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.
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.