The Right Wing of our society is a very diverse group. It ranges from the lowest paid to the richest among us. However, the agenda is very carefully administered by the richest to the detriment of most of society.
The rich use two key strategies in order to generate the votes that they need to impose their view on society – and at the same time maximise their wealth. The first is implementing populist policies – especially tax cuts – that undermine the existing system. This is a pretty easy sell amongst the population as a whole – especially people that are living “paycheque to paycheque”. There is “waste”, they say, without exactly documenting what waste and how much. Tax “relief” is offered as an antidote. No empirical evidence is ever offered to show that we, as a society, can afford that tax “relief” but it is an easy sell to those who get to spend more of what the right calls “their” money. The “painlessness” is reinforced by the lie that there will be no reduction in services. The savings will all come from the “waste”. This has proved, over and over, to be untrue.
The second lever that the right uses is the “politics of resentment”. It appeals to the least fortunate amongst us who would, in reality, benefit the most from a progressive inclusive society that would spread the wealth to those who need it the most. Instead, the right – the rich – persuade this group to resent anyone that has more – “I don’t get sick leave – or holiday pay – or job security. Why should they?” becomes a mantra that is used to “lower all ships” – reduce others to poverty level wages. This is in direct contradiction to the just and fair approach which is to spread the immense wealth of our society to more and more people and give more and more people a living wage and a lifestyle commensurate with our overall prosperity.
Tax deceases are easy to sell. However, after they are in effect there is not enough money to fund existing programmes. The right then says that a crisis has arisen and blames it on “overspending”. The “only” solution, they say, is a cut in services. No matter how “essential” those services may be, they say we have to bite the bullet together – and suffer. Of course, those who are rich are not suffering at all.
The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the tax base is funded by middle class and poor people. The rich may pay progressive taxes that result in greater per capita payments, but there are not enough of them to carry the burden. The vast majority of the taxes are paid by people who are not rich. However, if the campaign to “erode the middle class” is allowed to proceed, the tax base will continue to shrink. Ironically, as people need services more and more, the “crisis” of underfunding will erode those services more and more as well.
The bottom line is that the success of our society is based on two things – a viable middle class and a tax base sufficient to provide services.
The erosion of the middle class is a disaster from three perspectives. First, the effect on families that have been cast out of the middle class into the working poor is well documented. It is not a good situation. Second, the tax base is eroded when families no longer have a middle class income. This continues, the spiral. Finally, and ironically, the shortsighted right wing rich perpetrators of this plan fail to understand that our overall economic prosperity is dependant on spending. Without a “spending class” the rich will have no one to sell to and no matter how much they have depressed their “labour cost” they will not be able to run a profitable business. Henry Ford – in many ways not a nice man and a right winger – paid a living wage to his employees so that they could afford to buy his cars.
The current spiral is beneficial to nobody and hurtful to all – but only in the long run. In the short term it benefits the rich to look for short term gains to their ultimate dismay.