The Rich and Poor Will Be Always with Us. Those Between Are the Question.

By way of manufacturing disagreement over my post on the smoothing of life’s barbs and its disparate effects, David comments as follows:

Why is it now that you come to these conclusions? There has always been an aristocracy in our political world. Can you explain Carcieri? It seems only when the political tide runs against you that you notice the power world of money and influence.

Prior to substantive response, I’d opine that this is not an accurate inference from my actual writing, but a convenient imposition in order to find some way of objecting to what I’ve recently said. Without digging through years of archives, I can testify that I’ve always had populist inclinations and have objected to the formation of elite circles and dynastic progressions.
The point is not that America has heretofore been an egalitarian paradise devoid of an aristocracy with all of the attending advantages. Differing origins will always ensure differing opportunities, and efforts meticulously to erase that reality will prove disastrous. Rather, the point is much as Ross Douthat enunciates here:

Sarah Palin is beloved by millions because her rise suggested, however temporarily, that the old American aphorism about how anyone can grow up to be president might actually be true.
But her unhappy sojourn on the national stage has had a different moral: Don’t even think about it.

Which Glenn Reynolds sharpens as follows:

What Joel Kotkin calls “the Gentry Faction” has taken over the Democrats completely. Wherever they dominate, you see a lot of talk about equality — and a lot of effort at maintaining inequality and keeping the proles in their place. There are plenty of Gentry in the Republican party, too. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see a populist backlash arise, on either the left, or the right, or both, or somewhere in between.

The talk, in an effort to distract from the fissure to which Reynolds points, is likely a significant motivation behind the push to remove the word “plantations” from Rhode Island’s official name (as discussed in these parts here, here, and here, yesterday). But the dynamic causing the fissure has been building for decades and may prove to be the pivotal bulwark in the culture wars.
The opportunity paradigm made tangible in the founding of the United States expanded freedom and opened up new frontiers for the economy (after the fashion that I described earlier this morning) in at least two key ways:

  • It enabled people to truly own their property — keeping what they’d earned through labor, innovation, and risk.
  • It gave them freedom to operate and interact as they saw fit to pursue those ends.

Consider the economic and social disputes of the last half-century in light of those two principles, and you’ll see that they’ve long been under an escalating attack. Taxation, freedoms of speech and association, economic regulation, government annexation of investment funding and scientific research, affirmative action, hate crimes legislation. The list is endless, and it is the crux of the push for and opposing reaction to creeping socialism.
The theme that has lately been emerging is that, beyond the diminution of principles that serve to level opportunity (often in the name of leveling outcomes), various barriers to entry are growing. The post to which David appended his comment touched on technology and the difficulties of life. A second barrier — a celebrity culture that requires public figures to emit star power in a stone-set image approved and promoted by media insiders — has been difficult to ignore in the era of the Obamanation; Sarah Palin’s been something of an antipode in that sphere, with her populist image disapproved by the media elite.
We will never erase distinctions of class, and it is folly to pretend that the categories don’t enable some useful average assumptions. The United States of America will seize up and atrophy, however, if we do not resist the manifold and often deceptive temptations that disrupt the organic churning of castes that our freedoms have permitted.

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Pragmatist
Pragmatist
11 years ago

Reading this blog is sometimes like stepping into an alternate reality. Ross Douthat complains that Sarah Palin’s self-imposed political implosion sends the message that the old aphorism that anyone can grow up to be president is not true? That you apparently concur with this Justin is remarkable as we are now in the first year of the presidency of an African-American from a working-class, single-parent household. It really is an extraordinary wilfull blindness on your part. Of course, it’s all about creating whatever fantasy supports your crusade.

Tom W
Tom W
11 years ago

>>the presidency of an African-American from a working-class, single-parent household
I’m still waiting to hear who in his “working class” high school paid for his Columbia and Harvard Law School tuitions.
Or did the funds come from his Kenyan government high level official father? You know, that openly communist guy? He was “working class” right?

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Never mind, Tom. Pragmatist is creating a mythology. Even Obama referred to his mother as “middle class,” so it’s a sliding scale, as needed. At any rate, Obama’s mother and father were college pals with a current Congressman from Hawaii. The boy went to private school and elite colleges, as you note. His mother has a Ph.D.
If Pragmatist had bothered to click through to the opinion that he calls me willfully blind for approving of, he’d have found this paragraph:

That last statistic is a crucial one. Palin’s popularity has as much to do with class as it does with ideology. In this sense, she really is the perfect foil for Barack Obama. Our president represents the meritocratic ideal — that anyone, from any background, can grow up to attend Columbia and Harvard Law School and become a great American success story. But Sarah Palin represents the democratic ideal — that anyone can grow up to be a great success story without graduating from Columbia and Harvard.

I’d actually dispute the “meritocratic ideal” characterization. At the very least, Obama proves a young-adult deadline on having broken through to the upper crust.

msteven
msteven
11 years ago

Pragmatist refers to willful blindness and creating fantasies to support your crusade – about Obama being an African-American from a working-class, single-parent household.
Seriously?
He’s half African-American which is well more than he is from a working class household. I’ve even seen where some liberal activists complain his rise is not significant because he was not disadvantaged growing up.
Anyways, just wanted to pile on Pragmatist for his misrepresenting reality in the name of partisan politicking not to mention obvious hypocrisy. I suggest a moniker change; ‘Pragmatist’ – about as much as Ann Coulter or Jesse Jackson are.

EMT
EMT
11 years ago

that anyone can grow up to be a great success story without graduating from Columbia and Harvard.
Quickest way to cause a 404 error in the brains of Democrat leadership.

Phil
Phil
11 years ago

By way of manufacturing disagreement over my post on the smoothing of life’s barbs and its disparate effects, David comments as follows:
Why is it now that you come to these conclusions? There has always been an aristocracy in our political world. Can you explain Carcieri? It seems only when the political tide runs against you that you notice the power world of money and influence.
That is how you began, then this,
Prior to substantive response, I’d opine that this is not an accurate inference from my actual writing, but a convenient imposition in order to find some way of objecting to what I’ve recently said. Without digging through years of archives, I can testify that I’ve always had populist inclinations and have objected to the formation of elite circles and dynastic progressions.
The problem is that you never do get around to the promised answer to David. So counting this post it will be the second time he did not get an answer or as you say ” a substantive response”.
All he got was what I fertilize my garden with.

Phil
Phil
11 years ago

Pragmatist’s comments to Justin prompted Justin to actually use Obama’s name instead of his customary “The Obamanation”. Progress? I don’t think so.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Phil,
The paragraph after the last one you quote began my substantive response.
And I use Obama’s name much more frequently than I use “Obamanation.” The latter I use strictly to mean the movement that takes him as its focus and his leveraging of such; the former I use when writing about the man, himself.

OldTimeLefty
11 years ago

Much more important than where you came from is what you do when you get there. No doubt in my mind that Obama will prove himself a champion of the underclass. If he doesn’t he’ll have disaffected so many voters that he would all but forfeit his chance at reelection.
Let’s remember who’s in and who’s out, and how it got that way.
Phil,
Justin never answers questions. His hauteur won’t let him. Justin’s assertions are just that, assertions. He was wrong on the election, he is wrong in what passes for his analysis of the current political situation. He has one helluva negative track record.
OldTimeLefty

Monique
Editor
11 years ago

“Quickest way to cause a 404 error in the brains of Democrat leadership.”
… very good, EMT.

Phil
Phil
11 years ago

Monique
Who needs brains when you’ve got pom poms.
OldTimeLefty
You are right. Justin rarely if ever answers questions when he knows there is no way that he can defend his tortured conclusions.
The Africans that were captured and delivered to slave labor across the ocean sometimes to places called plantations were treated brutally. The inhumane treatment included the stripping of their names, their African identities. Justin and others upset with the election results continue this practice by calling Barack Obama The Obamanation. But you are right. They do not hold the power now. They have become restive and surly. But they are still only N.Q.K..

Justin Katz
11 years ago

You illustrate perfectly well with the past few comments what the process is. You bring up “Obamanation”; I clarify that I don’t use it as a nickname for the man, but as a tagline for a movement; and rather than address that distinction, you proceed to cast me along tired and laughably inapplicable lines of racial oppression as if I hadn’t responded to the accusation.
I answer few of the “questions” that you and others pose because your ill will and preference for belittlement over discourse prove you better ignored.
Congratulations, though, Phil. Sexism might just have given you the lead in the race to the bottom. Go pound your chest and scratch your groin.

Tom W
Tom W
11 years ago

>The Africans that were captured and delivered to slave labor across the ocean sometimes to places called plantations were treated brutally.
Yeah, and I’m half-Irish.
So somewhere in my family tree my ancestors were treated horribly by the British empire.
But I’ve better things to do than be bothered / offended by the fact that I speak “English.”
GET A LIFE!

OldTimeLefty
11 years ago

Phil nailed it. Monique is Little Sir Echo who does little more than wave pom poms. Her gender has nothing to do with the servile position she assumes in this blog. You are the one who twisted it into a sexist remark. IT CAME FROM THE CONVOLUTIONS OF YOUR OWN BRAIN. I don’t know what sports events you have attended recently, but cheerleaders come in both sexes.
Justin, that you can’t answer the questions posed is well attested to by the fact that you don’t answer them.
Your furrowed brow always brings to mind Curly of the Three Stooges who once famously said, “I keep tryin’ to think, but nuttin happens.”
OldTimeLefty

michael
11 years ago

I have no idea what you people are talking about. i thought the original post rather straitforward. Maybe I have to start reading things more carefully instead of enjoying them.

msteven
msteven
11 years ago

Thanks michael, you are right. This is comical.
We have OTL and Phil defending a dumb remark by Pragmatist by … not by any logic or reasoned statements but by name calling and identifying cases where Justin didn’t respond to a question. This while ignoring the reality that it is they who rarely respond to someone questioning their points (with usual good reason, hyperbole without substance tends to be difficult to defend).
I guess it’s more fun to high-five after a rhetorical-zinger than engage in rational discourse. What to expect next from them? Insults against ones parents … wait for it …

Phil
Phil
11 years ago

michael
Maybe you should remember who has your back here when the discussion turns to your profession.

michael
11 years ago

Hello Phil,
I honestly am lost by this conversation, not taking sides at all. I read the original post once, found it interesting and moved on, just a little surprised at all the commentary about it is all. And your “having our back” is duly noted and appreciated.

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