John Edwards Is Off the List. So Is his Hair.

John Edwards ought to have lost any credibility as a Democratic presidential candidate when he paid $400 for a haircut. There are other, more solid reasons: Edwards' vote on the war, and his inability to man up about enabling Bush and killing thousands are more serious signs of his disconnect with reality. But people understand haircuts. I have a relative who works as a "celebrity" hair stylist in a major city, doing quite nicely, thank you, and to actually experience the mental canyon between those in the upper income brackets and most Americans makes the class war a concrete reality.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, "the richest 1 percent of American households held one-third of all wealth in the U.S. economy, and took in 14 percent of the national income". The right wing economists who built this economy with Milton Friedman complain about the implied rebuke: how is that YOUR problem? Does it really harm anyone that CEOs make 400 times as much as the people on the shop floor, instead of 20 times as much? By even mentioning the income gap, are we not (gasp; pause for the image of Dick Cheney dressed as Aunt Pittypat, fanning himself and calling for his salts) fomenting class warfare? Is this not simple selfishness and resentment on the part of the poor?

Isn't it pretty to think so? Larry Bartels of Princeton actually did the numbers, counting the voting record of the Senate between 1989 and 1994. "In almost every instance, senators appear to be considerably more responsive to the opinions of affluent constituents than to the opinions of middle-class constituents, while the opinions of constituents in the bottom third of the income distribution have no apparent statistical effect on their senators’ roll call votes." And this was during a time when so-called Wall Street "Democrats" controlled the Congress. Work by Lawrence Jacobs of the University of Minnesota and Benjamin Page at Northwestern shows that the same income gap shapes the votes of politicians in international affairs... who loses their job, and who gets sent to war.

If bloggers are the new pamphleteers, we need to keep pestering the candidates until someone (Barack Obama, who still talks as if he's actually read the Constitution and thought about it, would seem the natural choice) starts talking about this in public, and presents the research, and doesn't let the media parrot the latest quote from the corporate candidates about "class warfare."

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