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In 1968, the US military bombed the Vietnamese town of Ben Tre, on the grounds that it was infested with Viet Cong.  Peter Arnett, then a war correspondent in Vietnam, quoted an unnamed (and still not conclusively identified) senior US military officer in Vietnam, as justifying the bombing thusly:

"'It became necessary to destroy the town to save it".

This quote, which has been a staple of the discourse ever since, was damaging and revealing; it laid bare, in full detail, the imperialist mindset.  It may have been necessary, or at least advantageous, for US military goals--dead Viet Cong don't shoot back, and mixing in with civilian populations is a staple technique of guerrilla warfare--but was it beneficial for the residents of the town to have their homes bombed to rubble, their friends and families maimed and killed, and their lives destroyed, just to get rid of Charlie in their midst?  Even if one were to stipulate that the VC were ruthless killers who openly terrorized the population and coerced simple villagers into aiding them (which was often true, though the US and South Vietnamese were often every bit as brutal)--this is preferable to being bombed to smithereens, in any rational accounting that considers the interests of the villagers.

(Many lessons of Vietnam apply well to Afghanistan, but I digress).

But this, folks, is how Mitt Romney--and the plutocrats who enable him--view the middle class in the United States.

The US middle class must be destroyed--to save it.

While the US middle class has nothing in it like the Viet Cong--it's mainly people minding their own business and trying to live out their lives in peace--to the financial imperialists that view money and power just as jealously as Cold War superpowers viewed client states, the notion that workers (here defined anyone who isn't an owner, investor, or senior executive in some business enterprise) ought to have a stake in the businesses whose productivity they enable (and whose products they consume) is every bit as unacceptable as the notion that guerillas can take potshots at uniformed military while disguised as civilians.  The middle class are moochers and parasites (in the worst Randian tradition), claiming benefits that they have not "earned" in an unregulated free market, and need to be purged wholesale of the idea that they are entitled to anything beyond their next paycheck.  If that.

In short, we make too much money.  We place too many demands on poor beleagured capital.  We have it too good.  Our Gini coefficient is too low.  We're only worth what "the market" will bear, and with the rise of China and other developing nations, who can supply decent infrastructure and skilled labor at dirt-cheap wages, the market will bear the US middle class no more, says the Romney crowd.

Forty-hour workweek?  Intolerable tyranny.  Minimum wage?  A ridiculous impediment to employment.   Social Security and Medicare?  Socialism.  OHSA and other laws/agencies enforcing workplace safety?  Outright theft from the "job creators".  Romney and Republicans talk about an "ownership society", but what they mean is "if you don't own your own business, you don't deserve shit".  They talk about freedom and liberty and nostrums like "right to work" or "right to contract"--which is like abolishing the police and saying that the people have thus been given a "right to defend themselves".

Mitt Romney's fundamental position is this--he won't come out and say it of course, but that's what it is, and we all know it--is that the US is losing the race to the bottom.  And Mitt Romney's plan is to turn that around, and win that race; to prove that America can once again be a haven for moneymen to invest their cash (whether earned, inherited, or stolen), largely free from political risk.

And if nothing else in his career, Mitt Romney has demonstrated great skill at racing to the bottom.  It's how Bain Capital makes its money--buying companies with more principled management, and plundering them.  All in the name of progress and efficiency.

In order for jobs to return to this country, according to Romney's ilk, the wages and working conditions here need to be on par with what big business can get overseas. Thus the real jobs plan of Romney and his ilk is simple and succinct:  Lay the middle class low.  Smash the safety net, rip up the regulations, and lacerate the labor laws.  Bust the unions, starve the beast, and Hoover up as much money for the 1% as possible.  Change--permanently, if it can be arranged--the fundamental relationship between labor and management.  

(Oh, and let the debt-funded stimulus money fly, because Deficits Don't Matter When A Republican Is In Office, so GOPers can claim that this actually works--and have something to complain about next time a Democrat is in power).

Eventually, the jobs will come back, once the middle class has learned its lesson and its place.  But they won't, for the most part, be the jobs that left--they will pay far less, the working conditions will be severe, and we will be firmly in a second Gilded Age.  (Some say we are there already; though overall conditions now aren't anywhere near as bad as conditions then.  But that is the direction they are trending).

In arguing for the antitrust law that bears his name, Senator John Sherman (an Ohio Republican, back when the GOP were the good guys, more or less) famously intoned:  "We would not submit to an emperor.  Why should we submit to an autocrat of trade?"  A good question.  But for the past half century, there is a growing chorus that claims that not only should we submit to autocrats of trade, but that we must do so as a matter of right--and that refusal to do so constitutes theft, socialism, or some other terrible thing.  There is a belief, sadly accepted by many in positions of power and influence, that we have a moral duty to give the tycoons and plutocrats and rentiers their due--that they have earned their place (wealth being an indicator of excellence and merit, and poverty an indicator of degeneracy and sloth) and are entitled to profit from it, no matter how others suffer; and that to question this is unspeakable and treacherous blasphemy.  

This, folks, more than anything, is what needs to change.  Obama could be better here, certainly, but Romney would be disastrous.  Given that Romney is an out-sourcer extraordinaire, and that this is well-known to much of the electorate, he wouuld almost certainly claim a mandate to do for the entire country what he has done to Sensata and the many other companies destroyed by Bain Capital and similar enterprises, were he elected.  Romney's said it plain and clear:  we've too many firefighters and teachers and goodness knows what else, because these things cost money and the rich won't suffer themselves to be taxed to pay for it.  He doesn't say the last part in public, of course, but whenever a politician says "we're broke" in reference to government, particularly the US government (which is a sovereign currency issuer), that's usually what he/she means.  Many of the rest of us cannot afford it, and Romney's counting on 50% + 1 of American voters (and/or 270 Electors) to buy the schtick that the solution to the problem of the starving of the beast is to finish the job.  Romney's counting on a slim majority to accept the belief that the cure to the problems caused by the immense transfer of wealth to the upper class, is to destroy what is left of our public workforce, to lay them low too.  Ninety percent of objections to government programs are, in my opinion, objections to the progressive tax regime that funds them; as opposed to real objections about government in principle.  (Some libertarians may be excepted from this, but the GOP and the plutocracy is perfectly happy to control the reins of the state; they just don't like the other side doing it).  And Romney's hoping that enough people will either a) not notice a word he's said before October 3, b) be part of the upper classes who would profit from this arrangement, or c) voting for him based on social issues that he'll likely shelve if elected (or out of simple blind racism), to get him there.

Now, the town of Ben Tre has been rebuilt.  (Albeit by the victors in the Vietnam War, which wasn't us).  And maybe, just maybe, the middle class might be rebuilt too under Romney's ideology.  But the current state of Ben Tre today is little comfort to those who were killed, or lost loved ones, courtesy of the US military.  And Romney's plan to rebuild the middle class will likewise leave many ruined lives in its wake.

Originally posted to EngineerScotty on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 09:13 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  WHAT Middle Class??? (4+ / 0-)

    oh right.. a "middle class" income will soon be defined as $35,000 per year.

    weak.

    "A civilization which does not provide young people with a way to earn a living is pretty poor". Eleanor Roosevelt

    by Superpole on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 10:37:12 AM PDT

  •  so can we get rid of the rich yet? (4+ / 0-)

    I'm not sure why anyone thinks that the rich are somehow going to magically transform into good citizens.  They have every possible incentive to want to do this to us.  At the very least, society needs to be willing to keep them on a very short leash, but that still begs the question: why do we need the rich at all when we do all the actual work?

    To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

    by Visceral on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 10:59:27 AM PDT

    •  We did this once when the benefits went (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ozsea1, 1Nic Ven

      proportionately to the wealthy and everyone else.  In the last 40 years(since Reagan) that was reversed and now income equality is at its highest level.  Obama is not making the right case, the case he needs to make is that Romney represents rich people and if they aren't rich and vote for him, they are voting against there own interests.  He is not going to fix anything for them, he is going to cement the status quo for the rich.  If they understand nothing else, they must understand this.  They vote for him and they should buy their card board box now before there is a rush.

      •  but some people vote R because (0+ / 0-)

        they WILL be rich, one day soon, they know it or really really hope so - and want everything to be good, when they get there.

        Yes that is crazy and they are shooting themselves in both feet - but they still want to be on the side with the rich people....

        •  Except the rich people are just NOT going to let (0+ / 0-)

          that happen.

        •  State lotteries have a lot to do with that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Greenfinches

          "I'll be rich some day mentality!"

          Millions of Americans line up twice a week to buy lottery tickets in their state lotteries or the multi-state Powerball lottery in the hope that this week will be their lucky week and they'll be rich when the winning numbers are announced.

          Since they have this sad, pathetic hope that some day they'll be rich, they don't want the rules on the rich to be changed until after they've won their jackpot.

    •  Don't call them "The Rich." Call them the Elite or (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ozsea1, 1Nic Ven

      the ruling Elite. Americans hate elites but they don't mind the rich.

      Ask top al Qaeda leaders about Obama's foreign policy. Wait, you can't. They're dead. -Paul Begala

      by Fickle on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 03:01:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I will agree (0+ / 0-)

    with the first part of your diary title.

    The Republican Party is now the sworn enemy of the United States of America.

    Listen to All Over The Place - we play all kinds of music!

    by TheGreatLeapForward on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 12:53:14 PM PDT

  •  How do you show the math (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    1Nic Ven

    ...to half the public that can't put 2 and 2 together?  

    Mitt said back in the summer that he might only be a one term president because of the painful choices he was going to make to fix the economy/deficit, and how shitty things would be by 2016.  I'm sure that line was a big moneymaker for him with the plutocrats, who are in the business of extrapolating your loss for their gain, but how does it get someone elected?  

    I suppose it requires a compound sentence to explain, and half the public can't put 2 and 2 together.  Plus the bible or the old confederacy don't really shed any light on the matter.  For that (hopefully slightly less than) half of the public, they have not recently died in their apartments, so Mitt might just be onto something.

  •  Like the villages he protested in favor of... (0+ / 0-)

    having other people destroy while he hid out in France...

    Baby, where I come from...

    by ThatSinger on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 02:24:06 PM PDT

  •  Romney doesn't give a crap about the middle class (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Greenfinches, ranton, Zinman, 1Nic Ven

    one way or the other. He only cares about himself.

  •  I thought I heard Ryan say the same thing in his (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elmo

    so-called debate:

    REP. RYAN: Medicare and Social Security did so much for my own family. We are not going to jeopardize this program, but we have to save it for the next generation so it doesn't go bankrupt.
    Yeah, and the check is in the mail too. Are they going to "save" it by "fixing" it? As I understand it, GWBush admin policy seriously changed the meaning of the use of that word in business as usual as opposed to the underworld with the phrase "'fixing' the facts..."
  •  And many in the middle class will vote for Romney (0+ / 0-)

    to do it.

  •  The greatest achievment of would-be Plutocrats (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zinman

    is the fact that they have succeeded in convincing far too many working-class people that indeed they should "submit to an autocrat of trade"!  The greatest failure of the Left and Moderate Republicans is that the Plutocrats succeeded.  I am not sure what the answer is.

    Union leaders like George Meany and Walter Reuther would not recognize the sheeple that so many American employees have become.  Instead of risking and working for better compensation and working conditions for themselves, many begrudge other working people who have gained those things.  These sheeple become the willing tools of would-be Plutocrats and Corporatists.  Even Eisenhower. who said that "labor relations will be managed best when worked out in honest negotiation," would be shocked that so many employers no longer believe in the benefits of a mutual prosperity between employers and unions.

    Corporate good citizenship seems to be an "exception" instead of the "rule"; too many show no concern for the well-being of this nation, her people or her environment.  The real "takers" in America are Corporatists and would-be Plutocrats who care for nothing BUT THEIR bottom line.

    Robber Baron "ReTHUGisms": John D. Rockefeller -"The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets"; Jay Gould -"I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."

    by ranton on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 04:35:17 PM PDT

  •  fools errand (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ozsea1

    because in the end this will only result in an outright revolution.  It didn't end too well for french aristocrats and russian aristocrats as I recall ...

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 06:53:52 PM PDT

    •  Yes. That's likely the outcome. (0+ / 0-)

      However, it'll take quite a few generations for things to get run down enough for this to happen.  Case in point:  Go walk around where you grew up.  I'll bet you can find at least one or two houses (even in suburbia) that just aren't being kept up anymore.  This is due to an aging population, and a younger generation that has, in fact, forgotten how to do some simple work.  This will continue until every other house on the block starts to also look "long in the tooth."  Then, slowly, whole blocks will turn...people won't move in or want the remaining decent houses.  The tax base will drop.  The tax rate will climb.  Services will continue to be cut.  Crime rates will grow.  Smart people won't live long enough to procreate.  The population's gene-pool - their "smarts" - will continue to erode.  More properties will be abandon.  The cycle will continue.  Once the population has dumbed itself down in such a fashion, mob factions will start taking what it can where it can, by force if resistence is met.
           This is the mob that will then strike out against the government - a group that has lost all hope, and therefore has nothing left to lose from widescale death and destruction.
           This is what you're fighting.

  •  When do we say enough (0+ / 0-)

    is enough and stand up to these two bit fascist SOB. We had better do it soon or it will be to late for it to be done peacefully. Just look at what the men and women had to endure in order for the middle class to happen. And now a bunch of stupid people will give it all up. For what?

  •  The new middle class needs the 53% Republican (0+ / 0-)

    stamp of approvaL

  •  He wants to let it go bankrupt (0+ / 0-)

    so he can ship it to China.

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