May 17, 2021

PEGGY NOONAN A YEAR AGO: Scenes From the Class Struggle in Lockdown.

There’s a class element in the public debate. It’s been there the whole time but it’s getting worse, and few in public life are acting as if they’re sensitive to it. Our news professionals the past three months have made plenty of room for medical and professionals warning of the illness. Good, we needed it, it was news. They are not now paying an equal degree of sympathetic attention to those living the economic story, such as the Dallas woman who pushed back, opened her hair salon, and was thrown in jail by a preening judge. He wanted an apology. She said she couldn’t apologize for trying to feed her family.

There is a class divide between those who are hard-line on lockdowns and those who are pushing back. We see the professionals on one side—those James Burnham called the managerial elite, and Michael Lind, in “The New Class War,” calls “the overclass”—and regular people on the other. The overclass are highly educated and exert outsize influence as managers and leaders of important institutions—hospitals, companies, statehouses. The normal people aren’t connected through professional or social lines to power structures, and they have regular jobs—service worker, small-business owner.

Since the pandemic began, the overclass has been in charge—scientists, doctors, political figures, consultants—calling the shots for the average people. But personally they have less skin in the game. The National Institutes of Health scientist won’t lose his livelihood over what’s happened. Neither will the midday anchor.

I’ve called this divide the protected versus the unprotected. There is an aspect of it that is not much discussed but bears on current arguments. How you have experienced life has a lot to do with how you experience the pandemic and its strictures.

In the past year, the overclass demonstrated its trademark blend of selfishness, incompetence, and sanctimony to an even greater degree than usual. And, as usual, paid no real price for doing so.

Related: Protests show two Americas — those who lost their jobs and those still getting paid.

Also, from a lefty source:

There’s a huge Covid class divide. The economy has not just bounded back for upper income Americans; it’s given them higher housing values and lower interest rates. Meanwhile, 12 million service industry workers are still out of work. Small businesses are struggling. The affluent see Covid as a health problem, while for the working class it’s about economic survival. And liberals are doing the same thing they did with Trump: Clothing their class privilege as science and facts and morality.

The politicians are even worse. Instead of coming up with a clean Covid bill, Democrats are now trying to pressure Biden into student loan forgiveness. Can you believe it? What kind of society thinks it’s ok to ask 12 million people who lost their jobs to Covid to foot the bill for the student loans of the top 40% of earners? Sure, maybe it will accidentally help someone in a food line who dropped out of college. But college-educated Americans are back at work. The Covid recession is over for them. Why are the Democrats designing legislation to help the people who need it least, in the belief that some of the benefits might trickle down to help those who need it most?

Oh, I think I know why.

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