Monday, December 3, 2012

Where is the __________!

What people often say is “rage.” Where is the rage! The context here, of course, is that something quite outlandish has happened, some shocking news has surfaced. But there is no visible reaction to it. The public is grooving instead on Christine Beatty, again, she who, like years ago, exchanged sexy e-mails on (Horror!) city-owned communications devices with the deposed, disgraced ex-Mayor of Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick. Or they groove on “Sports Sightings.” Or they groove on the “K-Pop Star among us.” Don’t ask. I haven’t figured it out yet either (link).

A more refined form of that question would be “Where is the Informed Voter?” Quite astonishingly shocking information appears almost daily, but it doesn’t even make it into the papers, never mind produce a rash of letters, never mind a march on Washington. And to that over-simplification—which is what “informed voter” really is—might be added, how wide-spread among informed voters is a sufficiently sensitive cultural and moral understanding necessary to weigh the mountains of facts out there. Herewith a couple of shocking charts from a source I cited two posts back, a Congressional Research Service report (link).

The first of these shows us what the top tax rates were back in now sighed-after decades when things were good—alongside the rather shockingly low tax rates on capital gains, the form of income the very rich use to amass their wealth. The second graphic shows the rather phenomenal rise in the share of total income of the super-rich 0.1 percent and of the stratospheric 0.01 percent of the population.

Did we see these graphics in our papers? No. They were crowded out by pop stars, sports, and Netanyahu.

The really meaningful questions? “What’s the point of a universal franchise?”— if the average voter, looking at such images, can’t even make them out, never mind discerning what they really mean. And “Why bother with democracy?” is another. When things get really bad enough, there are still pitchforks. We have one in the garage, but I wonder how many other people do.

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