Kneale: Kraft, Cadbury and Class Warfare

Got three new stories out this morning that are utterly unrelated, and yet, together, they may offer hope for the class warfare that has run roughshod over our national psyche of late.

  • A sniffy descendant of the Cadbury candy clan laments the unwanted takeover offer from Kraft —that "American plastic cheese company," in this blueblood's icy words.
  • The Louvre, jammed with some of the world's most famous artworks, is getting its very own McDonald's . C’est horrible!
  • Michael Moore's indiscriminate and blistering attack on Big Business, "Capitalism: A Love Story," is a colossal flop at the box office. Hee hee—ain't it rich?! (See my review here)
McDonald's Meal
McDonald's Meal

These three little strands of zeitgeisty DNA hint at a leveling of our society, at how the working class is gaining on the uppers. The swells are having a hard time with this, but the rank and file of the hoi polloi may not be as resentful as Washington's liberal elite assumes.

Some context: Let’s remember that President Obama, upon taking office, said one of our most pressing problems was the widening wealth gap that separates rich from poor.

Rather than focus on lifting the bottom by stoking business growth via tax cuts and investment breaks, some Democrats demonize those at the top. They seek to seize a slice of the earnings of the highest-paid 1 percent or 2 percent and redistribute it to the rest of us.

Hence a tax “rebate” for all Americans ... even for those at the bottom who paid no federal income taxes at all (a portion now approaching 40 percent).

Yet at the top, the subprime-soaked financial collapse, in one fell swoop, did more to narrow the wealth gap than the most onerous tax increases could ever manage to achieve.

At the bottom, meanwhile, the Wal-Mart effect—high-quality brands at ever cheaper prices—has done more to increase the purchasing power of the poor than the best plans of any huge, tax-funded entitlement program.

It is a main reason why, among poor households, 97 percent own TV sets, 78 percent own video players, 77 percent have air conditioning and some 60 percent own their own washer-dryer. (Almost half of the poor own their own homes; 73 percent own a car.)

Against this backdrop, a Cadbury granddaughter, Felicity Loudon, tells the Sunday Telegraph that the Kraft takeover bid is a “horror story.” As she so snidely puts it: “As a Cadbury I obviously feel particularly saddened by the possibility of one of the last remaining British icons disappearing into an American plastic cheese company.”

Cadbury: a confectioner as British icon? This, in an empire once so sweeping that it was said the sun never sets on it? Get over yourselves, guys.

Kraft, as the Ugly American interloper, would pay Cadbury shareholders a far sweeter premium than anything offered by the British chocolatier's insular management. American capitalism will take over that fusty brand and put it in the mouths of the masses. Let them eat bon-bons.

At the way-too-sprawling Louvre museum in Paris, Old Money benefactors will decry the advent of one of America's lowest common denominators of capitalism: Mickey D's. Yet erecting the Golden Arches at a new entrance will make the Louvre less intimidating to regular folks, and give ’em on-site food at cheap prices.

Lastly, on Michael Moore: His biz-bashing movie should have opened big, given the populist backlash against Wall Street. Instead, it brought in a mere $4.8 million at 962 theaters. His earlier film, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” raked in almost five times as much on opening weekend, at 94 fewer theaters.

Now, it could be that the opening-week belly-flop of “Capitalism: A Love Story” simply owes to the fact that this film is, as I’ve said, a truncated piece of trash. But I’m hoping for an even better message: perhaps We-the-People aren't as angry as we once were.

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