Marla R. Stevens

Slipping from Sewanee to the Rhine...

Filed By Marla R. Stevens | September 26, 2007 8:39 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: campaign 2008, economic policy, libertarianism, Republicans, universal health care

Listening to the Republican frontrunners, I continue to be struck by the tone of blame toward those who are suffering economically -- including a persistant unwillingness to see as a middle class phenomenon the dreadful increase in the four-job family where couples each work one skilled job and another of the "I'll take anything as long as it helps make ends meet and gives my kids decent opportunities" sort.

These candidates and too many of their supporters insist on characterizing these workers as "the working poor" who are somehow at fault -- falsely stereotyping them as lazy or irresponsible or Darwinian rejects who always make bad choices.

They refuse to acknowledge that these are people who have merely been caught in a giant shift in our economy away from one with a healthy, functional middle class to one with an increasingly polarized wage structure with a government that has been actively supporting runaway corporate abuse of the workforce and dismantling of an already rat gnawed safety net. I hear it in the SCHIP debate and in the opposition to real universal health care, too.

There's a mean streak in certain libertarians who ignore the effect on their lives and choices of the many privileges they enjoy. It is too often a willful blindness that ignores as well the power of macroeconomics and the power of purchased government to maintain economic injustice.

Is this because of a personal Gestalt requirement to be in control so strong that they will invent a Reaganesque myth of the tough independent person able to exist alone without the many forms of help society and government provide him rather than have to grow enough to face his own vulnerable smallness in the face of such forceful tides, eager to point a finger at the imperfections of those who have not fared as well as he to stop the nagging voice of reality that there but for the grace of God go us all?

These are the new barbarians, railing against society's better nature and wishing us all to join them in their primitive, selfish, hardscrabble worldview -- stunted in their climb to Maslovian maturity as well, unable to envision that collective action to care for one's fellow beings through government is the fairest way to spread the burden and the promise to all.

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You hit another one right out of the ballpark, Marla!

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | September 27, 2007 9:42 AM

Thanks but it's only because you make me write, guys. Can stepping back to observe the moment enough to write about it ever be a part of being in the moment -- or is writing forever doomed to being shanghaied away from the journey to Nirvana?


The Middle Class has tremendous economic pressures working against it: illegal immigration, outsourcing and H1-B visas.

The Middle Class can only take so much before it breaks totally.