by Brad Nelson
Michael Barone and James Pethokoukis have articles at NRO that generally intersect on the idea of an economy being driven to greater economic inequality because of machines and technology.
It’s usually foolhardy to try to predict the future. And it’s highly meddlesome to try to use government to try to secure a particular outcome. If the “war on poverty” has taught us anything (along with countless other liberal social engineering policies), it’s that the best such programs can do is move one step forward and two (or three) steps back due to unintended (or unforeseen…and sometimes maliciously foreseen) consequences.
But reading these articles sparked my own nascent thoughts on the subject. It is very easy to foresee a time when, say, 15% of the population is running the other 85%.
Mind you, it doesn’t at all bother me that there are rich people or that rich people hold an “inordinate” amount of the wealth. That is, after all, what it means to be wealthy. Rich people will tend to have a greater share of the wealth. The only question that should concern any decent American is if that wealth was gained more or less by hard work and not via collusion with government or by outright fraud and thievery (both of which, of course, are easier to do via government, which also offers business the sanction of law for their plundering and thus a kind of legitimacy).
But I’m not one of those fools who looks about on the world and decries “income disparity.” I fully expect there to be many Bill Gates in the world, and the more the merrier. That means someone is producing something of value. And in a free market, that benefits everyone. A rising tide truly does raise all ships.
But given the statist/Leftist nature of America, a nation increasingly of central control instead of free markets, given the dumbed-down school systems and universities, given the life-sapping growth of government bureaucracies (fostering a profusion of mindless and entrepreneur-zapping bureaucrats), given the dumbing down and vulgarization of popular culture — given all this and more, it’s not difficult to see a society of a few wolves and the many sheep, for only a relatively informed and moral electorate has any chance of staving off the wolves.
The sheep might well not rise to rebellion, as one of those above articles mentioned, because of the various bread-and-circuses and cheap forms of entertainment that have become ubiquitous. One can see this as a good or a bad thing, but any true American should certainly see it as an ominous thing. We were made for better things than to be, for lack of a better word, government’s bitch, even if a constantly amused and distracted one.
But I think that is where we are headed. Machines (and those who know who to run and build them, particularly the software and the marketing) will control things while a compliant, sheep-like NewClass will develop. And I say “NewClass” both because of the Orwellian implications (which I think are true) and because this “underclass” will still be relatively rich. Like our so-called “poor” of today, they will have lots and lots of stuff. They will not likely be wanting for the basic necessities.
But they will be cows, slugs, mere meat-on-the-hoof for the marketeers, both inside and outside of government (and very often in collusion with each other). It will be a society of the Lords (thank you, Timothy, for spearheading this paradigm) and the serfs. And this is not a Marxist problem of “income inequality.” It is by trying to set some kind of economic target via government that such inequalities tend to arise and get worse in the first place. It is by trying to parse “justice” (and thus “injustice”) in purely economic terms that has led us down this poisoned road of socialism, Marxism, and an increasingly authoritarian central government.
Instead, it’s a problem of the concentration of political power into the hands of the relatively few who find it convenient to keep the other 85% dependent upon them, and have the governmental and propaganda means to do so. We are even now seeing a buildup of a society comprised of the Masters (who will even go so far as to barricade public monuments to assert their Lordly rights) and the NewClass serfs who will get used to doing rather menial work at relatively low wages so long as they have the belief they are free because they have, if nothing else, ample sex and drugs. Some of this new class is comprised of those who call themselves “libertarians.”
Their entire idea of the kind of world the NewClass should live in will be manufactured for them, as we see happening now via the media, education system, the rude and vulgar entertainment culture, and especially the political classes (of both parties) themselves.
The young males of the population are on the cutting edge of this NewClass, having been marginalized by feminism and the general anti-male hostility implicit in the current “Progressive” nanny state. But, ladies, you won’t be far behind. It is in the nature of the relationship that is now building up between the citizen and the state that as the state grows, you too will shrink. This is simply an economic and social fact, even if in the short-term the propaganda machine, and government “free stuff,” can give you a short-term bubble that makes this new Big Government seemingly a desirable thing.
But don’t scorn the men, ladies. Just know that you are headed there next. As are the gays — as is anyone who must be pushed aside so that the Lords of the state can maintain their political and cultural hegemony. And that usually requires ever-new victims and various groups to be that day’s scapegoats. It is true that the state might never run out of conservatives and “big business” to demonize, as they do now to such great useful-idiot effect. But they might, and statist regimes in the past have almost always victimized those who once they called victims.
That the state has convinced so many that to be compliant sheep is a good thing is bizarre. But as bizarre as that is, it is a real factor in our culture. That is, in essence, what “Progressivism” is. It’s a manufactured statist-friendly worldview (very nearly a statist religion), perfect for making complient sheep who do not think that they are sheep because of the many nice distractions they have available. But since the productivity of the machines is (and will continue to be) so great, there will be wealth enough for these distraction. That is, the various forms of bread-and-circuses will be relatively cheap and abundant. Freedom? What’s that? Who cares? Such simple-minded people whose lives are based upon mere distraction are easily distracted by the talking heads of the media who will tell them that all is okay if only we give the state even more power to rid us of whatever the state convinces us in now insufferable.
This scenario is not quite Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” And it’s not as harsh as Orwell’s “1984,” although some would say that so much power in the hands of a central government would make either or both an inevitability. But for now, it’s certainly possible that America will incrementally change from “The land of the free and home of the brave” to “You want fries with that?” • (1469 views)