Set aside for a moment who said it. (Probably an invention by Rousseau given he first wrote the phrase a few years before Marie was born.) It’s still evocative, and it’s still a lesson today.
Enfin je me rappelai le pis-aller d’une grande princesse à qui l’on disait que les paysans n’avaient pas de pain, et qui répondit : Qu’ils mangent de la brioche. [Finally I recalled the last resort of a great princess who was told that the peasants had no bread, and who responded: “Let them eat brioche.”]
Unemployment insurance is running out? Well, tell the lazy fools to get jobs.
The Tea Parties have tapped into several pools of anger. Those directing them have mostly managed to direct that anger by deflecting and redirecting it from root cause. Root cause? There are a lot of people who used to have, who today have less. They know they’ve been robbed somehow by someone.
They blame the people who used to not have but now appear to have, or who are needy and receive something to prevent utter collapse. They blame the organization that openly takes from them to benefit others – the government.
It is a successful redirection. The real robbers are “the rich”. Now let’s not get blind ourselves, here. “The rich” is not $100,000 to $200,000 per year annual salaries. I’m speaking of the top 1% of income in the nation – possibly less.
Since 1980, real (adjusted for inflation) median income increased by about 10%. In the same period, income for the top 1% has increased by almost double. The top 1% of the population earns over 21% of all the income in the nation.
Let me make that plainer. If 99% of the people earn an average of $50,000 per year, the average for that last 1% is $1.24 million, or just under 25 times as much. In the 1980s, they only earned about 15 times as much.
There’s a classic technique in warfare called divide and conquer. “Let’s you and him fight.” The Tea Parties are an example of this. The buttons are taxes and racism and religion and, well, there are a lot. They’re all pushed to make us fight while the real thief laughs and gets even MORE of our money.
Not all the rich are guilty of this. But when you hear a tear from someone about how Washington is stealing from us all because an individual income of $250,000 is going to have to pay 3% more on everything over $200,000, you’re seeing it. Someone with $250,000 income is going to have to pay (assuming they can’t hide or defer or exempt it) $1,500 more in taxes, and that’s going to push them into poverty? Bah.