GOP calls Obama tax plan “class warfare” but is it really just the underclass waking up?

It would be amusing if it wasn’t so cynical. Socialism has replaced liberalism as a GOP buzzword used to rally their own unwashed masses into a frenzy using a term most of them couldn’t define accurately. Someone should enlighten any Republican making less than six figures that he is part of the underclass too. And that includes Joe the Plumper.
Our professorial president is making an effort to explain to the majority of Americans just how rich the upper class has gotten on their backs. Most American’s think a million dollars is a lot of money. 
According to Forbes in the first 11 months of 2008 America’s 25 richest people lost $167 billion. 
I’m not sure whether the average American even understands that a billion dollars is a thousand million and any those who lost even half their worth still have enough wealth to live a life of incredible luxury.
Class warfare is supposed to be a scary concept. Perhaps we’re supposed to imagine a war between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, peasants and workers on a rampage storming the enclaves of the elite with  sledge hammers and sickles.
In fact this country has been engaged in a class warfare for decades only by and large the lesser classes never realized it because they had food on their tables, decent jobs and the banks kept extending them credit.
The upper class was so handily winning that they didn’t even consider it a war.
Now that the rest of America is waking up and realizing that the pressure they feel is coming from a shoe on their neck. They are looking up and seeing that it’s a $1,800  Berluti Rapiécés Reprisés.


  1. lorenbliss

    Hal, to use an old Appalachian metaphor (surely appropriate not only given Doug Thompson’s origins but the fact I spent about half my boyhood and a goodly portion of my misspent youth in East Tennessee), I think we’re singin’ different verses of the same hymn. Sounds as if we might be singing’ out of the same edition of the hymnal too, or close (mine’s dated 1940).

    Also I’ve got Michigan connections of my own: my late mother was from Grand Rapids, and the first newspaper I ever worked for was The Grand Rapids Herald, which unfortunately died in 1959.

    Like you I missed Chicago — only because by then I was the news editor on The Morris County Daily Record (Morristown NJ).

    Re Chicago, remember Time magazine’s wonderfully outrageous cutline on Daley’s mug shot? It was maybe the most bitingly sarcastic cutline ever –“Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley/Beat the Press and Mace the Nation” — and Daley raged about it for months afterwards.

    In any case, a genuine pleasure to chat.

  2. almandine

    Respectfully indeed…

    and my only hope can be that the vision you embrace proves fruitful, given the reality of the moment. Time will tell.

  3. Hal Brown


    I only said given his due. maybe I should have said given some credit. On Vietnam LBJ was a liar with a lust for war. He’s responsible for tens of thousands of American deaths and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese deaths.

    I don’t know enough to say whether he had good intentions on social programs and civil rights.

    I knew lots of people working at the lower levels of OEO funded programs and some were dedicated to helping and others just wanted to do as little actual work as possible to get a paycheck. I saw waste, fraud, corruption at the higher levels. I worked at an inner city youth center with a rough group of teenagers while in graduate school.

    We did get some federal money thrown at us with no oversight and I have to admit we blew some of it on a junket by bus from Lansing to Chicago where about 20 of our kids and my boss and I stayed at the Hilton.

    My boss and I went to night clubs and the guys bought liquor and stayed in the hotel and caused trouble. They even scalped the Aretha Franklin concert tickets we got them. Federal money at work!

    The staff thought we caused a disruption. The next week was the Democratic convention with the police riot right in front of the Hilton where Hubert Humphrey had rooms and is reported to have commented on being able to smell the tear gas as his pal Mayor Daley ordered the cops to smash heads.




  4. lorenbliss

    Difference in experience, Almandine, as well as difference in opinion: too many times have I witnessed people (including members of my own family) who did everything “right” — educated themselves, worked hard, saved and invested prudently — only to be destroyed in the end by the viciousness that is the core value of capitalism.

    Unless we are ruling class, our only security is in our ability to sell our labor. And under capitalism, those of us who can no longer sell it are effectively sentenced to death.

    Indeed this applies to most of my neighbors as well as to me: elderly men and women — people too old and crippled by aging and/or disability to ever again find employment; people whose pensions and lifetime 401Ks have been reduced to nothing by the collapsing economy; people who (like myself) are now damned to the horror and isolation of abject poverty for as long as we yet manage to remain alive — our wretchedness ending only in the miserable death of euthanasia by abandonment and neglect: capitalism’s final solution — the methodical elimination of those of us deemed no longer profitable — to which I will damn well not succumb in silence.

    Unless you are part of the ruling class, it can be done to you as easily as to anyone else, whether by sickness, by disability, by loss of job or by the characteristic and periodic capitalist economic collapse that loots working class savings and pensions and transfers even that wealth to the ever more (obscenely) wealthy plutocrats.

    Hence our differences: I reason from recognition of caste and class-struggle and the vulnerability inherent therein, (which to you is not only cowardice but surrender); you reason from the notion of a genuinely omnipotent self functioning in a realm of infinite opportunity (which to me is bottomless denial and absurdity). Disagreement indeed — though never less than respectfully expressed, which itself says a great deal.

  5. lorenbliss

    Thank you, Hal — though I disagree, rather strongly, on the notion of any credit due LBJ.

    Two points:

    (1)-Johnson’s was probably the greatest electoral fraud ever perpetrated on the United States: presenting himself as the peace candidate even as he and his henchmen were already plotting the totally bogus Gulf of Tonkin episode. The plotting (as we know now) actually started months before the 1964 elections. Indeed the evidence suggests LBJ’s pivotal reversal of Kennedy policy — from JFK’s gradual Indochina stand-down to LBJ’s escalation into full-scale but undeclared war — began almost the moment President Kennedy was declared dead. Hence the pledge of “peace” at the core of Johnson’s entire 1964 campaign was from the very beginning a maliciously calculated falsehood, as big a Big Lie as any of Hitler’s promises at Munich.

    (2)-I was intimately involved in LBJ’s so-called War on Poverty, and from three distinct perspectives: as a print journalist (writing about and sometimes photographing various aspects of it for newspapers in East Tennessee, New Jersey and New York City); as the social-documentary photographer portraying the patients in the ghetto-outreach clinics Manhattan’s Beth Israel Hospital operated as part of the federal Office of Economic Opportunity’s programs in NYC; as the press officer on an OEO community-organizing program in Washington state. The Beth Israel program functioned exactly as intended — it provided high-quality medical care to the victims of capitalism and no doubt saved many lives thereby. But too many other aspects of the War on Poverty seemed deliberately structured to facilitate maximum looting by politicians, a flaw noted by any number of journalists and every OEO worker I ever knew. Indeed the OEO scandal that toppled Rep. Adam Clayton Powell (D-NY) was merely the uppermost apple in an entire barrel of rotten apples. Ultimately my brief tenure as an OEO-program press officer in Washington state — a job from which I resigned in bitter protest — made it painfully clear the entire War on Poverty had been designed from the beginning to fail. Later still I realized these very failures had been cunningly intended to lay the groundwork for the War on the Poor (complete with its unacknowledged “final solution” of euthanasia by abandonment and neglect) that was waged by every successive president, Democrat or Republican, until now.

    Such is the real legacy — the Big Lies of peace candidacy and War on Poverty — of President Lyndon Baines Johnson.

    In retrospect, the only OEO program I ever encountered that was not corrupted (and indeed seemed truly incorruptible) was the Beth Israel project. Which demonstrates the huge difference made by a powerful commitment to the ethics of genuine community service — a commitment I found at every level of Beth Israel’s medical and administrative staffs, whether collectively or individually. These were people who, in every instance, walked the proverbial walk even more faithfully than they talked the proverbial talk. They were therefore the best people for whom I ever worked — best in every possible sense of the word.

    Nevertheless, again thanks for the acknowledgment.

  6. almandine

    Astute observation, Siannan –

    but I don’t play the lottery or roam the casinos… having spent one of my military years in Las Vegas, learning the “facts of life”. The joys of being young!

    You are also right in that many a person started out small and became wealthy… legitimately… working the American dream.

    However, the myth of the upside-down income tax rate bias is only that… a myth. For example, see the data for 2006 at:

  7. almandine

    Well said, loren, and while your emotional tone related to those Marxian terms comes through strongly, I need not turn away from your suggestion that I am of the bourgeoisie, i.e., somewhat educated and employed. I see nothing wrong with either, and in fact I’m proud of the strides I have made since a very poor upbringing, my own oath 40 years ago to defend this country via military service, and acceptance of my responsibility to become a useful citizen. In fact, I am only one opposing example of the “economic ruin methodically inflicted on the working class” you believe so universal. In contrast to your other supposition, though, obscene wealth has nothing even remotely to do with my status, and by not having it, provides me absolutely nothing regarding – utter protection from and thus absolutely indifference to – that supposed economic ruin. It cannot drive my views. Nor am I in denial of who I am and what my circumstances are.

    Mine is a fundamental difference of opinion. I believe in individual liberty and personal responsibility. I believe in living life, as much as possible, on one’s own terms, in one’s own way, and with as little interference as possible – both positive and negative – from the likes of The Big O and his kind. I do not believe in the cradle-to-grave social welfare state. I do not believe in the learned helplessness that type of life portends or the mindset of gimme, gimme, gimme, cause you got more. I do not believe in poor, poor pitiful me. Most of all, I do not believe in punishing someone else’s individual success to level the playing field or because I don’t want to get off my dead ass and get to work instead of waiting for the check to come. I believe that everybody, as much as they are able, needs to feel – and act in consonance – the same way.

    In sum, I think the Framers had it right. This is the land of opportunity to try and to succeed and/or fail. The land where your decisions are yours, not the government’s. The land of an American dream about equal opportunity – not equal outcomes. A land where you earn what you get and if someone else gets part of it, it is because you sold or gave it to them – not because it was taken from you. A land where individual accomplishment is the beacon of a person’s worth. Those values, not socialism or communism, are what made this country great.

    Yes, our country has been capitalistic for most all of its history… because until it was finally unmoored from the Constitutional requirement for sound money it functioned essentially as that system should. Capitalism – left unfettered – is the most efficient, effective means possible for distribuiting resources and meeting the needs of everyone. Capitalism, as a system, has nothing to apologize for.

    Now, are there problems with our current situation? You bet – and they need to be fixed in the quickest, most legitimate way. You are correct that our politicians (and bankers), in particular, have bastardized our laws, regulations, tax code, and market mechanisms in such a way that institutionalized theft-at-the-top is now the norm and not the rarity. Our system has become a crook’s dream. Our citizens have been bamboozled and need to throw the bums out and start fresh.

    But to turn from our proud heritage toward the Socialist pig-in-a-poke we’re being sold today turns my stomach… because all those beliefs I cited earlier will become only a long, lost dream. In fact, if the first 50 days are any indication… it will soon be the long, lost country too.

  8. Siannan

    I wouldn’t necessarily assume Almandine is obscenely wealthy based on the response provided. There are a whole host of low income republican voters who strongly believe the “death tax” should be repealed and taxes on the wealthy should be lowered because somewhere in their heads, they are going to be a member of this class someday. When that lottery ticket hits, then damnit they want to leave all that money to their kids without having to pay a “death tax”! How unfair that their windfall should be taxed when they get it, then taxed before the windfall is passed to their children to be taxed again! For shame on our greedy government for stealing from their windfall again and again and again, just because they spent $2 and won $250,000,000. They should be allowed to keep all of it.

    Meanwhile, they pay a higher percentage of tax on their $26,000 a year than Warren Buffett does on his earnings. Go figure.

  9. Hal Brown


    I agree with your analysis. I would only suggest that due credit be given to Lyndon Johnson for the Great Society ("War on Poverty", federal education funding, Medicare, Medicaid and the Civil Rights Act of 1964). Those who are our age often tend only to associate him with the Vietnam War.

    Great to have you commenting on my columns.



  10. lorenbliss

    Almandine’s response is especially useful in the context of this thread and deserves all our thanks. This is because Almandine’s response illustrates in microcosm the attitudes of the ruling class and/or those so hopelessly in denial of their own socioeconomic circumstances they identify with their oppressors.

    Those in such denial are known, in Marxian terms, as the bourgeoisie, and since my earlier reference to Marx undoubtedly disclosed my acceptance of the historical truth of class-struggle, I see no reason to suddenly avoid Marxian terminology here. That said, whichever Almandine’s caste, bourgeoisie or aristocracy, Almandine’s response is typical of those so obscenely wealthy they are utterly protected from and thus absolutely indifferent to — the beneficiaries if not the actual perpetrators of — the economic ruin methodically inflicted on the working class during the past 46 years: our near-total loss of political representation that began with the murder of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (the last President who gave a tinker’s damn about the well-being of working families); the Big Lies of social-service programs that in truth benefited only the very rich (like Medicare, in which the copayments are so high their sole function is to deny treatment and thus inflict euthanasia by neglect and abandonment); a workforce that despite a huge increase in productivity hasn’t been rewarded with a genuine raise (“raise” defined as an increase in disposable income) since 1973; the worst health care in the industrial world (to provide $37 billion in annual profits to the Sultans of Sickness and the Prescription Drug Lords); the worst public schools in the industrial world (to reduce us to the ignorance of Tsarist Russian Mujiki and thus ensure our Moron Nation malleability); the worst public transport in the industrial world (to guarantee our permanent enslavement to the Oil and Automotive Barons).

    But our greatest grievance of all is the wanton theft of our political representation and the empowerment of the thieves themselves. As a result we have seen the rise of politicians and bureaucrats at all levels that — in brazen defiance of the principles set forth in our Declaration of Independence (equality; unalienable rights) and in our Constitution (“the Blessings of Liberty”) — have methodically reduced the official United States into nothing more than the executive-action agency for the propagation of capitalism and the protection of its ruling class. Thus were our rights nullified; thus was our entire nation stolen from us.

    Once, 50 years ago, a young man and a soldier to be, I raised my right hand and swore an oath to defend — if necessary to the death — the very Constitution the newest disclosures of George Bush’s secret tyrannies prove beyond any doubt the ruling class intended to discard as if it were used toilet paper. Though I am old and physically broken — have been so for many years — I can still use my communication skills to fight on in fulfillment of that sacred oath I took at the moment of my enlistment, and I shall do so as long as there is consciousness left in my body.

    Now at last comes a man — President Barack Obama — I am increasingly convinced will lead us in taking back what is rightfully ours. As Mr. Brown says, the underclass is indeed awakening. Thank you, Almandine, for giving me the opportunity to make this point so clearly.