Class Warfare Blog

October 16, 2020

They Will Have to Pry the Money Out of My Cold, Dead Hands

Filed under: Economics,History,Politics,Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 1:01 pm
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You may remember when Charlton Heston was president of the National Rifle Association (NRA). He is famous for delivering, quite theatrically, the old saw “They will have to pry my gun out of my cold, dead hands.” Basically he was stating that he would defend, even violently, his right to “bear arms.” But physical violence is on the decline and now it has been replaced by economic violence. The rich have acquired more wealth (as a percentage) than they possessed in the previous greatest episodes of U.S. history. The Robber Barons had less, the Gilded Age tycoons had less.

A major book by Walter Scheidel, The Great Leveler, claims that there are but four causes of reversals of this trend: mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolutions, state collapse, and catastrophic plagues. These are the only thing that have reversed the “normal” trend of wealth accumulation by the wealthy, by the simple expedient of repeatedly destroyed the fortunes of the rich and, well, the rich themselves.

The 20th century, with two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the immense communist revolution created the greatest redistribution of wealth (and power) ever seen. Unfortunately, all of the wealth redistribution that occurred after WW2 has been reversed at this point and the “normal” state of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer has been reinstated.

What is at work here is greed, pure and simple.

Before you start to believe that there is some “invisible hand” at work here, there is not. What is at work here is greed, pure and simple. The dynamics at play here are these: the rich are few and the rest of us are many. This gives the rich a large advantage in organization. The power of the rich’s money is leveraged by buying politicians. I am sure that you have seen the studies that show that the rich get the attention of politicians to a very large degree, despite they being few and the poor get zero attention from politicians despite they being many. Apparently votes do not matter and money does. This is because money buys votes and the system is biased toward the elites. The two party, winner take all, system requires that the rich only need to influence, aka bribe, the two leading candidates for any office. Both current candidates for President, for example, are both acceptable to the rich as they have been vetted and supplied with suitable leashes. (Those of you who think that Mr. Trump’s wealth insulates him from their greed need to examine his tax returns. Mr. Trump only appears to be wealthy. There are lots of people, as Chris Rock says, who are rich, but few who are wealthy. Basically, star athletes and star performers, are rich . . . the people who sign their paychecks are wealthy.

The only way to solve this problem is for the many to tax the few: that is tax the rich so that they do not accumulate distorting amounts of wealth. The problem, of course, is this is a political solution, and they are few and we are many. Of the four actual forces that affect the wealthy the only that is even mildly attractive is “transformative revolutions.” Maybe we can learn from South Africa and do this bloodlessly, with a “forgive them they know not what they have done” attitude. But I suspect they know full well what they are doing, certainly the Koch Brothers did, so this will be a hard sell at best. Maybe lynching the uber-wealthy is the way to go, but that isn’t exactly non-violent.


  1. What happened to the NRA is sad, really. It started out as a responsible, thoughtful organization (more or less) and in the last, oh, 20 years or so, has gone absolutely, totally bonkers and has turned into little more than a lobbying platform for the gun industry. I’m hopeful that New York’s investigation will, if nothing else, point out that it is now little more than a way to funnel dark money into the hands of politicians


    Comment by grouchyfarmer — October 16, 2020 @ 10:22 pm | Reply

    • What’s equally sad is people like my other-half continue to support them and feel the negative press is all Democratic propaganda.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Nan — October 17, 2020 @ 12:19 pm | Reply

      • History says otherwise.

        There was a story of a study in Mexico as to why the Mexican peasants didn’t object to the Patrons who lorded it over them. Basically it turned out that they aspired to be Patrons themselves and didn’t want to undermine the “respect for the office,” as it were.

        I contend that most Americans look favorably upon the wealthy, even buying the fable that they are self-made men (like MItt Romeny who claims that despite the two million dollars his father gave him (to contrast, my total salary for my almost 40 years as a professor was … two million dollars) because they want to be “one of those” themselves. If you’ve read “The Millionaire Next Door” you know that becoming a millionaire is not all that hard. Of course being a millionaire is possessing chump change when it comes to the modern billionaires, who have increased their wealth by $85 billion just since the pandemic began.

        Wannabes look up to the Trumps of the world, thinking “you don’t get rich by accident, that could be me.”

        On Sat, Oct 17, 2020 at 12:19 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


        Liked by 2 people

        Comment by Steve Ruis — October 17, 2020 @ 12:37 pm | Reply

    • Yeah, they used to have a decent platform: gun safety, expansion of shooting sports, etc.

      Now they specialize in scare tactics to enhance gun and ammo sales.

      Interestingly, they scare the bejesus out of gun owners, so go and load up on ammo, buying out local suppliers and the ammo industry, during the pandemic, can’t restock their shelves at all quickly, so … the ammo shortage is a conspiracy of liberals.

      On Fri, Oct 16, 2020 at 10:22 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — October 21, 2020 @ 12:50 pm | Reply

    • Yep – just as money was probably the primary reason in corrupting the American politics, it had the same effect on the NRA.


      Comment by List of X — October 21, 2020 @ 10:51 pm | Reply

      • I’m sure money has had a lot to do with it. One should never underestimate sheer human greed and lust for power. But you should also see some of the stuff they publish in their magazines. The delusional thinking and paranoia is, frankly, mind boggling.


        Comment by grouchyfarmer — October 22, 2020 @ 6:50 am | Reply

        • And too many swallow it whole. (I say this with authority since I’m very well “acquainted with” a NRA supporter.)

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Nan — October 22, 2020 @ 11:29 am | Reply

          • The last one I spoke to included the vehement statement that he also had “a Chrsitian worldview.” This was stated right after him saying he would stand in the road with his .50 cal opposing the enemies of his beleifs.

            I guess “turn the other cheek” is now out of the Chrsitian survival manual.

            On Thu, Oct 22, 2020 at 11:29 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


            Liked by 2 people

            Comment by Steve Ruis — October 22, 2020 @ 11:49 am | Reply

            • In the eyes of a lot of these people firearms are literally part of their religious belief system. I’m not sure how it happened but guns have become so intertwined with their theology that the two are inseparable.


              Comment by grouchyfarmer — October 22, 2020 @ 4:53 pm | Reply

              • Corrosive theology. Conservatives Chrsitians have linked their religious proclivities with the Republican Party and with “the Second Amendment.” To be a member of their club, you need all three: Jesusw, an Ar-15, and the GOP … Yeeehaw!

                On Thu, Oct 22, 2020 at 4:53 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


                Liked by 1 person

                Comment by Steve Ruis — October 22, 2020 @ 9:22 pm | Reply

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