by Daniel Cubias
“There’s class warfare, alright. But it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war. And we’re winning.” —Warren Buffett
“Eat the rich!” —Aerosmith
In Manlio’s Argueta’s gripping novel, One Day of Life, soldiers of a repressive Central American government beat and abuse poor villagers. The peasants’ crime, as one militaristic thug puts it, is that “they don’t love the rich.”
Still, the concept of class warfare, invoked primarily by right-wing politicians, holds that middle-class and poor people are simply jealous of rich individuals, or that they are being riled up to hate the wealthy.
The super rich, as we all know, have gotten wealthier while the rest of us have gotten poorer. Latinos, more than other groups, have seen their nest eggs evaporate. However, Americans are not storming the mansions of the rich, Bastille-style, and demanding justice.
In fact, many people continue to make excuses for their upper-class overlords. We hear from working-class people who struggle to pay their bills that the rich deserve lower taxes, and that suggesting otherwise is, yes, class warfare.
Now, one can make the argument that lowering taxes on the richest will improve the economy. Of course, you would have to ignore the fact that no study has ever proven that trickle-down is actually effective. Also, taxes were much higher in the 1990s, when the economy boomed. And the Bush tax cuts have been in effect for a decade and haven’t worked so far. And…well, the point is that at least it’s an argument.
But for many Americans, this belief is really just a smokescreen that masks either their self-interest (i.e., they’re rich) or their acquiescence. For those who are not rich, insisting that the wealthy will give everybody jobs, if only we give them more cash to do so, is optimistic thinking at best. At worst, it is a pathetic delusion. It is the mindset of people who have learned their place. They have learned to love the rich. This love is one-sided, of course. We have scientific proof (sort of) that wealthy people are less empathetic, and have no real concern how the rest of us are doing. And we’re not doing so great. In fact, one wonders if we creating our very own version of the encomienda system.
Even in that rare case when a billionaire like Warren Buffett says that he is more than willing to pay higher taxes, he is shouted down, often by people who will take years to make what he grosses in an hour.
It is reminiscent of Latin America, where many of our parents came from. In those countries — the setting of Argueta’s novel — the uber-wealthy have convinced the poor that this is the natural order of things. Here in America, we seem to be on the same path.
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the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.