Keepin’ It Classy

I came across this somewhat provocative piece over at New Geography. It makes the case that U.S. “progressives” long ago morphed into a Tory-esque movement committed maintaining an established social order and antagonistic to the middle class and mobility. I don’t agree with all of it but it aligns fairly well with what I’ve been thinking (and saying) for years.

I would add the structure of Obamacare to the list of evidence. I personally know people in the individual market who have seen premiums rise sharply for much weaker coverage. Who are these people? They are all in a very specific, powerless niche:
1) Self-employed or working for a small company. They have no representation.
2) True “middle-class”, earning just a bit over the subsidy threshold. They have no economic power.

I did a back-of-the-envelope on one couple that I know (not some TeeVee shills) and found that the premium rise – from about $8,000/yr to about $13,000/yr along with lower coverage – will eliminate their ability to express the qualitative aspects widely understood to represent “middle class”: No more dinners out every month or so, no more two regional (driving distance) vacations each year. Things like that – unless they want to raid their modest retirement savings.

Meanwhile carried interest carries on. Absurd IP protection is handed out like candy and extensions granted to powerful interests. Various schemes to support the creation and perpetuation of dynastic wealth abound.

Anyway, worth a quick read.

I would take issue with the closing line “Until traditional social democrats awake to realities, or the GOP acknowledges the painful reality of class, America will continue to lurch towards the very Tory model that our forefathers had the wisdom to reject throughout most of our history.” I think the GOP knows the score very well. The GOP rank and file include quite a number of people whose primary and most urgent concern is preservation of social order, in particular hereditary rentier entitlements and advantages. Their commitment to a “middle class” is simply a means to an end – keeping social stability and providing a useful bulwark against change.

 

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