So, over at Almost Diamonds Stephanie Zvan talks about an image that’s making the rounds that she seems to think is really insightful and that I think really shows the flaw in this new-fangled occupyish, 1% versus the 99% movement that we’re seeing these days.
Basically, the image says “Busting unions that provide teachers with middle-class salaries, affordable benefits and job security” as not being class warfare, but “Asking people who make hundreds of millions of dollars in capital gains to pay more than 15% of their income in taxes” as being class warfare. The picture — and Zvan herself — then imply that this is ridiculous, that of course the first statement is also class warfare if the second one is, and perhaps even implies that the first just is class warfare regardless of whether the second statement is or not.
But there’s a big problem here, which is the rather simple fact that something cannot be reasonbly called class warfare unless it’s directly implemented to favour one class over another, or to create an antagonistic situation between two classes. There are a multitude of reasons to go after unions other than to attack the middle class. First, one may argue that it’s better for the middle class as a whole, since it is generally the taxes of the middle class that pay the salaries of teachers and so working around the union helps them get the benefits and salaries under control when they have it generally better than most middle class people. One can also argue that public expenditures need to get under control, and that’s a big one. One could also simply hate unions. None of these have to do with singling out the middle class and attacking them for simply being the middle class.
However, the second statement is indeed saying that this upper economic class is somehow deficient, and that it is their hoarding of the money that’s causing the problems, and that to solve our problems we must take the money from that greedy class to put to the benefit of the other classes. It is, indeed, singling out that class because of the class they’re in, and making them a target. Yep, that’s clearly class warfare, no matter how many “WTFs” one puts into an image that misses the point.
Look, just admit that yes, you are engaging in class warfare. Don’t try to rely on sophistry to dodge that point. Be honest about it, and see if others want to go along with it. If you’re ashamed to admit to doing what you’re actually doing, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.