Monday, April 18, 2016

Don't Disdain Making it Rain

It bothers me probably more than it should that some Sanders supporters were tossing $1 bills at Hillary Clinton's motorcade. The dollar bill is commonly the currency tucked into the G-string of a stripper. "Making it rain" in the parlance is making stacks of bills come down like rain--it's a signifier for both the ability of the giver to shower it down, and the giftee for getting the money brought. The insinuation is that a certain competitor against simon-pure Bernie Sanders has been getting pennies from heaven and wearing her umbrella upside-down just for the occasion.

Huh. I didn't know elections stopped being expensive when these folks started paying attention. Maybe, as even the host of the fundraiser in question agrees, the amount of money in politics is ridiculous, but frankly--there are a lot more races at stake than just the race for the White House. And all of them will cost money, because in the real world, things do. You aren't changing the makeup of Congress for free, getting college for free, or getting a single-payer system that pays no money. Shit costs. Always has. Always will.

I'm sympathetic to the idea that there's too much money and influence in politics. Look at how much money gets spent on think tank garbage and bundled contributions to climate change denialists in Congress (note that Clinton is not one of these deniers even if much is being made of her marginally more significant cash raised from individuals in the fossil fuel industries).  Really. And I think Citizens United was a badly-decided case--and yet, I want everyone to turn back to the libretto to see who that money in that case was being spent against. Go ahead. Against Hillary Clinton.  Bank was going to go down on her character being trashed because--some people with major dollars hated her because she's always been a progressive?

(And don't get me started on the other thing that starts with "Citizens United..." precipitated by Trump's very good and we are supposed to believe "not part of the campaign" buddy Roger Stone.)

Note to angry people in the drum circle--Bernie Sanders needs money to do his thing, whatever it is, too. His campaign can make an issue out of it if he wants them to, but it just happens that lots of the money that Hillary Clinton is raising is going to go to down-ticket candidates, with the aim of changing Congress--which needs to be done to get any kind of progressive agenda anywhere near possible. Even Sanders himself has at one time or another benefitted from this kind of "rain". Until there's a law against it, and knowing what kind of money the opposition is going to rake in in the general? This argument just seems self-defeating.


Gerald Parks said...

Awesome post!

"This argument just seems self-defeating." is a great ending.

All I would add is this "and stupid!"

The Democratic nominee will NEED every dime they can get to win ...period.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

It bothers me that Hillary supporters turn every legitimate objection to her record into a complaint about sexism.

I suppose when I vote for Jill Stein instead of Hillary this year*, that will be evidence of my sexist tendencies?

* Assuming Hillary is the Democratic nominee. I voted for Jill Stein in 2012, too. I don't vote for corporatist war-mongers anymore. My 56 years on the planet have provided me ample evidence that you don't get any "lesser evil" when you hold your nose and do so. You get more wars and corporatism.

Vixen Strangely said...

Male strippers get dollar bills put in their G-strings too. I don't see the "corporate whore" complaint as being essentially sexist and didn't really rely on that trope to argue against treated all money in politics in this election as being proof of corruption.

I'm not calling out sexism--I'm calling out the credibility of the objection.

Formerly Amherst said...

Hi Vixen, self-fulfilling prophecies often wind up nipping at one's backside.

Once upon a time the idea was making money was good, and if you made enough of it you performed charity, which is always needed.

The Left embraced Marx for a while and now there are all these huge and nuanced stratification about what value to put on money. What value to put on materialism. You know, you've got debutantes buying designer jeans with holes in them to sort of have it both ways.. which, of course, you can't.

Marxist theory is as dead as a year-old donut. Regrettably, certain vague, undefined ideas have seeped in the cultural rot. There are many different ways to demonstrate this, but I'll bore you with only one.

In Marx's time there was a huge difference between capital and labor. Two distinctive classes with two distinctive properties attributed to those classes.

Today the bag boy at the grocery store probably has a pension plan with selections for financial directions that include the S&P 500 and others. Often the corporation will supply matching funds up to a certain percentage (which is free money, so take advantage of it). So now our bag boy is a capitalist. He performs labor, but he is also an active investor in the financial markets. Most companies have a lot of mutual funds for retirement money. Mutual funds are also financial instruments that did not exist in Karl Marx's time, let alone exchange traded funds (ETFs). Some of these funds can be started with as little as $100.

There's not a lot of difference anymore between labor and capital. However, a lot of people have yet to catch up with the new reality. If our bag boy wants to explore the financial world, he may discover that he can write options on his equity position in his pension plan. He might discover he can collateralize certain ventures through the use of his pension plan that collects money every month. It's conceivable, depending on his arrangement, he could use margin. If he's really smart he will start additional, conservative investments outside the pension fund and double his possibilities. Anyway, this is a pretty industrious and successful bag boy, right? It's just a device to demonstrate the division between labor and capital that existed in Marx's time no longer exists.

The idea that religion is the opiate of the masses was also written in a time before Joseph Campbell was a twinkle in his parents' eyes. Before religions began to be studied comparatively. Before Eliade started the discipline of the history of religions. Before the study of parapsychology existed and gained respect with Rhine. Before transpersonal psychology discovered a principle beyond the traditional ego and unconscious mind that exists beyond time and space. In short, Marx's theories no longer provide a basis for making pronouncements about money or religion or materialism or anything else. But we're left with all this residual, foolish stratification that does not accommodate the modern world. And it results in ridiculous guerrilla theater like that which you point out to us.

So, you have a good point. With your OWS types you have those wanting to make foundational statements based on total, banal ignorance of the world in which they live. One group of OWS went to the side of a Federal Reserve bank and screamed at the building. That should be studied along with the other manufactured psychoses we have in the West today.

One of our cats just came in and needs a little attention.

(Incidentally, government and corporations have to be considered in the same movement. People with money give it to both sides so they can be certain of access. It's no stroke of genius. Players well understand it's a binary system, and so the strategy has to include control of the binary. Most financial types prefer gridlock. And the politician? If he defends the corporations in his state or district, there's a possibility he can look forward to an appointment on an important committee.)

Vixen Strangely said...

You make provocative points as always, Formerly Amherst. Thorstein Veblen didn't opine in vein when he discussed "conspicuous consumption"--I would say that high-priced jeans with holes pre-made are a signifier of the concept of "money to burn". As a sociological experiment, we sometimes find that when resources are few, even if choices are what we might consider "irrational", people invest in choices that are "signifying" on a cultural rather than an economically significant level. It's not a commentary on the par with the irrationality of the markets in a "tulipmania" sense--but rather that people make expenditures or investments on hope of return--for example a poor woman invests in makeup rather than food because acquiring a partner who can provide serves long term, rather than short term needs.

Participating in the market for many people of limited means via market-based employer savings plans may not translate into long-term pay-outs as advertised, but serve as a cultural signifier. I have dividends from a retail job I worked at just after college that keep me tied in a signifying fashion to that profit-driven life--no actual Marxist, me. In any position, whether private or public, I hold that work has a legitimate value. Although I have left that retail position where I worked my ass off for sixty hours a week, I indirectly depend on the idea that twenty-somethings rather like my previous self also work their asses off to earn me my couple dollars of invested stock dividends.

I also see campaign donations as "investments"--if people don't have it to lose--don't spend it. Put your actual investment in street currency--activism. But I can perceive that the dollar value of the vote is a fluctuation--popular choice determines over time whether it is backed by money or by real movement of the people. The people united can devalue money backing of any candidate so long as access to that vote is fair and equitable. Thus, the progressive grouses against voter ID and other voting limitations.

I believe people are truly incentivized by promise of compensation. My liberalism or progressivism is predicated on the belief that this "faith" should pay off. In other words, I am for people working for their money in that they should get paid. But I also believe that people with money should be able to invest to get their money to work for them. I am mostly skeptical with the scenario where sweat equity is taxed at a higher rate than cash equity.

Vixen Strangely said...

In other words, in the simplest sense, I am a capitalist in that I believe, per Milton Freidman, that monetary decisions are choices--free will. But those choices being limited by forces such as strike breaking violence and starvation are evils that should be seen as negative choices by investors that can and should meet with negative social payments in the form of strikes and legislative regulations earned by democratic vote. Stop gaps like beaureaucratic regulation by agency fiat are a play by ear nuisance--but I guess the courts are recompense for that.