Overclasses, Young and Old

Ruling classes rule by exploiting non-ruling classes, but they also age.

When they are young and hungry, they exhibit some ability to sacrifice their own short-term interests for the sake of greater future power.

When ruling classes win big and attain imperial stature, however, sclerosis soon sets in. After a few decades of feasting on the spoils of success, history’s imperial overclasses rapidly grow used to it all and take their seemingly triumphant and unchallengeable position and prerogatives for granted. In the process, they also lose any and all capacities for doing anything but whatever is in their short-term interest.

Eventually, sclerosis turns to necrosis and reaches the upper-class brain. Then, the general decrepitude becomes dementia. At that point, the senescent imperial overclass is no longer even able to remember its own real history. Just-so stories told to fool, scare, and pacify the masses get mistaken for actual truth. Thinking of viable, fresh solutions to the crises that inevitably plague the walking dead then becomes impossible: Counterproductive, more-of-the-same overclass boondoggles are all that anybody “serious” is permitted to talk about.

Doubt this?

If so, I invite you to compare and contrast “our” recent give-away to Wall Street (and next Detroit) with the economic stimulus program just announced by China’s “Communist” capitalists:

China announced a huge economic stimulus plan on Sunday aimed at bolstering its weakening economy, a sweeping move that could also help fight the effects of the global slowdown.

At a time when major infrastructure projects are being put off around the world, China said it would spend an estimated $586 billion over the next two years — roughly 7 percent of its gross domestic product each year — to construct new railways, subways and airports and to rebuild communities devastated by an earthquake in the southwest in May.

The package, announced Sunday evening by the State Council, or cabinet, is the largest economic stimulus effort ever undertaken by the Chinese government.

“Over the past two months, the global financial crisis has been intensifying daily,” the State Council said in a statement. “In expanding investment, we must be fast and heavy-handed.”

China’s package is not comparable to fiscal stimulus measures that are being discussed in Washington. In China, much of the capital for infrastructure improvements comes not from central and local governments but from state banks and state-owned companies that are encouraged to expand more rapidly.

The plan also differs from the $700 billion financial rescue package approved by Congress, which has helped strengthen bank balance sheets but did not directly mandate new lending or support specific investment projects in the United States.

China’s overall government spending remains relatively low as a percentage of economic output compared with the United States and Europe. Yet Beijing maintains far more control over investment trends than Washington does, so it has greater flexibility to increase investment to counter a sharp downturn.

The government said the stimulus would cover 10 areas, including low-income housing, electricity, water, rural infrastructure and projects aimed at environmental protection and technological innovation — all of which could incite consumer spending and bolster the economy. The State Council said the new spending would begin immediately, with $18 billion scheduled for the last quarter of this year.

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