How to Weaken an Economy
Sometimes, sloppy language is critical: jumble together “millionaires” with those worth 1,000 times more, and you earn the force-multiplying evil “millionaires and billionaires.” The word “fair” is critical: as in “pay your fair share.” But “patriotic” is even better, as in “unpatriotic” past presidents who run up debt, and “patriotic” present egalitarians who borrow in four years what used to take eight.
I would also redefine entire professions in negative terms: bankers are “fat cats”; the rich “junket” to Las Vegas; CEOs are “corporate jet owners”; doctors lop off limbs and yank out tonsils to pile up profits. Material wealth alone defines us. Mitt Romney is a man with lots of money, a big house with an elevator, a wife with horses. Who cares what he did with the Olympics or as governor?
I could continue, but you get the picture: the point is to slow down the capitalists by making them look over their shoulders, to hamper the grasping small businesses by prepping a psychological battlefield in which the rich deserve higher taxes and regulations to atone for their sins. If lots of those who once made $400,000 a year no longer do, is that not progress? Did they not at last realize that they had made enough money and that it was no longer the time to profit? My goal would be to convince the pizza-parlor owner that after 12 hours on the job, he was taking away money from his noble customers and had a duty to pay more in taxes and cut his profits for those more noble who could not afford his crust. But there would be one exception: fat cats can buy exemption by loudly supporting the president, serving on his jobs council, or investing in green energy. In other words, send the message that getting rich building a Solyndra is noble in a way Exxon is not. A Warren Buffett or George Soros is not a “billionaire” but a “philanthropist,” whose profits are channeled in the right direction. That’s an important message to send if one wants to warp an economy -- suggesting that the rich can pay proper homage and thereby win exemption from being culpably rich.
Everywhere a War
The rich/poor dichotomy is valuable, but perhaps not enough in itself to harm the economy. Political stasis is also critical. Think the blues and greens in the hippodrome, fighting over everything from religion and civil service to class, ethnicity, and sports. And what better way to seed acrimony and to ensure constant bickering than unleashing a series of domestic wars? The camouflaged assault-weapon killers who hide behind the 2nd Amendment are at war with millions of innocent children. Even female celebrities and lawyers are under attack by misogynists and chauvinists, who won’t pay for their birth control. Latinos are targeted by nativists. The latter even hunt them down at ice-cream parlors. Blacks are back to near slavery as racist conservatives want to put them back in chains. Greens battle nobly against the polluters, gays against the homophobes. Muslims are demonized as terrorists by racists and bigots.
The point would be to introduce so many divisive fault lines that no one can much agree on anything -- other than a common enemy. Worry over unemployment, slow or nonexistent growth, and massive debt gives way to more pressing issues like gay marriage and banning semi-automatic assault weapons. Distraction is valuable: who cares that the real unemployment rate is way over 10% if the Keystone pipeline will destroy the Nebraska aquifer or Jim Crow is back on election day? A “jobless recovery” and the “misery index” can become artifacts of a distant era.
Article printed from Works and Days: https://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson
URL to article: https://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson/how-to-weaken-an-economy