Friday, December 10, 2010

Way Over Yonder in the Monarchy

Things are starting to heat up in Europe. Last night Prince Charles and his wife were taking the Rolls out for a spin when they were set upon by a mob of socialists and anarchists with pitchforks. The crowd was chanting “off with their heads” and “Tory Scum” while smashing the car’s windows and attempting to drag the royal personages into the street to administer a little mob justice. A commenter at the NY Times noted that this might be the first attack on members of the Royal Family on the streets of London since George III's carriage was attacked en route to the opening of Parliament in October 1795. You remember George the III; he was King at the time of the American Revolution. Plus ca change.

The look of utter shock on the royal faces was pretty telling. It was the same startled look of privileged people everywhere who are confronted with agitated serfs. In their heart of hearts the uber-rich and powerful believe that poor and working class people owe them a free life of luxury. Thus, the incredible consternation when they realize the people would just as soon string them up as look at them.  Let’s hope the privileged have many more such shocking surprises in their near future.

The attempted regicide occurred after a day of pitched battles between students and police on the streets of London. It is unfortunate that the attack on the royals has diverted some attention from the fact that England appears to be convulsed in chaos, largely brought on by the government’s attempts to restore the economy on the backs of the workers and students. The students, quite rightly, see the writing on the wall and realize that if the government isn’t stopped now, England will start to resemble the United States, with no healthcare and unattainably expensive higher education. Another commenter on the Times web site hit the nail on the head:

“Why shouldn't the students attack Prince Charles's limousine, paid for no doubt by tax money that could be used to subsidize higher education tuition? English students don't want their educational system becoming Americanized: available to those with money, a heavy if not impossible burden for those who don't.”

Back here in the colonies, the silence has been deafening. We’re all too busy staring at our little screens and venting our frustrations on Facebook to be bothered to get out in the streets and fight for our due. The government is well aware of citizen apathy and takes full advantage thereof. Yesterday I heard a Republican, Jim DeMint float a proposal to make unemployment insurance into a loan, rather than an entitlement, to be paid back with interest and administered by Wall Street.  You would think that in a country with 10% unemployment this would elicit howls of protest from the citizenry. You would think, but you would be wrong.

The only thing that gives me a glimmer of hope, just a glimmer mind you, is that the comments on the last few articles in the Times about the European protests are brimming with barely contained anger at the government. With the Obama tax sellout and the coming evisceration of the social safety net, it feels like we’re sitting on a big pile of gunpowder.  I just wonder who is going to light the match.


Anonymous said...

I love this post but take exception to that quote from the New York Times. The British Royal Family actually nearly pays for itself. I believe the figure is something like the Royals cost the British taxpayer something like the cost of a can of baked beans a year. They nearly pay for themselves and their upkeep through tours of their properties and proceeds from selling crap. In fact if they did away with their Royal family now, they would probably hurt themselves economically. So think of them as what the New York Yankees are to New Yorkers.

Mark said...

I can't dispute the economics, but they are a symbol and hold themselves out as such. They probably shouldn't be too surprised when they become the target of public ire.

In addition to being the face of the monarchy they also are the face of the British upper class, who I daresay cost the citizens of the motherland about as much as our bankers cost us here.