By Matthew Rothschild on November 08, 2010

Kentucky’s newly minted Senator is not ready to play nice.

Appearing on “This Week” with Christiane Amanpour on Sunday, Paul boasted that the tea partiers have will not be coopted by the Republican Party but vice versa. “The tea party is coopting Washington,” he said. “We’re proud, we’re strong, we’re loud, and we’re going to coopt. And in fact, I think we’re already shaping the debate.”

He’s shaping it in such an ugly way, too.

Paul says he favors cutting the number of federal employees by 10 percent, and then slashing the salaries of those who remain by 10 percent.

This is economic folly. We’re facing a huge gap of purchasing power in the country right now, and he intends to widen that gap by decimating the purchasing power of almost three million people.

He also said he’d raise the retirement age for Social Security for everyone 55 and under.

Hey, I’m 52. What are you doing to me and my friends—and the more than 200 million other Americans who will now have to work into our dotage?

Paul and the tea partiers are intent on destroying the very idea of government for the people. They want to throw everyone to the barking dogs of the free market.

And they don’t want people to see who will benefit from this.

As Rand Paul said on CNN last week, “There are no rich. There are no middle class. There are no poor.”

What a cover, to say there are no classes when everything he proposes would help the rich, and not the middle class, and not the poor.

What a convenient slight of hand to say there are no classes when income inequality has widened to obscene levels. As Timothy Noah notes on Slate.

In 1915, “the richest 1 percent accounted for 18 percent of the nation's income. Today, the richest 1 percent account for 24 percent of the nation's income.”

Or as Holly Sklar, the astute progressive economic analyst, put it recently.

“According to the latest IRS data, the 400 richest taxpayers increased their average income by 399 percent, adjusted for inflation, between 1992 and 2007.” By contrast, she pointed out, “Average wages are 7 percent lower today, adjusted for inflation, than they were back in 1973.” To top it all off, she noted, “The richest 1 percent has more wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined.” ”

Rand Paul can pretend that classes don’t exist in America, and he can propose policies that will help the richest and punish everyone else, but all he proves by doing so is that he’s the one who’s got no class.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Bring Olbermann Back: Hosts Are Citizens, Too!."

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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