This is my response to an articulate conservative who always disagrees with my Sunday columns, but does so with respect. I’ll post his email when and if he approves. You can read today’s column at Obama not starting the class wars.
Very few at The Daily agree with my viewpoints, and I doubt any agree with this column. They are kind enough to allow me to publish because they see that my columns stir not just anger, but thought.
I have no doubt you worked hard for your engineering degree. I did the same for my degrees. We both did so, however, in a democratic society that protected our advances. The majority of the population supported property rights, and paid police and court systems to protect those rights.
When social mobility is real rather than imaginary, I think we can take comfort that capitalism will survive because, as you put it: “The poor support the rich in our system because they want a chance to get there themselves.”
What happens, though, when the poor realize they do not have a chance?
We disagree less than you think. I believe capitalism, for all its warts, is the only viable economic system. I also believe it is destined for failure in a democracy with the dramatic income and wealth polarization we have in the US. The masses may be dumb, but they’re not stupid.
I think Obama, wittingly or not, is the best thing that could have happened for American capitalism. If conservatives will give him some space, he will give the poor a rational belief that they can succeed.
The poor, with lots of encouragement from the rich, have deluded themselves for decades into thinking we live in a classless society.
I do not believe that delusion can continue. To retain the benefits of capitalism, the rich need to be willing to share the wealth. Not all of it, but enough to give the poor a reasonable belief that, with hard work, they too can partake of the American Dream.