The Ventriloquist

An online publication at and outside the boundary of evangelical Christianity.



October 2011

Good Thing I Got a Pell Grant

by Michael Shirzadian, on October 2011, Education

Recent attempts by both Democrat and Republican leadership to brand their opposition as vicious perpetrators of so-called “Class Warfare” do not suggest, as the media might have us believe, an especially polar or divisive era in contemporary Washington politics—where leaders desperately enlist words like “terror” and “war” in the service of disparate political ideologies—but illustrate, instead, the bipartisan and calculated sense of war requisite to maintaining status-quo (economic) politics, which these leaders have achieved, cleverly, by exercising and displaying a purely-fictive, illusory sense of displeasure, discord, or purpose.

Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) so-called Path to Prosperity (hereafter Path), passed by all but four House Republicans, eliminates funding for Pell Grants, curtails Medicaid, eliminates Medicare, and, according to non-partisan CBO projections, raises the tax burden for 90% of Americans because it so significantly eliminates taxes for those earning over one million dollars (approximately 433,000 Americans). Path cuts the top marginal tax rate for the wealthiest six percent of filers, and brings the corporate income tax to the same rate.

Path so significantly and absurdly harms lower/middle class Americans (and pretty much everyone else) that President Obama nearly betrayed his own important role in the Dem/GOP symbiotic (semiotic) game by commenting on it and its short prehistory so honestly and matter-of-factly. He said: “Middle-class families shouldn’t pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires. That’s pretty straightforward. It’s hard to argue against that. Warren Buffett’s secretary shouldn’t pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett.”

This of course after Buffett’s Aug. 14 New York Times op-ed Stop Coddling the Superrich, which caught fire on the Internet and locates Buffett as another super-image, an icon representing so broad a camp that his contribution to our political climate—like that of McCain’s endearingly simple Joe the Plumber—amounts to a personal marketing gimmick and, perhaps, the publication of some mundane, broken-record book (also like Joe the Plumber). Apart from these, Buffett’s article has become so significantly removed from any sense of action—refined by the fires of politics and hyperspace—that his contribution to Obama’s long-forgotten campaign slogan Change! is an illusive and elusive one. The core of Buffett’s article, the idea, was lost when the Dems/ GOP got hold of it.

Image-Buffett is to Path as Lennon is to McCartney. Or vice versa. What we don’t see, and haven’t as Americans seen, ever, is drastic, radical socioeconomic reform, favoring the lower/middle class, despite our almost-there President and his c’mon-guys-this-is-obvious rhetoric.

But healthcare reform (equally straightforward) was a bust because the play’s afoot. What the optimistic Marxist might hope is that our almost-there President will cast off the restrictions of campaign anxiety (an anxiety, chiefly, of donor dollars), and will declare war unequivocally (and this time for real) on our 433,000 American millionaires/billionaires, saying to them something like: Don’t vote for me ‘cause I won’t represent your economic interests; I’ll tax you into the middle class, and saying to everyone else something like: I won’t do that to you. He should disregard all this absurd talk of trickle down and donor dollars and how important it is to placate the bourgeois dogs on the tip-top of the Superstructure.

But it’s a body politic composed of image, boasting diluted entitlement programs and corporate personhood and Bush tax cuts, and anyway the Marxist can’t be too hopeful because she believes capitalism will continue turning its blind, ugly eye to the lower/middle class until it destroys itself, inevitably, and to that end perhaps the Path to Prosperity would indeed function as the best step forward.