Are Social Issues a Distraction?


I recently came across the interesting fact that some of the biggest big-money contributors to right-wing political causes and politicians, those super-billionaires who can fund super PACs to the turn of millions without making a dent in their fortunes (from gambling, oil, coal, etc.), actively support so-called liberal or progressives positions on social issues such as gay marriage, legalizing marijuana, and abortion rights. They are what are sometimes called socially liberal, fiscally conservative. I.e., libertarians.

So I wondered why these individuals are socially liberal when the politicians they so richly support are ultra-conservative or reactionary, and it occurred to me that social issues are irrelevant to them because they cost them no profits. Gay or straight, you still need to drive your car and heat your home, and your dollars are just a green as anyone else’s; and who knows but that legalizing marijuana might be a business opportunity (legalized cartels, anyone?) and at the least provide a source of regressive taxation (by taxing the user’s purchase but offering loopholes to the cartel-corporation now supplying the hemp, you know, for R & D and so forth).

Perhaps more importantly, these and other social issues can serve the purpose of distracting the electorate from the issues that are having the greatest impact on individual Americans, regardless of orientation, recreation, or procreation: job loss, lack of job prospects, declining middle class incomes, wage-slavery (fast food, etc.), billionaire politics, infrastructure, education. Certainly an excellent way to destroy public education and replace it with charter schools and private, for-profit online schools is to get parents so upset about bullying, evolution, sex ed, and so forth, that they vote against every bond issue and tax increase that would benefit the public schools.

Whatever the manifest virtues of social issues is, excessive focus on them can function in the same way as bread and circuses (today’s videos, celebrities, pop music, etc.) do–to distract us from the very serious and damaging rule of Wall Street over our economy and politics. So perhaps we should not grudgingly admire these libertarian Scrooges for their supposedly liberal views of social issues but rather see the ruse and turn our political attention to the wreckage of our economy in the name of ultra-laissez faire capitalism.

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