BY WILLIAM C. HENRY “If there’s a way for the super-rich to screw the middle and lower classes, they will find it.” So sayeth Uncle Bill Henry. Yes, but WHY do they do it, Uncle Bill? Well, according to this no doubt intellectually overrated but nonetheless venerated old fart, they do it because they can, and perhaps to a greater extent, because they can’t help it. You see, it’s extremely difficult — if not downright impossible — to have amassed extraordinary wealth in these or any other times without having inherited the sociopathy and cupidity genes (or, of course, without having just plain inherited a truckload of the corrupting green stuff to begin with). And although said genes may not manifest themselves identically inside the psyche of each steroidal money-grubber, their presence is nonetheless necessary to the affliction. In other words, for the uber-avaricious enough is never enough simply because enough is never enough. The greed, it’s in the genes.
Does that mean that exhibiting the ailment should be forgiven? Hell NO it shouldn’t! No more than flagrant hypocrisy or plain old criminality should, both of which, by the way, are involved more often than not. Being able to distinguish between fairness and a deliberate felony doesn’t require the absence of such DNA, it simply requires the presence of a mediocre IQ and the ability to read and/or hear and absorb. I doubt there’s anyone reading this who believes that anyone in the 1% to 2% in question here haven’t assimilated at least two of the three. Make no mistake, from “legal” onshore tax avoidance (read: extortion- and/or bribery-afforded preferential congressional treatment), to “legal” — and a passel of illegal — offshore money stowing and/or laundering schemes, to a rich-rigged legal system, to election manipulation (individual and
That same middle-digit dexterity is on display in the lavish boardrooms of America’s most voracious corporations and financial institutions. It’s brandished by a leadership coterie of the same “individual” shyster, liar, evader and gorger types described above (remember that no less an authority than the U.S. Supreme Court has determined that corporate entities are in fact “persons”). So, just how do these corporations and their governmental abettors too manage to screw the middle and lower classes? Ah, let me count the ways: 1) bribery and/or extortion of members of congress (at both the national and state levels) in order to garner preferential tax treatment and subsidies as well as corporate-centric trade and anti-regulatory
How did we manage to get to this point? Well, here’s a brief history. No doubt the die was cast the minute the founding fathers signed the country’s earliest important documents. Remember that these folks were: 1) white, 2) God fearing, 3) land-holding, 4) slave owning, 5) unelected, 6) males, who, by the way, suggested their “class” be the only ones allowed to vote (with a tip of the hat to the great George Carlin). That appears to have been more than sufficient impetus to get us through to the robber barons of the late eighteen and early nineteen hundreds, ” … the long depression, an economic downturn in the United States and Europe that endured longer than the Great Depression two generations later. The industrial revolution created the plutocrats — we called them the robber barons — and the gap between them and everyone else,” (with a great big curtsy to Chrystia Freeland). From there we progressed through the rise of arms manufacturers to their more modern-day counterparts, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed,” (with a grateful salute to President Dwight D. Eisenhower). From there we continued “right” through the likes of Leona Helmsley, “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes,” into today’s Republican politics.
Sure, you can call all of this sour grapes, jealousy, envy, or anything you like, but it doesn’t change the fact that a clear-cut two-strata society is just around the corner. It’s inevitable. In America the old adage that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer isn’t just a saying, it’s a statement of fact! It’s also more than enough to make one wonder why all these unduly flush folks who claim to worship at the altar of self-reliance find it so f _ _ _ ing IMPOSSIBLE to function without heaping handouts from THE REST OF US! Hell, the truly disgusting aspect of the epithet “living off the public dole” is learning that the real dolEES and the real dolERS are in fact a flip-flop of the standard assumption! I’ll leave you with this little factoid gem lovingly offered up by Grant Morrison: “Imagine the earth’s population of six billion people reduced to just 100 representatives. Statistically, that makes 30 white, 70 non-white. It means 6 people own 59% of the wealth and they all live in North America. Eighty are in substandard housing. One has an education. One owns a computer. Don’t blame me if it all sounds crazy.” Sad? yes. Crazy? no. And from all indications, Grant, America’s wealthiest are prepared to take whatever steps necessary to keep those proportions intact.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up early stage septuagenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit. Uncle of the Editor-In-Chief.