Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Not Sharing the Wealth

Greed, from a Vices and Virtues capital at Autun (France) c. 1120
I want to write something intelligent and angry about Obama caving in on prolonging tax cuts to the wealthiest of the wealthy, the Republicans holding the unemployed as hostages to those tax cuts, and probably other things, but the blogosphere, twittersphere, and every other thing internet is pretty much bristling with intelligent and angry things. Plus, while I have the anger, I have neither the intelligence nor the time these days. The wonderful woman at Apt. 11D cites the indefatigable Robert Reich's twitter posts, which are really quite wonderful, and make me think of bold pronouncements spoken in the marketplace - I'm thinking medieval transmission of discontent here, even more than examples of Tax Revolts, of which there were plenty.  So instead, I'll let Autun's creature of Greed do the talking - and it is rather eloquent, with its great big greedy mouth, holding on to its full, full money bags. Note how it squats under the weight of the bags, its legs drawn up to almost under its arms. Its great big greedy mouth is open: is it chortling, calling out, in pain? Haunting little thing, isn't it?

Most of us don't know what it's like to have 5 million dollars newly immune to taxation, so I'm not sure where to draw my understanding for the wealthiest from on this issue.  And I do know that much philanthropy comes from the wealthiest - this isn't about parsing the good rich from the bad rich. It's more the principle of a government telling those who could contribute to the common good that they don't have to.  It's more the cold statement about people with more than they need being justified to ignore those who don't have the basics of what they need. It's more further tanking of the federal economy. There are so many exasperated statements to make (no, this isn't a call for communism, or socialism; yes I understand the basic incompatibilities of capitalism and democracy), but no time to be lucid about them.  The bottom line: to throw crumbs at the poorest in order to justify keeping the fattest meat on the lord's table didn't sit well in the Middle Ages, and it doesn't today.

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