We don't want their heads. Just their sweet, sweet livers, and hearts full of easily assimilated Wealth Mojo.
I'd start by implementing a tiny tax on stock and bond transactions, with 100 free trades so we don't have to deal with the "what about ordinary people with 401(k)s" whining. Then gradually eliminate the privileged tax treatment of dividend and capital gains earnings.
You have to be careful there - just as dog livers concentrate fatal quantities of vitamin A, zillionaire livers concentrate affluenza. Just a touch of it and you risk ending up running people over with your yacht/porsche/polo pony and denouncing anyone who calls for minor tax increases as being worse than Hitler. I.e. you risk becoming incredibly divorced from reality. It's powerfully psychoactive stuff.
I wish the pitchforks were coming - metaphorically speaking, anyways. But I don't see it. Americans, at least, just aren't pissed enough, and we've been fairly successfully brainwashed into failing to see where the problems actually lie. So even some of the few who are pissed don't know what they're really pissed about (I'm thinking of the Tea Party, in particular). At least half the voters have bought into the whole "job creators" trickle-down nonsense. All the Republicans I know have been misdirected into blaming - amazingly - poor African-Americans for their problems. As long as we've got our bread and circuses, brainwashing and mis-direction, I don't see anything happening, and I'm afraid that when it does, the pitchforks are going to be aimed at the wrong targets.
Not going to happen.
Most people in working class have a firm ideal that they are simply temporary displaced millionaires...and only if goverment would stop holding them down they'd be the millionaires they where intended to be.
I thought of this while I was watching the movie Snowpiercer.
I recommend it. Not a lot of people have talked about the various economic theories, represented in the movie. Some of the ideas of Ayn Rand are very clear in the movie.
The power of the state to control the people is one issue. The other issue is the power to control the minds of the people. You can use guns for one, and words and ideas for another.
Several "zillionaires" have been spending a lot of money for years pushing certain ideas. They have been successful. The level of success exists on a couple of different levels.
1) Convincing a group of people that certain ideas like trickle down from tax cuts, still works. It have been prove wrong time after time however it keeps getting used (more recently in Kansas).
2) That "the market" is divine. That it is a force of nature and we the people serve it, instead of it serving the people. It is not a deity. It is a series of laws and agreements made by humans and can be changed by humans.
3) Any kind of regulation or moderation is a hindrance and that "the market" will fix any problems --eventually. And that the role of government is to "get out of the way." This idea can be deadly. I WANT regulation for my water, food and air. I also want it for work place safety.
When people say that they think some regulation is good but 'There is "too much regulation" if you ask them what they are talking about they will point to areas where what they think is "too much regulation" only applies to some. The companies who have money buy their way out of regulation, but keep bitching about it so that at the level of the "average businessman" they think it is too much.
And in some cases what might be onerous for the small business man is not onerous for bigger companies because they bought exemptions. (I'm thinking right now of USDA regulations on chicken)
The economic theories embraced by some of the rich are doing us economic, environmental and physical harm, but it is not the same as the pitchfolk violence that is feared by the rich.
Yes some rich are afraid for their physical safety, but what they are also afraid of is that some how their assets will be found out an seized. That is why they take steps to keep it hidden as well as change the laws so the gains are no longer ill-gotten.
Many also want to be understood respected and even celebrated. They want people to know that they aren't bad people. But because they have lived in a bubble for a long time those feelings come off as both tone deaf and cruel. I'm thinking of the comments from Perkins a few months ago.
What he really was feeling attacked about was a comment from the SF Chronicle about his Ex-Wives hedges and the suggestion that they be trimmed. I'm not kidding. He turned this into a whole "We are being persecuted" story.
I don't think he really understands anymore what real persecution is like.
I really recommend Snow Piercer it is violent and gruesome, but some of the lines and scenes at the end are really powerful.
And the zillionaires all replied "LA LA-LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU I'VE GOT MY FINGERS IN MY EARS LA LA LA-LA".
If things do not change there will be a tipping point and things will go all to hell. Revolutions are messy but change is not easy. Power is way too addictive...
I dunno about that. Lots of people have it a lot worse than us, and they don't act. People will eat a lot of s*** before they try to do something about it.
I give it anywhere from 3 generations from now to 100 years before anything happens. Violence isn't recognized as a legitimate action/response unless it's done by the State. Americans are well managed and completely docile. One time EIC of Marvel Comics Tom DeFalco once said (about comics) that it's all about the Illusion of change.
"America’s disaffected these days are more likely to vent their rage
behind closed doors as they shake their fists at Fox News or MSNBC and
leave cranky comments on websites such as this one."
"The politicians in Washington will find ways to spread the pain around
and America will muddle through. The rich will have to pay more, but
they’ll still be rich."
The government came close to panicking over OWS, and Tea Partiers believe it is some sort of national Manson family thrill-kill cult that will cut the throats of christian children.
Meanwhile the NSA will be keeping a close eye on the Quakers, you can be sure of that.
The pitchforks ARE coming. It's just a matter of time. It may not even be in your lifetime, but eventually it will happen because it is inevitable. And why is it inevitable? Because wealthy, powerful people are greedy and stupid. Yes, stupid. They would rather have all the money they can get their hands on than to think long term about maintaining a peaceful, productive nation. (Besides, they have a right to it all, don't they? After all, they earned it.).
When the wealth distribution gets even much worse then the common folks will eventually have had enough. After that it's all violence. Too bad rich people are so stupid.
I appreciate Hanauer's effort, but the oligarchs in the US have a pretty solid history of keeping the pitchforks outside their gates with a combination of manipulative political scapegoating, propaganda, and just enough tidbits thrown to the proles to keep them scrambling.
The danger is that we all imagine that we are rationale, while everyone else is not. We know that the financial sector was making individually profitable decisions, that when enacted on a large-scale led to a financial collapse. Somehow each individual imagined that they were the only one gaming the system, which was complete folly. Each of us, zillionaires and hundredaires, imagine that each day we wake-up, and move from one rationale decision to another. The evidence to the contrary is overwhelming, but we do nothing to protect ourselves from ourselves. Paraphrasing Dan Ariely, we have designed a world which takes into account our physical limitations (think stairs), but have done little to design a world to that compensates for our mental limitations.
How much longer can we continue on this irrational path? What will it take for us to recognize our irrationality? All I have is (unfounded) hope that we can change course before the bloodiness and ugliness gets beyond the tipping point.
Wasn't the internet supposed to fix all of this?
Some say it will never happen here but it already has when the colonists took up pitchforks against the British. Maybe we are now too complacent. I just hope we will be able to draw back from the edge of darkness before it comes to pitchforks.
Every generation feels like the revolution is coming. Thing is, revolutions are messy and always happen for reasons that are discernible after the fact. Most people during the American revolution couldn't even read let alone understand politics. When the time was right however, certain variables aligned and the people all agreed that at the very least, killing the British was what they should do.
Personally I think the problem is that Americans always blame other people for their problems. I blame the people who blame people for all the problems for all the problems.
I hear ten-percenters (on both ends of the economic spectrum) describe themselves as "middle class." American culture sees being poor as a personal, moral failing and I think all Americans have internalized that view to one degree or another. Moreover the poor who have bought into Republican values seen themselves as rich people in the making (so they don't want to see anything happen that might harm their future finances). A huge cultural change - hell, a whole series of cultural changes - would have to occur for Americans to recognize what's going on and assign blame correctly. My fear - my expectation - is that the pitchforks will come out, but it will be the poor (and what's left of the middle class) against the poor and middle class. A continuation of the diffused, internalized violence we see today rather than a revolution (violent or peaceful).
We won't because "we" can't. The only ones who can draw back from the edge are those holding all the power, and they won't. I suppose we could try by voting third party, but no one is going to do that.
Don't let them hear you say that.