The experiment in social engineering has gone horribly wrong

The fantasy of a vast upper middle class – Economics – Salon.com

Defining janitors with 401K’s as “capitalists” is a kind of social promotion comparable to the elevation by progressives like Teixeira and Abramowitz of shoe-store clerks who dropped out of college into the “mass upper middle class.” Genuine capitalists derive most of their income from the return on their investments or savings, not from labor.

This highlights the most egregious line of malarkey to come from the business conservatives. They always leave out the fact that true capitalists are part of the upper class, who are not dependent on their own labor to make a living; they are capital-enhanced, while everyone else is labor-dependent.

By this definition, there are hardly any capitalists in the U.S. Most of the rich are the “working rich,” who derive most of their income from wages or professional fees, not from investments. We are a nation of wage earners, some paid well and others poorly.

Likewise, previously in this article the author points out the liberal error, inherited from the Enlightenment Rationalists, of believing that education cures most social ills:

Progressives love to claim that education is the key to upward mobility. But this is based on an obvious fallacy. The “college premium” that results in higher incomes for college graduates is the result of the relative scarcity of college degrees. If everyone had a B.A., then the value of a B.A. in generating high wages would drop.

More importantly, in order to get everyone a B.A., you would have to eliminate the US public school system and institute a Spartan system that preselects infants based on inborn traits and cybernetically force-feeds them the entire knowledge base of their socially engineered function. Good luck with that.

Nor is there any basis to the claim, repeated by politicians and pundits of both parties, that most of the jobs of the future require a college education.

People who actually believe this include your uncle who dropped out of high school and your stay-at-home mom, who wanted you to marry a doctor. No one who has ever been to college and worked with college graduates believes this. No one who has ever paid for a plumber, a carpenter, or a car mechanic believes this. No one who has ever been turned down for a $4-an-hour retail job because their literature degree makes them “overqualified” believes this.

For a generation, most Americans have been told by left, right and center that they would be failures if they ended their educations with high school, worked hard, saved cash for emergencies and bought modest homes they could afford. They have been told that to succeed in life they need to ape the lifestyles of the upper middle class that provides most of America’s politicians, pundits and scholars.

The result has been an experiment in social engineering that has gone horribly wrong: the creation of a faux mass upper middle class. Millions of Americans who by objective standards belong to the working class or lower middle class have persuaded themselves that they are part of the professional-investor elite, because they have worthless degrees from diploma mills, negligible amounts invested in stocks, and suburban trophy houses they cannot afford. . . .

But many have profited from the peddling of the dream of the mass upper middle class. The claim that everyone should go to college served the interests of the educational-industrial complex, from K-12 to the universities, that now serves as an important constituency of the Democratic Party. . . . And the claim that everyone needs to pour money into the stock market, to be managed by banks and brokers who fleece their clients, served the interests of the financial-industrial complex that has replaced real-economy businesses as the dominant force in the Republican Party.

Both US political parties are marketing fantasies to idiots. But that is the nature of democratic politics. Rather than condemn it, why don’t we just admit that politics is pure fiction and leave it out of real life?

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2 thoughts on “The experiment in social engineering has gone horribly wrong

  1. While there are aspects of the article with merit, the claim against capitalism depends on one’s definition. I have become increasingly “capitalist” but I still advocate work, saving, thrift. Money should be made by labour and capital, but that capital can money doesn’t legitimise how it was made. Wealth creation by productivity is what is needed; making money when someone has to lose money, or from disguised pyramid schemes (much of banking) is both illegitimate and, I would argue, anti-capitalist.

    And if someone is asking for special favour from the government, that is hardly capitalist even if it is a company, industry or bank.

  2. I didn’t really see a claim against “capitalism” as a macroeconomic ideology, nor against “capitalists” as a legitimate elite class.

    The claim is that working class people are told that by holding a few shares in a mutual fund they are capitalists; and that thereby bourse capitalism is falsely said to be democratized.

    The term capitalism has been overbroadened, but should be restricted to discussions of the stock market. Its ideological implications are irrelevant to anyone who works for a living.

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