SOME REAL HARDY BOYS HERE

Short post today, working on a good long one for you tomorrow (giggle). Larry Bartels, one of the more visible and important political scientists of this generation, did a short write-up about how austerity and income inequality are uniquely linked in the United States. Whereas in most advanced industrial democracies preferences for spending cuts are relatively flat across income levels, American preferences are essentially a proxy for household income. While that should come as absolutely no surprise, the non-U.S. data are unexpected. With higher tax rates in much of Europe, one might expect to see some preference (however slight) for austerity among higher earners.

This is the latest in what seems like a daily burst of stories about income inequality, plutocracy, and oligarchy in the past few months. It's as though the Professional Writer Class just discovered that we have a problem that has been glaringly obvious for at least fifteen or twenty years. Should I be happy that it gets talked about or pissed off that it took so long that it's probably too late to do anything about it?

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22 Responses to “SOME REAL HARDY BOYS HERE”

  1. Arslan Says:

    Yeah they just noticed we have a problem, but of course we dare not do anything about it.

  2. wetcasements Says:

    Douthat was adorable on this. Shorter version: "Maybe people don't really want job security and a decent wage, but actually more Jesus!"

    First against the wall.

  3. Middle Seaman Says:

    The short version: be happily pissed off. The current version of capitalism's evolution is a zero sum game. The rich win and the rest lose. Austerity is just one of the rules of that game.

  4. Heywood J. Says:

    It's funny how, after a year or so of ridiculing the Occupy rabble, that now the corporate media have suddenly noticed there might be some validity to the OWS argument.

    Not that anything will be done about any of it; the Koch-suckers own the Republican party, and the spineless ninnies on the other side will Thanksralph their own into voting for Hillary.

    Because hitting oneself in the head with a hammer would be too easy.

  5. Pat Says:

    …working on a good long one for you tomorrow (giggle).

    Oh, grow up.

    As to the curious blindness of professional opinion leaders, a friend of mine who worked vaguely in journalism (not a staff reporter at a major newspaper, more a freelance contributor to a couple of glossy-ish style and style and entertainment mags) told me once—and I wish I could remember her phrasing—that journalists lived among the poor and socialized among the rich. (Or else it was lived six-figure lifestyles on five-figure incomes, or something.) She (and they) had no money, but she was always getting something comped—gallery openings, concert tickets, invites to parties with open bars. And even when they weren't being asked to review something in print, they still traveled in the circles of moneyed people who threw cool parties. When such people are your ingress to a nightlife of relative comfort, the psychological mechanism by which you become blinded to their faults is pretty easy to understand.

    Upton Sinclair was close to right: It's really hardest to make a man understand something when his free drinks depend upon him not understanding it.

  6. Eau Says:

    I find the lower end of the non-US line of the graph particularly interesting ( and depressing), as a resident of a non- US, affluent country. Why is the highest point of support at the lower end of earnings? Are poor Americans more savvy/clear-eyed than English/ Australian/ whoever? I am confuse.

  7. Major Kong Says:

    "Oh, grow up. "

    You're only young once, but you can be immature your whole life!

    (it's worked for me)

  8. BruceFromOhio Says:

    The first step to recovery is acknowledging the problem.

    It's really hardest to make a man understand something when his free drinks depend upon him not understanding it.

    This x a jillion.

    On the way, we'll have to deal with this. And this. Conclude there will be much drinking, understanding or not.

  9. c u n d gulag Says:

    GOP POV:
    Remember, our rich earn their money through hard work – and the more money they earn, the harder they work.

    Whereas, if you give any moochers, takers, or parasites any money, it's a disincentive to finding any work – and they mooch and take more, and are even more parasitical.

    You give poor people money, and they don't even want to work.

    Eliminate the safety net and minimum wage, and there'll be plenty of jobs for everyone!
    Not jobs you can live off of, but people should have chosen their parents better.
    BWAH-HA-HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Burning River Says:

    @wetcasements

    To be fair, Douthat is just channeling Paul Ryan, who is channeling a score of charlatans and hacks before him.

    Shorter version: We're going to need a much bigger wall.

  11. Sarah Says:

    Somebody in my Twitter stream said that when the decision was made to embrace Reaganomics in 1980, we consciously decided that we wouldn't have a middle class in a generation or two.

    J.K. Rowling, who has lost her billionaire status because she's given away so much of her money, has said that she won't leave the U.K., even though she could find a place with a lower tax rate, because she feels like she owes it to the people of England to stay and continue supporting the society that lifted her up. Compare that with the asshole from Facebook who made $3 billion and lit out for Singapore.

  12. Sarah Says:

    Whereas, if you give any moochers, takers, or parasites any money, it's a disincentive to finding any work – and they mooch and take more, and are even more parasitical.

    One of these tip-stiffing stories (I think it was an owner or manager confiscating a waitress's tips) had a comment from some asshole who said that taking tips was a good thing, because earning too much in tips might make her overly dependent and she'd start getting lazy.

  13. Khaled Says:

    The growth of the very, very rich has accelerated very recently. I read Krugman's blog pretty frequently, and he has brought it up a few times in the past month or so. A nice paper put forth by a couple of people from UC Berkeley puts it pretty much in the open- we are returning to gilded age levels.

    http://gabriel-zucman.eu/files/SaezZucman2014Slides.pdf

  14. Barry Says:

    Pat: "Upton Sinclair was close to right: It's really hardest to make a man understand something when his free drinks depend upon him not understanding it."

    They're courtiers in the court. Not nobles in their own right, but hangers-on and flatterers.

  15. c u n d gulag Says:

    Barry,
    Don't forget the ones who are the jesters!

  16. John Danley Says:

    Mass extinction via economic genocide will be unearthed and documented by future economists, historians, archeologists, and paleontologists. We are the no percent. We cannot haz.

  17. Major Kong Says:

    "One of these tip-stiffing stories"

    Wait staff make next to nothing on salary. Most of their money comes from tips. They would have to do something to really piss me off before I'd tip less than 20%.

  18. Robert Says:

    Last time I was in a bar, I mentioned to the bartender something my mother taught me. "If you can't tip the bartender at least a dollar, stay home and drink." She (the bartender) was quite amused.

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