In the old days, class warriors were proverbial men of the people who made an effort to match their lifestyles with their rhetoric. Not now. When President Obama rails about "millionaires," we expect that in a few hours our Class Warrior in Chief will golf with Wall Street fat cats to hit them up for campaign money. We presume that the First Family prefers Costa del Sol, Martha's Vineyard or Vail to a passé Camp David.
If director Michael Moore or New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg warns us about impending rioting and class strife, we assume both live in huge homes and are multimillionaires. The new class-warfare coalitions are comprised mostly of the less well off and the very well off, one wishing for ever more state help, the other rich enough to not mind bestowing it. No wonder both demonize as greedy and racist Tea Baggers those in the middle who are most likely to feel the cost of ever more government.
The battleground of class warfare has moved from the streets of yesteryear to the TV studio green room, the golf links or the seaside hotel retreat. And when we really do see street violence -- looting in Britain or flash-mobbing in America -- angry youths usually target high-end electronics stores and fashion outlets, not food markets or bookstores. They organize on social networks from their laptops and cell phones, not from soup kitchens, bread lines or dank basements.
Class warfare is now not about brutal elemental poverty of the sort Charles Dickens or Knut Hamsun once wrote about. It is too often the anger that arises from not having something that someone else has, whether or not such style, privilege or discretionary choices are all that necessary. Endemic obesity, not malnutrition, threatens America -- including the nearly 50 million Americans who are on food stamps.
These are hard times, with high unemployment rates and economic stagnation. But we are not a nation of the malnourished and starving who are preyed upon by idle rich drones who pay no taxes. And a government that borrows $4 billion a day and spends $2 trillion more a year than it did just 10 years ago is hardly stingy.
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