Class warfare

Published 10:52 am Wednesday, January 11, 2012

To the Editor:
I’m extremely uncomfortable with the term “class warfare” itself, partly because it should have no place in American society, but particularly as it is currently and commonly used by politicians in the context of the “rich” or “the wealthy” not bearing their fair share of funding the U.S. government.
To begin with, the facts speak clearly that that observation is simply not true.
The practice of introducing “class warfare” rhetoric isn’t new; it actually began with FDR in the late 30s when the expression “soak the rich” became popular.
The basic concept was so patently flawed that a classic political cartoon of the time pictured a large goose (the one that laid the golden eggs) about to be beheaded by Henry Morganthau, then secretary of the treasury.  In the foreground of the cartoon were maybe a dozen eggs with the word “jobs” printed on each one. The point was birds-and-bees clear: Wealth is where jobs really come from, not from the government.
Something else about “class warfare” bothers me; from back in the 30s, as now, no one has ever succinctly defined the terms “rich” or “the wealthy.”
There must be a clear line drawn somewhere so any of us can determine which side we may be on. Don’t get me wrong; I know full well that there are “rich” and “wealthy,” as well as many struggling poor folks. But it has ever been thus and it always will be thus. “Soak the rich” rhetoric will never alter that reality.
Finally, I’m deeply troubled by the underlying harm that “class warfare” can and does cause.  It can only damage human relationships, produce ill feelings and it is not something that promotes the “common good,” which should be our primary objective these days.
– Bill Wuehrmann, Tryon

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