I’ve had this sitting around in a draft for a while since I saw it quoted in comments elsewhere, waiting for the right time to post it. From God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (aka Pearls Before Swine), by Kurt Vonnegut Jr:
The Money River, where the wealth of the nation flows. We were born on the banks of it. We can slurp from that mighty river to our hearts’ content. And we even take slurping lessons, so we can slurp more efficiently.
From lawyers! From tax consultants! We’re born close enough to the river to drown ourselves and the next ten generations in wealth, simply using dippers and buckets. But we still hire the experts to teach us the use of aqueducts, dams, reservoirs, siphons, bucket brigades, and the Archimedes’ screw. And our teachers in turn become rich, and their children become buyers of lessons in slurping.
“It’s still possible for an American to make a fortune on his own.”
Sure—provided somebody tells him when he’s young enough that there is a Money River, that there’s nothing fair about it, that he had damn well better forget about hard work and the merit system and honesty and all that crap, and get to where the river is. ‘Go where the rich and powerful are,’ I’d tell him, ‘and learn their ways. They can be flattered and they can be scared. Please them enormously or scare them enormously, and one moonless night they will put their fingers to their lips, warning you not to make a sound. And they will lead you through the dark to the widest, deepest river of wealth ever known to man. You’ll be shown your place on the riverbank, and handed a bucket all your own. Slurp as much as you want, but try to keep the racket of your slurping down. A poor man might hear.’
h/t to commentor CJO at Pharyngula
Serendipitously, I also posted this quote to my FB wall over the weekend, which speaks to the way that neo-liberal policies squeeze the middle classes and thus choke what is actually the major engine of economic activity:
“Since 1980, the share of income for the richest Americans has more than tripled while effective tax rates have declined by close to 50%,” Hanauer said. “If it were true that lower tax rates and more wealth for the wealthy would lead to more job creation, then today we would be drowning in jobs. And yet unemployment and under-employment is at record highs. …
“So here’s an idea worth spreading. In a capitalist economy, the true job creators are consumers, the middle class. And taxing the rich to make investments that grow the middle class is the single smartest thing we can do for the middle class, the poor and the rich.”
David Horsey (LA Times) – Nick Hanauer explodes the myth of the capitalist ‘job creator’ (click through to see Horsey’s editorial cartoon)