Thursday, March 28, 2013

Oz/US: Mirror Images.

Washington Post columnist Matt Miller comments on the remarkable change of heart among American politicians about same sex marriage (h/t David Ruccio):
"I've been thinking about the amazing pace of change in public attitudes and political sentiment on gay marriage - and how every Tom, Dick and Harry (or at least every Hillary, Mark and Claire) seems to be rushing out a video or press release getting on the new right side of marriage equality."
In Miller's opinion, this is due to "plenty of reasons, but the one that gets little attention is class".

According to Miller, since same sex couples from all social classes decided to come out of the closet, politicians and decision-makers find it increasingly easy to empathyze with them: many of these couples belong to their own ranks, after all.

That's why Miller asks: "If only poor people were gay, does anyone think our political leaders would have 'evolved' at this pace?"

Don't get me wrong, I fully support same sex marriage, and, in my opinion, a working class movement can and should support other people's initiatives in this area.

But I equally think that a working class movement cannot make of same sex marriage its central issue, because identity issues, like same sex marriage, do not involve the class interests of the elites. They don't touch anybody's pockets. That's what makes possible the "amazing pace of change in public attitudes and political sentiment on gay marriage", as Miller correctly remarks.

Australians should look at themselves in the American mirror. What Miller says about his country applies as much to the U.S. as it does to Australia.

Miller concludes:
"As Martin Luther King Jr. learned near the end, securing legal equality turned out to be the easy part. Nobody had to write a check. Equal opportunity and economic justice are entirely different matters, requiring a nation to take even bigger leaps of empathy and imagination".

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Incidentally, American economics Prof. Mark Thoma, referring to the U.S., asks: "why don't politicians care about the working class?"

Unfortunately, very few Australian academics seem to wonder about that. If they did, they would ask why Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon is so concerned about the remote possibility of raising taxes on the superannuation of people with a yearly income of AUD250K a year, but doesn't say anything about the certainty that Tony Abbott will charge AUD500 a year on the superannuation of people with incomes under AUD37K a year.

Would that be because he doesn't give a rat's ass about people with incomes under AUD37K a year?

Or they would ask why Tony Abbott, future Australian PM, promoter of the politics of greed and class-warrior on behalf of the local plutocracy, is so willing to come to the defence of Simon Crean and Martin Ferguson (two former union men):
"What we should never do is engage in the politics of envy. What we should never do is play the class war card. Now decent Labor people understand that Simon Crean and Martin Ferguson have pleaded with the Prime Minister to put this class war behind them". (See here)
Would it be because there is no difference between the interests Abbott represents and those represented by Crean and Ferguson?

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So, dear reader, in the next election your choice is among which representatives of the rich will squeeze you good. Keep voting for these people, no matter how much they despise you.


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