Ed Schultz and His Alleged Middle Class Heroes

Column by Greg Haley.

Exclusive to STR

Ed Schultz has set quite the task out for himself. On his New Year’s Eve broadcast on MSNBC, he announced who his “Middle Class Heroes of 2012” are.

Schultz is a self-styled liberal, so his recipients of the title “Middle Class Hero” are predictable and worthy of a certain amount of eye rolling. The general reverence for authority by television news can be numbing to my libertarian sensibilities. Teachers are going to teach, and statists are going to praise the state. I can’t pretend to be surprised by Schultz’s choices of Joe Biden, Sandra Fluke, and populist answers like the 47% that Mitt Romney disparaged. Or, simply, “The Workers.” A part of me thinks that addressing statists point for point on their preference for Political Policy A over Policy B is a waste of time and sidesteps fundamental issues of society versus the state.

On the other hand, Schultz is wasting valuable programming time and invites critique by airing his show, and his list doesn’t even seem compelling from a liberal point of view. I take issue with his choice of Joe Biden because Biden is awful on issues that liberals supposedly care about.

Biden voted for the war in Iraq. Sure, eventually he came around on it, but only in a democracy can you convince people that, yes, you’ve contributed to something terrible, but that we should give you a second chance as you’ve reconsidered your views. Just think of all the things liberals were outraged over as long as being anti-war meant being anti-Bush (the anti-war left being largely silent under Obama’s war policies). The billions spent for the war and rebuilding Iraq, awarding no-bid contracts to government cronies, the needless death of American soldiers and of many more Iraqis.

Biden also voted for the original Patriot Act and for its re-authorization in 2005, which gave the government sweeping new powers to monitor financial transactions. He is Vice President to Obama, who has bombed Pakistan and Yemen, killing hundreds of innocent civilians, and all in the name of killing suspected terrorists.

The Obama administration has expanded Bush war powers as well as surveillance powers. He’s cracked down on whistleblowers, has a secret kill list, has expanded and called for renewing FISA warrantless surveillance of Americans while maintaining that divulging the content or manner of this surveillance would risk national safety. And all while having promised that he would make government more transparent.

These policies aren’t making us safer. Worse still, bombing foreigners is building hostility against America and has the potential to create blowback in which Americans are attacked as retaliation for these bombings. Biden chose these policies of tipping power into the hands of the state and out of the hands of the middle class, and he chose Obama. Were he to ever criticize Obama, and make a principled decision by resigning out of disgust for these policies and admitting that they are making America more susceptible to attack, I would say, “There goes a better man.”

Biden has expanded the drug war and has agitated to expand it outside the country. He helped create the position of Drug Czar. He helped make laws that more severely punished drug users and dealers. He favors a smoking ban in all public places.

It’s the drug war that destroys legal protection for drug dealers and sellers, so people increasingly resort to violence to protect their sales, and gangs become more powerful and profitable as their own policemen. In doing so, families and neighborhoods are destroyed by drug turf disputes and rival gangs. As if the poor and middle class haven’t had enough of this, they are taxed to pay for prisons to house drug users.

How’s that for helping the middle class?

Oh, but he is a charmer. Schultz couldn’t help but fawn over Biden in his interview with him, which begins with Schultz saying, “My head explodes when I hear, ‘You can’t raise taxes on the job creators.’” Biden responds by saying that Bush’s tax cuts for the super wealthy were terrible policies, and they weren’t paid for, which is indicative of Biden’s view that the government owns all our money. And when they give tax cuts, it’s only because they should be able to afford it, as if they’re spending money.

When did liberals become able to wholesale abandon their anti-war views so long as they can support social programs? I’m trying to be generous in my critique by limiting my comments to those positions which Schultz should, from a broadly liberal point of view, oppose Biden. I’m aiming at the low-hanging fruit and am not expecting Schultz to learn about monetary policy or how the power of the printing press is what makes Schultz’s enemy of class warfare so powerful.

Next up is Sandra Fluke, the student who attempted to testify before Congress to mandate that insurance companies have to pay for women’s contraceptives. She tells a compelling story of a woman who developed cysts because she lacked contraceptives. It’s ineffective to anyone who understands economics, but I understand that this is a liberal cause.

Yet, this is one of Schultz’s heroes of the middle class? I understand the issue of government-sponsored health care is important for liberals, but does Schultz have no imagination? Is the left that destitute that there was no one who was more significant for the middle class than someone who attempted to testify for birth control insurance mandates?

Again, I’m trying to adopt Schultz’s point of view here. There are several libertarians who have testified before Congress to audit or roll back the Federal Reserve, which is a much grander issue than birth control mandates. Yet, I don’t think that that in itself would make them candidates for libertarians of the year. If I had to pick a candidate, I’d have a little more imagination than to pick someone for testifying before a committee.

Perhaps most lame is middle class hero status being given to the 47% of Americans that Romney put down at a fundraiser. These people had the courage to receive taxpayer money and to then be criticized by Mitt Romney in a small meeting that was secretly filmed.

To be sure, I’m not defending Romney. For one thing, it’s not really clear what he thinks, other than he thinks for himself given that he says what his audience wants to hear. He criticized Obamacare while having instituted government health care in Massachusetts, where he governed. He voted for gun control, and for loosening abortion restrictions. Sounds like a veritable shoe-in for Schultz’s list of middle class heroes.

And I’m not criticizing people for taking government jobs, pensions, welfare, and so on, so much as I object to the fundamental problem of government hobbling an economy and parasitically siphoning away resources from the productive private sector to growing the public sector. I think it makes perfect sense for people to take a job with government or receive government benefits, especially given just how much the government has created the recession with its monetary policies and prevented consenting adults from contracting with employment regulations.

Romney showed how unscrupulous he was by saying what that audience wanted to hear. Isn’t that what democracy is? Every strata across class, race, or other special interest will be drawn by each group trying to capture government policies that favor them. That’s what mass democracy means. Everyone gets to have their piece of government. Schultz just objects when special interests that he doesn’t favor peddle influence in government. But they play the same game Schultz and his middle class heroes do, and they do it recognizing that if they don’t, someone else will. Better to rule than to be ruled. Who is to say that democracy is acceptable only up to and until the groups I don’t favor harness its power? Everyone has a group or cause they favor, and they believe that is important by virtue of it being an opinion they hold.

He also congratulates as heroes voters en masse. Well, mostly Democratic voters.

I have a few friends who work as IT technicians. They troubleshoot computers for others in person and over the phone. Read some of these stories of the ignorance and ineptitude IT workers deal with from people who have jobs and own and work with computers.

These people are voters in a democracy.

You can’t blame me for this. If Schultz wants democracy, he’s got it. I don’t call for democracy, knowing that there are people who need tech support because they forget their own password after having used it for years or who don’t know how to turn on their computer.

Who would I pick for a middle class hero for Ed Schultz? How about a genuine, modern day liberal? Glenn Greenwald fits the bill and then some. He is virulently anti-state on the war on terror and the drug war, and regularly exposes both as fronts for expanding the power and funding of the state. He takes a principled stance on these issues, shows how the media enhances the government’s prestige and serves as a propaganda wing of the state, and how destructive the expanse of war, police, and surveillance powers are on the innocent. And best of all for Schultz, Greenwald is liberal. He supports Social Security and Medicare, and has even criticized Obama for cutting Social Security.

I wouldn’t pick a libertarian and expect Schultz to agree. If anarchists like myself can admire Greenwald despite our disagreement on economic issues, what’s stopping a guy like Schultz?

The answer, of course, is that Schultz is thoroughly statist and has no fundamental problem with coercive power in the hands of a few. He just objects when power is channeled away from his pet interests and into the hands of more right wing interests.

And yet, doesn’t the fact that Greenwald regularly criticizes Democrats show that he has even more integrity than liberals who support Obama and Biden? Or conservatives who support Republican leadership, despite Republican politicians being decidedly anti-free markets? Doesn’t the middle class deserve someone who will attack power and corruption wherever he finds it, regardless of his own political affiliation?

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Greg Haley's picture
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