The fiscal cliff negotiations have ramped up the rhetoric over the American rich. The latest salvo comes courtesy of Ed Asner and the California Federation of Teachers.
Asner does the voice for an animated short film called "Tax the Rich: An Animated Fairy Tale," that was posted on the CFT website yesterday and is quickly becoming lighting up the web.
The video uses humor to tell the story of how the rich have gotten richer in America and – it says – helped ruin the country by cutting their own taxes, buying politicians and shipping jobs overseas. But one particular highlight has set a low (or high, depending on your politics) in the class war. (Read more: What Buffett Is Missing in His Tax Plan)
In the segment, a cartoon rich guy with piles of money urinates on the "ordinary people" as an illustration of how trickle-down-economics really works.
"When ordinary people wondered why rich people needed so much money, " says Asner, the narrator, "the One Percent said, 'Don't worry.This is good for you too. Because it will trickle down from us to you. Someday you'll be rich too and the rules we made for us will be your rules too.'"
The video says that as the rich doubled their share of income, funding for schools, public safety, roads, parks and other public services declined. The way to fix the country and unemployment, the video says, is to raises taxes on the wealthy. (Read more: Is There a Perfect Income for Happiness?)
"The people began to say maybe rich people have too much money now," Asner narrates. "Maybe our problems have something to do with the One Percent not paying fair share of taxes. And also maybe rich people should pay the same rate of taxes they used to when they land was prosperous and more people were better off."
Conservatives were quick to attack the video, which repeats many of the arguments and catch-phrases of the Occupy movement. Fox News Channel's Tucker Carlson said: "The idea that there are any California teachers currently in classrooms in charge of children who agree with that, is horrifying."
Asner, an avowed Socialist, being called a "commie hack" and hypocrite, since he's also a millionaire.
Some liberals have even expressed some discomfort with the piece, with one left-leaning pundit saying, "Even I found it offensive."
UPDATE: The California Federation of Teachers has pulled the controversial "urination scene" from this video. Fred Glass, the CFT's communications director, said that "while we believe it was an apt metaphor for trickle-down economics, the firestorm created by the right-wing media surrounding it got in the way of the message of the video. " He said the message is about "the wealthy once paying fair taxes and no longer paying fair taxes and the consequences of that" for public services.