One of the finest young(ish) legal scholars in America has been radicalized:
… consider the recent raise in federal taxes for the working poor, compared with Obama-GOP unwillingness to tax those in the top 0.1 or top 0.01% more. Households in the top 0.01% make over $27 million annually, on average. Those in the top 1% captured 67% of all income gains from 2002 to 2007. And yet budgets must be balanced on the backs of teachers and the working poor? Even as the scandal of tax havens, costing taxpayers $100 billion each year, goes unaddressed?
…. Bruce Ackerman has feared a “decline and fall of the American Republic,” given that escalating power struggles between the branches of government could leave “the military as a potential arbiter” (85). If the recent uprisings in North Africa teach anything, it is the critical role of army officials at moments of political turmoil.
As Ackerman has noted, in our military, “by 1996, 67% of the senior officer corps were Republicans, and only 7% were Democrats”—a pattern that had continued at least through 2003. Does anyone think that political skew would have no bearing in case another Bush v. Gore-type dispute degenerated into constitutional crisis? If one ever wanted to prove the insularity of the US academy, one could do worse than compare the gallons of ink spilled on viewpoint diversity on campus and the near-invisibility of the partisan skew of the actual guarantors of order in our society. Even demonstrated cases of political targeting by the US domestic intelligence apparatus have generated little outcry.
… those at the top push for a punitive austerity that promises little more than intensification of our current economic woes.
Thank you for the kind compliment in the first sentence! This is almost as good as getting on DeLong’s Shrillblog.
For better or worse, I feel a duty to be pretty vocal here. I’ve seen this movie play out in my own life. My father worked as a unionized machinist, until he was laid off in the early 1980s. Over the next 25 years, he never made more than he did then, suffered through several other layoffs and downturns, and saw our house in Oklahoma foreclosed on after he was laid off by a drug store in the mid-1980s. After many more years in retail, he finally ended up a bank teller, in a position that in all likelihood would have evaporated (and left him without health insurance) had he not died in that job.
I don’t think many people in the law professoriate (or academia generally) know what it’s like to be part of a family that gets foreclosed on, or (as mine did) moved three times while I was in high school in search of cheaper rent. It’s very easy to dismiss workers’ complaints, especially for those who haven’t spent 8-12 hours a day making machine parts, or stocking shelves & doing bookkeeping, or delivering pizzas, or working the nightshift at 7/11 (all jobs my father did).
Admittedly, any experience of life in an LDC makes it clear that the low wages and iffy benefits of the US service sector are not that massive a deprivation compared to the penury of the global poor. We always had running water, enough food, and heat/air conditioning (though my father’s Chevette lacked A/C while we lived in Phoenix, which was pretty awful for him, given how far we lived away from his workplace.) If, as I tend to believe, global resources are limited, everyone in the developed world is probably going to face certain resource constraints in the coming decade.
But when these constraints get imposed by a high-handed elite, funded by billionaires who appear to have little guiding principle other than their own continued enrichment, they are not acceptable. You don’t have to subscribe to Mills’s theory of a power elite to want to examine and criticize, in great detail, all the media, political, and economic institutions that frame budget deficits as a problem of “Welfare Queen” workers, rather than one of endless war and endless tax cuts for the richest.