The politics of ‘Taking’

August 3rd, 2015

~ “There are no political solutions.”

The above quote is from the Profile on my Twitter page, @CityofNikko.  After a lifetime participating in, witnessing, and pondering politics that is my honest conclusion.  Politics and virtually all politicians just haven’t gotten us anywhere; at least not anywhere particularly good.

There is no ‘politics of inclusion’; politics is mostly about exclusion, separation, the ‘we’ versus the ‘they’.  Politics is polarizing, it is multi-polar.  Politics postulates that every voter is a member of the downtrodden, the threatened, the wise that if they only just had a little more power could actually ‘win’.  Billionaires, peasants, undocumented immigrants, border guards (or just guards) for the rich, it’s all and always the same – the threatened and downtrodden seeking salvation through the power of the vote; the power of the political party.

Did I mention the theory that this endless, timeless, struggle is between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’?  On one side the idea is to have the ‘haves’ protected in their endless pursuit of taking, ‘just taking’, without the justice, as in ‘just take it’.  On the other side is the endless clamor for wealth redistribution, a new deal, a fair deal, a ‘better deal’ perhaps.  It’s like the pursuit in buying another new or used car; it’s supposed to be just transportation, but pretty soon it becomes ones’ whole, entire life.

If it’s an orchard, is there shortage?  At what age should one work?

‘Taking’ has become America’s most watched spectator sport.  Every one is tracking it, keeping score, paying attention to tax brackets, incomes, bonuses, salaries and very often net worth.  Forbes produces an annual list of ‘winners and losers’; if you’re not on the Forbes list you are a loser, or so the meme goes.

The Horatio Alger version, according to most millionaires and billionaires, is that there is always enough money to go around.  The extreme version is that the planet could have 7 billion billionaires; all consuming resources as aggressively as most billionaires do.  The planet would be fine with 10 billion airplanes, 21 billion cars, 49 billion 7 bedroom houses, and 20 billion private gardeners, butlers, chauffeurs, cooks, and maids.  But then, that is where the question of whether all those service people can all be billionaires too enters in.

Most Americans never get that far.  A billion, even a million or two is too much to expect, or ask for.  Most Americans are inclined to settle for an increase in minimum wage, a larger social security check, a bigger annual tax write-off on the business, or a bigger government contract as a part of big (or bigger) business.  If one is unemployed, all they want out of government might be a job.  If one has a government job, one just wants benefits and a better retirement.  If one is retired it’s probably interest they are after, or a government interest in the ‘health’ of the market.

The theory of accounting suggests that in the end there is a ledger.  The ledger suggests that it is a zero sum game; what goes into one pocket comes out of another, “your loss is my gain.”  The gain is the ‘taking’, the ‘take’.  In an unjust system there is never a profit, just the ‘take’, gotten by ‘whatever it takes’.

The idea of politics is that by political debate and persuasion a politician can get one party or another to give up what they have, or a portion of what they have, willingly.  The idea is to appeal to the ‘common good’, to ‘patriotic spirit’, to a sympathy for the rich or a sympathy for the poor, with the idea that if one makes a “sacrifice” (now) the quality of life will be better (for them) in the long run.  Politics is not about altruism, it is defined as the pursuit of self interest.  In the end the rich do not really want a revolution, and in the end the poor really do know that life would be far more satisfactory without the rich even existing.  It’s not ‘give and take’, it’s a quandary.

The campaign slogan for Barry Goldwater was, “in you heart you know he’s right.”  It was a pun of sorts, ‘Barry’ was the right-wing politician, Rockefeller, his primary opponent, was further left.  ‘Bernie’ Sanders might run as, “the only one left to vote for.”  It’s the same idea, a political pun, for the run.

But, Barry was right.  It’s the ‘heart’ thing.  Every American in their heart knows that the rich are never going to give up one single dime as a result of political pressure.  Patriotism just will not go that far, nor fear of a revolution, nor common good, nor some moral saw about ‘doing the right thing’.  It’s not 1964 anymore, even Kansas isn’t Kansas anymore.

So the idea that politics as usual has a chance of solving or sorting out anything is totally bogus.  The change must come from somewhere far deeper.  It’s not apple pie and the American way anymore, that train left the station.

Back of the train politics, or is it just being ‘railroaded’?

To coin a phrase, stop the whistlestop speeches, enough is enough.

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