George Carlin and Paul Krugman are saying the same thing


Growth is slowing, and the odds are that unemployment will rise, not fall, in the months ahead. That’s bad. But what’s worse is the growing evidence that our governing elite just doesn’t care — that a once-unthinkable level of economic distress is in the process of becoming the new normal.

So, what is to be done? That’s the question. Carlin, to me, is so caustic that while his points may be valid, he kills any possibility of hope or change, and does so almost gleefully. In effect, he just plays into the hands of the elites he despises, because he says nothing can be done.

However, history shows that much can be done, and when income disparities reach a certain point, political and economic instability occurs and sometimes regimes then fall or can be forced to changed. You wouldn’t be reading this blog if you didn’t think real change was possible.


  • EGrise

    In a similar vein, our local alt-weekly interviewed Ed Burns (writer and co-creator of “The Wire”) and he had some interesting things to say:

    […]the difference between Obama and Franklin Roosevelt is Roosevelt had people in the street, and he could turn to the rich men and say, “You’d better give them a little something, or they’ll take it all.” And Obama doesn’t have that.


    AC: Yeah, but without that groundswell, it’s really hard to create that pressure to make that possible.

    EB: And what it opens itself up for is fascism. Do you know Sheldon Wolin, the writer? The philosopher? He sort of followed up on Hannah Arendt, who did the classic book on totalitarianism. His book is called Democracy Inc. He talks about this idea of inverted totalitarianism. So all the mistakes of classical totalitarianism – the leadership of the individual, these types of things – that’s gone now. It’s now a corporate state. We have a myth of democracy, but it’s only a myth. No matter who you elect, it seems to be the same guy. And nothing seems to change. If you look at health care and what happened to that, if you look at the Wall Street reform and what happened to that, you’re looking at a plutocracy, where a very few people have absolute control, and since they’re wedded with the military, I don’t think they’re gonna give it up very easily.

    Interesting stuff:

    • Also, FDR was from the elite class and as such, couldn’t be bluffed or intimidated by them. At one point, when he instituted taxes on them, he say “I welcome their hatred.” (He also arguably saved them by staving off serious unrest)

      Obama, OTOH, is in thrall to them. He could have people in the streets, all he has to do is ask for them.

  • heh. I love that Carlin bit.

    “when income disparities reach a certain point, political and economic instability occurs and sometimes regimes then fall”

    I recently came across an interesting parallel to this point in a history of ancient Athens. Quote: “while the wealthy few were becoming wealthier and greedier, the small proprietors were becoming landless and the landless freemen were becoming slaves. And the evil was aggravated by unjust judgments, and the perversion of law in favor of the rich and powerful.”

    Constitutional reforms eventually led to the foundation of democracy in Athens. See the whole post at Poli-Tea.

  • No matter what FDR did or did not do, he still left the power where it was and where it still is today. That part never changed, so a little wealth was thrown to the peasants for a little while until it suited the elite parasites and then they decide to claw it all back. Do we want a repeat of that, another FDR to allow the ordinary people another generation or so of a better quality of life, well some of them, then claw it all back? The poverty never really disappeared.

    • But he did club them a few times. Which is way more than Obama has done.

  • A token assault, he would not have got away with anything more.

  • EnCee

    Carlin is great, but you are right, he doesn’t tend to offer any solutions. When he does, though, they tend to be along the lines of telling people to get fed up and maybe have a revolt or two. Something more constructive would be useful, but the guy is dead, so it’s hard to critique what he should change about his routine.

    It’s like you said, it’s up to us to make positive change.

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