False Consciousness and the Rich

Ah, things were so much simpler in the old days, when rich guys would carry moneybags between their homes on Fifth Avenue and the ones in Newport.  Meanwhile proles, living in Dickensian squalor, toiled 18 hours a day in filthy and dangerous mills and factories.  It was easy for the plutocrats to vote their interest, because both the Democrats and Republicans were completely bought out and did their bidding.

Nowadays things are harder.  The Democratic Party believes in the redistribution of wealth, from rich to poor, whereas the Republican Party believes that the rich should keep their money and everyone else can take a hike.  Therefore, one would expect the rich to vote Republican, and everyone else to vote Democratic.  But it doesn't seem to work that way.  In What's the Matter with Kansas? Thomas Frank

... finds extraordinary irony in working-class Kansans' overwhelming support for Republican politicians, despite the fact that, in his view, the laissez-faire economic policies of the Republican party are wreaking havoc on their communities and livelihoods for the benefit of the "extremely wealthy." 

In other words, these poor deluded souls are victims of false consciousness:

Members of a subordinate class (workers, peasants, serfs) suffer from false consciousness in that their mental representations of the social relations around them systematically conceal or obscure the realities of subordination, exploitation, and domination those relations embody. domination those relations embody. 

Speaking of poor deluded souls and Marxist ideology: Senator Barack Obama got a lot of flack recently for his comments to a group of San Francisco multimillionaires about the false consciousness of proles in Pennsylvania.  I don't want to rehash these words again; we've all heard enough. What intrigued me more was the audience, the San Francisco multimillionaires.  From Leach Garchik's gossip column in the March 26 San Francisco Chronicle: [boldface in the original]

The candidate will be around here on April 6, at a series of events that includes three $2,300-a-head maximum-strength fundraisers: Sara and Sohaib Abbasi are throwing a luncheon in Atherton; he'll zip up to Nancy and Bob Farese's house in Kentfield in mid-afternoon; and proceed from there to Ann and Gordon Getty's in San Francisco. (There's also a mere $1,000-a-person do at the home of Carolyn Davis and Alex Mehran that night.)

I'm afraid the only one of these people whose name rings a bell is Gordon Getty:

...the fourth child of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty.  When his father died in 1976, control of his US$2 billion trust was transferred to Gordon... Getty is one of the nation's leading venture capitalists and philanthropists. In 2002, he donated US$3 million to the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

Let's see...a 10% return would be $200,000,000 per year, so the big donation cited above is 1.5% of his annual income.  Forgive me if I say:  meh.

Why is this billionaire supporting the most liberal senator in 2007?  Mr. Obama was awarded a perfect score of 100% by the Citizens for Tax Justice.  He opposes a reduction in estate taxes and capital gains taxes.  These certainly sound like bad positions for Mr. Getty and his friends, if they want to maintain their wealth.  And how much do you want to bet that at tax time they tell their accountants, "Oh, don't worry about all these deductions.  We have plenty of money; we want to pay our fair share, and then some."

Mr. Getty:  You are a victim of false consciousness.  As are your friends, the Abbasis, the Fareses, et al.

Or maybe not.

You've heard the old joke, "Why are rich people so stingy?  That's how they got rich!"  Like most jokes, there's an element of truth in it.  I'm inclined to believe:  "Why do some people have a great deal of wealth and power?  Because they have devoted their talent and energy to acquiring wealth and power."  And they're not about to give it up.  I don't think it's unbridled generosity (the polar opposite of unbridled greed) that causes them to support the good Senator.  I think he represents their economic interests.

How?  I don't know; I'm basically just a guy who pulls a monthly paycheck.  Maybe it has something to do with being able to assemble a team of lawyers and accountants to establish offshore trusts and other devices to minimize taxes.  Maybe the estate tax encourages heirs to quickly sell their family business at bargain prices to, what are they called, venture capitalists?    But hey, I'm just thrashing around here.  (By the way, tax laws regarding venture capital are somewhat murky.  However laws can be rewritten, especially if you have friends who can give you Hope for Change, right Mr. Getty?) 

Back to the proles in Kansas and Pennsylvania:  I don't think they saw their economic fortunes go down under Reagan, up under Clinton, and down again under Bush.  In fact, they probably suspect that it doesn't matter a whole lot which party is in the White House, and perhaps that's one of the reasons why the majority of them (and us) don't bother to vote at all.

But that's another story.  It's late, and I have to go to work tomorrow.
Ah, things were so much simpler in the old days, when rich guys would carry moneybags between their homes on Fifth Avenue and the ones in Newport.  Meanwhile proles, living in Dickensian squalor, toiled 18 hours a day in filthy and dangerous mills and factories.  It was easy for the plutocrats to vote their interest, because both the Democrats and Republicans were completely bought out and did their bidding.

Nowadays things are harder.  The Democratic Party believes in the redistribution of wealth, from rich to poor, whereas the Republican Party believes that the rich should keep their money and everyone else can take a hike.  Therefore, one would expect the rich to vote Republican, and everyone else to vote Democratic.  But it doesn't seem to work that way.  In What's the Matter with Kansas? Thomas Frank

... finds extraordinary irony in working-class Kansans' overwhelming support for Republican politicians, despite the fact that, in his view, the laissez-faire economic policies of the Republican party are wreaking havoc on their communities and livelihoods for the benefit of the "extremely wealthy." 

In other words, these poor deluded souls are victims of false consciousness:

Members of a subordinate class (workers, peasants, serfs) suffer from false consciousness in that their mental representations of the social relations around them systematically conceal or obscure the realities of subordination, exploitation, and domination those relations embody. domination those relations embody. 

Speaking of poor deluded souls and Marxist ideology: Senator Barack Obama got a lot of flack recently for his comments to a group of San Francisco multimillionaires about the false consciousness of proles in Pennsylvania.  I don't want to rehash these words again; we've all heard enough. What intrigued me more was the audience, the San Francisco multimillionaires.  From Leach Garchik's gossip column in the March 26 San Francisco Chronicle: [boldface in the original]

The candidate will be around here on April 6, at a series of events that includes three $2,300-a-head maximum-strength fundraisers: Sara and Sohaib Abbasi are throwing a luncheon in Atherton; he'll zip up to Nancy and Bob Farese's house in Kentfield in mid-afternoon; and proceed from there to Ann and Gordon Getty's in San Francisco. (There's also a mere $1,000-a-person do at the home of Carolyn Davis and Alex Mehran that night.)

I'm afraid the only one of these people whose name rings a bell is Gordon Getty:

...the fourth child of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty.  When his father died in 1976, control of his US$2 billion trust was transferred to Gordon... Getty is one of the nation's leading venture capitalists and philanthropists. In 2002, he donated US$3 million to the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

Let's see...a 10% return would be $200,000,000 per year, so the big donation cited above is 1.5% of his annual income.  Forgive me if I say:  meh.

Why is this billionaire supporting the most liberal senator in 2007?  Mr. Obama was awarded a perfect score of 100% by the Citizens for Tax Justice.  He opposes a reduction in estate taxes and capital gains taxes.  These certainly sound like bad positions for Mr. Getty and his friends, if they want to maintain their wealth.  And how much do you want to bet that at tax time they tell their accountants, "Oh, don't worry about all these deductions.  We have plenty of money; we want to pay our fair share, and then some."

Mr. Getty:  You are a victim of false consciousness.  As are your friends, the Abbasis, the Fareses, et al.

Or maybe not.

You've heard the old joke, "Why are rich people so stingy?  That's how they got rich!"  Like most jokes, there's an element of truth in it.  I'm inclined to believe:  "Why do some people have a great deal of wealth and power?  Because they have devoted their talent and energy to acquiring wealth and power."  And they're not about to give it up.  I don't think it's unbridled generosity (the polar opposite of unbridled greed) that causes them to support the good Senator.  I think he represents their economic interests.

How?  I don't know; I'm basically just a guy who pulls a monthly paycheck.  Maybe it has something to do with being able to assemble a team of lawyers and accountants to establish offshore trusts and other devices to minimize taxes.  Maybe the estate tax encourages heirs to quickly sell their family business at bargain prices to, what are they called, venture capitalists?    But hey, I'm just thrashing around here.  (By the way, tax laws regarding venture capital are somewhat murky.  However laws can be rewritten, especially if you have friends who can give you Hope for Change, right Mr. Getty?) 

Back to the proles in Kansas and Pennsylvania:  I don't think they saw their economic fortunes go down under Reagan, up under Clinton, and down again under Bush.  In fact, they probably suspect that it doesn't matter a whole lot which party is in the White House, and perhaps that's one of the reasons why the majority of them (and us) don't bother to vote at all.

But that's another story.  It's late, and I have to go to work tomorrow.