By Matthew Rothschild on September 20, 2010

Whenever Republicans are at risk of not getting their way for their millionaire constituents, they cry “class warfare.”

So it was that House Minority Whip Eric Cantor just whipped out the old accusation again in the Wall Street Journal, blaming the Democrats and “the progressive left” for “provocative class warfare rhetoric.”

What Cantor doesn’t like is the rhetoric.

But he’s content with the class warfare, because his class keeps winning, battle after battle, war after war.

Look how much ground the richest of the rich have gained from the Bush tax cuts, which the Republicans are so intent on keeping for this cohort. The top 0.1 percent of Americans gained more than $2,326,607 a piece, whereas people making between thirty and forty thousand gained only $7,040, according to a great chart in Sunday’s New York Times Week in Review.

“Over the past three decades, income inequality has grown dramatically,” notes a recent report by the Joint Economic Committee of Congress.

“After remaining relatively constant for much of the post-war era, the share of total income accrued by the wealthiest 10 percent of households jumped from 34.6 percent in 1980 to 48.2 percent in 2008.1 Much of the spike was driven by the share of total income accrued by the richest 1 percent of households. Between 1980 and 2008, their share rose from 10.0 percent to 21.0 percent, making the United States as one of the most unequal countries in the world.”

Over the last decade, most Americans have been losing ground, with real wages stagnating and household incomes falling.

“Real median income for working-age households is now $4,925 below its peak in the year 2000,” according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Right now, they are desperate for tax cuts, and those tax cuts would inject a lot of money into the economy.

Whereas, the top 0.1 percent aren’t desperate for tax cuts; they’re just greedy.

But in our economy, and in our political system, it’s the richest and the greediest who win the class war, no matter what you call it.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his article “Queenmaker Palin Triumphs with Christine O’Donnell.”

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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