January 11, 2012

THE GREAT EQUALIZATION: Victor Davis Hanson writes:

For all John Edwards’ talk of “two nations,” of Barack Obama’s lifelong effort to demonize “corporate jet owners” and “millionaires and billionaires” (the latter 1000 times wealthier than the former), for all the sociologists and economists who get tenure by writing obscure, clever little essays that few read on insidious class differences, the classes have never been closer. Globalization, rapidly advancing technology, the Chinese exporters, and a huge redistributive government, printing money to service $16 trillion in debt, have all accomplished what bureaucrats and politicos could not: the simulacra of equality. Add with a vast expansion of the money supply, near-zero interest, massive deficits and aggregate debt, huge expansions in entitlements and the federal work force, and fewer and fewer paying income taxes, things can certainly be spread around.

I also say simulacra because few in Selma vacation in Tuscany. But sitting in front of a big-screen TV, with some Italian music on, while watching Rick Steves (with TV sound off) touring Florence seems not all that different from the 28-hour hassle of flying to rural Italy. The former is free; the latter “rich” people alone afford.

Oh, you object: poverty is better gauged by lack of opportunity, of exposure, of the cultivation of the mind. Well, in 1959, it was true only the wealthy in the Bay Area had access to opera, symphony, and good libraries. Out here in rural Selma there were no book stores, a sole tiny library in town, and no cultural enrichment to speak of.

Now? A Google search in about five seconds can give you information about anything. All sorts of sites offer free downloads of the classics. Videos offer any symphonic performance you wish. Computers are cheaper than many video games and big-screen TVs, whose sales after Thanksgiving cause near riots.

In short,we live in an unacknowledged age in which a poor man with a laptop who taps into a free signal at Starbucks has more information at his fingertips than did the Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford just forty years ago.

As VDH concludes, “Keep all that in mind as we enter the most divisive, class-warfare campaign in recent memory.”