Monday, January 27, 2014

Dressing Room

Calhoun's Cannons for January 27, 2014

We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both.
                            Justice Louis Brandeis

Is it time to bring back Pat's "Respectable Republican Cloth Coat?"  Remember Richard Nixon and the "Checkers" speech?  If you're too young to remember, Senator Nixon, the 1952 vice presidential candidate, was in political trouble, accused of being a crook by taking "gifts" from "rich friends." In desperation, he went on TV to declare that, unlike some of his sleazier opponents in high office, he had no need of "rich friends" to gift him with fancy fur coats since his wife, Pat, was perfectly content wearing her "respectable Republican cloth coat."  And as for the gift of the little dog, Checkers, well, he wasn't going to give that back because his daughters loved the dog.

The speech was that bizarre Nixonian mix of hostility and Uriah Heepishness, but it saved his bacon, and the rest was history. But, looking at our latest gaggle of Politicians Going Bad, I have to ask: Is it time to bring back respectable cloth coats?

I mean, look at poor Mrs. Virginia Governor.  Her hubby gets elected and there she is, surrounded by the ultra-rich, their wives dripping with jewels and swanning around in couture while she's got to go to the balls in some off-the-rack gown from Bloomingdale's because that's all she can afford on her husband's crappy little Governor's salary.  And, unlike Pat Nixon, she's not contented, so what's a girl to do?

Well, Mrs. Virginia Governor hit the credit cards for herself and her hubby and both of them started raking in the boodle from a good "friend" who was more than happy to oblige.  And did we mention said "friend" at the time was also promoting his dubious herbal supplement business -- not, of course, that that would ever, ever be part of the "friendship" equation, mind you.  No, no, he was just helping out his very-dear-very-good "friend, the Gov.  And anyway, "friends" and "access" is how you do politics, Baby.

So, there we are.  Mr. & Mrs. Virginia Governor indicted on various corruption charges and the press is now blaming the greedy wife, because, if she had been like Pat Nixon, that "respectable Republican cloth coat" would have been good enough for her and we wouldn't be in this mess, Thank you very much.

Meanwhile, over in Davos, Switzerland, at the annual meeting of the mega-mega rich, the attendees, who rig the game and set the agendas that ensure that, like cream, the loot rises to the top and off  into secret Swiss and Caribbean bank accounts, were sipping champagne and slurping up caviar while pulling fake long faces for the Press (who were also scarfing down quail eggs and celery foam) at a potentially troubling number that was making the rounds:  85 people hold more wealth in their hands than 3.5 billion people.

85 versus 3.5 billion.  That's an easy number for the general public to get their minds around. That's why the Davosians surely felt a shudder and a chill.  Had they finally begun to hear the sound of sabots clumping up the stairs, and the ominous clicking of Madame DeFarge's knitting needles?

In our insane addiction to greed, and wealth, fame and the rigged game, we have beggared ourselves and the country and here we sit, part of the 3.5 -- a second-rate nation, all crumbling infrastructure, and unemployed poor shuffling our meager food-stamps, while Mrs. Virginia Governor gifts her husband with a Rolex because we've  forgotten that public servants are supposed to serve the public, not the other way around.

And so I ask, is it time for us to make respectable cloth coats -- Republican or Democratic -- the new ideal?  There are hard times coming, the seas are rising and The 3.5 are on the move.  Wretched excess and a Rolex won't save us from what's ahead.  Perhaps a sober brain, a national safety net, sturdy shoes and a serviceable jacket will.    


Sandra Gore said...

I get your point but in truth, the very few have always controlled the masses. We've convinced ourselves that it should be different - and are disillusioned when it isn't. But when you look at the long perspective of history, we're way better off than in the Crusades ;)

Bob from San Luis said...

Sandra: While we may be doing better than in the Crusades (provided you are not a slave :( ) marginally, were you in the work force during the 70s or 80s? I graduated high school in 1971, was already working at that time, continued in that job during junior collage, got married and moved in '73 but continued with that same industry and bought my current house in 1980, working that one job with my wife being able to stay home with our children. In 1994 we opened a small business in downtown SLO and did pretty well up until the crash of '08.

I look back upon the 70s and most of the 80s as a time of real prosperity for America; most people could do what I did, work one job making enough to buy a house and provide for my family; my point is, we don't have to go back 5, 6 or 800 years to point to how different things were. What changed to take away the prosperity that we had? IMO, the emergence of conservative thinking implementing policies that served to enrich the already rich by taking away the ability of those who are not to be engaged and represented. It didn't have to be the way it is, this was a choice, made by those who finally had a chance to change policy, institute a meme that if you weren't already rich, there must be something wrong with you. Please don't forget the invention during this time period of the "welfare queen" driving her Cadillac and buying her steaks with food stamps; a total fiction, but served the purpose of enraging those who were starting to be robbed by the wealthy and wanted to blame someone. Very convenient that we all were focused on blaming an "other".

Anonymous said...

The working class has been increasingly saddled with more taxes to implement even more welfare programs. Perhaps the rich seemed to feel the pinch a little less, but they have felt the increased tax load as well.

However, to continue to elect/re-elect those wealthy only leads to tax breaks for the wealthy and heavier tax burdens on the working class. Add in the increased welfare programs and the working man/woman has gotten fed up. The wealthy meanwhile feel smug as they have implemented wonderful welfare.

Of course the wealthy have more means to run for office than the working man. And with today's major polarization in politics, the common man is totally being run over.

There is no simple solution, but the elected need to begin to listen to the working class. We are ripe for a revolution in this country and I'm not sure anyone will win.

Anonymous said...

Let's not give the Crusades a bum rap, people. They were military failures, but they bought Europe time that it would not otherwise have had, back when dreams of a global caliphate were even more pernicious than they are now. Plus there's something to be said for taking faith seriously enough to defend it. Pillaging got out of hand in some cases, but (like Monty Python's send-up of the Spanish Inquisition) "crusader" only became an epithet when revisionist historians with an anti-Catholic axe to grind started writing about the Crusades.

Bob from San Luis said...

Anon @ 4:23: So you're suggesting that Christian Crusaders raiding, plundering, killing and maiming so-called "Godless" Muslims was a good time in history?

Churadogs said...

There were many "crusades," not just one, and they varied greatly, though I doubt the people who came under the sword of the Crusaders were ever happy about it. And far from being some anti-Catholic rant, pillaging and slaughter were very real, indeed, with some "crusades" being worse than others (They went on for centuries) And as for "faith," in truth, "faith" was a happy excuse (and cover) for what were basically various ongoing deteriorating economic problems in Europe -- "adventuring, rape, pillage and looting" always being a great way to refill Royal coffers. Plus it got rid of a lot of restive, starving, unemployed males who might otherwise start eyeing the King's boodle and pick up their scythes and head for the castle.

Bob's right, no need to go back to medieval times, since our problems are much closer to hand. There was an interesting article in yesterday's Trib, "More working-age Americans rely on food stamps," with an increasing number of those folks having some college training. So much for the fake conservative meme about lazy (non-working) welfare bums. Because our economy is so skewed, more and more working people are simply sinking out of sight. This is not good for this country.

Anonymous said...

OMG Calhoun admits to reading and now quoting the Trib!

If more of the work force is turning to welfare, who is funding the increased demands on welfare? Oh, that's right, increase the minimum wage which will lead to even more unemployment and more demands for welfare. How about increasing corporate taxes? Could that bring on more loss of jobs? Obviously the answer is to tax the rich, they don't provide any goods or services?

Since Ann defends the ever increasing of welfare for all, one must suspect she is on some form of welfare herself.

Bob from San Luis said...

Anon@8:34 : So it's wrong to read ? Even if it is the Tribune?

Did you happen to read the Tribune article yourself? From the article: "But a slow economic recovery with high unemployment, stagnant wages and an increasing gulf between low-wage and high-skill jobs also plays a big role." What the article does NOT mention is how certain companies, Fortune 500 companies who pay their CEOs in the millions, also offer instructions to their lowest paid workers how to go about apply for government assistance to supplement their low wages.

These people are working, some of them at two or three jobs; but because they earn at or just barely above minimum wage, they cannot make ends meet; do you honestly want them to have to choose between paying rent and buying food?

Churadogs said...

Bob, I think Anon wants "those" people to die, which he sees as solving the problem.