Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Disguising Class Warfare As Generational Warfare

The Three Card Monte of Generational Warfare
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I cannot fathom the bottomless greed or the amoral tactics of these people.
We have two events happening that may simply be coincident in time in their genesis, but they are working synchronistically in a nasty way. And the driver of one is unquestionably class, not generational. I can't get over the way young people are falling hook, line and sinker for the efforts to divert attention from the real perps, which are overwhelmingly the top wealthy and their allies and operatives, such as CEOs and C-level executives at large companies, and the large cohort of neoliberal pundits. (Not all are on board; for instance, I know a private equity firm head who loves annoying people in his industry by telling them they need to pay a ton more in taxes and donates generously to "progressive" candidates, but people like him are few in number). 
The first is that a small group of audacious, visionary, committed, radical conservatives set in motion a plan in 1971 to undo the New Deal and cut social safety nets back. They did this via a concerted effort to change values and deeply inculcate pro-business thinking, to give economic "freedom" primacy over democracy, and to train lawyers to think like economists (which is at odds with foundational legal concepts like equity) and over time, pack the courts with corporate-friendly judges. The key figures of this movement and its intellectual leaders were all born well before or during the Depression: former Nixon Supreme Court justice Lewis Powell, Henry Manne (founder of the law and economics movement), and of course, Milton Friedman. Its major funders included Birchers like the Coors family (which provided a large donation to help found the Heritage Foundation in 1973) and the Koch family. This initiative started to bear fruit quickly; 1976 was the year when you see wages starting to stagnate as corporations stopped sharing the benefits of productivity gains with workers. Key figures who helped carry this effort forward include Paul Volcker (who saw breaking the wages expectations of labor as one of the most important objects of his interest rate policy); Ronald Reagan and Randian Fed chair pick, Alan Greenspan; former Nixon Administration cabinet member and billionaire Pete Peterson, who has funded a newly 30 year campaign against Social Security; and Bob Rubin, who turned the Democratic party (and American policy generally) firmly in a neoliberal, pro-finance direction. None of them are boomers.
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