Universal Translator

Friday, February 3, 2012

Toward a 21st Century Economic Patriarchy

This is just a brief rumination.  I've not thought too deeply or too long about it, so perhaps there is something I am missing or there is some wrinkle I don't see that makes the metaphor not work . . . but it struck me a little while ago how seemingly connected is the economic Right Wing's worship of the uber-rich "job creators" and the social Right Wing's denigration of women as second-class citizens.

Bear with me on this one, while I try and tease out these thoughts.

Here's how it started:  I was reading this LA Times op-ed about the Komen/Planned Parenthood kerfuffle when I ran across this statement:  "The Komen decision will probably prompt more attacks on Planned Parenthood, which has long provided low-cost medical care to women in need."  (emphasis added)  Because I am (i) a guy, and (ii) a language nerd who owns an unabridged copy of the OED and who frequently speculates about word and term origins, one of the first things that struck me about that phrase was the idea that anything that called itself Planned Parenthood would necessarily be focused on women's health-care needs -- after all, it takes two people to make a child and men are parents too.

(Put down the pitchforks, please . . . I'm getting to it.)

Of course, immediately following my word-nerd reaction was the real-person understanding that - duh - parenthood doesn't affect men and women the same way.  It just doesn't.  Biologically speaking, a man can be a parent after a moment's worth of seizure and the contribution of a single sperm.  A woman becomes a parent after nurturing a little person in her own body -- often at the sizable expense of her own health and welfare -- for nine months.  Delivering that little person into the world is sometimes vastly dangerous and very often extremely painful.  And none of this even touches on the fact that the (putative) "Daddy" may already be long gone, leaving the (undeniable) "Mommy" solely responsible for caring for a new soul that will be without the capacity to care for itself for years and years and years.

Yeah . . .  it takes two to reproduce, but only one of those two has a choice about whether to shoulder the burden of that reproduction, and the one without any such choice is always the woman.  I'm all for gender equality and treating Men and Women the same, but not when doing so flies in the face of Reality.  When it comes to reproduction, Men and Women are not the same and we do ourselves and our very reason a disservice when we try to pretend that they are.  

"Planned Parenthood," "reproductive rights" . . . these are all issues that primarily impact women and we men -- even we men who are wholly behind and supportive of these issues, and women, and feminism, and etc. -- we are mostly just along for the ride to offer encouragement, moral and political support.

* * * 

The next thought I had was how weird it is that for most of recorded history, men have claimed their children as their own, like a property right.  As if a man has any right to his child merely by contribution of a spasm and a sperm cell compared to all that the woman has had to contribute:  her own time, her own body, her own agony, her own nutrition.

"I fathered that boy, Rebecca," we've all seen some version of this in our movies or our books or our etc., "and I won't let you take him from me."

Really?  Really?  You grunted out half an epileptic fit on top of some woman and now you and you alone own the fruits of her body?  How insane is that idea?

Note . . . I'm not talking about daddies.  Anybody can be a father, it takes someone important to be a Daddy.  What I'm talking about is the mindset that can believe for a second that an instant's worth of seed results in a lifetime's worth of claim.

* * * 

And now, maybe, you've intuited where I'm going with this.

By far, the supporting refrain I've heard most often about how Rich People are "the job creators" is the slogan "A poor person never hired anybody."  I think it is intended to shut down debate, and that the implicit argument goes like this:  nobody can get a paying job unless there is somebody who can pay them, and the only people who can pay people to work are rich people.  Ergo, if you punish rich people, they will stop hiring others and the jobs will go away.

It is a witless argument, but let's consider it on its merits.

Essentially, the idea is that rich people have the seed money to drop into productive enterprises.  Those enterprises, nurtured by the work, sweat and toil of their employees, will produce goods and/or services that others will want, which will -- in turn -- increase demand for more of those goods and services.  Which will result in even more jobs.

But - according to the "job creator" understanding of the world -- what is important in this formulation is not the people who had the vision for this new company, and it is not the people who worked hard to keep this new company afloat, and it not the people who sacrificed their blood, sweat and tears to keep the company going . . . No.  No, none of that gestational stuff is important at all.

The only thing that is important is the seed money.  If you deliver the seed money, you get to claim ownership of the offspring.  And so the important thing, whenever you look at a productive enterprise, is not the people that work there or the people who support it or the people who keep it going . . . no, the important thing is that there was once someone there to provide it with seed capital. 

Once there was an investment banker - I forget his name, child, but he was a charmer, yes he was, and he and he alone is responsible for the fact that your Daddy had a job he could go to until the day he worked himself to death - and he and he alone will be responsible for the fact that you, too, will one day drop dead while still working.

Sing His Praises. 


  1. The right does not denigrate women and treat us as second class citizens. Just look at Fox News!

    Your argument against the obvious truth that a poor person does not provide jobs starts with another absurd and unsubstantiated claim that saying so is intended to stop debate.
    No one is stopping you from presenting your argument by presenting one of their own. Should I claim that what you have said is intended to stop debate and then go onto debate your argument?

    With this start, you then go on to debate the fact that a poor person never gave anyone a job, which you do not refute in any way form or manner . You simply paint a portrait of "rich people" that excludes rich people from working people as if rich people are simply born rich and do not ever earn their wealth. There are some rich people that are born rich but the perseverance of wealth requires responsibility as well. But whether rich people can be universally described in the manner in which you have done, or NOT, it has no effect what so ever on the fact that a poor person cannot give another person a job.

    For the record, I am not rich and never have been rich but hope to be so one day after I bootstrap my own success using my own labor as my investment "seed capital". I would like to be able to hire more people but I cannot because I am poor. According to you if I aspire to become rich so that I can hire people it will then be because I am exploiting other people's labor. How oppressive is that!

    Our business is an S corporation, meaning that we do not pay business taxes. the profit for our business is reported on personal tax returns. Our investment capital are our self generated profits. I am currently designing our own website and I have developed our own SEO so that we have enviable google positioning. My seed capital is my labor. If I were rich I could hire a web designer but I do not have those resources. When I am rich, only then will I be able to hire other people. There are many people just like me but our commander in theif and the Marixist government of Maine would like to take our self generated profits, once we are well off so that they can use it for their own unearned investment capital in their foul schemes. I hope to find a way to protect my investment when that happens and hopefully our government will have moved in a better direction by then- one that does not rob people of their "seed capital" created from self generated profits to capitalize a vision of the "way the world should be" that is nothing but a prison world as far as i am concerned.

  2. And by the way the twentieth first century economic patriarchy is already here in Maine and many other states in which the government has got it into their heads that they should manage our economy- they just have to ignore that pesky constitution so that they can charter corporations and create capital funds- (called "the Fund" " in numerous legislative bills) and use the taxpayer as captive investors and promised in advance bail out funds for private "high growth investors".

    In the process they have created a networks of "quasi public, quasi private, quasi profit, quasi nonprofit corporations and organizations, all of which answer to the government as part of one big totalitarian network that has taken to publishing pledges of allegiance to "social and economic justice" (socialism) on all of their websites.

    The beneficiaries of all this concentrated wealth is the legislature's "targeted sector". the rest of us are just here to be taxed but not represented and to fund their God -forsaken will about the way Maine "should be" according to the deluded Marxist secularists!- and of course the University of Maine with its minor in Marxist and socialist studies" is a prime member of the legislature's "targeted sector" - and why not? It supports the fundamental transformation of God's country into the "brave new world" of the totalitarian state that has so long been envisioned in science fiction.

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  4. This topic seems to have veered off course to be about jobs. Somehow I am reminded of the two Irishman looking down at Dublin during a bleak period of its history. "Ah, so much work to be done," says one. "And so little work to be had," says the other.

    Wealth builds in nation as people are productive. I was sharing lunch with an organic farmer and her husband on Monday. I know the work they do. It is hard, enterprising, creative and demanding. They have had to learn the ropes of growing, marketing, politicking and creating a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to support their venture. They will never be rich in dollars but they create real richness in their community by growing and selling real food, delicious food. They are productive members of society. They not only eat well, they sleep well at night.

    Too many businesses today including many profitable businesses such as banks are simply there to make money, not contribute. When we all begin making real contributions economic growth and prosperity will take care of itself.