July 25, 2009

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The Attack of the 1-Percenters Truthdig - Reports - The Attack of the 1-Percenters. Here’s a truism: The wealthiest 1 percent have never had it so good. According to government figures, 1-percenters’ share of America’s total income is the highest it’s been since 1929, and their tax rates are the lowest they’ve faced in two decades. Through bonuses, many 1-percenters will profit from the $23 trillion in bailout largesse the Treasury Department now says could be headed to financial firms. And, most of them benefit from IRS decisions to reduce millionaire audits and collect zero taxes from the majority of major corporations. But what really makes the ultrawealthy so fortunate, what truly separates this moment from a run-of-the-mill Gilded Age, is the unprecedented protection the 1-percenters have bought for themselves on the most pressing issues. To review: With 22,000 Americans dying each year because they lack health insurance, Congress is considering universal health care legislation financed by a surcharge on income above $280,000—that is, a levy almost exclusively on 1-percenters. This surtax would graze just 5 percent of small businesses and would recoup only part of the $700 billion the 1-percenters received from the Bush tax cuts. In fact, it is so minuscule, those making $1 million annually would pay just $9,000 more in taxes every year—or nine-tenths of 1 percent of their 12-month haul. Nonetheless, the 1-percenters have deployed an army to destroy the initiative before it makes progress. The foot soldiers are the Land Rover Liberals. These Democratic lawmakers secure their lefty labels...
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The Real Birth Certificate Deflecting attention from health care and doing whatever it takes to undermine Obama's popularity are not surprising conservative political tactics.Pursuing an old theme, already debunked, and circulating primarily on the fringe is maybe a bit more surprising, particularly insofar as the claims are empirical ones that are easily disproved. So why does the birther conspiracy have legs? The most obvious answer is racism. An African-American isn't really an American. Ergo, an African-American must be born in Africa. The birther conspiracy, then, expresses whites' sense of threat to their own identities as it seeks to shore up a line between one of us and one of them. I don't think this answer is false, but I don't think it's compelling. It's not compelling because it doesn't account for why the story persists in the face of evidence to the contrary. A better answer needs to account for this persistence. A better answer, then, has to take into account the decline of symbolic efficiency. The 'evidence' of the certificate of live birth, the birth announcement in the papers, doesn't register. It doesn't appear as or seem real. And it doesn't appear as Real because there is no functioning symbolic order that can legitimize or guarantee it. The problem of the decline of the symbolic is the loss of the Real. Any certificate that is on the internet or reprinted in print media is of course a copy. To say that one has seen the certificate is to say that one has seen...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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