In a column in today’s Elmira Star-Gazette, with an astonishing chain of illogic, George Will links English aristocracy, PBS, Downton Abbey, liberals, Charles Dickens, 21st century America, and the 19th century Communist Manifesto, Will’s story goes like this:
- Downton Abbey is a popular PBS drama.
- Those who watch such stuff are mostly liberals.
- Downton Abbey portrays a highly stratified class society.
- Liberals favor a highly stratified class society.
- Downton Abbey proves that rich families fritter away their wealth, so estate taxes, which confiscate wealth, are unnecessary
- Discusses softhearted liberal author Charles Dickens suggesting we ought to cheer the likes of hard-working Uncle Scrooge and laugh at Tiny Tim.
- Asserts that Thomas Jefferson, a liberal landowner, favored social stratification. while Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant upstart, did not.
- The Communist Manifesto explains that capitalism liberates.
- Liberals hope to be among the idle rich.
- Class society portrayed in Downton Abbey mirrors the “nanny state” liberals favor.
Did you follow that?
Will confuses hope for upward mobility with the fact of growing economic inequality. In America, the few who are accumulating great wealth don’t represent the many who struggle to survive. Promoting the Horatio Alger myth that anyone might become wealthy by hard work, Will ignores the fact that more and more Americans are sliding into poverty in a land of plenty.
Will claims that in America the rich struggle to remain rich and grow richer on equal terms with the poor who struggle to survive unemployment or live on poverty wages. If only that were true, who could ask for more?
© William Hungerford – February 2014
(Will’s column is titled “Progressives want to turn America into ‘Downton Abbey'”)