Meet the New Threatened Class
Wine Cellars But No Summer Homes
It's not often these days that we see the news media expending much effort, but Bush's new economic stimulus plan- and its homunculus, the Democratic version of same- has got America's media panting like fatties on a treadmill. I have never seen such rising to the occasion in all my born days. You'd think they were forming a bucket brigade to put out a fire in the church steeple; certainly they're carrying water (knowing this administration, the water is from the Klamath River). Why? This tax plan is a pig in a poke; it's also the reason toilets have lids. This tax plan is an unsightly hog, but the Powers That Be are desperate to ensure ordinary Americans buy the thing.
Why would the ruling Pollyanna of our media let us down in this way? Why would they work so hard to fool us into thinking the Bush tax plan is anything more than a reeking eructation right in the average American's face? Because there's a new class in this country. We have always had the poor, the middle class, and the rich; there are subdivisions like 'super-rich', 'upper middle class', 'blue collar', and 'might as well eat your own legs'. These don't address the most potent class of all: the Threatened Class.
The Threatened Class is composed mostly of upper-middle types who were quivering on the edge of being really well emboodled, although many of its members are simply dopes who think they're well off but are actually wretched (cf. Libertarians). Besides real estate brokers, ex-Internet types who Got Out Early, and devoted market players, the Threatened Class includes most of the influential folks in the media. All the 'people' you see on TV are part of the Threatened Class, as are the editors, producers, and analysts who guide what the cognoscenti will say.
The Threatened Class encompasses all those who have wine cellars but no summer home, or summer homes but no yacht, and so on, until you get to the pathetic boobs who share leases on private jets but can't afford a jet of their own. The Threatened Class is for people who have the better part of a million bucks in their personal thrift, up to around six million. Money they can retire on if they're careful. You can lose that much really fast, if things don't go your way. Happened when WWW turned out to stand for 'What a Withered Wallet'. That's what threatens this class. They could lose everything, and be right back in the 'chugging Aqua Velva behind a dumpster' class.
So these pundits & co. are all members of the Threatened Class, and they worked hard to get what they have, or sucked a lot of fragrant ass to get it, which amounts to the same thing; and they see there's this terrible danger that all their greedy, single-minded soulless money-grubbing could come to naught, in which case they sold their principles, their hearts and their lives (in ascending order of value) for nothing. In such a situation you will do much to keep your belt safe, and the safest thing these days is to convince consumers to keep consuming and little investors to keep investing, while you try to figure out where to hide your dough. And a big, fat tax break wouldn't hurt, either. How can you lose?
After all, when things are good it's fine to defend the little guys, the slobs who didn't have the sense or financial backup to get through an expensive college; but disaster looms on all sides. Forget journalistic integrity for a second here -- this is about your retirement, dammit! The truth will set you free from your money. If Americans understood that the media diagrams showing the 'average savings' of some thousand dollars actually meant tens- even hundreds- of thousands for the really rich and a handful of twenties for themselves, they might cool off to the whole idea, especially when weighed against the effect it will have on the civil infrastructure (such as roads and schools they are forced to use because they can't afford private jets or schools). To simulate this economic stimulus plan's effect on the American common weal, drop a Ritz cracker into 200 gallons of boiling chlorine bleach. If it wasn't in the Threatened Classes' personal interest to misrepresent this stinker of a plan, its media wing wouldn't dream of trying to make the thing look good. Easier to put lipstick on the genitals of a moose. But it's a struggle they're willing to undertake: either fard the nards, or expose this historic policy fraud and join with the common man in a struggle for lasting economic measures that will require sacrifice from everybody, even the Threatened Class.
When the Titanic sank in 1997, the ship's officers (led by Capt. James Cameron) did their level best to ensure the very richest folks got into lifeboats first, and then the officers climbed in after them and cast off, leaving the poor to practice their dogpaddles on the poopdeck. Why did the poor folks listen? Because the officers were authorities, trusted figures who Knew What To Do. Today's Threatened Class, as exemplified by the media, are just exactly like the officers aboard the Titanic. If they can keep the masses quiet just a little longer, they can secure themselves a place in the lifeboats. Maybe that's a cynical analogy, but why else would they attempt to gloss over this ghastly plan? Think it over. Meanwhile I'll be in the third class lounge, building a raft out of the piano.
Ben Tripp is a screenwriter and political cartoonist. He can be reached at: