Over the last 24 hours*, I read four items where people were called greedy:
1. An article from Rahna Reiko Rizzuto on Salon, where she talks about taking a professional opportunity in Japan for six months and leaving her children with her now-ex-husband (she called all the time and her kids also went to Japan to visit her, so it wasn't even six months of no contact). I also read some the comments, which mostly chastised the woman for leaving her children behind, being greedy, thinking only about her career. One person said she was "a gutless wonder. A narcissist. Totally self involved. Your children are lucky they had a more involved father. SHAME." That was one of the nicer comments.
2. David Brooks's column in the New York Times, where he gets mad at old people for wanting luxuries like visiting the doctor and not having to eat out of a dumpster. Greedy old folks who vote seem to think, for whatever reason, they have a right to live, and that's why schools are facing budget cuts. Raising taxes, of course, isn't something Broder's willing to consider as a solution to the problem.
3. Leone Kraus's post on Bilerico yesterday**, where she said that she didn't much like Lady Gaga's latest video. Lady Gaga, who hyped herself for her depth to get in the national spotlight, hyped this video as being something that would be a gay anthem, a message song, something with more meaning than a bunch of pretty people dancing. Leone thought that it was, in the end, just a bunch of pretty people dancing and commented on how the video fell short of expectations. The comments generally disagreed, which is fine, but the ones calling Leone selfish stood out. One example: "You think it's right to ask for more? To be greedy?"
4. This I didn't read; I watched. Jon Stewart rounded up a lot of the commentary calling teachers and public workers in unions greedy in Wisconsin. It's no secret that the American ruling class hates teachers (especially public school teachers), so it's no surprise that they're the ones bearing the brunt of anti-union sentiment:
That's just this morning and yesterday afternoon.
I also read a great post from digby where she discusses a bunch of cable stars (on MSNBC, naturally) talking about how politicians are too afraid of constituents to cut Social Security benefits and other social spending programs, which they really need to do (tax increases, increased deficit spending, and military spending cuts are not options). This needs to be done, but Americans just don't want to lose even more than they've lost in the past few years. The polling bears this out - people may want a balanced budget, for whatever reason, but they don't want valuable programs programs to be cut.
Digby didn't describe it this way, but the pundits she highlighted basically said that Americans hadn't been propagandized enough to accept poverty. And when those sorts of people are saying that, that means that other people who don't care how the public views them have already been conditioning us to accept less.
Is that's what's been happening? I know that we Americans can be unforgiving as a people and our Calvinist streak means that we see suffering as necessary and moral, which can be a good and a bad thing, but it seems like that's gotten worse than it was, say, three or four years ago. Obviously, there's no way to prove that. This is one of those things where it'd be immensely useful to have hard data but none can exist. But I've been noticing this for several months now and those examples were mainly just because I chose to write about this topic today and they were the most recent ones.
Is it just me or are we experiencing a cultural shift on this front? If we are, the people who benefit are those who are really decreasing the size of our piece of the pie as we fight amongst ourselves over what's left.
I don't just mean that in terms of dollars. When we're trained to act as if there isn't enough to go around, to believe that our survival and comfort depends on others not having the basics and that other people wanting a fair share are morally wrong, it becomes less a thought and more a worldview. Which means it's less a reflection and more an instinct.
It'd be a smart path for the rich and powerful to set us down, since it keeps us from allowing others to ask for more, which keeps us all from getting more.
*I wrote this post this morning even though it's going up this evening. So the 24 hours are a different 24 hours.
**I know it's never a good idea to bring up the comment thread from one post in another post, but Bilerico is a big part of what I read every day. While no one has to agree with her, what she wanted - cultural representations with meaning, cultural representations that will lead to positive social change, and for people promising those to deliver - are not at all unreasonable.