much of the rich have such profitable assets that it is hard to spend the profits fast enough (Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, Warren Buffett). The rich however are not spending money at the same rate or at the same proportion as much of the poor.

Tax cuts for the wealthy and perpetuating a society that praises the rich jeopardizes the very economic system that its supposed to be supporting. It is jeopardized because it creates generations who feel their wealth is deserved and thus lose the meaning behind the virtues of capitalism and self preservation.

It creates a generation of wealthy individuals who are addicted to power and success rather than a society of the determined and grateful. Since using others for financial gain is an ability one must master to be a member of the wealthy global elite many excuses must be made to hold onto this position. This ranges from Goldman Sachs using bail-out money to hand out bonuses to the CEO of Goldman Sachs referring to himself as "blue collar" and arguing that Christ wants him to be wealthy.

While such greed and power-lust reigns among the super-rich some of the moderately wealthy are active in lessening the divide between the upper and lower classes.

Ayn Rand is wrong in suggesting that the poor will praise the rich and will work hard to become one of them, but rather the lucky few that do become rich will in fact work hard to help the poor because they realize how fickle and reliant on others their own wealth is.

It is not that the poor will be envious of the rich and will therefore work with more determination and initiative, but it is rather that the some of the rich will fight harder for the poor knowing how reliant on others their own success had been.

This could explain why Hollywood tends to be so liberal while middle America tends to be so conservative. Conservative America has worked hard for its modest economic living and doesn't see it as fair to give up any of it to others, while many of the wealthy in the entertainment industry have obtained such an expansive amount of wealth they are forced to see the unfair division of it.

The one major difference between the economic philosophy of Ayn Rand and Ronald Reagan lies in the effects they're trying to achieve. Ayn Rand argues that the wealthy and prosperous ruling class will be an inspiration to the lower class and thus force them to strive to be more successful themselves. It is actually debatable whether the masses enjoy watching wealthy celebrities be prolific and succeed or crash and burn into a life of destruction.

Reaganomics suggest that with tax cuts for the rich, the rich ruling class will spend their money on things that the working class will have to manufacture; thus benefiting the working class and increasing their wealth.

Again, Reaganomics is based on the myth that the rich are "just like you", when in fact they are not. The rich have learned to create wealth by saving money and always spending less than they are taking in. This is why many celebrities who like to flash their money around usually end up filing for bankruptcy when the new lifestyle for which they have become accustomed cannot be maintained.

Ayn Rand's philosophy does have elements of truth to some degree as our capitalist culture does have a sick obsession with the rich. More specifically celebrities, who have gained fame and wealth through a process of talent and luck that has pulled them out of either the middle or lower class. This fame is misleading as hard work never has any guarantee of paying off, as any American working 3 jobs to make ends meet can tell you.

Current society goes on encouraging the interest in and thereby the fame of useless socialites, many of whom like the super-rich owe their success to nepotism, starring and grabbing at people living out our dreams of power and wealth and hoping that someday everyone will get their 15 minutes and we'll all be able to be our own Susan Boyle.

So for the love of America(!), don't tax the rich(!!)...because someday won't we all be rich and have all of our wildest dreams come true? For gods sake we even have a show called "American Idol", one of our highest rated television shows, that is based on the premise of offering anyone with the slightest bit of talent a chance at being rich and famous.

Is Rich and fame success? Aren't we also told by our wise elders that the best things in life are free? Well, give them to the birds and bees because the Beatles want money. Isn't that what we all want?

It is my belief that the working class would all kill themselves if they measured their success on monetary wealth alone. Were we not also told that money doesn't buy happiness and mo' money mo' problems?

So if the working class isn't happy without money and the ruling class isn't happy with money- then why are they happy? Eventually, even with an established career at any economic level, individuals of all classes measure their success and pride by their established families. It is through love and the raising of children that we reaffirm success and prosperity in an individual no matter what tax bracket they fall into.

Even this, at the smallest measurable scale, shows that wealth cannot be put in front of the lives of others. As it has been reinforced through characters like Ebenezer Scrooge, Bill Murray in Scrooged and Scrooge McDuck, even the wealthiest of individuals are surrounded by others for whom they would give all their money away to protect and care for.

Remember the Beatles reference I just made to wanting money, well, once they had it, didn't they sing "All you need is love"?

It is for these reasons that on any scale from the visions of Ayn Rand or Ronald Reagan the policies based solely on individualist determination cannot and do not offer the best system by which to nurture society as a whole.

Some may argue that it is in no way are the wealthy needed to be forced to nurture society, but since many have lived through the experience of the working class, we are lucky that some, although very few, do. Its not about wealth, its about caring for one another in an economy that is reliant upon every individual no matter what "class" they represent in a poll or on an excel spreadsheet.


1 comment:

Lucé said...

love it all, this was a delight to read and it made me miss you so much! esp. adore the accompanying pictures!