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by Ganesh Sitaraman
Knopf, 2017

"...an enormous Proportion of Property vested in a few individuals is dangerous to the Rights, and destructive of the Common Happiness of Mankind"
( From a 1776 draft of Pennsylvania's constitution!)

"The wealthy start believing they're better than everyone else, that they are
more virtuous, that they deserve to govern."

That last quote is from Sitaraman's Atlantic interview with Rebecca Rosen. It pretty much sums up the book's reason for existing. The author is compelled to trace the history of the phenomenon from the Greeks to the present because it explains so much. But some of us (overly eager folks) may feel compelled to consume the final 29 pages first. Those pages bring together a daunting list of things that a bottom-up movement might do about the crisis of inequality.

Sitaraman points out that the agrarian nature of our population at the time of

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Constitution-creation--plus the availability of land stretching to the Pacific--made for a kind of natural equality not possible elsewhere on the planet. However, since the arrival of the gilded ages (both the late 19th century one and the present day one), the crises of inequality may have become destructive of the nation.

The middle class is front and center these days. Its exact parameters may be murky, but it is admired as the sanest, least corruptible segment of society. Many of us (especially Sitaraman) fear its demise.

Mostly missing from the current national crash-alogue is overt emphasis on poor people. "Poor" means struggling to acquire the basics of survival. Remember? Nowadays, it once again seems possible that the existence of a "poor" class is inevitable. We have turned our attention to preserving the middle.

Even though it seems only yesterday that we championed "The Great Society" and "The War on Poverty," you won't find them much in Sitaraman's book. The word "poor" has receded from book titles and political talk, and from "The Crisis...". Still, in spite of that, the work speaks for economic compression and hence is a lot about the poor. (See cartoon to your left.) The poor are not buried--just subsumed in the flow of equality ideals and the assumptions embraced by our middle-class constitution.

The author is extremely persuasive. He tells the equality/inequality story through the words and deeds of specific people. Real people. People who seem alive and knowable. His is a book of quotes, hearable off the page; and that becomes an exciting read.

Among the many people who live in this book is one James Harrington, a seventeenth century political philosopher who is said to have influenced Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson. He pops up throughout, and if you haven't yet met him, you will be glad when you do. He seems to hover over Sitaraman like some guiding angel reminding him that "power follows property," "power follows property."

Toward the end of the book, there are a few pages of those ought-to-be-alarming statistics describing inequality in America. My eyes glaze; though one oft-repeated statistic can always pinch me awake: "In 1979, the CEOs of America's most successful companies made on average 29.9 times as much as their workers. By 2013, they made 295.9 times as much as their workers."

"... the collapse of the middle class and America's increasingly rigged
political system are connected. But the truly terrifying thing is that they
reinforce each other. As wealth is concentrated in the hands of elites and
corporations, they use their wealth and influence to rewrite laws and
regulations in ways that help them amass even greater wealth and
power.... This dynamic makes it more and more likely with each passing
day that modern America is losing its character as a republic."
(page 224)

If you wonder how we got here, read Sitaraman. If you intend to do something about it, first take notes on his final 29 pages.



SQUAWK-OP is a news and opinion place.

It squawks in words and cartoons about male dominance, silly religions, right-wing politicians, good or excessive or criminal sex, dumb sports, serious books, arts, and other 21st century human flights and foibles. It leans left--except when it doesn't.




MH March 26, 2016

Geez. Nowadays, almost everyone is calling almost everyone else a bigot. The accusation has become more damning than yelling "rapist!" or "murderer!" It's the latest thing among the Politically Perfect. (PP is the new PC.)

Conspicuously immune from the charge is a huge cohort of human bigots: male supremacists.

Everyone knows that these people (and I use the term loosely) denigrate and trash fifty-one percent of the world's population, not only with impunity, but with lots of giggles, leering and

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cheering, and sometimes with pricky-sticky moral superiority and rape. They are the B-word; though that word is seldom bestowed upon them in polite company.

Some of them live in gangs, cultures, or religions that institutionalize their crime. Why is no one calling them "bigots?

Probably it is PP to let certain unpleasant realities pass without remark.



Except for the rich, of course

MH March 27, 2017

Oh, but Ryan/Trump Death-care just went down in flames in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Ironically, it would have passed with only Republican votes except for the alt-right among them who didn't think the legislation was quite deathly enough.


BOOK NOTE: MH April 5, 2017

Listen, Liberal
Thomas Frank
Henry Holt, 2016

Frank's thesis is that liberals have lost their connection to the American wage earner, and they need a kick in the keister to send them back toward their real constituency. (He provides it.)

He posits that the great mass of the
American people are bamboozled and thwarted by a highly educated, rich elite who protect and nurture each other and who, when governing, do not solve the basic structural problems that exacerbate inequality.

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We have a meritocracy of the best, the brightest, and the richest, suggests Frank. The rest of us have economic stasis and unemployment.

Though the author confesses to voting for Democrats, he is scathing about Bill Clinton's lurch to the right during the nineties, and he is not much kinder to what he calls Obama's "timidity." Perhaps that reflects the President's incorrect assumption that others are as smart and reasonable as he is.

(Does anyone note that Barack Obama succeeded in each phase of his career, not only because of his gifts, but also because he was assiduous in repressing any hint of "angry-black-man syndrome"? His habit may have nothing to do with "timidity.")

Both Democratic presidents talked a good worker-story. But in actual governance, they surrounded themselves with Goldman Sachies and high-powered academics.

Creativity takes some Frank lumps. He mocks industrially deprived cities about their efforts to lure art, music, and drama to their poverty-wracked acres. He implies that the effort is merely their deep obeisance to an elite professional class. (I quarrel with that view. There are altogether too many poor artists, musicians, writers, and actors among those recruited; and artsy gentrification cannot be all bad. Merely inadequate.)

Frank witheringly addresses technology, education and innovation as answers to wage-earner woes. Innovation gets an especially effective blast of his contempt with several pages in which the word "innovation" gets iterated--and iterated and iterated and iterated.

"Every economic arrangement is a political decision," says Frank. "It's not done by God. It's not done by the invisible hand." (Interview with Kathy Kiely, 2016). He is convinced that the two Democratic presidents could have made equality-encouraging decisions rather than endorsing the conventional wisdom of wealthy, "well-graduated" professionals.

Something's missing from this useful assault on rule by elite professionals and rich cohorts. (Frank loves the word "cohort.") Where are the solutions, Thomas? The knock-down is effective and mind-switching. Now what?


Not bigoted (cartoon)

Illegal Immigration and the Liberal Left

MH June 4, 2016
Bernie Sanders and Zephyr Teachout make perfect sense aboout almost everything--except illegal immigration.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no way to interpret their immigration policies except to conclude that they favor leaky borders and/or serial amnesties.

Anyone watching recent European woes will have grasped the consequences of open and/or leaky borders. Wish to emulate? Probably not.

In a well-intentioned attempt to be "liberal," truly tolerant, and kind to

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children, Bernie, Hillary and Zephyr are not thinking ahead to the survival of democracies and to the survival of Western Civilization. They don't seem to have noticed that a theocratic, anti-democratic culture is sweeping the world. (The demographics of theocratic Islam indicate that its populations are exploding, while the populations of all other religions and cultiures are diminishing. Go ahead, check Pew Research.)

Theocracy is irrational, though it can be strategic. How long will it be before democratic rights and princlples will be used to vote away democracies?

Furthermore, adherents of cultures that engage in--and institutionalize--the subjugation of women need to be firmly resisted, not welcomed, coddled, and invited to become U.S. citizens--no matter how "holier than thou" it makes us feel.

Generalizations about cultures always risk bigotry--or the appearance thereof; but two generalizations about Islam seem to be unquestionable.
1) Islamic males subjugate women.
2) Islam is theocratic. By definition, its populations oppose democracy.

(Here, I am not even addressing the radical wing of Islam with its savage atrocities.)

Don't we wish we had "generalized" about--and abjured WWII authoritarian cultures much sooner than we did? This time it is not "over there." It is a world-wide issue. It's here.

One might conclude that the immediate policy-solution is tight borders and carefully crafted and enforced immigration law--law that preserves true "liberal" values.

Yes, I know. How to do it fairly and constitutionally is extremely difficult. Sorting immmigrants by behaviors rather than beliefs, even though the beliefs are guiding the behaviors, is tough, but not impossible. Long term, the alternative appears to be cultural suicide, the slow death of Western Civilization.

After doing the "extremely difficult," there may be time for President Bernie or President Hillary to send Barack out into the world to gently, rationally lure its populations leftward. A Supreme Court Zephyr wouldn't hurt either.


MH March 31, 2016

Back on December 6, 2016 I asked, "Where is my political party?" (See the column to your left, which has white words surrounded by Bernie-blue.)

Except for one issue, Bernie is my party! (Please read "Where Is MY Political Party?," consult his site--and then vote for him.)

The one issue: open borders.

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."


Abercrombie and the Muslim Scarf

MH June 3, 2015

What? What? What! Is the Supreme Court really suggesting that businesses will be forced to hire walking advertisements for particular religions?

If Abercrombie and Fitch and other businesses are required to hire Muslim women who insist upon wearing "the scarf" to work, that will be the law.

On June 1, 2015 the NYTimes reported that the Muslim woman who sued Abercrombie & Fitch is likely to prevail.

Surely the U.S. Constitution does not demand that businesses proselytize for the individual religions of their employees.

Tolerance is a virtue. That is, until it becomes so bloated and perverted that we find ourselves "tolerating," even promoting obvious anti-democratic principles.


Where Is MY Political Party?

MH December 6, 2015.

My liberal/socialistic side favors New-Deal style government programs tailored for the 21st century: a job for anyone who wants one; zero homelessness and zero hunger; Medicare for all; etc. It demands a shrinking of the income gap with tough legislation including very high taxation on the rich and increased taxation on the middle class. (It includes legislation limiting highest income in some specific, reasonable proportion, to average income.) It likes tight regulation of banks and other corporations; it favors tough protections for the environment and real-life acceptance of women, homosexuals, and people of color; it favors furtherance of science and learning and rejection of religious nonsense. It opposes theocracy,
dictatorship, and oligarchy.

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My conservative side believes

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passionately in the superiority of Western Civilization to all other existing cultures. No multi-culturist, I. (Even with its flaws, Western Civilization is the best hope for healthy, decent lives for my grandchildren and theirs.) That requires vigorous attention and resources to U.S. military and maintenance of U.S. technological superiority for defending it. It requires tough immigration standards that bar from the nation individuals steeped in seriously anti-democratic, misogynistic, and violent cultures. It requires national education standards including immersion in Enlightenment history and values--or is all that actually..."liberal"?

And so I've come full circle. Where is my political party?


MH May 4, 2013

If you only listen to my fellow Dems, you will conclude that, among the famous 11 or 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States, there are no drug dealers, murderers, sex traffickers, religiously protected wife-beaters, child-genital-mutilators, rapists, bomb-builders, thieves, or plain-old lazy bums. NO, NO! (And if there are, we don't mention them.) There are only "hard-working families looking for a better life."

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Come on Dems. The amnesty push looks like a cynical ploy to accumulate a few more Democratic majorities.

Acquired thus, we don't need them. We are already on the side on justice and fairness. Let's not join the Republican orgy of dishonesty.

Fix the law; but purge the infamous "path to citizenship."

Immigrants? Yes, Yes! Legal only.


"PC" Hulks Incrediby into "Probably Coo-coo"

. MH August 2015
Over recent decades, the social pressure of political correctness has been somewhat effective in nudging American culture toward sanity. Especially for women, I think. Even a bit against racism. Yes, language matters. But let's not get ridiculous.

Although Donald Trump is my idea of not-president--and though all women ought to shun him into lifelong celibacy--in his current forum (Republican candidate for supreme leader) he is probably harmless--or not.

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To cluck-cluck about how "offensive" he is may be getting silly. (It's those sober guys, reeking of right wing dignity and serious legislative misogyny that scare me. You know the ones. The Rubios and the Walkers who would joyfully murder a woman to save the zygote, a human-to-be that they would studiously ignore everafter its birth.)

Anyway, sometimes PC can send a person wretching to the first amendment.

In the September 2015 Atlantic, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt ("The Coddling of the American Mind") cite a number of absurd PC examples from the college collection.

PC sometimes hulks goofy, sometimes "incredibly."


June 20, 2014,

"...arguments that have been proved
wrong, should be dead, but keep
shambling along because they serve
a political purpose."

Paul Krugman

Oh my! It's the Republican platform!



MH 6/25/13
If a middle eastern (or other) male who is applying for U.S. citizenship 1) beats his wife weekly, or 2) cuts the clitoris out of each of his female children, 3) sells his eleven-year-old daughter into marriage with a 55-year-old-man, or 4) arrests a raped woman for having sex outside of marriage...

will the so-called "background check" discover these crimes and bar him from this country?

If not, why not?

Issue of the Century

MH September 14, 2013

The Economist (9/14/13) reports that there is a glimmer of hope for the women of India in spite of...

1) "In India, as elsewhere in Asia, attacks on women are often ignored."
2) "Murders continue of women who marry across caste or religious lines."
3) "...girls are valued less than boys."
4) "...Millions of female fetuses [are] aborted..."
5) "...millions more girls than boys... die in childhood, as a consequence either of violence or neglect and malnutrition."
6) "...acid attacks."

This glimmer is the result of a savage gang-rape/murder in Delhi last December. The populace begins to care?


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MH June 13, 2014

If you are especially eager to "turn off" or enrage the American woman, do keep presenting, as commentators, females wearing the Muslim scarf.

It shrieks:

The scarf's message is so loud and intrusive that it obliterates whatever words these hair-shamed women may be trying to utter.

The symbol is first cousin to the yellow
marker forced upon Jews by a culture determined to demean, dominate or kill them.
Liberal media ought not be stroking a culture that demeans, male-dominates or kills women for being women.

I suggest, dear execs, that you un-shriek your commentators before putting them on camera.

Free women of the world will thank you.

Marion Hunter


And it's in the air again. Legislation is coming, so I dragged out and updated a 2011 essay.

MH April 2011
Revised 1/21/13

This writer is a such a Rachel-Maddow-lefty, liberal, redistribute-the-wealth, gay rights, don't-you-dare-tell-women-they-can't-have an abortion, racial equality, corporation-regulating, pale pinko-type person, how did I get on the other side of immigration?

Maybe I'm an immigration Scrooge; but it looks to me as if there are only three choices:

1) We carefully control which individuals enter and become citizens of this country, or
2) We stay border-loose and offer serial amnesties--every decade or so (Allowing to slip through...criminals, disease carriers, sex traffickers, gang rapists, religionists (who

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enslave and/or stone their women to death, or throw acid in their faces), drug merchants, psychopaths, bomb placers, and, of course, those famous "hard working, decent folk looking for a better life.")
3) We open the borders to all (including criminals, disease carriers, sex traffickers, etc., etc.)
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(If you are a person who likes to cavil about
the word "amnesty," just insert the word
"near" in front of it from here on.)

I can't fathom the logic of open borders or serial (near) amnesties. Legal imigrants, of course! Illegals, no. In spite of corporation creep (globalization), we are still a nation and probably will remain so for a while. Lots of health, safety, and economic advantages and freedoms that we hold as a nation are worth protecting.

Even my hero Rachel Maddow talks only about "immigrants." Rachel! There are no such real-life persons as "immigrants." There are only legal immigrants and illegal immigrants. (Honoring this distinction does not make anyone a racist.) The word "immigrant," sans adjective, abuses logic, and tolerates silly, dangerous and craven, vote-seeking policies.

Is there any sense in a policy of pretend-borders coupled with amnesties every twenty or so years? No.

We tried the amnesty thing in the '80s. (Didn't that just work beautifully?) Some people, including President Obama, want to do it again. Serial amnesties would seem to encourage those panting at the borders to give illegal entry a try. Sure! Come on in! You'll be "in the shadows" for a while, but all your kids will be legal, and sooner or later another amnesty will come along.

Commentators love to toss around the eleven million figure, suggesting that "we can't deport them all." Yet they seem to think we can locate them all, extract various fees and taxes from all of them, and knock on all their doors to see if they are doing their English homework! Ridiculous? Uh-huh.

Not easy, but simpler than the above: 1) Strengthen the borders. 2) Carefully screen all applicants. (include the barring of all religionists with gender violence or enslavement behaviors in their backgrounds!) 3) Prosecute all employers who hire illegals. 4) Locate and deport the few who remain. (Few will remain without jobs.) 5) Revise immigration laws (or enforce?) to attract the brains and brawn our economy needs. 6) Find a compassionate route for persons brought here illegally as children and brought up as Americans. (And all their relatives? Naw.)
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Item 4 is what some clever Romney speech writer named "self-deportation." Wow. It's legal; folks make the decision themselves; it incurs less administration; it can work, as opposed to serial amnesties, which cannot work!

"Self-deport" the man said. Dems simply load the phrase with self-righteous contempt--and offer zero supporting arguments for themselves.

Come on. Aren't we the reasoning party?
(Amazing. Romney got one thing right.)

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