Monday, July 23, 2012

Michael McAuliff — Jon Kyl Berates Obama For Focus On Middle Class

President Barack Obama should stop talking about the middle class because it turns people against rich Americans, who should be embraced as the Michael Jordans of the U.S. economy, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz,) said Monday. 
Declaring that the use of the phrase "middle class" is "misguided and wrong and even dangerous," Kyl argued in a Senate floor speech that Obama is "spreading economic resentment [that] weakens American values" and ignoring "the uniquely meritocratic basis of our society."
“We have a president who talks incessantly about class, particularly the middle class,” Kyl said.
"I just think the whole discussion of class is wrong. it's not what we do here in America," said Kyl, the Senate minority whip. He added, "I don't think there's anything called 'middle class values' that are different from the values of other people in this country. Tell me what's different about the values of someone who the president identifies as middle class?"
Read it at The Huffington Post
Jon Kyl Berates Obama For Focus On Middle Class
by Michael McAuliff

ROFL

11 comments:

Trixie said...

I was seeing some of his quotes on Twitter just now, chuckling at what I thought was obvious satire. I've really been losing my edge as of late.

#ShakesFistAtReality

Matt Franko said...

More of the "fairness" (Kyl's position) vs "equity" interplay that you can see... folks have to start realizing that these are separate issues and not conflate them.

Kyl (from the right) imo is naturally more focused on "fairness" as he sees it, opportunity, "freedom", etc...

This is similar to "stock/flow consistency" in that I think it would be better for people to develop a "equity/fairness consistency".

Equity is like a stock (measured at A point in time and based on current measurements is a "fail" imo) while Fairness is similar to a Flow, ie it is a dynamic phenom and also does not seem to be working as the results of our "fairness" system (measured as degree of equity) is failing.

Kyl is defending the current system as "fair" when it obviously is not based on the results as measured by the degree of equity.

If things were really fair, we would not see all of the inequity, this is simple math.

Rsp,

Tom Hickey said...

Matt, the problem is that the 1% and their minions don't see anything wrong with the equity distribution.

Moreover, it is not "fair" in his sense of meritocracy due cheating, skewed institutional arrangements including government capture, economic rent, ignoring negative externality, etc., that fund the inequality. Meritocracy is only fair on a level playing field with equal opportunity and open access.

It's just plain old BS and he expects middle class people to believe it?

y said...

It'd be good to hear politicians say something about the American "working class" (or lower class) once in a while. Don't they get to vote in your contry? How do you have an upper class and a middle class without a lower class?

Mike Norman said...

Tom:

The middle class does believe it, or at least half of them do. That's the only way to explain such a divided and pliant public. All thanks to a brilliant campaign of manipulation, the likes of which would have made Goebbels proud.

marris said...

> it is not "fair" in his sense of meritocracy due cheating, skewed institutional arrangements including government capture, economic rent, ignoring negative externality, etc., that fund the inequality. Meritocracy is only fair on a level playing field with equal opportunity and open access.

Is there any empirical evidence of how much of the distribution is due to these effects? Obviously not all, right?

Tom Hickey said...

It'd be good to hear politicians say something about the American "working class" (or lower class) once in a while. Don't they get to vote in your contry? How do you have an upper class and a middle class without a lower class?

The poor have no political influence. The broad "middle class" does. In political parlance it makes up the working class and the petite bourgeoisie, and it constitutes the swing vote.

See Social Class at Wikipedia for how sociologies treat class structure and social stratification.

Much stratification reduces to wealth distribution, since wealth determines social status and influence to a great degree.

from The World Distribution of Household Wealth, byJames B. Davies, Susanna Sandström, Anthony Shorrocks, and Edward N. Wolff, February, 2008, summarized here at LTV Fan's Blog.

The bottom decile has no wealth; the average wealth, expressed in American dollars, is less than $1.  The next 10% of us have 0.1% of the wealth; the 3rd decile holds 0.2% of the wealth; the 4th 0.3%, the 5th 0.5%; the sum of these is about 1.1%.
The 6th decile has 0.8%.  The 7th decile has 1.4%.  The 8th decile has 2.7% of the world's household wealth, and the 9th decile has 8.7% of the wealth -- not too far from their per capita share, but still below it.

How is the remaining household wealth distributed?
• The top decile -- the top 10% of us -- has 85.2% of the world's household wealth. 
• The top 5% of us have 70.7% (which suggests that the second 5% have 14.5%). 
• The top 1% have 40.1% of the wealth; the next 4% have 30.6% of the world's household wealth.
How is it that 1% of the world's people hold 40.1% of the world's wealth? 

What sort of forces are at work here?  Natural talent? Industriousness?  Good laws and structures that favor business?   Wise government that fosters  -- what?   God is on their side (and thus not on the side of the other 99%)? 

Or is it structures that steal wealth from others, or structures which steal their labor?


These are questions now coming to the fore in politics, and Kyl & cohort are freaked out by it.

Trixie said...

These are questions now coming to the fore in politics, and Kyl & cohort are freaked out by it.

Yes. And it's delicious to see them play the "political correctness" card: Stop being mean to us, you classists!

Matt Franko said...

"God is on their side (and thus not on the side of the other 99%)?"

Right! This one always amazes me... ie how do they reconcile this position????

Tom Hickey said...

marris: Is there any empirical evidence of how much of the distribution is due to these effects? Obviously not all, right?

Good question and no simple answer for a couple of reasons. First, classical economics (Smith, Ricardo) was concerned with economic rent and rent-seeking, prompting Marx's analysis of it. Since then, study of economic rent has been off the table in the economics profession since no one on a career path want to be remotely associated with Marx.

Secondly, and related to this, there is no clear agreed up technical or operational definition of economic rent, although many economists have used the term since Marx.

Third, neoclassical economics, being based on marginalism, ignores economic rent defined as gain in excess of marginal.

However, a lot of attention has gone into economic rent, externality, institutional advantage, and so in forth, in related disciplines.

Here is an interesting article in the field of natural history showing how rent arises from cooperation that produces a surplus to ensuing competition over use and ownership of the surplus. Quite a fascinating study.

Cooperation, Competition and Economic Rent: A Natural History Perspective by Mary M. Cleveland

UMKC's Michael Hudson has called attention to economic rent in his writings and lectures, but the MMT economists have not featured it, perhaps since it doesn't show up in the accounting record. But, being institutionalists, I would assume they have thought about it.

I am researching this more from the historical and social sciences point of view than economics. Economists need to turn attention to this and put some numbers on it. It's a glaring lacuna now, and it gives a false impression of economics, allowing the neoliberals to sound convincing when what is happening is just a continuation of the big rip-off justified as "liberalism."

labman57 said...

Fiscal conservatives are primarily interested in two outcomes:

1) Increasing the income divide between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of society

2) Increasing profit margins for corporations via lowered taxes and minimized environmental and workplace regulations

Reducing unemployment is a secondary issue -- if said corporations opt to use their increased profits to hire additional employees, that's their prerogative.

Alas, historical evidence overwhelming demonstrates that increased corporate profits do not translate into increased hiring -- increased demand for goods and services does.

And, of course, increased demand requires increased purchasing power by that subset of society which does the majority of the purchasing, i.e., the middle class.