Friday, December 05, 2014


I will try to explain what I was trying to write here 1. Many polls show that a solid majority of US adults are economic populists -- they think the rich and corporations pay less than their fair share of taxes.

2. Democrats keep asking each other how they can appeal to the White working class.

3. I think that Democrats can propose raising taxes on high incomes and cutting taxes on the middle and working class. This proposal has been made by Democrats in political campaigns for example by Clinton in 1992 and Obama in 2008. It seems to have worked. But I don't hear any such proposal. I wonder why.

Almost all Democrats don't propose middle class tax cuts (financed by increased taxes on high incomes, capital gains, and corporate income. Why ?

4. I also wonder how Republicans got their majorities in congress and Governorships in purple and blue states (include the two saphire blue states in which I have ever been resident). I am fairly confident that a large part of the reason is point 3.

5. I also can't help believing that if other people knew as much as I know, they would vote the way I vote (that is to say I am human). So I am attracted to the idea that they are misinformed and inclined to blame the mass media. In particular, I don't think they are informed about the effect of the policy platforms of the two major parties on their personal pocket books. Here I guess the most dramatic example is the absurd delusional median guess that the foreign aid budget is about 10% of the US Federal budget. I blame the mass media for not reporting the basic bread and butter facts again and again and again until voters are informed.

6. Elite commentators hate #SocialSecurityAndMedicare. Why ? Many villagers consider the budget deficit the biggest problem the US has. This is a view shared by the extremely rich. Why ?

7. All the elite behavior which seems odd can be understood as the result of a combination of the financial self interes and peer pressure.

the financial interest is obvious -- major contributors to campaigns are rich. Top commentators are rich (which I will define as income over 250000/ year not as income over $150,000/yr -- the median threshold from a poll). Publishers and CEOs of corporations which own networks are rich. There are rich reactionaries eager to pay people to argue against economic populism but no super rich financers of economic populism (I think the rich who care about the non rich and support higher taxes on rich people (Warren Buffet, Bill and Melinda Gates) try to help directly not by influencing politicians and commentators).

But I think the peer pressure is very strong -- that people fear that they will be called demogogues if they are populists (hell "demogogue" is Greek for "populist" and "popolares" is Latin for "demogogue").

Uh oh it almost sounds as I am saying that politics and the discussion of politics and policy is based on elite class interest. Importantly class interest not just narrow personal interest. A commentator can get very famous arguing for egalitarianism (see Krugman, Paul). Politicians can get elected president by promising to increase taxes on the rich and cut taxes on the non rich (Clinton, Obama). But such things aren't done often.

Oh nooooo I agree with Marx.

I hate Marx. I hate the Republicans, conservatives, conservadems, villagers, very serious people, third wayer, DLC and Pete Peterson for making me agree on anything with Marx.


Robert said...

I moderate the few comments I get. Just now I accidentally hit delete instead of publish and deleted 5 comments.

I will reply from memory

1.Why do I hate Marx ? In "Vulgar Marxism" I explain it has a lot to do with the fact that back when I started hating him, Marxism was rare in the USA (as it is) not so rare elsewhere (where it is rare) and strongly correlated with enthusiastic criticism of the USA. And I was a leftist USA USA USA nationalist. This lead to some cognitive dissonance.

2. I generally am inclined to argue that I shouldn't feel bad about not having read big books so I am hostile to most thinkers.

3. Marx was not a humble person and tended to critize others rather harshly. I don't like that.

I said almost no Democrats propose cutting middle class taxes. A deleted comment asserted I was wrong and provided a deleted url which included "grijalva". I said "almost no". I consider the House progressive caucus to be a subset of the larger set i call "almost no Democrats".

I didn't mean to write that the number is very small -- for all I know 10s of millions of rank and file Democrats support the blood red class war Clinton/Obama approach. I meant that such Democrats are almost completely powerless and almost completely invisible to the (rest of the) public. The House progressive caucus is completely powerless and almost completely invisible to the public.

The issue was electoral politics. Raul Grijalva regularly wins re-election. He has almost exactly zero influence on whether the Democrats win the Presidency or majorities in the House and the Senate, because very few voters know who he is or what he says.

I guess my writing was sloppy.

JimV said...

A recent post at Balloon Juice ( ) opened my eyes a bit. I was also surprised by how many people "vote against their interest" (e.g., electing idiots like GWB), but the post points out that (WI governor) Walker does deliver $100 or so in tax cuts yearly to lower- and middle-class workers, and all most Democrats do on the state level is promise not to do that. Or something like that.

Thornton Hall said...

You can choose to believe the media when they tell you who is important and who isn't when it comes to politics and government. But you shouldn't do that unless you are self-consciously willing to be grossly misinformed about such matters.

From Wikipedia:
"Of the 20 standing committees of the House in the 111th Congress, 10 were chaired by members of the CPC. Those chairmen were replaced when the Republicans took control of the House in the 112th Congress."