Ztangi Press:Ludique – An exploration and elaboration of the writings of Johan Huizinga. In Homo Ludens he discusses the possibility that play is the primary formative element of human culture. Some of the items here will demonstrate that only tangentially.

A Modest Trickle-down Economic Proposal

The people who claim that they are adversely affected by the economic consequences of policies that perpetuate the US distribution of wealth have, in fact, no alternative economic option to choose. While some politicians try to create the illusion of a wide spectrum of viable approaches to alleviating poverty, we know that they serve up these schemes only to burnish their liberal brand.

When the rubber hits the road, all politicians salute “trickle-down economics.” Whether Republican or Democrat, whether eagerly endorsed or begrudgingly adopted, no alternative “bubble-up” policy disturbs the calm waters of pubic discourse, no matter how furiously, though ineffectually, a small band of discontents tries to stir the pond.

A term attributed to Depression Era humorist Will Rogers, and meant as a joke, today has the weight of generally accepted economic doctrine. It is as close to dogma as a secular belief can be. As such, it seems only fitting that trickle-down economics be implemented directly and immediately. The assurances by its champions that in due time relief will be visited upon the poor should be rejected. Corporate and individual tax breaks, outright government subsidies, business-friendly regulations and financial wizardry of stupendous ingenuity, together have worked, as expected, to amass wealth at the top levels of the moneyed elite. Their wealth, as research fully demonstrates, has not had the beneficial economic effect the promoters of trickle-down economics promised. The “job-creators” did create jobs – millions of them overseas. In the US unemployment remains in the double-digits, using Reagan-era methods of tabulation, and no economist expects it to decline for a decade, if ever.

Depression level unemployment courts social unrest on a massive scale. There must be a response – not a centralized, bureaucratic and wasteful one from the federal government, but a clear, simple program instituted by the rich, who after all have the means to address this issue. The only way to effectively implement trickle-down economics immediately and directly is to resuscitate a servant class. The rich must hire servants on a massive scale for permanent employment, at good wages with benefits including on-site estate housing.

At first this seems an outrageous proposal that contradicts America’s long heritage of egalitarianism. But let’s face reality and recognize that American equalitarianism has always been more puff than substance. The country’s origins as a land populated by yeomen and crafts persons cannot be denied, but their numbers were superseded by indentured servants, the nascent urban proletariat and, the largest disenfranchised population – women and slaves. The merchants and professional elite during the Revolutionary period, wisely did not confront this myth, but ignored it to methodically construct prosperity, not on the unpredictable doctrine of laissez faire, but on the sound principles of mercantilism.

The remnants of this popular myth of American egalitarianism may hinder the adoption of servant-hood by those who would benefit most from it, but deeply embedded Christian notions of service will, with proper media amplitude, revive servant-hood as the noble calling it once was centuries ago. Convincing the elite, however, to accept the necessary obligations of its rank will be far more difficult. Their most immediate Victorian predecessors, it should be recalled, understood their responsibility of rank intimately and universally; even the family of Karl Marx, generally living a life of penury, maintained a life-long servant in their household.

Today however, the practice of out-sourcing all services is pervasive. For the near rich this is a parsimonious decision; for the super-wealthy it is simply the shortsighted lifestyle they choose. They travel through life lightly, compared to previous elites, flittering from penthouse to ranch to yacht to resort to whatever and back again, leaving in their wake a retinue of on-call staff. Their lives as rootless glitterati of the global economy, sadly reflects – admittedly on a grand scale – the social isolation that plagues us all. And, let’s face it, those who serve them become alienated, bitter souls seething with envy and revenge.

The land-based gentry of previous centuries, that held in fine balance a society of rights and responsibilities, depended upon extensive human labor, thereby reinforcing localism and community throughout Europe. This system of enlightened feudalism differed markedly from Eastern European serfdom or the plantation system imposed throughout the New World. These retarded organizations of society never achieved enduring resilience because they lacked complexity, as they relied on the rule of violent force; a neo-feudalism of the sort advocated here, on the contrary, would contain traditions of law and land tenure balanced by modern technology and consumption, coupled with the enlightened governance the practice of managerialism teaches.

The silver lining of the current mass foreclosures is precisely the collapse of land prices – land that, in many cases, was previously productive agricultural acreage. An opportunity presents itself for new-landed gentry to accumulate these parcels, raze the tacky houses and build new posh estates to employ and house a full complement of servants.

A large estate is not an insignificant employment sector. The old Estates in England had on the average a dozen servants tending the Master’s family. To maintain the domicile alone required a housekeeper in charge of a cook, and a bevy of maids including: a housemaid, a parlor maid, a lady’s maid, a kitchen maid, a scullery maid and a between maid, who, as the name implies, shifted from one duty to another depending on the work to be done. This was just the female staff. A butler, assisted by a hall boy in the house, headed the male staff. Outside the house, the butler directed the footman, who in turn had a stable boy to assist him, and the gardener, who similarly had a helper.

A fully automated modern estate wouldn’t need six maids of course. The roles of the servants would need to be adjusted to accommodate a contemporary lifestyle. The central role of the butler very likely would remain, though today he would more likely be called the agendizer and have at least one high-tech assistant to maintain the electronic communications necessary for today’s networked world. Yesterday’s footman obviously is today’s chauffeur, but increasingly this role, now fully weaponized, morphs into the head of security with several assistants to protect a large estate and provide peace of mind in an ever-volatile environment. Include personal trainers, a fully-licensed cosmetic attendant, the house pets’ person and the ground-keepers (well designed and maintained landscape marks an estate as sophisticated) and party planners – doubling as the pastry chef and the cook – and we already have achieved a staff that rivals the size of an equivalent household of the 18th Century. These calculations assume no children. Children would need another complement of support staff – nannies, tutors, psychologists and personal trainers. And given the risks, an increase in the security staff. The super rich, who currently have large. permanent staffs numbering more than a dozen, should be encouraged to double, or triple, their entourage.

A very conservative reckoning based on just one-percent of US households that control thirty-five percent of the wealth of the country, yields an employment sector of 4 million jobs. * To be clear, this does not include the many millions of families who currently have live-in au pairs, maids, or personal assistants.

A revival of country living – high country living – offersopportunities for boutique farming and ranching, which could increase employment many fold. These proposals will be addressed in a future proposal.

To conclude, the voters, as the recent election results prove, have endorsed trickle-down economics, and all that is needed, to free the job-creators to do their magic, is to speedily implement this economic program.

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*  1% of 60,000,000 US households = 600,000

½ of that yields 300,000 w/a modest estimate of 3 servants  = 900.000

200.000 rich enough to hire 5 = 1,000,000

100,000 super rich to hire 20 = 2,000,000

For a grand total = 3,900,000

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As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%  —   http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

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October, 2012

 Campaign for a Museum of Marxism on Wall Street

Today we begin our fundraising campaign for a long over due tribute to the world-class economic insights of Karl Marx.

The proposed Museum of Marxism will be an interactive center like the Tech Museum of San Francisco.

Visitors will be able to walk through the Hall of Materialism and see large screen displays of the history of labor’s struggle for a democratic society.

Teens can enter the Child Labor Chamber of Horrors for a scary view of the past (and future?)

Children will be able to play in the Labor Theory of Value Room, essentially a large gym.

The Arcade of Casino Capitalism will provide fun for all – like the “Bounce the Broker” where visitors guess how high cash-bloated Wall Street denizens will travel when dropped from various Dow Jones Indices.

Daily lectures by a host of Marxist luminaries, radical films, music, theater and dance events round out the experience.

Soon we will roll out our website and mass media campaign.

Watch for it.

September, 2010