Take No Prisoners

6 Ways the Rich Trick the Poor into Supporting Capitalism

The rich generally understand that unregulated capitalism supports massive wealth transfers from the poor and middle class to the rich. This continues until there is no middle class left – just a rich aristocracy and a populations of serfs – as in 21st century Russia. These malevolent, avaricious fuckheads think this is a great idea as long as they get to be in the aristocracy. In most countries, the poor figure this out and resist economic deregulation and other movements toward unregulated ‘Friedmanist’ capitalism.

The rich in the United States of Torture, however, have successfully tricked the poor into supporting capitalism and viewing socialism with disgust. To accomplish this, they have employed at least six tactics. Although I focus on U.S. examples in this article (because they are the most obvious) the same tactics are used in many other countries.

1. Conflate economic conservatism with social conservatism

During the cold war, it was important to maintain support for retarded military spending. To do this, the U.S. government demonized two apparent traits of the Soviet Union: a centrally-planned economy and the promotion of atheism. Hence, “godless communists.” To further rally the people, it was crucial to make atheism and communism seem inherently evil. This nonsense remains prevalent today.

The Lunatic Fascist Theocracy Party (commonly called The Republican Party), has used this to their advantage by further conflating socialism with communism and secularism with atheism. They can then arguing that, in promoting social spending and separation of church and state, the Spineless Conservative Party (a.k.a. The Democratic Party), are evil, as is there agenda.

This effect has been exacerbated by the promotion of evangelicalism, especially in the southern states.

2. Conflate economic freedom with civil rights

Using some rhetorical voodoo I simply don’t understand, many people in the U.S. have been tricked into thinking that restraints on businesses, like those sought by unions, are the same as civil rights violations. Telling a corporation that it cannot destroy a national park to build a mine, or make pickup truck that only get 8 mpg, has nothing whatsoever to do with civil rights. Human rights such as the right to free speech and freedom from arbitrary discrimination, apply to individuals, not corporations. Economic ‘freedom’ has nothing to do with social freedom. If anything, increased economic freedoms allow corporations to impinge on human rights.

3. Fool the poor into thinking they can one day be rich

One reason the poor don’t revolt is that they live with the hope that one day they can be rich. They don’t want a fair distribution of wealth, they want to maintain the unfair distribution so that they can become ridiculously rich. For most people, of course, this is a pipe dream. Unfortunately, prominent examples including rappers and professional athletes serve to prop up this fiction. They, however, have something most poor people don’t: unusual talent.

4. The tax-and-spend liberal meme

Another piece of brilliant malevolence involves promoting the Tax-and-Spend Liberal stereotype. Liberals (socialists) supposedly pass oppressive taxes and spend money like trailer trash at Wal-Mart. This is, of course, complete bullshit because, between WW2 and 2007, the Republicans increased the U.S. national debt by about $6.9 trillion while the Dems only increased the debt by about $1.8 trillion. Both parties spend money like mad, they just spend it on different things. Republicans spend money on unnecessary wars, Dems spend it on healthcare and other social programs. This is, of course, painting with a broad brush, but you get the idea.

5. Demonize socialism as a welfare state

You often here these talking heads going on about the U.S. becoming a welfare state, “like France”. I have a feeling that they don’t actually know what “welfare state” means, but it sounds bad, so they say it anyway. A welfare state is a nation where the government assumes some responsibility for the health, happiness and fortunes of the people, often implemented through a social safety net. In other words, if you lose your job and you don’t have any family or friends who can or will support you, you don’t starve to death or have to live on the street. If your response to a person who’s lost his job and can no longer support his family is “fuck ‘em – let ‘em die,” seek psychiatric help. But this is exactly what conservatives are saying when they deride the ‘welfare state.’ Their derision is based on the fallacious conclusion that any sort of government assistance for the poor will incentivize them not to work. This is bullshit. People are not rational, self-interested computational agents. People have pride and dignity and ambition and a desire to do something with their lives. And besides, we have substantial scientific evidence that creating a social safety net does not decrease economic performance (see A. B. Atkinson, Incomes and the Welfare State, Cambridge University Press, 1995).

6. The illusion of progressive taxation

Progressive taxation means that the more money you make, the higher your marginal tax rate will be. Poor people generally don’t understand the tax system (because it’s really fucking complicated). Thus, they think that, since they have to pay more taxes when they move up to a new tax bracket, the millionaire down the road pay a higher rate than they do. Nope. Sorry. Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.

You see, there is a difference between the official tax rate and the effective tax rate. Rich people hide their money through various exemptions, credits and legal mechanisms so that they pay far less in taxes than their marginal tax rate suggests. This creates an illusion of progressive taxation, which helps to cover up how badly the poor are getting screwed.

Conclusion

In most countries, the poor support socialism and the rich support capitalism. Since there are more poor people than rich people, and everyone gets one vote, countries with fair elections tend to move toward socialism. Therefore, to maintain a largely unregulated economy, the rich in the U.S. must expend significant effort and resources to hoodwink the populace into supporting capitalism, or rig the elections. Or both.

Related Posts
The Biggest Money-Grab in History
The Hypocrisy of the Freedom Rhetoric

17 Comments

  • Posted June 15, 2009 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    Although, I personally am so far to the left that even the democrats appear to me to be “right-wing,” I consider myself to be a strict constitutionalist. It is my opinion that since its inception there has been an organized and systematic assault by the conservatives in the United States on the civil liberties written into the US Constitution. The “War on Drugs”; “War on Terror”; “War on Communism” and a host of other wars waged by the right wing are really nothing more than a War on People–an excuse to erode civil rights to the point of non-existence. I invite you to my website devoted to raising awareness on this puritan attack on freedom: http://pltcldscsn.blogspot.com/

  • SFC Rath
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Tghe only change I would make in your lsit is to renumber the points. The number one way the rich keep the poor down is by making the poor believe that we can all get rich. They have conviluted the American Dream of owning our own home into “with a bit of luck and hard work, we can all get rich.”
    So…how do we get this message out to all those that need to read it? The middle-class and poor?

  • SFC Rath
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Oops! Guess I should have proofread my post;-)

  • Posted June 15, 2009 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    @David, much agreed. The question is, are conservatives doing this intentionally? Do they really understand what they’re doing, or does this phenomenon emerge organically from other motives and actions?

    @SFC Rath, I don’t know. I think the right would never get into power without first conflating social and economic conservatism, and thus would be unable to manipulate the “American Dream”. But both are important, obviously. To your second point, I believe it is possible to bring honest, ethical and effective discourse into the public debate. This is a complicated endeavor that requires several simultaneous approaches. I am eventually going to write a book on the subject, based on many of the discussions on this site.

  • Rick
    Posted June 16, 2009 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    @Kavan – Very nice, thanks!

    “You often here these talking heads going on about the U.S. becoming a welfare state, “like France”. I have a feeling that they don’t actually know what “welfare state” means, but it sounds bad, so they say it anyway.”

    So true, yet very, very sad. Why should I spend one single second of my life worrying/caring if my neighbor,friend, family…etc. is on welfare? There’s roughly 330 million people in the US. If every single man, women and child milked the system for 3 million dollars (each, over a lifetime), it would be less than 1 billion dollars. What’s the government bailout price tag at now, something like 1.5 trillion? That’s not even getting into the 5k toilet seats and 10k hammers.

    It’s going to get worse! The goal of most companies is to reduce the bottom line by reducing employees and benefits. That’s all well and good, except the price of their products isn’t going down. What is going down is employee wages. The gap just keeps getting bigger:(

    It’s all fucking smoke and mirrors and apparently the sheepeople like smoke and mirrors.

  • H
    Posted June 16, 2009 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    @Rick

    330,000,000 x 3,000,000 = 990,000,000,000,000

  • Rick
    Posted June 16, 2009 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    @H- LOL – Sorry, mutil-tasking. I meant 1 million and my point still the same. I think there is a limit on how long a person can be on welfare (please correct me if I’m wrong) and hopefully we’ll never have every person in the US on welfare (or even a 3rd). Either way , it’s going to pale in comparison to the money our government is wasting elsewhere. No matter how we spin it, it s still the least of my worries.

  • Zander
    Posted June 23, 2009 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    I have more of a question than a comment.

    How does this compare to our own country, Canada?

    My self i think we are mid-way between the welfare states of Europe and the capitalist run USA.

  • Posted June 25, 2009 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    @Rick, 330 million people times $1 million is $330 trillion. The current bailout price tag is some in the neighborhood of $1 or 2 trillion. The total GDP of the U.S. is about $14 trillion. So no, that does not pale in comparison to government waste. However, The real number of people on welfare is far smaller (something like 5 million) and the amount they receive is much less than $1 million, so yes it does pale in comparison to the cost of, say, the Iraq clusterfuck.

    @Zander, If you compare Canadian political rhetoric to U.S. political rhetoric, the Canadian politicians are less crazy, and our (Canada’s) economic policy is similarly less cowboy-ish. However, all the same rhetorical trickery is used. It’s just less effective because Canadians weren’t as brainwashed during the cold war.

  • Rick
    Posted June 25, 2009 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    @Kavan – LOL. Yeah, thanks for seeing past my math(or lack of):) I shouldn’t be posting in a hurry(like now):)

  • Borderboy
    Posted February 2, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Being rich is a relative term, being successful is more correct. Everyone is successful at something.

  • Alan
    Posted February 17, 2010 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Friend, while I read through this post and agreed with it, that doesn’t come as any great surprise since I’m an ardent anti-capitalist anyway.
    However, I feel sure that if I was an as yet uninformed moderate and I happened across this post (as I did, since it’s been Stumbled), I’d be put off by the introduction and it’d be extremely unlikely I’d ever read anything more. Using phrases such as “the United States of Torture” and foul language is a pretty poor way of winning converts to the opinions you’re expressing.
    Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the sentiment, but the way the post is written is pretty much guaranteeing that you’ll only ever be preaching to the converted, and that’s no good when what’s needed is spreading these facts.

  • ross
    Posted June 30, 2010 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    The problem with everyone saying that our founding fathers would not like the country we have today are incorrrect. They would love the fact that the rich have gotten richer as this is the way they where themselves (GW married into one of the largest land owing families, John Hancock was basically a wealthy glorified smuggler, on and on,) They were the elites of colonial America, and like the tea baggers of today did not want to pay their fair share of taxes. They got just enough support from the masses (who did most of the dying) through lies and the French Navy/Army to win the war. Most every American today does not realize that our founding fathers in no way wanted a democracy (they voted for a Republic-big differnce) and they only wanted land owning white men to vote. Plain and simple, that is their legacy. Today lobbyists buy the politicians for the wealthiest contributors? That was their idea of taxation with representation, the wealthiest decide who benefits and who pays. The only difference between them and the English King, is that the wealth is spread to a few very wealthy vs. one very wealthy person (The King). Yeah, we are so much better off…REALLY?

  • Alla
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    We have to remember one more thing. As soon as you annd I get rich we will act the same way. Its just human nature(majority).
    Rich people most of the time have the resources , discipline and talent to keep thier money but the poor often dont.
    It has been this way since time immemorial, I believe the coming centuries will see this erode little by little. As in China things dont get done in 20 years.

  • john
    Posted January 3, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Number 3 (fool the poor into thinking they can get rich too).

    I believe this has more to do with who you know and being well connected.
    That, when combined with lottery style luck, is more true.

    There’s an enormous amount of brilliant artists (that can actually sing and play instruments) out there that will never even come close to the fame and/or mass appeal of rappers and pop stars.

    I also agree this should be number 1 on the list as previously stated by another.
    Overall, this list is DAMN accurate.

    It’s frustrating as hell how few people can’t see how this actually works.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCu-XnVxhfk

  • Cutty
    Posted June 23, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    ” They, however, have something most poor people don’t: unusual talent.”

    There’s the core of it. In the end, the views you espouse just encourage those without the ability to create and achieve on their own to live by force off of people that do have that ability. Keep justifying your theft.

  • Charlie
    Posted July 4, 2012 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    Borderboy…

    I think you missed the point. “Being successful” is not a better term, at least not in this context, as it is all about money=survival. Being successful is something that we should promote, but that doesn’t solve our problems.

    For example: I am a successful computer programmer, but I am still working 2 fast-food jobs just to have a place to live and food to eat. Mothers everywhere are great parents and providers, but are in poverty. Etc. etc.

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