Ruling Class Attitudes
I write this in the immediate aftermath of two governmental and economic firsts for the United States. One was the $700 billion bailout package that passed the US Congress after the second try; the other was the largest single day point drop on the US Stock Market in history.

I'm not going to comment on either directly, that's beyond my competence and also too short term in scope for this website. My interest is in the reaction afterwards. Specifically the reaction of representatives and news commentators and what it means for representative democracy.

The bailout package did not pass the first time it was floated. It did not pass because Congress was flooded with emails and telephone calls of people who did not like it. You would think that was proof of our democracy's effectiveness.

It passed the second time because Congress was again flooded, this time with favorable emails and telephone calls. Well, okay, we can revise our thinking, or perhaps weigh in on an important subject when we feel it isn't going the way we want it to. Again, proof of democracy's effectiveness.

It's the comments of the lawmakers between the two votes that bother me. "[My constituents] don't understand," they said, "we need to do a better job of selling."

Selling? Since when should my elected representatives sell me on a course of action? What kind of mentality rejects my ability to weigh and assess the complicated situations of the day? Many of us are smarter than our elected representatives, all of us have more competence in specific areas, most of them don't have all that much competence in economics, and many of us do.

I'll tell you what kind of mentality that is - ruling class mentality. That's troubling.

They passed the bill, the stock market continued to react, and, shortly after, had the biggest one day point fall in history.

Followed by a day of huge gains. It has gone up and down in fairly wide swings since.

This time it was what the news commentators said about the gains that bothered me. They were talking about fear and emotion as if investors were a herd of cows spooked by lightning.

I'm smarter than a cow, thank you. The night before the stock market shot up I was in a conversation with friends and we were talking about the potential for bargains in the stock market. It just might be possible that conversation was repeated all over the country and some of us bought a few of those bargains.

It doesn't seem to matter whether we are talking liberal or conservative media; they all seem to have the same smarter than you attitude. Sometimes it is disguised by a down home, you and me approach, but dig in and you find they think they know what's best for you and me. Never mind any input you or I might have.

A few years ago I joined Project Vote Smart. It had a simple premise; provide information on candidates to voters. It was founded and continued by people on both sides of the political spectrum (Goldwater and Dukakis were on the board when I joined). It sends out a questionnaire listing issues to all candidates and asks which ones they will support. That's information that would help me vote. Information undistorted by ads, news media, or anything else.

Guess what? No major candidate has filled them out. Neither Republican or Democrat. Not John McCain, not Barack Obama.

Ruling class. Just elect them and they'll take care of us.

Yeah, right.