Saturday, March 09, 2024

Valuable Point

A particularly good, traditional line invoked to ridicule and repudiate a fascistic comment goes something similar to "I liked it better in the original German." Think Donald Trump remarking of immigrants "they are poisoning the blood of our country." Altered slightly- but significantly- the tenor of the quote can be used to describe various things, even approvingly.

Fervently praising President Biden's State of the Union address, at 20:13 of the video (with bad audio) below, Max Brooks, author and son of Mel Brooks, is seen remarking on Real Time with Bill Maher

There was- there was something buried in his speech that I think needs to get a lot more play- when he talked about billionaires paying their fair share. You know, remember when Obama said you didn't build that and got shouted down. He should have doubled down because there is a bond between the state and the marketplace and Biden's (word indistinguishable to me) because it's not that we don't want Bezos to make billions of dollars.

We do. But he can only make his billions because his trucks drive on roads that I pay for, that his workforce is educated in public schools that I pay for, that his drivers got driving licenses at DMV's that I pay for. And the cops that protected vans that I pay for and the entire global supply chains protected by the United States military that I, the taxpayer, pay for. So I am paying my fair share and all I want is for billionaires to pay theirs.

It's an excellent point and Obama did get dumped upon when in July, 2012 he commented

... look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something - there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business. you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don't do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

The remark was uncharacteristic of Obama both because it was not particularly well-crafted while being unabashedly progressive. It's a critically important point- but I preferred it in the original Warren, of September 2011:

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody,. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You built a factory, and it turned into something terrific or a great idea: God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

Barack Obama got re-elected. Elizabeth Warren won the Democratic nomination, as expected, for U.S. Senator from Massachusetts and won the general election and re-election in the heavily Democratic state, then got pummeled in her bid for a presidential nomination. Much more narrowly, Hillary Clinton invoked a related idea in 2016 with "it takes a village." We all know how that turned out.

Max Brooks believes Biden's similar statement "needs to get a lot more play," and it very much does... on merit. The voting public- let alone corporate interests, which hate such sentiment publicly expressed- seems to be in no mood for such an argument. 

Americans are in mood at this dark and disturbing time. Communitarianism is out, conflict is in.  Still, some things have to be said, no matter the anger it invokes in the moneyed interests or disinterest in the media- and whether in the original Warren or emulated by a President or two.


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