If I have to listen to another GOP politician label the super-rich of this country “job creators,” I’m going to lose my lunch.

The phrase “job creator” is a clever fiction, a fear-freighted phrase that the richest “one-percent” — or more accurately “one-tenth-of-one percent” (the 100,000 top income-earning households in the U.S.) – wave around to persuade a majority of the electorate to vote against candidates and office holders who advocate any form of tax increase.

The subliminal message is this: Raising taxes on the rich will deter them from creating jobs for “working families.” It’s a message that sells, particularly in a period of high unemployment.

Not that the “job creators” are particularly concerned about the tax burden of those further down the economic ladder who they seek to recruit to their cause. They simply want to protect and expand their own share of the pie by avoiding taxation.

However, since it would be impolitic to admit that, they trumpet that a tax increase would hurt everyone by slowing economic growth and killing off jobs.

An increasing number have even dropped that pretence and simply chosen to renounce their U.S. citizenship to escape taxation. (A case in point is Facebook co-founder, Eduardo Saverin, who has given up his U.S. citizenship and moved to Singapore).

The current poster child for job creation is Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple. There’s no denying the technological and business innovations wrought by this wunderkind or the thousands of jobs he spawned, but creative challenge, rather than low taxes, seems to have been his prime motivator.

Besides, Jobs was hardly the norm. Great wealth is possessed by many who are simply passive investors, speculators, market manipulators, and dependents or descendants of the rich.

Facebook’s recent IPO alone minted more than a dozen new multi-millionaires, some of whom never created a single job. My favorite example is the graffiti artist who painted Facebook’s office murals in 2005 in return for a fee of 5 million shares of company stock, now worth about $150 million. (Michelangelo must be spinning in his grave).

Then, of course, there are the corporate CEOs who create wealth for their shareholders by down-sizing and off-shoring, at the expense of American jobs.

By effectively using their political influence to block any tax increase (and, indeed, bankrolling politicians who advocate even further tax reductions), the super-rich threaten the viability of the very government whose expenditures on physical security, economic infrastructure and social stability make both their own wealth accumulation and the subsistence of the other ninety-nine percent possible.

Such behavior may seem perverse, but it’s certainly nothing new.

Aristocrats and other elite social and economic groups throughout history have shared many of the same traits — arrogance, insatiable greed, boundless sense of entitlement and indifference to the risks their excesses pose to the continued existence of society that supports them.

The problem is not that elites get rich. Every society needs its share of ambitious and innovative alphas and so offers incentives for high levels of achievement. The problem is that they often lack any sense of moderation or regard for those below them.

Take the example of Europe from the mid-1500s through the late 1600s, a horrendous period when the continent was wracked by almost continual warfare, rebellion and religious conflict.

In his book, “Politics and War,” historian David Kaiser explains this endemic violence as a product of the power and values of Europe’s aristocracy, whose great families relentlessly schemed and fought to increase their share of lands, titles, wealth, royal preferment and the opportunity to succeed to a throne. Not only were their ambitions unlimited but they chose to realize those ambitions by doing what they loved best – engaging in combat.

Monarchs of the day (who were little different than the grandees they nominally ruled) lacked large standing armies, administrative bureaucracies and adequate revenue sources to curb the power of their leading nobles, so they used the crown’s revenues and estates to either buy their loyalty or play them off against one another.

These aristocrats, in turn, formed ever-shifting coalitions and alliances to either support or remove their sovereigns through insurrection, assassination, or treasonous collusion with foreign powers. They also cynically exploited the passionate religious differences between Catholics and Protestants to attract supporters in their incessant struggle for dominance.

The lavish lifestyles and incessant warfare of this self-absorbed upper class inflicted misery on rural peasants and urban merchants and artisans, who were treated with contempt by their “betters” and made to endure confiscatory rents, taxes and forced “loans” as well as pillage by mercenary armies. So enormous was the hardship and destruction caused by the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), for instance, that the population of Germany was reduced by 30 to 50 percent.

We’ve never had a European-style titled aristocracy in the United States, but we most certainly have had an elite class of immensely wealthy people, perhaps more so now than ever, and their influence is palpable.

They and their minions insist that runaway federal and state budget deficits can only be controlled by cutting government spending on “welfare” benefits to the poor, sick, elderly, young and other unfortunates and by rejecting “job-killing” taxes. (Billionaire investor Warren Buffett, a rarity among the rich, defied this conventional wisdom by suggesting his secretary should not be taxed at a higher rate than him, but his remark was largely dismissed by the one-percent as idiosyncratic nonsense).

If you could tone just down the amplitude of this “job creator” palaver for a few moments, you could hear the sound that encapsulates the real meaning of the phrase. That sound would be a loud “oink.”

Elliott L. Epstein,a local attorney, is founder of Museum L-Aand an adjunct history instructor at Central Maine Community College. He is the author of “Lucifer’s Child,”a recently published book about the 1984 oven-death murder of Angela Palmer.Hemay be reached [email protected].

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