Sunday, February 2, 2014

Left, Progressives Lament that Commoners Can Afford Nice Things

-Short post due to the Superbowl. In baseball I prefer good pitching over good hitting, so I went with the Seahawks as their defense is tremendous.

The following is a very good piece that lays out the disdain that Progressives and the Left have for the Consumer Society - the state that occurs when enough wealth is "spread around" to allow for the bulk of the people to afford to purchase nice things. Included here would be - what the Left detests above all things, items that are "not necessary".

Of course we would agree that we may go too far in our spending, but to a Leftist that is his business rather than ours. Marx himself noted that the Middle Class, having the ability to enjoy the luxury of discretionary spending, would function as an effective Fourth Estate - a group that would resist the changes that were for their own good.

Once the reader goes through the quotes in the article, many pieces ( even those not even mentioned in the piece) of the puzzle come together. The outcry against carbon emissions can be ascribed in a large part to the contempt  that the elite have for the regular guy who owns two vehicles and uses them on a daily basis. The same applies to the major target of the Left in their pet project of Agenda 21*(at bottom); the single-family home.

The feeling of the elite is simple as it is sickening. How do you justify using all of that land, energy to heat and cool that house, have a backyard pool, and energy to commute to work when all that you really need is a nice family apartment? 

Please, don't ask why they get to live in their own single-family houses or should be allowed to buy nice things. They support laws and regulation that restrict residential lot sizes to a minimum or ten or more acres. As for the energy and water use, they campaign for carbon credits/ other excise taxes - that only they can afford, that would price a swimming pool, single-family house, and a home location that rules out commuting in your own vehicle right out of the range of the average guy.

"One of the more remarkable results of the rise of industrial capitalism was that, for the first time in human history, the poorest classes of people gained access to luxury goods. Another remarkable result was that wealthier people who claimed to be allies of the poor told them this was bad for them. Recent developments in American popular music demonstrate that this paradox lives on. Last Sunday night, Macklemoreand Lorde, artists who have built their careers upon songs attacking the desire for luxuries among African-Americans, received the highest commendations from the music establishment in the form of multiple Grammy awards. Their songs continue a long tradition, rooted in progressivism, of protests against the pleasures of the poor.

To understand this lineage we must first review the history of a revolution. In the early 19th century, the great majority of Americans were confined to farms where they had to produce their own food and clothing. Their homes contained little other than utilitarian furnishings. Their only source of entertainment was books, and most that were available were moral parables. They rarely if ever traveled more than a few miles from where they were born.

By the end of the 19th century, the material conditions of the poor were radically transformed. Most bought their clothing from stores and most owned clothes whose sole function was to make them attractive. They ate food that had come from all over the country. They drank cold beer and ate ice cream. In cities they shopped at department stores. In the country they purchased goods via catalogs and mail order. They read dime novels whose sole purpose was to provide them with fun. They attended amusement parks, movie theaters, and vaudeville shows. They went dancing. They rode on trains. Most importantly, when the poor acquired these new pleasures, they usually did so with no apparent shame.

During this revolution, self-appointed champions of the poor admonished their charges for indulging in what liberals today derisively refer to as “consumerism.” Thorstein Veblen, the son of a wealthy Minnesota farming family
, produced the most influential progressive critique of consumption in a series of books and articles, most notably the scholarly classic The Theory of the Leisure Class(1899). Veblen lamented that rising wages and the availability of consumer goods were leading working-class Americans to lives of undisciplined pleasure-seeking. Untrained in the art of restraint, when the poor did gain more than subsistence wages they spent it on useless fun. What others had “euphemistically spoken of as a rising standard of living” Veblen saw as simply the “cumulative growth of wasteful expenditures.”

A host of progressive academic studies of working-class spending habits aimed to determine the exact degree of material wealth—and not one dollar more—that would provide, as one put it, “the power to ensure one’s primary faculties, supply one’s essential needs, and develop one’s personality.” The conclusion of most of these studies was that to avoid socially harmful “excesses” the “minimum amount of goods and opportunities” should also be the maximum amount. Typical was The Standard of Living Among Workingmen’s Families in New York City (1909), written by Robert Chapin, the son of a college president, which labeled “visits to cafes, ale houses,” tobacco, gambling and lotteries, “ornaments (personal),” “theater and “public festivities,” and even candy, soda water, and ice cream for children as “luxuries” and “extravagances.” Through the 20th and into the 21st centuries opposition to consumerism remained almost exclusively the domain of well-born do-gooders, often finding its voice in claims that advertisers create in common folk “artificial” desires for “useless” luxuries and “mindless” entertainment............"

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