Economist Michael Lind has an op-ed in salon.com this morning that set my teeth on edge. This happens when someone writes something that I have been trying to tell people for years. In Are the American People Obsolete? he writes that the rich no longer depend on U.S. citizens for their wealth or protection nor to provide them services anymore. Immigrants without voting rights serve as maids and cooks, and perform other service tasks.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently revealed the plutocratic perspective on immigration when he defended illegal immigration by asking, "Who takes care of the greens and the fairways in your golf course?"
Offshoring has done wonders to free the rich from dealing with the U.S. workers' demands for a living wage, as Lind explains:
A member of the elite can make money from factories in China that sell to consumers in India, while relying entirely or almost entirely on immigrant servants at one of several homes around the country.
Lind mentions the growing use of mercenaries (called "Contractors" since the start of the Iraq War) as the final reason rich people do not need ordinary citizens of the U.S. anymore. He also speculate about a foreign, immigrant police force of the future.
My favorite part of Lind's piece comes from his tying this all to the hatred for taxes:
If the American rich increasingly do not depend for their wealth on American workers and American consumers or for their safety on American soldiers or police officers, then it is hardly surprising that so many of them should be so hostile to paying taxes to support the infrastructure and the social programs that help the majority of the American people. The rich don't need the rest anymore.
For many years, in conversations with friends and acquaintances, I have brought up this idea. Always I have received either uncomprehending stares or condescending responses. Silly doom-crier, they need us as consumers. Or, where else does the wealth come but from the rest of us? Well, now it's coming in from elsewhere, they have taken away retirement for most of us and have Social Security in the cross-hairs now. Does anyone think that the wealthiest 2 percent of the U.S. has need of the other 98% as anything more than sheep to be fleeced?
Footnote: For a body of empirical supporting data take a look at Middle Class in America Is Radically Shrinking. Here Are the Stats to Prove it from Yahoo finance.