There’s an interesting post over at The Economist, musing over why the poor in America aren’t “up in arms”. Like a bad storyteller, I’ll jump to the conclusion:
- Being poor isn’t as bad as it used to be.
- In the United States the poor don’t think they deserve to be treated any better than they are.
Both of those factors may be true but I don’t think they fully explain why Americans are so docile. There are other factors which IMO are equally or even more important.
First, there’s a bipartisan consensus to subsidize the rich, both the ultra-rich and the merely well-off, and to imprison the miscreant poor.
Second, there’s no ready alternative. You can either support the Republicans who voted to cut taxes on the rich, increase taxes on the poor, and import low-skill workers to push the wages of the low-skill workers already here down. Or you can support the Democrates who voted to cut taxes on the rich, increase taxes on the poor, and import low-skill workers to push the wages of the low-skill workers already here down. It’s a Hobson’s Choice.
Finally, my study of revolutions suggests that the poor never rebel. The Glorious Revolution in England, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, and the Chinese Revolutions of 1911 and 1949 were all launched by one group of elites against another group of elites. The general rule is that educated, urban elites foment revolution against agrarian elites who depend on the ownership of land for their wealth.
Here in the United States our own elites benefit mightily from the system as it is. They like the way things are. Unless the snow doesn’t get removed on the QT from their neighborhoods, of course. It will take a lot more than that to make one group of our elites unhappy enough to rebel against another. On behalf of the poor, of course.