Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Burden of Nobility

Ask a politician this question: "Who said 'those who choose to ignore history are doomed to repeat it?" What kind of response would you get? I wondered who really said it first so I searched the Internet assuming it came from someone like Plato or Socrates.

I was stunned that the earliest form I could find was the twentieth century philosopher George Santayana. He also said "Only the dead see the end of wars." Now that explains a hell of a lot about politics. It explains why empires continue to rise and fall over and over again throughout history.

Regulations in the United States are created in the aftermath of tragedy, not for the sake of tragedy itself, but for the dividend of political popularity. Ironically, those most insulated from the tragedies which regulatory change can mitigate are those rich enough to afford the expense of running for political office. One example of cashing in on populism for the right reasons calls into question the motivations of President Lyndon Johnson.

Conservatives appear to believe they are acting in the best interest of the public, making hard, often unpopular decisions. Most of them are high-level executives, entrepreneurs and farmers, supporting themselves, being their own bosses. They feel that the public is weakened into a state of slothfulness by government handouts.

They appear to believe that everyone can aspire to such independence as they themselves achieve. However they overlook the obvious privilege of their "higher" social circles that got them the opportunities they enjoy, hence the title of Nobility in this context.

They apparently are also very comfortable enjoying a business climate with fewer competitors than they would have if public education was geared toward self-sufficient entrepreneurship instead of labor.

These very same employers desire to pay as little as possible for labor and engage in political activity that prevents the increase in the minimum wage and impedes educational progress in order to maintain a labor surplus of low-skilled or unskilled workers. Then they blame the "unwashed masses" for their shortcomings and lament the absence of skilled workers.

They can't comprehend their own low-wage employees (who do all the work) living each day only one health care crisis or one car breakdown away from homelessness. They seek to roll back the social safety nets that were put in place in the aftermath of the Great Depression. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, school lunch programs and housing subsidies.

Some of them must have relatives who are disabled through no fault of their own. Apparently they are well taken care of through private means. Otherwise they would be more sympathetic to people on Social Security Disability Income.

They seem to think that Wall Street can handle the surplus cash in the Social Security fund, despite the long history of financial crises.

Invariably those who cannot see the suffering of the public will make political propositions that serve their own interests, and be as baffled by the public backlash as Mitt Romney was at the 2012 election.

The burden on the back of the "Nobility" is a mishmash of contradictions and disingenuous piety. They have forgotten the consequences of their greed throughout history. The continuous cycle of collapsing empires and nations was stifled once by The New Deal between 1933 and 1938.

It doesn't look like another New Deal is around the corner yet. We must wait for the next tragedy before we get the attention of the nobility, or get rid of them. It's really up to them after all as it was the French in 1787, and the Russians starting in 1905.