September 29, 2009

The New Ruling Class

by Hal Gershowitz

Comments Below

Over 230 years ago our Founding Fathers created a concept of freedom and individual liberty unique in recorded history.  At its core was a concept of multiple centers of authority, notably a federal system with certain enumerated powers with the national government divided into three separate branches and the remaining power left to the individual states.

Whether the drafters of our Constitution were Federalists or Jeffersonian Republicans, the compromise framework that emerged from their deliberations had at its center the preservation of individual liberty from rulers whose claim to power was based on royalty, nobility, or birthright.

From our origins as a fledgling state set in a substantially undeveloped continent with a tiny population, the engine that has been responsible for our growth into the greatest wealth producer in history which has lifted millions of people the world over out of poverty, and our emergence by the early 20th century into the world’s preeminent economic and military power has been individual opportunity to pursue our best interests and to make our own decisions, and to invest and build with a minimum of government interference.

Preserving this liberty and keeping the nation free from foreign enemies and remaining an indivisible whole has come at enormous cost in both human and material treasure.  Over 1,300,000 of our citizens have given their lives in military action not only to preserve our freedom but to defeat tyrants and oppressors who have emerged to enslave people in the four corners of the globe.

Given the enormity of our success and the checks and balances our founding fathers created to prevent excessive interference with our liberty and the price we have paid to defend it, it is ironic that we now face from within a new insidious threat to our individual freedoms proceeding step by step on an incremental basis, and unwittingly with the presumed “consent of the governed” who seem not to have noticed the erosion of the historic right of Americans to make daily decisions for themselves.

Until very recently, with the exception of the terrible stain on our nation of slavery and its racist aftermath and the exclusion from political participation, until less than a century ago, of women, our elected representatives have reflected the makeup of the population itself.

For most of our history, those people who were elected to political leadership positions in Washington or state governments were drawn from our ranks of farmers, lawyers, businessmen, laborers, and entrepreneurs.  They did not come directly from academia or, fresh from higher education programs and degrees in political science or public policy into government internships, aides to elected officials, or stints in the vast bureaucracy we have erected to write rules, regulations and standards that take on the force of statutory law.

In recent years, the trend has been increasingly to bestow leadership positions to what we refer to as a new ruling class, comprised of people who have never held a private sector job, have never personally invested in job creating activities, who know nothing of risk-taking, who are largely ignorant of the daily challenges that businesses small and large have to face and who, in fact, see private for-profit business as evil and profits as ill gotten gains.  It is difficult not to see their resemblance to the old Soviet nomenclatura whose bureaucratic power and patronage placed them in the upper echelons of society.

Consider these facts!

The federal government now owns or is heavily regulating, to one degree or another, the banking industry, the auto industry, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the energy industry, and the health-care system (with more of that just ahead).  At last count President Obama has appointed over thirty czars to manage various sections of the economy, none of who are subject to Congressional confirmation or oversight and whose expertise is in many cases suspect.  We even have a compensation czar.

Let us “stipulate,” as lawyers say, that these are all smart people.  But being smart is not the only, or even the leading, attribute to achieving successful outcomes or even mere effectiveness.  Common sense and experience invariably count far more.

This ruling class of appointed czars and bureaucrats and officials (both elected and unelected) who are bereft of any private sector experience or who disdain it are increasingly making what were once our own individual decisions and divesting us of our own individual, family and societal responsibilities.

From the President (whose only non-government experience is as a community organizer) through the ever present Henry Waxman, the omnipresent Barney Frank, the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, we are increasingly being led by people whose view of the private sector is almost entirely negative (except, of course, when seeking campaign contributions) and who have never contributed productively to our economy (“productivity” being defined as one whose labors add to the nation’s gross national product and collective wealth).

What these government officials do offer us is the empty promise that the government can provide for all our basic needs and that the costs can and should be borne by the “rich” who, under the definition of our lawmakers, are those who make more money than a Senator or Congressman.  Can this lead anywhere but total cradle to grave dependence on a government that cannot possibly finance all the obligations it seeks to assume.  Who will pay this tab?

Everyone agrees that the accumulated national debt is unsustainable.  Will “the rich” simply be expected to fork over an ever-increasing share of the tax load?  As it is, by 2006 over forty percent of Americans paid no income tax.  What happens when that percentages reaches fifty and above.  Will anyone ever vote against further free lunches? Remarkably, the share of the tax burden borne by the top 1 percent now exceeds the share paid by the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers combined.  Will the economically productive job creators continue to invest?

State and local government officials have the same philosophy as their federal counterparts and, since, unlike the federal government, they cannot print money and monetize their debt, the economic distress they face is more acute.

For a current snapshot of where this leads, we need look no further than California, our most populous state, where 144,000 taxpayers in a state with a population of 36 million people pay over 50% of the state’s income tax.  Year after year those citizens paying the tab are voting with their feet and leaving the Golden State, once the nation’s fastest growing.  Rather than rein in costs, elected officials protect bloated bureaucracies, spend inefficiently for services that private industry can better provide and continue to search like oil prospectors for new sources of revenue.  Taxes on paper bags, soft drinks, transfats or anything considered sinful are the current rage.  Internet transactions are being jealously eyed.

This new ruling class has come to power by peddling the promise of being our protector, our 24 hour a day nanny, and slice by slice they are accumulating the powers over us that would make our Founders spin in their graves. They bear very close resemblance to what Milovan Djilas, the former Vice President of Yugoslavia under Tito, referred to as the “new class” who saw property not as material goods or private ownership but as political control. Similarly, new deal economist John Kenneth Galbraith also posited a technocratic “New Class” which was necessary because modern society was too complex and required guidance by well educated elite.

This generation’s well educated elite are even less well prepared to lead than their predecessors in Galbraith’s day.  Today they graduate with what Emeritus Professor Victor Davis Hanson of California State University calls a “Studies” curriculum.“ Fill in the blanks, Women’s Studies, Gay Studies, Environmental Studies, Peace Studies, Chicano Studies, Film Studies, and so on.  These courses aim to indoctrinate students about perceived pathologies in contemporary American culture–specifically, race, class, gender, and environmental oppression.”  As he puts it, this therapeutic curriculum holds “no eternal truths, but only passing assertions that gain credence through power and authority.”

This new class, which, in their higher education eschewed history and economics in favor of a curriculum which posits American wealth as oppressing various victim groups, sees no real differences between our American democracy or a Venezuelan thugocracy, is now turned loose on us to make what was individual daily decisions and to run our economy.

Now they are bidding to control, or intrude into, our private and precious individual health care decisions. This is a path to a very slippery slope. Under the guise of a “crisis” (the most overused word of an overreaching government) they are preparing to manage our health care decisions or alternatives, through rationing, which sooner or later, and, more invidiously, will involve government bureaucrats ultimately determining who among us should be given treatment, or, less delicately, the right to decide who lives and who dies as is the case in Oregon for those relying on state financial assistance for their health care.

Rationing of health care does, of course, take place every day throughout America. But it is individuals and families who make those choices for loved ones who often can only be kept alive by heroic but futile means. And, yes, insurance companies manage risk by precluding or limiting (rationing) coverage for pre-existing or other specified conditions. However, most families and most employers that provide health insurance can change, or seek to change, their insurance company if they are not satisfied with the coverage offered. That won’t be an option under a government provided health plan.

Some health official (drawn from the same group of 30ish policy wonks) will decide who gets dialysis or a heart bypass operation and make the decision whether someone is too far gone, too old, or too disabled, to merit treatment.  In one of the versions Congress is considering, the elderly were to be offered “end-of-life” counseling, a provision that, we are told, has been dropped given the public’s very negative and very vocal reaction.  Are we going to someday be a society in which, through bureaucratic decisions, the government is making very personal medical decisions for the nation’s families?

For all these years we saw the biggest threat to liberty as coming from foreign enemies.  We have spent untold trillions and spilled the blood of the best of our young of every generation on military defense to preserve our unique American form of liberty.  And now, almost like a cat that quietly crept into a room, our freedom to make our own legal choices, to live our lives free from interference so long as we aren’t injuring others, to support our fellow citizens with our own charity and generosity, is being taken, slice by slice, away from us by this self-appointed ruling class.

We are, increasingly, being governed by bureaucrats and autocrats who actually believe the country can grow its debt and its expenditures faster than it grows its economy and still survive.  The fact is, such a society cannot survive except by pillaging the wealth of its own citizens wherever it can find it.  The taxpaying classes, upper and middle, should thus be forewarned.  The taxman cometh.

To paraphrase T.S. Eliot “this is the way freedom ends, not with a bang but a whimper.”

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32 responses to “The New Ruling Class”

  1. Michael Klein says:

    Great start…I am sure that at some point you will discuss the constant use of the “race card”..and class warfare’s subtle backdrop in most decisions being made and implemented.

    Our current isolationist and apoligistic pronouncements are a real threat to our long term security.

    Much more..keep going!!

  2. Alan Samdperil says:

    Great article and a breath of reality in face of an overwhelming tsunami of today’s “Big Brother” menatlity

    I share your fear that America may wake up one day in the not too distant future to find that it has sold its soul for the proverbial free lunch

  3. Sara the Old Hippy says:

    Your work always brings out the latent Nebraska Republican in me.
    Enjoyed this perspective – and am looking forward to more stimulating brain food.
    T.S. Eliot rocks & great choice of artwork .
    Congrats & keep on agitating!

  4. larry schantz says:

    very interesting and provocative

  5. Ronbo says:

    Ditto! You express in words my thoughts. I have placed you on my blog roll. Keep up the good work!

  6. Fuller says:

    Great article. It sums up the realities that are fueling the fears of a large portion of American society today. we cannot be bogged down with labels (Republican, Conservative, Democrat, Liberal, far this or far that). In my mind (Fullerland) we must all strive to become CONSTITUTIONALISTS and remail viligant to never stray from the Founding Documents, while striving to ensure that the 9th and 10th Amendments are firmly and securely restored to the respective owners, us.

  7. Rainboskies says:

    Best of luck on your endeavors. Got your link from American Thinker and have added you to my reading list.

  8. Ausonius says:

    See the works of Kafka for what happens when an unelected bureaucracy becomes too large!

    And a spelling matter: the last word in your “About Us” column should be “principles” and not the schoolmaster’s word “Principals.”

  9. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Laura Jaggers. Laura Jaggers said: Great new blog ~ Of Thee I Sing […]

  10. jhep3304 says:

    A good summary but most of us are aware of the problem. What we need is more dialog and ideas on how to undo this mess. As you indicate in your essay the voting booth does not seem to be the answer. In too many contests we are faced between choosing between dumb and dumber. In my situation I am very displeased with the Senate Minority Leaders inept handling of most of the issues that have come his way. When he comes up for election again and his only competition in either party appears to be clueless who am I to vote for? The district I live in is not unique in this dilemma.

  11. Joseph says:

    Excellent article.
    This is not just your American problem. Throughout many Third World countries we have the mirrored issue.
    An educated class that has become the new “Massa” of the plantation days. Unfortunately they are not just empty heads with degrees in African American studies or whatever but are also lawyers or even businessmen who see politics as a way to weild power through the taxation or borrowing in the taxpayers name so that they (the new socialist class) can pend your money wisely and benevolently.

  12. Liberty-Clinger says:

    “new deal economist John Kenneth Galbraith also posited a technocratic “New Class” which was necessary because modern society was too complex and required guidance by well educated elite.”

    “The People’s State of Marx … will not content itself with administering and governing the masses politically, as all governments do today. It will also administer the masses economically, concentrating in the hands of the State the production and division of wealth, the cultivation of land, the establishment and development of factories, the organization and direction of commerce, and finally the application of capital to production by the only banker — the State. All that will demand an immense knowledge and many heads “overflowing with brains” in this government. It will be the reign of scientific intelligence, the most aristocratic, despotic, arrogant, and elitist of all regimes. There will be a new class, a new hierarchy of real and counterfeit scientists and scholars, and the world will be divided into a minority ruling in the name of knowledge, and an immense ignorant majority. And then, woe unto the mass of ignorant ones!” Michael Bakunin

    “It is precisely this “new class” that reflects the defining contradiction of modern leftist reality: The goal of complete economic equality logically enjoins the means of complete state control, yet this means has never practically achieved that end. Yes, Smith and Jones, once “socialized,” are equally poor and equally oppressed, but now above them looms an oligarchy of not-to-be-equalized equalizers. The inescapable rise of this “new class” — privileged economically as well as politically, never quite ready to “wither away” — forever destroys the possibility of a “classless” society. Here the lesson of socialism teaches what should have been learned from the lesson of pre-liberal despotism — that state coercion is a means to no end but its own. Far from expanding equality from the political to the economic realm, the pursuit of “social justice” serves only to contract it within both. There will never be any kind of equality — or real justice — as long as a socialist elite stands behind the trigger while the rest of us kneel before the barrel.”

    Barry Loberfeld

  13. Was led to your site by American Thinker, which I profusely read and comment regularly on many of the articles. Not only does American Thinker have many fine contributing writers, but many of the the blog responses are also very well written.

  14. Mike King says:

    I agree with your essay and it touches on a thread that which I’ve believed since the 70s which is, we fall from within. I also believe we can fix the screwed up mess the libs have put us in. Best wishes for thee I sing.

  15. Richard says:

    “…they are preparing to manage our health care decisions or alternatives, through rationing, which sooner or later, and, more invidiously, will involve government bureaucrats ultimately determining who among us should be given treatment…”

    I had the wonderful (note sarc) expirence several years of dealing with medicaid officials. My mom in her advanced years had lost lost her teeth. During this time, she was in a nursing home facility, due to fact that my spouse and I were just no longer able to give her the care my mom required. She was scheduled to see a dentist and was supposed to be recieving dentures. Medicad refused to pay for the service, stating that it did not pay for “cosmetic” procedures. It took 2 years and a threatened lawsuit to make these government bean counters realize that EATING was not a cosmetic improvement. I’ll repeat, 2 YEARS for a treatment that would allow my mom the dignity of eating real food instead of mashed slop. THESE are the types of people that will run health care.

    “This new ruling class has come to power by peddling the promise of being our protector…”

    Yes in every area with the exception of National defense, which has been replaced with “Dialogue Diplomacy”


    I will send your essay to my 13 grandchildren!


    I will send your essay to my 13 grandchildren, with proper attribution!

  18. John Santos says:

    Applaud, applaud, applaud! Well, no “emo’s” here so pretend.

    Awesome essay, so well written and expressed!

    I am a Conservative by nature, registered as an Indy now, because the GOP basically makes me want to hurl. They serve no interests but their own, much like the Democrats.

    At the end of the day, the answer to the question on any given policy issue is simply this: “Is this policy GOOD for the American people as a whole, or is this just driven by partisan agenda’s”.

    We no longer expect high expectations for those that we elect to serve our interests and represent us. Sex scandal? Oh, that’s ok because Mr./Ms so and so brings “X” amount of “pork” back to the district. Can’t lose our fair share ya know….So WHAT if they’re a tad immoral, dirty, bribe takers……we need that new road ya know and the chickens are not going to build it unless Congressman/woman (fill in the blank) gets us the chicken “feed”.

    It’s disgusting, it’s dispicable, and it’s quite telling of how we Americans have allowed this to boil down to the least common denominator.

    What’s in it for me, where’s my cut?

    This nation will never regain it’s footing until & unless they figure out that it’s not going to work if you don’t want to work. It’s NEVER going to pay to have “Big Brother” watch out for you. If you believe that, you’re either a sap or a lazy bum.

    Hope & change?

    The only thing that has changed is how many Americans are hoping that their un-employment and “assitance” checks amount to enough change.

    I wish the folks who have launched this site the best of luck, you’re off to a terrific start, I’ve bookmarked it. I’ve also “given” attribution and have highlighted this site for my membership to check out.


  19. wodiej says:

    excellent article and explanation of what is going on. People in this country have begun to wake up as evidenced by the Tea Parties and the March on 9/12. No doubt this has stalled the health care bill but only temporarily. Americans need to continue this revolution and let it be known we will not allow our country to be taken over by socialsim.

  20. irwin yablans says:

    Thank’s Hal for including me on your mailing list.
    I welcome your commentary,however,I would hope that future miissives offer more original thought.
    This one sounded like the same old conservative whine using the usual knee jerk bad guys as villians.
    Yes, there is a new ruling class many of whom are the receipients of inherited wealth who produce nothing. The problems that plague society are unprecedented and will need novel and creative thinking.
    It will be a difficult and dangerous transition but the world is a far different place than it was in 1776 and just as the american experiment was born of neccessity and seemed radical at the time to the ruling classes of that era, some thing new will develop to accomodate the needs of people in the future.
    For selfish reasons, I wish things could continue as they are for another century or so but I think people today are becoming too informed to accept the status quo.

  21. Robert Myers says:

    Great article. Keep a close eye on the “czars”, I believe they are the forefront of a new army of political officers, and will soon branch out into each agency to assure obedience to the party.

  22. kg says:

    Wonderful! I’m putting up an excerpt with a link back to here.

  23. Comrade Terry says:

    Superb! An excellent beginning, and I look forward to more.

    Thank you.

  24. John Santos says:

    irwin yablans October 3, 2009 at 10:53 am
    “For selfish reasons, I wish things could continue as they are for another century or so but I think people today are becoming too informed to accept the status quo.”

    Excuse me sir, but what exactly do you mean? We’re “too informed”?

    Perhaps I read too much into that, but on the surface it sounds like something a Saul Alynski (spelling?) might state.

    Quite telling on your part amigo.


  25. ZAC D. says:

    “Now they are bidding to control, or intrude into, our private and precious individual health care decisions. ”

    The method congress is utilizing to accomplish their goal is so back-door even a porno-star might disagree with it. What is most frightening about obama-control is congress doesn’t even need a public option this time around inorder to accomplish their devious statists agenda. Don’t take my word for it… read this:

  26. pavellas says:

    We have gotten so used to being “safe” we have forgotten that “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” I thought that what the atrocity of 9/11 represented would wake the people up to the non-benign forces in the world, but apparently not. This is due in part (perhaps critically) to a press that has largely abandoned its role (there are exceptions, and this gives hope), and to the purposeful deterioration of our educational system(s). Critical thinking and respectful disagreement is disappearing from the public forum. There are, as this essay points out, career politicians who cannot be or become a Jefferson, a Hamilton (these two gents hated each other, but Jefferson wasn’t given to hate I think) an Adams, a Monroe, etc. They are simply parasites. There are three rules in politics: 1. Get elected; 2. Get re-elected; 3. Don’t let ANYTHING stand in the way of 1. and 2. Senator Arlen Spector is a good case in point. One could go on…Thanks for the article.

  27. Richard says:

    Mr. Yablans;

    Are you suggesting that individual freedom needs to be sacrificed on the altar of big government?

  28. irwin yablans says:

    Richard,to paraphrase ,I suspect, one of your heroes,”There you go again.” I talk not of big government. What I do believe is essential for a healthy America is a more equitable share of the wealth in this country.
    It is apparent that our beleagured middle class is under enormous pressure. Young people today face a wall of lowered expectations.
    Many can not afford higher education and jobs are scarce,yet we still see obscene bonuses paid to ceos of the very corporations that are cutting back payroll to improve profits. Our schools are in shambles,the homeless dot the landscape of our cities and our children are becoming obese and indolent.Yes, I think it is time for americans to excercise their individual freedom.A rennaisance in the labor movement and protests by working americans at large would be a good start.
    No, not bigger government, Smarter government. One that is truly representative of all the people.A government unencumbered by the constraints of the aristocracy of big money .

  29. Terresa Oxentenko-Maier says:

    A song I wrote which I think is appropriate

    My country tis of thee
    sweet land of liberty
    Why are you sleeping
    when there’s work to be done
    Our father’s cry out to thee
    Do you remember me
    Or have you forgotten
    how your freedom was won
    So wake up America
    There’s trouble among us
    If you can’t see it
    your freedom soon may be gone
    So stand up for liberty
    that your children too may sing
    My Country Tis of Thee,
    our song……
    (And it goes on to a chorus, another verse and then it ends with)
    My Country Tis of Thee
    Sweet land of liberty
    Why are you sleeping, Tonight?

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  31. […] in Animal Farm Marxism sets up an elite ruling class of self-serving, social-engineering “Philosopher Kings;” an unjust, tyranny-tilted […]

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