Posts Tagged ‘class warfare’
In my previous post I made the assertion that Downton Abbey drives liberals crazy. Well, a bunch of liberals have spoken and they claim to love the show.
But the premise of my assertion remains: liberals don’t like that the show undercuts their narrative on class warfare.
In fact, none other than Stuart Varney makes the same type of argument.
“The politics of Downton are very important and it’s important that they are popular in America today,” Varney said. “Rich people, powerful people, in America today, are reviled. They’re dismissed as fat cats who don’t pay their fair share. We just hate ’em — ‘Rich people are evil’ … Yet, along comes this show ‘Downton Abbey’ — rich people prominently featured and they’re generous; they’re nice people; they create jobs, for heaven’s sake; they’re classy; they’ve got style and we love ’em … That show is wildly popular, which poses a threat to the left, doesn’t it?”
And even Huffington Post cites yet another liberal, Maureen Ryan, who has problems with the show:
“The big problem during a large chunk of the season amounts to the following, more or less: ‘Oh no, a very rich man is having to face the possibility of being slightly less comfortable!’ It’s fun to escape into a world of lush privilege when times are hard, but the tenor of the times also make it quite difficult to care about a well-to-do family having to trim its budget a bit.”
Despite Ryan’s dismissal of this, yes, fictional family, she misses the point that I made in my first post: Lord Grantham feels a moral obligation to be successful so that he can provide employment to his house staff and the residents of the village.
Yes, liberals may love the show – if for nothing else than it airs on PBS – but it does stick in their craw that the message of the show undercuts their vision of “evil rich people.”
Makes you wonder if they ever thought about who employs them. Nah.
It wasn’t until Downton Abbey was into its second season that I took the time to watch the first episode. After that, it didn’t take long for me to be completely caught up, and searching for ways to get my hands on advance episodes of Season 3.
I love the show. I’m not sure I can put my finger on all the reasons why, but there is great complexity in something that at first blush may seem like a simple story.
The Left in America is schizophrenic about the Abbey. It has had high acclaim in Hollywood, winning numerous awards, but others, like the New York Times, have pilloried the show.
Worse, is this screed by Simon Schama on Daily Beast. Here is an excerpt:
Downton serves up a steaming, silvered tureen of snobbery. It’s a servile soap opera that an American public desperate for something, anything, to take its mind off the perplexities of the present seems only too happy to down in great, grateful gulps.
Yes, I know it’s perfect in its way. Nothing beats British television drama for servicing the instincts of cultural necrophilia.
In response, Jerry Bowyer writes a very thoughtful piece for Forbes entitled, Down On Downton: Why The Left Is Torching Downton Abbey. (WARNING: The Bowyer piece has spoilers if you haven’t seen the entirety of all three seasons)
One of the first things one notices, if one is a regular viewer of BBC productions, is that Downton is unusually ideologically and religiously balanced. One of the other effects one notices when one watches a lot of BBC is that one starts referring to oneself in the third rather than the first person. But one digresses…
If the viewer is expecting vintage BBC, Downton is full of surprises. This is not PG Wodehouse, with Jeeves the butler easily thinking rings around his Lord. This is not Brideshead Revisted‘s take on the upper classes, packed with alcoholic elders and simmering, repressed homosexuality amongst their offspring. It is not Noel Coward’s Easy Virtue with easy satiric shots at the hypocrisy which arises amongst the upper classes and their dysfunctional patter of religious and sexual…yes there it is again, repression.
The upper classes at Downton aren’t repressed, they’re restrained. They are not inbred, intellectually backward fools; they are intelligent and thoughtful. As a general rule they treat their servants well, care about their welfare and are generally respected by them in turn. They are, in a word, admirable. And for a period drama, that treatment is, in a word, surprising. And surprise is an essential element of compelling drama.
Films and series about Edwardian upper caste manners which portray the genteels uncharitably are boring, like the steady, unending (until one turns the switch off) hum of a fluorescent lamp. Downton Abbey is what George Gilder would call the entropic disruption to the background noise of revolt against the old world. To portray Lord and Lady Grantham as anything other than drunks, fools, hypocrites or either sexpots or sexual glaciers (or best of all, alternately both) is itself an act of cultural rebellion.
That’s arguably why the left is bashing Downton Abbey. The New York Times Art Beat column has reported that British critics are ‘torching’ Downton Abbey. Apparently Downton Abbey is snobbish, culturally necrophiliac (and if you don’t yet know what that word means, I suggest you leave it that way) and its popularity in the United States is due to the rise of the Tea Party movement and conservative opposition to the death tax. Even worse, creator Julian Fellowes is the holder of a Tory Peerage. Definitely not the right sort of people.
Having watched all three seasons, I think one of the reasons the Left hates Downton Abbey so much is that it undermines their narrative about class warfare. Lord Grantham is not a greedy overlord looking to enrich himself on the backs of the serfs. He is actually a man who is trying to maintain Downton and the village to keep people employed.
When he learns that he has lost a fortune in a bad investment, he is angst-filled about those who rely on him for work.
And that is what most business owners think about. How to stay profitable and keep people employed.
My guess is that Hollywood didn’t quite understand the nuance of what Julian Fellows was writing because they were distracted by the British accents. But I guarantee that if it had been a show about Sam Walton building and protecting his fortune, it would never have even aired.
The lesson is this: one way to fight the culture war in the U.S. is to mask it with British accents and history.
Obama told some real whoppers in is State of the Union address. Here are just a few:
This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy – a strategy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs.
C’mon, do you really expect us to believe that you support an “all of the above” strategy less than a week after you strike down the Keystone pipeline? Get serious.
On clean energy – in particular, Solyndra, he said this:
Some technologies don’t pan out; some companies fail. But I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy. I will not walk away from workers like Bryan. I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here. We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough. It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that’s never been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits and create these jobs.
Really? There are already more tax credits for “clean” energy than any other form of energy. To ask Congress to pass MORE tax credits and incentives – while billions of tax-payer dollars have been wasted, is irresponsible.
Speaking of taxes:
Right now, we’re poised to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was supposed to be a temporary tax break for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households. Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.
First off, does he really argue that the government SPENDS money on tax breaks? That is a typical Democrat talking point, as if it’s THEIR money to begin with. Secondly, Obama is purposely trying to confuse the American people by not acknowledging the difference between “earned” income and “unearned” income. Warren Buffet doesn’t take a salary – so he doesn’t have “earned” income. He has enough wealth that he can live on his investments and interest. Those are called capital gains. The capital gains tax rate is 15%, for good reason – because it is capital gains that fund new businesses, which in turn grow the economy. If Obama actually doubles the tax rate on capital gains, economic growth will grind to a halt. This is a cynical attempt to engage in class warfare, while trying to claim that it isn’t class warfare.
But in return, we need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of Members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes. Tax reform should follow the Buffett rule: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes. And my Republican friend Tom Coburn is right: Washington should stop subsidizing millionaires. In fact, if you’re earning a million dollars a year, you shouldn’t get special tax subsidies or deductions. On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families, your taxes shouldn’t go up. You’re the ones struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages. You’re the ones who need relief.
Notice his crafty addition of the word “earning” when he is talking about people who are millionaires? He knows, as well as anyone, that people who are “earning” millions are paying a much higher rate than the 15% of unearned income. They don’t get special subsidies or deductions – it just may be that their deductions are higher because they give more to charity, etc.
Obama continues again:
Now, you can call this class warfare all you want. But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense.
They only call that common sense when you confuse earned income with unearned income.
And here is the biggest whopper of the night:
We don’t begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it. When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich. It’s because they understand that when I get tax breaks I don’t need and the country can’t afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference – like a senior on a fixed income; or a student trying to get through school; or a family trying to make ends meet. That’s not right.
What’s not right, Mr. President, is for you to demagogue taxes in a way that is cynical and anti-productivity.
It’s sad that the President of the United States cannot be honest with the American people.
Everyone knows that State of the Union speeches are mostly for show. Still, the news that Warren Buffet’s secretary is going to be Michelle Obama’s guest in the First Lady’s box takes this speech from ridiculous to absurd.
Typically, the guest of the First Lady is a hero of some sort. Nancy Reagan was the first First Lady to have guests at the State of the Union. Her first State of the Union guest, in 1982, was Lenny Skutnik, a Congressional Budget Office employee who had jumped into the icy waters of the Potomac River to help rescue survivors after Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the Potomac River in 1982.
Reagan said Skutnik demonstrated “the spirit of American heroism at its finest.” He then said, “We saw the heroism of one of our young government employees, Lenny Skutnik, who, when he saw a woman lose her grip on the helicopter line, dived into the water and dragged her to safety.”
Other guests have included: Alma Powell and Brenda Schwarzkopf, the wives of Gens. Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf, who were leading military operations in Iraq; Richard Dean, a Social Security Administration employee, who helped rescue victims of the Oklahoma City bombing; flight attendants Christina Jones and Hermis Moutardier who helped thwart an attempted bombing by Richard Reid, the so-called “Shoe Bomber.”
The other guest tonight with Michelle Obama is Mark Kelly, husband of Gabby Giffords. It is pathetic that someone who has demonstrated incredible courage and persistence in helping with the recovery of Giffords is sharing space with Warren Buffet’s secretary, who is merely a prop for more arguments for class warfare.
Warren Buffet pays a lower rate than his secretary because he does not have any “earned” income. All of his income comes from his investments so it is passive income – or capital gains – and taxed at the 15% rate.
This is why Mitt Romney pays the same rate. He doesn’t have earned income – it’s all investment income.
So we’ll get to see Obama demagogue wealth creators tonight, using a (well-paid) secretary as a prop.