Thursday, December 04, 2014

Vulgar Marxism

To explain, this is not a post about vulgar marxism it is a post which consists of vulgar Marxism.

update: Illustration of vulgar Marx added (clearly aligned left not centered)

I have always been extremely hostile to Marx (this was due to my pathological nationalism -- Marx was less influential in the USA than other countries (back when he had any influence anywhere) -- for the same reason I also said that good cooking is not important).

But even I must be fair to him, and note that he would not ever have written something as simplistic as this post.

I am thinking about US politics. People keep asking what Democrats can do to convince white working and middle class Americans that the Democratic party is on their side. I keep writing that they can propose increasing the progressivity of the US tax code (a proposal also known as class war). A solid majority of US adults support increased progressivity. The Republican party is almost entirely focused on reducing taxes on the rich and on corporations. They also have acquired an interest in raising taxes on the working poor, the working class and the middle class. This is a shift. Reagan was an enthusiastic supporter of the Earned Income Tax Credit. George w Bush Jr (the evil one) signed a bill cutting taxes for the rich and also expandint the child tax credit.

The child tax credit benefits the middle class.

Limitations - The credit is limited if your modified adjusted gross income is above a certain amount. The amount at which this phase-out begins varies depending on your filing status. For married taxpayers filing a joint return, the phase-out begins at $110,000. For married taxpayers filing a separate return, it begins at $55,000. For all other taxpayers, the phase-out begins at $75,000. In addition, the Child Tax Credit is generally limited by the amount of the income tax you owe as well as any alternative minimum tax you owe.
Median household income was around $60,000 per year. people with much higher than median income get the full $1000/child. The credit is non refundable so I sure can't be called "welfare".

Republicans (and Reid and Schumer) were working on a bipartisan bill to make corporate tax breaks permanent without making the child tax credit expansions permanent. They are totally cruising for a bruising. Attempting to reach agreement on this bill was just one of many Democratic attempts at political suicide. Obama intervened with a veto threat (I do not consider this an adequate intervention given the gravity of the behavioral disorger -- I think that Reid and Schumer are also in urgent need of psychological care possible including major tranquilizers as they were clearly delusional -- but a veto threat is better than nothing).

OK Schumer, who said the ACA didn't do enough for the middle class while negotiation a bill whihc would eliminate all incentives for the Republicans to extend the 2009 expansions of the child tax credit also would need treatment for sociopathy, but unfortunately the only known treatment is the so called "primary" which is not available at the moment.

This leaves two questions. The first is why the hell to people in the lower 99% ever vote for Republicans and the second is why don't Democrats propose further expansion of the child tax credit financed by closing corporate tax loopholes and the carried interest loophole and higher taxes on incomes over $ 2 million a year ?

I think it is clear that Republican politicians don't know the answers to these questions. I won't bother finding links to quotes, but they express fear that the USA is nearing a tipping point when the takers outnumber the makers. I think they discuss the possibility that Democrats will begin to fight in a class war, because they know Democrats would crush them in that war if they fought it.

At the moment I can't resist writing that one explanation is that there might be extraordinary bourgeois class conciousness and solidarity. The strange pattern could be explained if almost all members of the upper 5% work together, sometimes sacrificing their personal interests, for the greater good of the upper 5%

Thus politicians refrain from recommending that the middle class fight back in the class war, because their respect for the subcultures norms that this must not be done is even stronger than their desire to win elections. Also, and very importantlly, journalists do not inform the public about current US tax policy, proposed reforms (and where the parties stand) or about where the US Federal budget is spent (hint not foreign aid). I think most of them are generally inclined to inform the public, but I wonder if their fear of unleashing the raging lower 95% (which would hurt the 96-99 percentiles while aiming for the top 1%) is stronger than their desire to do their job (and really I don't doubt that most journalists would, in general and if class interests are involved, prefer that the public be informed). I also think most of them vote for Democrats, but their desire that the Democratic party win is weakened by their fear of the raging red lower 95% of the US public which might raise the taxes they owe by say $500/yr (I am saying top tax rate up 5% times income $10,000 over the top bracket).

I hate to admit that Marx might have had a point there. I hate the vulgarity of my involuntary lapses into Marxism. But I just can't fully convince myself that there is, that there must be, any other hypothsis which is consistent with the available data. I certainly can't come up with one.

p.s. It is not easy for me to write the word "bourgeois" for at least 3 reasons.

1) I hate to admit that the USA is not a classless society.

2) I hate to admit that Marx might have had a point.

3) I don't know how to spell "bourgeois"

I am not typing it -- I am pasting after copying it to my clipboard. (well actually I copied "bourgeoi" by mistake so I'm typing in the s(. To spell [cntrl-v]s uh I mean "bourgeois", I googled a misspelling (I don't remember what exactly) waited for google to ask me if I meant to google "bourgeois" and then copied bourgeois to my clip board. I think this demonstrates not only my general contempt for spelling but also my particular hatred of Marxism.


Anonymous said...

I would like to understand this essay, but the writing is too much like an abstract puzzle to be sure I do. A non-puzzle summary would be appreciated.


Unknown said...

I think we can agree that he's ticked off to realize Marx knew what he was talking and writing about on ... something to do with capitalism.

In fairness, Marx wasn't always all that clear either.

Robert said...

I will try

Lindsay Berge said...

I see this as a bitter realization that there really is a bourgeoisie in the USA and it really is as contemptuous of the working class and indifferent to the welfare of the proletariat as Marx (and Engels) claimed.
It would be more pleasant to believe that the post-WWII equality was a natural progression rather than an aberration.
Of course, I may have misunderstood completely.

Anonymous said...

I think your post is quite understandable. The problem you cite won't disappear as long as it remains a realistic requirement to be elected that you must first be a millionaire. This guarantees a class-bias, even among Democratic, against the middle-class.

Reid and Schumer's moves were stunningly stupid, agreed.