The elites don’t understand how they’ve changed at all


by Richard Exell    
2:02 pm - May 4th 2012

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There was a wonderful letter in yesterdays Independent in support of Rupert Murdoch. Amongst other things, it said

He feeds over 54,000 families every day worldwide.

I don’t think the writer (someone who “had the pleasure to work with Rupert Murdoch during my career in Australia and London”) means that Rupe’s the Father Christmas of soup runs, zooming from one time zone to another to reach the needy.

Plainly he’s referring to the News International workforce – and my first thought was that it would be more accurate to say that every day 54,000 families worldwide feed him.

But it did strike me as giving an insight into a conservative problem that people are finding hard to explain.

Over at the New York Review of Books Blog there’s a really interesting article by Elizabeth Drew about the Presidential election. One of the puzzles she highlights is why the Republicans have chosen such an unattractive candidate, and “what it is that causes him to stumble and say oafish things.”

She lists some of the things he’s said that can’t be doing him any electoral good, such as his throw-away line that his wife has “a couple of Cadillacs” or that the way to cope with a tough jobs market is to borrow some money from your parents. And the things he’s done are even worse:

… going for the presidency he didn’t bother to pull out funds he’d stashed away in the Cayman Islands or Switzerland or hold off in expanding their home in La Jolla in a $12 million renovation, including an elevator for the four-car garage. The symbolism of such things goes well beyond the “tin ear,” and suggests a paralyzing inability to understand the circumstances of most others: What else can explain Romney’s look of disgust as he disdained the cookies the hostess had placed before him when he met with a middle class group around a picnic table in Bethel, Pennsylvania?

But the tin ear isn’t a good explanation. Ms Drew herself points out that FDR and JFK were wealthy too and didn’t suffer from this alienating distance from ordinary people. In the end, she offers an intelligent connection to modern politics: Romney had to win the nomination from a party that has moved so far to the right “that any suggestion that he cares for the plight of others could have endangered his prospects”.

That rings truer, but Ronald Reagan was able to advocate right-wing positions without suggesting that he came from a different planet.

There’s a hint about what has changed since the 198os in the quotation I began with. There is a notion – common in the USA and becoming more common in Britain – that rich people are the source of all progress and the rest of us are in their debt.

In this narrative, less fortunate people – especially if they expect social benefits – are “parasites” (to use Ayn Rand‘s terminology.)

I might have found it more difficult to argue with a claim that 54,000 people’s jobs were partly created by Murdoch’s entrepreneurship. The notion that he feeds them and their families is ludicrous – but not if you move in circles where the Randian worship of Business Man is taken for granted.

Romney says these things because nothing in his life so far has made him stop to wonder if they might not be true. America is creating a nobility with no sense of nobless oblige; but how far behind are we?

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About the author
Richard is an regular contributor. He is the TUC’s Senior Policy Officer covering social security, tax credits and labour market issues.
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Reader comments


Very thought-provoking. This rings true to me.

Another quasi-Randian feauture is the disdain for the law demonstrated by these so-called entrepreneurs. Whether it’s the Murdoch law-breaking, or Addison Lee telling its drivers to drive in bus lanes, or RyanAir pretending that it doesn’t have to take care of its passengers when a volcano erupts, there is a tendency to either ignore the law or make a lot of effort to get it changed. And this tends to be idolised and be seen as part of the role of the thrusting, dynamic entreprfeneur.

3. Charlieman

@OP, Richard Exell: “Romney says these things because nothing in his life so far has made him stop to wonder if they might not be true.”

Romney may be the candidate but he only has one vote. If we take the crude premise that Romney or ANother Republican candidate will draw most votes from middle class aspirational voters, we have to look at the voters more than the candidate.

Why do they persist in belief of the “American Dream” when it is evident that you cannot drag yourself up using bootstraps if you do not have bootstraps? Do they understand that social mobility can be a two way elevator, and that going down isn’t nice?

A candidate who promotes self deceptions and prejudices will always appeal to confused voters. Election campaigns should be about opening minds.

OP quote: “Over at the New York Review of Books Blog there’s a really interesting article by Elizabeth Drew about the Presidential election. One of the puzzles she highlights is why the Republicans have chosen such an unattractive candidate, and “what it is that causes him to stumble and say oafish things.””

Elizabeth Drew could have been talking about the two main candidates for London Mayor.

As far as the US is concerned, it’s a kind of “second-generation wealthy syndrome”. Prior to the Second World War, there were only a few *seriously* rich families in the US. The explosion of the postwar US economy elevated hundreds, if not thousands, more. Mitt Romney is the scion of one of those families, and as such has no inkling of the work and luck required to elevate his father to the position he was born into and takes for granted. The previous generation of second-generation wealthy were equally distanced from the lives of working people too, witness George H.W. Bush being flummoxed and awed by his first encounter with a supermarket barcode scanner!

This generation, however, grew up with the writings of Rand and took them entirely to heart. Some even developed a quasi-religious aspect, and the boom in megachurches and partisan right-wing media that came in the wake of Reagan helped foster the belief among the working classes that all wealth, even inherited wealth, should be perceived as a kind of natural superiority.

I don’t think this belief has taken hold in the UK yet – the national psyche is too cynical, by and large. Cameron coasted into power on – what we were told by the right-wing media – was a wave of discontentment with Gordon Brown and New Labour, and yet still he couldn’t achieve an overall majority because the wounds left by the Thatcher years were still too raw and people didn’t trust him.

I still retain some hope.

One thing that I observe among the sort of people that I associate with the sort of voters I perceive as voting for the Camerons of this world is an assumption that if they have been successful, it has been purely by their hard work and virtue, and that if they have not, it is because others have taken what is theirs.

It is very easy then to encourage people to think that if they have worked hard and not had the money and success they feel they deserve, it is because lazy people/undeserving people have taken it all.

It is also easy to sell the idea that people who are like what you encourage them to believe that they are like should be successful and rich.

Hence resentment focussed on sick and disabled and unemployed people rather than on the wealthiest of people.

6. So Much For Subtlety

But the tin ear isn’t a good explanation. Ms Drew herself points out that FDR and JFK were wealthy too and didn’t suffer from this alienating distance from ordinary people.

Actually that is not true. FDR especially repeatedly made his dislike of ordinary people clear. What he did not have was a perpetually hostile media following him around blowing up every little comment into a would-be national scandal. In fact he had just the opposite. Both him and JFK had obedient media that fawned on them and covered up their foibles and even crimes.

In the end, she offers an intelligent connection to modern politics: Romney had to win the nomination from a party that has moved so far to the right “that any suggestion that he cares for the plight of others could have endangered his prospects”.

Which says much about the author but little about Romney. Romney has been giving about a quarter of his income to charity for as long as his tax records go back. Unlike Obama who cannot even be bothered to double his brother’s annual income by sending him $20. That is on top of the tithing that Romney does.

It is just sloppy, lazy and vindictive “journalism”.

That rings truer, but Ronald Reagan was able to advocate right-wing positions without suggesting that he came from a different planet.

So you say now. That was not the media’s attitude at the time. Being, of course, firmly in favour of anyone who was against Reagan. Nor will it be what people remember about Romney in a decade or so.

7. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

Which says much about the author but little about Romney. Romney has been giving about a quarter of his income to charity for as long as his tax records go back.

Lie, it’s actually nearer to 15% and a lot of it goes to his ‘family foundation’.

How ‘charitable’ some of the institutions he donates to could also be questioned, a library bearing the name of a mass murdering tyrant or a school responsible for untold destruction, for example, is not quite the same as the Red Cross.

The average donation rate for people earning $10m and up is 6.5% but of course we don’t know their effective tax rates. Gingrich for example donated 2.6% on his $3m but paid a tax rate of 31.7% versus Romney’s 13.9%

It’s easy to squirrel money away in a private foundation when you’re not giving it to the government.

Unlike Obama who cannot even be bothered to double his brother’s annual income by sending him $20.

Lie, over the course of the past 12 years Obama has donated an average of 6.3% though this rate rose as his income did to 14% in 2010, he also donated the $1.4m from the Nobel prize to charity, though that didn’t show up on his tax return because it wasn’t classed as income.

The developer needs to update your code, you’re getting sloppy.

There’s an interesting piece at New scientist on this sort of thing (£) http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21428611.100-poor-little-rich-minds-the-price-of-wealth.html?full=true

I am affraid that without Rupert’s drive, initiative, and intelligence those jobs wouldn’t exist, so it is very much he who provides the jobs. There is a reason why only 1% of the world run the biggest corps. Its because only 1% of the population can do it. Sorry, but thats the reality.

I in no way condone the phone hacking though. This is disgusting and hopfully they root out those responsible and prosecute them to the full.

10. So Much For Subtlety

7. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

Lie, it’s actually nearer to 15% and a lot of it goes to his ‘family foundation’.

No it isn’t. It depends on how you count it. And his family foundation hands it out to worthy causes. So what?

How ‘charitable’ some of the institutions he donates to could also be questioned, a library bearing the name of a mass murdering tyrant or a school responsible for untold destruction, for example, is not quite the same as the Red Cross.

No but he did neither of those things. But stopping medication is never a good idea. The biggest recipients were the Mormon Church, the George W Bush Library, an MS charity, a Cancer charity and a foundation that helps sick children. Better than the Red Cross.

It’s easy to squirrel money away in a private foundation when you’re not giving it to the government.

Perhaps. But that is not what Romney has been doing. Romney had one year where most of his income was taxed at a lower rate. But he has been giving all his life.

Lie, over the course of the past 12 years Obama has donated an average of 6.3% though this rate rose as his income did to 14% in 2010, he also donated the $1.4m from the Nobel prize to charity, though that didn’t show up on his tax return because it wasn’t classed as income.

Well not a lie. You can claim something else about Obama is true but it does not prove that he sent $20 to his brother. Thus doubling his brother’s income. Because he didn’t. In the course of the past 12 years is dishonest. From 2000 to 2004 Obama gave about 1% of his income to charity. Then from 2005 to 2006 he gave about 5%. It is only since it has become a political liability that he has increased the scale of his giving. So it is a political stunt no more. While Romney has always given. Ever since he finished university.

So that lie would be yours wouldn’t it?

The figures from the Washington Post:

2005: $77,315 to charity out of income of $1.66 million (4.6 percent)
2004: $2,500 out of $207,647 (1.2 percent)
2003: $3,400 out of $238,327 (1.4 percent)
2002: $1,050 out of $259,394 (0.4 percent)

11. Dissident

@Freeman

Ruperts drive, initiative & intelligence?
The anecdotes of his meetings add up to “I don’t care, get the goddam job done” “I want you to get that commie ba*****” or other edifying examples of a high IQ…

Without 54,000 brains that do have cognitive abilities higher than a lizard, where would your precious Rupert “hacker” Murdock be? By the way, if any of those 54,000 brains go off message, how long before they are blacklisted?

Apologies for just posting a link, I was short of time. essentially the article @8 covers psychological research into the effects of wealth being conducted in the US.

Looking at the interactions of pairs randomly selected from 100 volunteers, Dacher Keltner and Michael Kraus found that wealthier people interacted less warmly with others than poorer people. They tended to use less eye-contact and to check the time, fiddle with cellphones and fiddle with their backpacks.

From the article: “The team suspected that these different styles of interaction might have reflected the participants’ ability to judge another person’s feelings. To find out if wealth can influence empathy, the researchers first asked 200 university employees, with jobs ranging from administrative support to managerial positions, to rate the emotions expressed in 20 photographs of human faces – a standard test of emotional intelligence. As predicted, those with the more prestigious jobs were consistently worse at the task.”

“In another experiment, the team divided a group of students into pairs and asked them to act out mock interviews – one student as the potential employer, one as the would-be employee. Afterwards, they were asked to rate their feelings, such as excitement, hope or worry, using a 10-point scale. They also had to estimate the scores of their partners. Once again, the students from poorer backgrounds were better at guessing their partner’s feelings than those from wealthier backgrounds (Psychological Science, vol 21, p 1716).

“Importantly, Keltner and Kraus have found that these differences were fluid, changing with the participant’s perception of their position within a group. When asked to imagine a conversation with someone they deemed to be higher up the social ladder, the wealthier participants became immediately better at reading emotions. The team concluded that the observed effects are probably automatic reactions that lead us to become more vigilant and mindful of others when we feel subordinate.”

“Keen to investigate the way in which wealth might influence other behaviours, the team turned to an experiment designed to test altruism, in which each participant has to decide how to divide a reward with an anonymous partner who is supposedly sitting in another room. Despite being poorer, people from less-privileged backgrounds tended to give more than those higher on the social ladder. Similar results emerged from an online survey and game (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol 99, p 771).

“This selfish tendency on the part of the better-off seems to translate to all kinds of situations, with laboratory and real-world experiments revealing many instances in which wealthier people are more likely to behave unethically than those from poorer backgrounds. For instance, Keltner’s latest study has found that richer people are more likely to commit an offence while driving, eat sweets that are intended for children, or cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 109, p 4086).”

There needs to be more research into how these findings translate into real-life situations, but it does seem that money makes for a less sociable person.

13. Dissident

1% is also the proportion of our species who are psychopaths, are you sure you want to trust YOUR life to someone who is incapable of empathy, of having a concience, or any other aspect of a well rounded human being. Especially when those same psychopaths want the laws protecting you from their actions to be weakened, or scrapped altogether?

14. Dissident

Cherub, good point. read that article myself.

Who says Rupert – or any other business owner for that matter – “creates jobs”? Ok, so some 50,000 people are employed in his organisation.

But given the fiercely competitive nature of NewsCorp and its subsidiaries, how many jobs have been lost in other newspaper titles or potential broadcasters?

Who also says that had Newscorp not existed that these 50,000 people would not be gainfully employed elsewhere?

SMFS is barking up the wrong tree.

I don’t care how much one person gives to charity. That figure is a diversion – the rich use it as displays of munificence, but really they’re petty displays of arrogance.

All I want to know is does that person pay their proper share of taxes?

Yes or no.

And if you have some artificial vehicle hiding income in some rat hole in the Caribbean then the answer is automatically No.

America is creating a nobility with no sense of nobless oblige; but how far behind are we?

Created–past tense. And we’re well ahead of this particular curve.

18. Dissident

@ Ben M

it is more accurate to say 54,000 people generate the wealth Rupert ‘hacker’ Murdock accumulates, and those 54,000 people depend on the disposable wealth of millions of people…

the same is true with all 1%ers!

@ 16 BenM
Romney scrupulously pays the taxes that the US Federal government, controlled by his opponent, asks him to pay.
He separately, because he was brought up as a Mormon, tithes his income and has done so since before he became a public figure. As for a “display of munificence” – who do you think you’re fooling – that only got published because his political opponents created such a fuss. Are you a fan of Newt Gingrich? If not why produce such a ridiculous comment?
You are clearly unaware that the US government taxes their citizens on their worldwide income (including any they may receive in Connecticut, the Caribbean, or China or Timbuktu).

20. Dissident

@ John77

what you post @19 may well be true, but if Mit Romney was true to the teachings of his faith, he would only have a modest income, enough for a comfortable life.

the rest of that $200m fortune would be in a trust fund for charity, and to chip in the real costs of the civilisation that allowed such a fortune to be accumulated in the first place.

taxes pay for civilisation, as you would discover when you walk or drive down a private road (collectively owned by the homeowners) in an upper middle class area. they are worse than the roads on the local sink estate…

21. Dissident

& don’t you ever find it annoying to pay a higher proportion of your income to subsidise multimillionaires??

22. margin4error

Interesting reading.

The notion that the rich somewhat resent what the poor have is not new. Some have always held the view that the money is by nature theirs, and anything they have to give us in order that we do things for them can feel a little like theft to them.

The more interesting thing is of course that those who instead feel that it is entrepreneurship that effectively feeds us, tend to be on the same political side these days as those who think everything they give us is theft.

Maybe this has blurred the lines a bit. Murdoch’s entrepreneurship, after all, didn’t create the Times. The Times already existed. So he just bought it. Is buying an institution really entrepreneurship, and thus “feeding” the people who actually make it a good paper to read? Obviously not.

But that the business elite and the aristocratic elite blur the boundaries between them because of the complete detachment that have from those they feed, the perception, language and feeling about it is perhaps no longer divided.

23. David Ellis

If anybody’s been getting a free lunch its Rup on the back of his intimidated, banned from organising, overworked employees and the billions in tax payer subsidies he’s received from various UK, Chinese, US and Australian governments over the years..

24. Dissident

@margin4error
the worst offenders for theft are aristos and corpies. are you suggesting that they exterionise the guilt they should feel to the rest of us?!

@david ellis
thankyou for pointing it out, what little of their income they pay in taxes, they get back in subsidies…
words like freeloaders & scroungers should apply to them, but they own the news, so manufacture the consent. saying different is off message, so politically INcorrect you would face a minimum of a smear…
in some parts of the global colony we live in you are smeared literally – across the asphalt

25. margin4error

dissident

I’d never thought of it in such psychological terms – but yeah, perhaps that’s why they see it that way.

Though I should stress not all do. I think there’s a sense of entitlement that is strong through those born to the elite. But not all convert that into resentment of us poor folk.

26. Dissident

@margin4error

true, not all the economic elite are amoral psycopathic power junkies, some are decent – and self aware – enough to interionise and understand…

but do you include the likes of ‘sir’ Phillip Greed, Rupert ‘hacker’ Murdock et al in that category? i find it hard to…

the overwhelming majority are people you would’t really trust with your money, because it suddenly, and legalistically becomes theirs. which leads onto another problem with the ecenomic elite, their scitzophrenic patsies…

27. margin4error

dissident

don’t even get me started on green. A man who “borrowed” a billion from arcadia and then used the company’s poor financial position to take away his staff’s pensions. (apparently he only feeds thousands until they are too old to labour under him anymore.)

So no – you are right – i don’t apply that defense of some of them to those who are so obviously scum.

@ 20 Dissident
How much do you know about the Mormon faith of which Mitt Romney is AFAIK an adherent? I am not an expert on it but I should expect it to ask him to use his income well, rather than not have one – if no-one earned more than he/she needed then there would be no surplus to provide for the needy. Other sources suggest that Mormons *do* earn a lot of money and many (some say most) of them tithe.
If I followed your line of thought I should have gone over to working part-time when I was a bachelor in my thirties and then had to rely on the state to support my children in my fifties: instead of which I worked bloody hard and tithed (both increasing the net benefit to humanity) and still had a full-time job when I married so that I had enough to support my wife and, somewhat later, children.
No communist state has lasted longer than a man’s lifetime, but Mormonism has in Utah and societies nominally professing adherence to Christianity have lasted nearly two millennia.
Taxes do NOT pay for civilisation and if you think that the quality of the road surface is a measure of civilisation, then you need to learn the meaning of the word.

@ 21 Dissident
If that was aimed at me then since the only multi-millionaires I subsidise are either (i) through the European CAP, (ii) blatant government corruption like Brown giving big contracts to Arthur Andersen in recompense for funding advice to New Labour in opposition (iii) lawyers like Cherie Blair, you should go over and join Tim Worstall.
Nobody get a subsidy by giving to a genuine charity – you always end up with less money; that Richard Murphy can try to suggest otherwise is shocking in someone who claims to have been a tax expert.

30. margin4error

John

just as a historical point – taxes have paid for civilization before now. (and I’m talking only of the literal and not getting into a discussion about what is and isn’t civilized.)

While the Greeks used a system of slavery to fund the political organisation of their people – by freeing people up from the toil of the land to become citizens (literally city dwellers) – that was far from the only social order in the historical world of civilization that existed before feudal systems, and our more modern capitalist system where we might say people starving to death is not civilized, but where I guess that would be a matter of opinion. (it may be some one thinks starvation means a social order is not civilization – while others think starvation is perfectly civilized – but ho hum)

certainly the roman empire saw a great many cities – and by roman definition, civilization meant having stone cities (those without were not deemed rival civilizations at all) – which were funded in their running by a system of taxes that allowed those who organised civilization and ran it, along with their armies, to be free from the land.

This is only one rather glaring example of taxes paying for civilization – and I know this is way off the point and a big distraction from the rather out of touch perception that people don’t earn their living and are in fact gifted it by those who employ them – but I do like to highlight the hypocrisy of you selecting odd historical examples of your point without knowing historical examples that undermine your other point.

31. Dissident

john, taxes paid for all 20/21C tech, one way or another. just about everything you consider the trappings of a modern society came from taxpayers investing (you call it subsidising)

Whether it is schools, roads, hospitals, welfare (the roman empire had dole for centuries, how the patricians profited…) In Britain and western europe that empire died more through tax avoidance & evasion than the obsession of that civ’s imperial purple wannabes.

that was damaging enough, wasn’t it?

In our civ, everything you enjoy is through taxation and subsidy via taxation, only when it is ‘profitable’ do the self proclaimed entrepreneurs get involved…

32. So Much For Subtlety

13. Dissident

1% is also the proportion of our species who are psychopaths, are you sure you want to trust YOUR life to someone who is incapable of empathy, of having a concience, or any other aspect of a well rounded human being. Especially when those same psychopaths want the laws protecting you from their actions to be weakened, or scrapped altogether?

That is not the question. The question is if 1% of our population is sociopathic, do you want them working in businesses like Apple, Steve Jobs being a very good example, or do you want them in politics. Because more laws won’t make them any less sociopathic. It will just make channeling that sociopathy into producing things we want like iPads less attractive. And winning power even more attractive.

BenM

Who says Rupert – or any other business owner for that matter – “creates jobs”?

Pretty much anyone who thinks about it.

But given the fiercely competitive nature of NewsCorp and its subsidiaries, how many jobs have been lost in other newspaper titles or potential broadcasters?

No idea. But you will agree that at one point we did not have newspapers. Then we did. Someone like Rupert created them. Thus making all our lives better. Well, in theory anyway. Murdoch has pioneered pay TV. An industry that did not exist when he started out. He saved newspapers like the Times.

Who also says that had Newscorp not existed that these 50,000 people would not be gainfully employed elsewhere?

Sure, without people like Murdoch they would be shoveling dung or banging sticks together in the hope of creating fire. To quote a rather unpleasant man:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded- here and there, now and then- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as “bad luck.”

BenM

I don’t care how much one person gives to charity. That figure is a diversion – the rich use it as displays of munificence, but really they’re petty displays of arrogance.

In other words Ben admits that the person he supports is a cheapskate who is not inclined to share his own wealth except for blatant political point scoring while demanding everyone else does. Romney gave in silence. If it is public now it is because other people demanded he talk about it.

All I want to know is does that person pay their proper share of taxes?

Yes or no.

By definition Romney does. End of story. He also gives huge amounts of money to other worthy causes. Better causes than giving it to the Fed. But I do note the class based criticism – you object to Romney doing good. You insist that his money should go to support people like you, civil servants with liberal educations, not to support cancer research or the like. It is not that he has paid more than he needs to in order to help the deserving. It is that he has not paid the wages of more useless bureaucrats to oversee whatever token spending the government likes to make.

And if you have some artificial vehicle hiding income in some rat hole in the Caribbean then the answer is automatically No.

Which does not apply to Romney. End of that claim.

Dissident

but if Mit Romney was true to the teachings of his faith, he would only have a modest income, enough for a comfortable life.

Sorry but could you please explain to me which teachings of the Mormon faith require Romney to only have a modest income?

the rest of that $200m fortune would be in a trust fund for charity, and to chip in the real costs of the civilisation that allowed such a fortune to be accumulated in the first place.

Which is what he is doing. He has been moving his money into a trust fund. I also notice that no one was making these claims when the vastly richer John Kerry was running for office. Even though he slept his way to that money instead of making it like Romney.

taxes pay for civilisation, as you would discover when you walk or drive down a private road (collectively owned by the homeowners) in an upper middle class area. they are worse than the roads on the local sink estate…

No they do not. Taxes pay for the local sink estate. Entrepreneurs like Romney create civilisation.

Dissident

don’t you ever find it annoying to pay a higher proportion of your income to subsidise multimillionaires??

I do. Which is why the government should stop supporting the CAP and should move all their job ads on line so that I don’t have to pay for Polly’s Tuscan villa any more.

@ 30 and 31
Civilisation is not the same as the state and in this country most schools, hospitals and welfare were not originally funded through taxes. The government took them over. I think that I was over 50 before I first used a facility originally built by the state.
There is a lot more rubbish to refute but I’ll leave that to the morning.

34. guy herbert

” FDR and JFK were wealthy too and didn’t suffer from this alienating distance from ordinary people” –

On the contrary. They scarcely had to deal with ordinary people at all; and the chances of a telling faux pas reaching the public through the slow expensive press of the day (deferential to all politicians, but particularly fawning on JFK) were tiny. Ordinary people were scarcely aware that FDR was crippled by polio or that JFK was seriously ill and on a massive cocktail of drugs, never mind any personal failings. The magic was manufactured, and more so controlled, in a way that’s impossible for modern politicians.

The elites may or may not have changed. I suspect they are a bit more open, and a LOT more like the rest of us than they were. But modern media makes it harder to hide.

35. margin4error

john

you’ll note I referred to history – and pre-history – not the heritage of schooling in england.

There was a reason for that. civilisation has many definitions – but by roman civilisation it is impossible to argue that it wasn’t funded through tax. Their definition was intrinsically tied to the building of stone cities – and their stone cities were paid for by a well documented system of taxes that freed unprecedented numbers of people from working the land.

And yes, I’m more than aware that in many ways we would consider rome an uncivilised city 2,000 years ago – but they didn’t – and one could just as easilly claim starvation is uncivilised, and we have in this country had rules by which starvation is prevented by tax since John Locke framed a law making local councils legally accountable for those who die of starvation in their areas.

In reality – civilisation and tax are intrinsically intertwined.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. SyzygySyzygysue

    The elites don’t understand how they’ve changed at all | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/TtAm3cR2 @libcon Citicorps' Plutonomists

  2. Michele Paule

    On the myth that rich people are the source of all progress and the rest of us are in their debt: http://t.co/Y4hu1Jf0 via @libcon

  3. Sadold Git

    Interesting observation on elites in context of the US election http://t.co/hDokczsZ

  4. Pete Williams

    There's a notion in USA, & increasingly in UK, that the rich are the source of all progress & we're all in their debt http://t.co/ICFBLWz2

  5. Roger Hammersland

    America is creating a nobility with no sense of nobless oblige; but how far behind are we?
    http://t.co/bxrlSGuD via @libcon

  6. Nigel Stanley

    RT @RichardExell: Me on Liberal Conspiracy about some of the tyhings the elites don't get: http://t.co/NwyILNQ1

  7. unionlearn SERTUC

    The elites don’t understand how they’ve changed at all | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/GCRdiWap via @libcon

  8. BevR

    The elites don’t understand how they’ve changed at all | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/0y2XYzg0 via @libcon

  9. Sam Kington

    The elites don't understand how they've changed at all http://t.co/QhbMhwaA – Romney's gaffes are more than just a tin ear for politics

  10. Foxy52

    The elites don’t understand how they’ve changed at all | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/0y2XYzg0 via @libcon

  11. BevR

    The elites don’t understand how they’ve changed at all | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/0y2XYzg0 via @libcon

  12. Foxy52

    The elites don’t understand how they’ve changed at all | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/0y2XYzg0 via @libcon

  13. Matt Seymour

    It would explain even more with the link http://t.co/c0zgh2yh

  14. Jamie

    A wonderful piece explaining how the elites don’t understand how they’ve changed at all ~ http://t.co/aP7MS7bH via @libcon @stackee

  15. Alan Casual

    The elites don’t understand how they’ve changed at all | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/GCRdiWap via @libcon

  16. James Hargrave

    The elites don’t understand how they’ve changed at all | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/KxTD0UBi

  17. Jeni Parsons

    The elites don’t understand how they’ve changed at all | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/fChLUrca via @libcon

  18. Ananizapta

    The elites don’t understand how they’ve changed at all | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/KxTD0UBi





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