Thursday, March 30, 2017

Trump's governing "philosophy" dispenses with the "common good"--or any other "good"

I haven’t posted anything here for a while not because nothing is happening, but because it is so hard to respond to lies and stupidity befitting a child, and so much is happening that angers and frustrates seemingly on a daily basis that one hardly knows where to start. Every day a new example of the inhumanity inherent in an ideology that denies the validity of the social contract in favor of what Hobbes’ called the “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” life which the political and economic “elites” wish to foist on society as a whole in order to “validate” the their own selfish brutality. The social contract, according to Rousseau, recognized that “libertarian” and “natural” philosophies allowed for an “undeveloped” sense of ethics and morality, and that the contract as enforced by civil government instilled in the governed a more developed sense of moral responsibility to their fellow man. Civil society should follow the “general will” for the common good of all, "directed towards their common preservation and general well-being." Locke believed that the populace required government to protect them from those seeking to “injure or enslave” them—not to make it easier for private individuals or orgnizations with the economic, political and judicial power to do so. 

Yet the social contract is under violent assault by Donald Trump and his alt-right henchpersons who seem unable or unwilling to answer for their moral and ethical defects. From healthcare to immigration to taxes to economic regulation to environmental protection to Trump’s evil budget proposal, the greed and inhumanity of the far-right’s assault on the social contract continues unabated. Trump has attempted to usurp the contract that is the underpinning of democratic civil society with the fascist ideology of corporate control by the “elites” of society which he himself is a part of, along with Republican politicians whose worldview is closely aligned with the Antebellum period of this country’s history. Yet millions of voters in this country who are seen merely as “plebes” by the self-entitled “patricians” have willingly allowed themselves to be duped by unsubtle rhetoric that plays on their paranoia, bigotry and search for scapegoats. Instead, the demand for civil and economic rights by the “dark races” must be fended off by expanded military and law enforcement power—to be paid for by abandoning the social contract almost completely.

The working class poor—a term seemingly interchangeable with that of “minorities” in the minds of those who see the world through a racial prism—are not the “problem” and never were. The reality is exposed in even the most commonplace of situations. For example, I’m sitting in a restaurant for whom those who are cost conscious find convenient for their pocketbook. While I am sitting there feasting on the value menu items I observe a man wearing a buttoned-down shirt and tie come into the establishment not as a customer but merely to sit at a table and go to work on a stack of scratch tickets from a nearby lottery ticket vending machine. When he was done with those, he walks out into the lobby and slid some bills into the vending machine, and returned with a new stack of cards, with apparently the same result of failure. I observed this activity repeated a third time, and a fourth time as I was leaving. This time I could see that he was loading a wad of $20 bills into the vending machine; he must have spent at least $500 on scratch tickets in the last hour. 

Observing this, I could not but be overcome with a feeling of disgust over the distribution of wealth in this country. Nobody really needs to be “rich” to be happy. Who really needs a mansion if not to store expensive, useless knickknacks to impress other conceited people. For me, books and a music and video collection more than adequately fills empty time, and writing this blog gives me a small connection to world at large. I don’t need to waste money going out to expensive amusements and eateries in order to “socialize” and confirm one’s vanity—or to waste hundreds of dollars on scratch tickets. Meanwhile, millions of working people in this country barely make ends meet, thanks to the belief that a few people have a right to decide what is a proper distribution of income, which includes one’s expectations of how much money they should “earn” more than mere working people; the vast majority of those who decide are corporate executives who just happened to drop into their positions without ever having to dirty their hands with actually creating the wealth they so easily rob. “Class,” of course, has a great deal to do with it;  people who work in an office believe they are superior to those who work in the warehouse or production facility. They get the free coffee and pastry, while the “working class” have to do with the overpriced items in a vending machine.

Thus the most significant inequality in this country is not what you hear from talking heads on cable news, “pretty people” with “victim” complexes that their own existences is exposed as self-serving indulgence, but is in fact the inequitable distribution of wealth. This inequity doesn’t even have to do with the “top one” percent and everyone else, but from above and below the median income in places like Seattle; half the people in Seattle make almost $100,000 and above a year. It is a white (and Asian) good old boys and girls club where club members and their friends “look out” for each other. Even in “liberal” Seattle, racial tolerance only goes so far as the under-represented minority is useful to be patronized with a few crumbs thrown well down the social ladder to ease any “guilt.” However, that is at least more than what Trump and his gang of racists are willing to do.

 We are told that if we remove the incentive that allows the tiny minority to skeletonize the working class in order to gain as much personal wealth as possible, that this “elite” class loses the motivation or ability to create jobs. Trump and his ilk speak out of both mouths here, blaming immigrants for low wages, yet refusing to support adequate minimum wage rates, saying it will “hurt” businesses. Yet this mindset loses sight of the fact that wealth cannot be created in a vacuum; in order to allow the few to push paper, crush data or make phone calls all day from a comfy chair, someone has to do the actual work, and it is those people who have become little more than nameless, faceless numbers on a spread sheet. If they don’t “accept” the way of the world, they are simply replaced; they don’t get a multi-million dollar “golden parachute.” They are not seen as human beings with problems that are largely the result of poor compensation for their labor. 

Trump repeatedly claims that he is for all Americans—although his definition of who is an “American” is not exactly clear; his rhetoric and actions seem to limit that “privilege” to those who share his pallid complexion, if not his bad hair. Yet even that is a con-job: his administration is entirely under the control not of persons who have a working knowledge of their responsibilities to those constituencies under their purview, but of rich and/or powerful elites whose only “responsibility” in their minds is to their own enrichment at the expense of the “plebes.” They feel no responsibility to maintaining civil society in accordance to the social contract; their “answer” to the defects of their ideology is oppression and tyranny, the more the better. This is the evil that underlines the Trump administration—the more so because Trump himself has never felt compelled to play by the rules of the social contract.