I’ve got just one more thing to say before elections this Tuesday.
If there’s one thing I wish everyone could understand, it’s that there is no such thing as benign economic conservatism.
As I’ve discussed before, many people are relieved to discover someone is ‘just’ a fiscal conservative. The idea being, I suppose, that economics are complicated and one might reasonably divorce fiscal and social issues.
As though the economy weren’t a social issue.
Economic policy is and will probably continue to be the absolute cornerstone of conservative thinking. It is not a fluffy, ethereal intangible for other people to argue about. It is the actual battleground on which conservatives wage their war against us.
Economic policy represents the real dangers conservatives pose to women and people of color and queers and poor people and especially people who are any combination of the above. Everything else is, in fact, a studied and wildly successful attempt at being big-tent.
Conservatives dangle whatever people are afraid of – gays, sexually and economically autonomous women, people of color, poor people – in front of them and say, ‘we’ll keep all these people in check if you just agree to let us use your pension funds to buy boats, derail the economy, and blame the whole fucking thing on you when it happens.’
As I’ve noted many times, I doubt very much that the one percent really gives a flying fuck about gay marriage or abortion or gun control or whatever. They’ve simply identified the part of the voting public that will trade their fiscal futures for maintaining systemic inequalities, which, incidentally, were created and are perpetuated by the richest members of society.
There are not magical people who become billionaires by just working really hard. This wealth is sometimes inherited, but it has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is systemic theft from everyone else. Resources are plundered, ecosystems ruined, poor people exploited – and then told that they’ll like what they get, or their jobs will be given to even more desperate people.
(Oh, and then they launch racist campaigns against the people they say they’ll give your jobs to so that you’ll work more for less. Nice, huh?)
The wealthiest are wealthy because they have succeeded in divesting others of what is theirs. There is no leech class but the upper class – people who benefit from the public education of their workers and public infrastructure while playing golf and insisting that they only way to make them happy is not to pay for the benefit they derive from the public purse.
(Oh, and those horrible teachers! Let’s pay them less! Yeah, they’re really the problem. In fact, if we just got rid of the whole thing, people could start working for me a lot younger!)
It is a handy trick to fuck the economy into the ground and then ask for a bonus. We have to stop letting people off the hook for “fiscal conservatism.” Fiscal conservatism creates the systemic inequalities that the social net was designed to protect against. Newsflash: the solution to a welfare state (whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean) is not simply keeping people poor.
We have to work harder to show what fiscal conservatism really is: the engine that drives the inequalities in our society.