Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Modest Reminder of Your Place In Society

Imagine that you are a middle-aged, upper class person in America right now. You're doing all right. You're making good money. Your future's so bright you gotta wear shades. Your possessions are ego-gratifying. Your family is well-provided for. Your kids go to college and you and your friends and associates will be able to help them get beginner jobs that will lead to good careers. Your political candidate usually wins, or at least makes you feel like you are a winner. You have freedom and some leisure and eat very well. Naturally you don't want anything to change.

How are you to know you are special if you are just like everyone else, or at least the top percent of everyone else? As libertarian Brad Bird said in The Incredibles, if everyone is special, nobody is special. Most people must be below for a few people to rise above. There must be poor so some can be obscenely rich.
The problem is that growing numbers of people are experiencing the imperfections of free markets right now. The industries that supported their parents have disappeared. They see no path to the financial security that Americans once felt. So what if the market liberals are perfectly correct? So what if this impersonal system of specialization and exchange has produced the greatest flowering of prosperity, health and opportunity in human history? That's small comfort to those Americans who are not feeling prosperous or healthy. That's small comfort to the Americans who have lost opportunities while others have gained them.
Higher taxes could lower your social and economic standing, something that is all-too-likely these days. Free college would ruin the experience for everyone else; the schools would be crowded and an elite education would be far less prestigious and unique. Your kids didn't work that hard to let everyone else just waltz in. Income inequality, as Megan McArdle reminded us, is difficult to eliminate when the rich are very happy with their circumstances and see no reason why those circumstances should change.

This time is "the greatest flowering of prosperity, health and opportunity in human history." Nobody who counts wants that wonderful, perfectly balanced system to be thrown into chaos by socialists. Don't they know that the only thing keeping the mob and violent individuals from killing people is the firm hand of the upper class, enforcing the suppression of public anger, maintaining income inequality, and enforcing political impotence?

Added: Our elite tell us we live in a meritocracy while doing everything humanly possible to eliminate competition for themselves and their children.


Bob M said...

For some reason this quote comes to mind seeing as Megan thinks the current order is given to us by god -
"When Adam delved and Eve span, Who was then the gentleman?" spoke by on John Ball during the Watt Tyler rebellion - again if the system is rigged why should I lift a finger to support it and why would I not search for ways to bring it down? Saying that's just the way it is isn't going to work forever.

Susan of Texas said...

The more successful they are in keeping people down and poor, the more they ensure violence and rebellion. I thought our elite understood that but they're getting sloppy.