The American Dream has been foreclosed upon, and the wealthy few are still riding the working class all the way to the bank. World history, both recent and past, shows us that the trajectory we are on leads to revolution. Even the rich know this. So why aren’t the American People in the streets?
“There are a number of obvious reasons — the quality of life is on average higher here, our elected leaders enter and exit office (generally) according to the rules, and so on. But there are some not-so obvious reasons, too. For one, most Americans don’t realize how severe our income inequality has become — one study found that “Americans thought the richest 20 percent of our society controlled about 59 percent of the wealth, while the real number is closer to 84 percent.” Furthermore, that same study found that most Americans supported a Sweden-style wealth redistribution system — so as long as they didn’t recognize it as such by name.”
It is also due to the fact that the People don’t really know who their true oppressors are. Tragically, as the tax burden shifts more and more to the middle class and poor to pay for tax giveaways to the rich, rather than turn their angst upwards where it belongs, it’s not uncommon to hear average working people bash, for example, “greedy” Union members for committing the sin of wanting to retire in dignity.
When President Obama went to speak to Wall Street executives at Cooper Union in April, 2010, he hawked a familiar patronizing platitude: “Ultimately there is no dividing line between Main Street and Wall Street. We rise or we fall together as one nation.” A lovely sentiment, but full of shite. Wall Street continues to thrive, collect outrageous bonuses, and have no accountability for their crimes while their Republican operatives sharpen their knives for 2012 – when they hope the abysmal state of the economy they’re purposefully cultivating will trick the average dupes into voting for the people who have their orders to turn the middle class into “cheap labor” serfs. To the big moneyed interests, this is simply the way of the world… as Rush Limbaugh so succinctly explained what every Conservative believes, “some people are just born to be slaves.”
But that’s not supposed to be America.
So, no. It doesn’t matter how much empirical evidence points to the fact that Trickle Down economics is a failure that turned America into the LEAST upwardly mobile with the widest gap between rich and poor of all industrialized nations – THAT IS THE POINT! The only thing left for Conservatives to do in the wake of their destruction is to push more of the same policies to further empower the powerful, and convince the working class to forget the days of the New Deal created “Great Compression” and accept the NEW definition of the American Dream… namely, “maybe one day YOU TOO will be a billionaire.”
WATCH Paul Krugman explain how the middle class was the DIRECT RESULT of New Deal government policy:
From the assault on unions (whose decline is linked directly to the decline of the middle class), gutting OSHA Safety regulations, attacking the EPA, labeling anything that protects the earth and the People who upon it as “job killing” (while they REWARD companies that outsource jobs) and yes… even working to end child labor laws, the Republican vision for America as a society of Serfs and Lords is evident in all of their policies.
Reagan’s own Budget Director admitted the Republicans destroyed the economy, and that despite the lingering Great Recession CEO compensation is rising and top executive pay levels are all the way back from their pre-recession levels. Yet the further ingratiation of the wealthiest Americans and dismantling regulation is STILL presented as the only key to let the mythical “Confidence Fairy” out of her big government-created cage… because the GOAL of Republican policies has ALWAYS BEEN to concentrate wealth in the hands of their benefactors and weaken the only institution large enough to force the big-moneyed interests to play nice with the Plebs – our government – thus, purposefully creating a society of haves and have nots.
Know them by their fruits. The Republican Party has NEVER introduced, sponsored or supported a single piece of legislation that benefited the working people of this nation – NOT A SINGLE ONE. Their goal, in fact, has always been to re-create the aristocracy our Founders fought a revolution to escape. This has been their agenda since Thomas Paine (a liberal) wrote “Rights of Man” as a rebuttal to Edmund Burke’s (the FATHER of Conservatism) philosophies that the majority needed to be governed by a minority of wealthy aristocrats. That’s STILL the con agenda. Boil it down to two words and you get – CHEAP LABOR.
But the CONS could never have been this successful with their plot to turn “The Land of the Free” into “The United States of Serfs and Lords” if it weren’t for their DINO enablers. The White House recently stated that the unemployment rate will remain above 9 percent in 2012 and not fall below 6 percent until 2016 – and rather than proactively address the jobs crisis as FDR did when he created the WPA and the CCC, the Obama Administration chose to adopt the Republican meme that the deficit (that REPUBLICAN policies created) is our primary dilemma and businesses aren’t hiring because of a lack of “confidence.” Another lovely sentiment, but also, full of shite.
As Andrew Leonard wrote for Salon,
“Never mind. Supply side economics isn’t dead, after all. The real reason that American employers aren’t interested in hiring new workers, despite high corporate profits, is the psychologically devastating impact on business confidence delivered by big government deficits.
Or at least, that’s the line of argument suggested by some of Salon’s readers today.
“You may want to address the biggest issues affecting American companies motivation for re-investing their profits in America,” wrote one reader. “These issues are of course out of control spending by the federal government and ever increasing federal debt. The federal government has created an environment of uncertainty that makes investing for the future very difficult.”
So — just cut the deficit, and along will come the confidence fairy, waving her wand to usher in a magical “expansionary fiscal contraction.” A little (or a lot) of austerity, and all will be well.
One almost never hears this theory get much airtime when Republican presidents are busting budget surpluses and running up big deficits. Back when George Bush was cutting taxes, there wasn’t a peep from the business community or Republican legislators warning about the dire impact that future deficits would have on business confidence. Quite the opposite — as Dick Cheney so famously said: “deficits don’t matter.”
But that’s not to say that confidence doesn’t play a huge role in economic activity. Indeed, that’s what Keynesian “animal spirits” are all about. If people, whether as consumers or entrepreneurs, feel confident enough to take risks and engage in economic activity, their ebullience creates a self-fulfilling virtuous cycle. More demand leads to more economic activity leads to even more willingness to take risk. So yeah, there’s no question that the United States could use a little more confidence.
But is it really the deficit that is holding people back right now, instead of the deleterious effects of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression? What’s more likely to dissuade an employer from hiring — the prospect that taxes might have to rise in the future to bring down government deficits, or the fact that there is no demand for the goods or services his or her company offers? After all, if there was demand, an uncertain future would be highly unlikely to prevent companies from staffing up to meet the demand that exists in the present. We never know what’s going to happen in the future — the most obvious explanation for why businesses aren’t hiring is that an economy featuring high unemployment isn’t generating enough demand. Fix that problem, and “confidence” will boom.”
In other words, my fellow Americans… we have a DEMAND problem. The “small” People just don’t have money to spend. I don’t care how many widgets someone makes, if no one can afford to buy them, your stable, civilized society that works for all (not just those with a trust fund) is over.
WATCH Robert Reich explain that the only way we can have a strong economy is with a strong middle class:
So, the REAL “job creators” are not the wealthy banksters Faux News and other transnational corporate propaganda outlets run cover for, but the working class – the people who actually SPEND the money that keeps the economy moving… not the trust fund babies like the Koch Brothers who compile their daddy’s wealth in offshore accounts, and fund astroturf groups dedicated to destroying everything that once made the American middle class a beacon of hope for the world.
WATCH: a short video of Koch Brothers’ funded CON front groups:
Our real deficit is a JOBS DEFICIT. Jobs that pay a living wage. Jobs that must be brought home.
FDR announced in his inaugural speech, “Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing great — greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our great natural resources.”
In other words, we have a history in America for the government to become the employer of last resort. If the private sector cannot or WILL NOT hire American workers, OUR government of WE THE PEOPLE has a moral obligation to do so.
We The People should never acquiesce to the deliberate conditioning of CON “think tanks” and Faux News class warfare to accept high unemployment and the death of a vibrant middle class as the “new normal.” We must demand OUR government take action to CREATE jobs as well as bring them home. People with jobs don’t collect unemployment benefits – they pay taxes. A huge component of our budget deficit is the result of unemployment, much of it caused by the trade deficit.
Dave Johnson wrote about the TRADE DEFICIT for the Campaign for America’s Future:
“We can service each other till the cows come home but if we don’t start making more things here and selling them there more and more jobs will be lost, more and more communities devastated and our standard of living will continue to drop. Everyone is focused on the budget deficit. But here’s the thing: the trade deficit is the jobs deficit and the jobs deficit is the budget deficit.
The Trade Deficit
Before “The Reagan Revolution” America made things and sold them to the rest of the world. Since Reagan America borrows money to buy things made somewhere else. And since Reagan we’ve seen the whole game play out: wages stagnate, savings plunge, debt soars, growth slows all while wealth concentrates at the very top.
Democracy vs Thugocracy
America is supposed to be a democracy of We, the People. Democracies set up protections for their people that protect wages, rights, safety, dignity and the environment. Conservative “free trade” agreement allow companies to get around the borders of our democracy, pitting their employees against the exploited people living under thugocracies with few or no protections at all. This has created a “race to the bottom” for our wages and benefits. Of course our workers cannot compete against workers who are not able to fight for better pay and benefits. This is the reason we fought to build and preserve our democracy.
Instead of fixing our trade problems, we have gone back to the same old same old. Especially vis-a-vis China.
The monthly U.S. international trade deficit in goods and services was $45.8 billion in February. The goods trade deficit with China was $18.8 billion.
–Year over year, the 2011 trade deficit is running far higher than 2010. January-February 2010 clocked in at $74.3 billion, while the first two months of 2011 have already reached $92.7 billion.
–Year over year, the goods trade deficit with China is also running ahead of 2010. January-February 2010 totaled $34.8 billion, while the first two months of 2011 have already reached $42.1 billion.
–Of particular note is that China ($18.8 billion) now accounts for 70% of our overall monthly non-oil goods deficit ($27.0 billion).
Said Scott Paul, Executive Director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM):
“Washington has focused a lot on budget deficits this year, but scant attention has been paid to the trade deficit. That must change. The trade deficit serves as a drag on GDP growth and requires financing, just like any other debt. While only 9.5% of our national debt is financed by China, that nation is responsible for fully 70% of our trade deficit in non-oil goods.”
China, China, China
Over and over our trade relationship with China demonstrates so many things we are doing wrong in the world competition. Among so many other problems:
– We let them manipulate their currency rate which means their goods have a cost advantage of as much as 40% going out the gate, before other factors come into account.
– Their government subsidizes and promotes key industries. We don’t have an industrial policy.
– Their workers are not free to organize and push for better wages, benefits and working conditions. (Ours aren’t either, but are more able than theirs.)
– They restrict and otherwise discourage imports
– They follow “Buy China” policies, we do not have “Buy America” policies
The Trade Deficit Is The Jobs Deficit
Our trade deficit is our jobs deficit. When you close the factory we can’t make a living. When you move the jobs over there the jobs aren’t here. And the people who could have those jobs are collecting unemployment instead of paying taxes and buying cars, houses, food, clothes, saving etc.
American Prospect, The Plight of American Manufacturing,
Since 2001, the country has lost 42,400 factories, including 36 percent of factories that employ more than 1,000 workers (which declined from 1,479 to 947), and 38 percent of factories that employ between 500 and 999 employees (from 3,198 to 1,972). An additional 90,000 manufacturing companies are now at risk of going out of business.
Giant Sucking Sound
So we closed our factories (trade deficit) and shipped the jobs to other countries (jobs deficit) where they pay less and don’t protect the environment. Again, from The Plight of American Manufacturing,
Long before the banking collapse of 2008, such important U.S. industries as machine tools, consumer electronics, auto parts, appliances, furniture, telecommunications equipment, and many others that had once dominated the global marketplace suffered their own economic collapse. Manufacturing employment dropped to 11.7 million in October 2009, a loss of 5.5 million or 32 percent of all manufacturing jobs since October 2000. The last time fewer than 12 million people worked in the manufacturing sector was in 1941. In October 2009, more people were officially unemployed (15.7 million) than were working in manufacturing.
Millions and millions of good-paying jobs. Gone. Read the rest of this article here.
We The People cannot accept the future our Economic Royalist oppressors have in mind for us and fight to restore the dream of America as Teddy Roosevelt championed, “We stand for a living wage. Wages are subnormal if they fail to provide a living for those who devote their time and energy to industrial occupations. The monetary equivalent of a living wage varies according to local conditions, but must include enough to secure the elements of a normal standard of living–a standard high enough to make morality possible, to provide for education and recreation, to care for immature members of the family, to maintain the family during periods of sickness, and to permit of reasonable saving for old age.”
Imagine that! Not just a “job”, but a job that pays a LIVING WAGE! We now live in an America where top 10% hold 90% of the wealth while the rest of us are forced to work 3 “uniquely American” dead-end jobs to come close to the same standard of living our grandparents had… that is… if we can GET a job since Republicans and DINOS sent them to China…. while those who make their living lounging around a swimming pool waiting for the dividend checks to arrive pay less (or no) taxes than those who actually WORK for a living.
Studies have shown that income inequality hurts everyone – rich and poor.
Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett report:
“In societies where income differences between rich and poor are smaller, the statistics show that community life is stronger and levels of trust are higher. There is also less violence, including lower homicide rates; physical and mental health tends to be better and life expectancy is higher. In fact, most of the problems related to relative deprivation are reduced: prison populations are smaller, teenage birth rates are lower, educational scores tend to be higher, there is less obesity and more social mobility. What is surprising is how big these differences are. Mental illness is three times more common in more unequal countries than in the most equal, obesity rates are twice as high, rates of imprisonment eight times higher, and teenage births increase tenfold.”
So America is faced with the question of what kind of society we want to be. As Justice Louis D. Brandeis said,
“We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can‘t have both.”
Welcome to the New Gilded Age on Steroids
With the wealth gap between the rich and poor the widest it’s been since the Gilded Age (another time of Republican “ideas”), the reality is clear – we DON’T RISE AND FALL AS ONE NATION. WALL STREET IS STILL THRIVING – they never STOPPED thriving – AS THE REST OF US FIGHT FOR THE CRUMBS that fall out of their well-fed mouths… and very patriotic-sounding conservative front groups that exist to privatize and/or abolish government agencies, disseminate propaganda that confuse lies with science, and protect the agenda of billionaires pour their “mad money” into convincing average people to cheer for their own demise.
- • 83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.
- • 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.
- • 66% of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.
- • 36 percent of Americans say that they don’t contribute anything to retirement savings.
- • A staggering 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.
• In 1950, the ratio of the average executive’s paycheck to the average worker’s paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.
• 24% of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.
• Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.
• Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.
• For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.
• In 1950, the ratio of the average executive’s paycheck to the average worker’s paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.
• As of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.
• The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.
• Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.
• The top 1% of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America’s corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.’
• In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.
• More than 40% of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.
• For the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.
• This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.
• Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.
• Approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 – the highest rate in 20 years.
• The top 10% of Americans now earn around 50% of our national income.
The results are in: With income inequality WORSE than in Mubarak’s Egypt, we can only conclude that the American Middle Class is being purposefully and systematically wiped out of existence. I see these statistics and think, “when is this country going to erupt?” How long will the Faux News propaganda be loud enough to drown out the dismal reality of people’s lives? How much longer are the children and grandchildren of those who REMEMBER the strong, vibrant and economically secure middle class going to take being treated merely as hosts from which the rich parasites can suck profit and discard without apology?
How long will insatiable greed be sold as the ONLY worthy American virtue? And how long will the American People continue to buy it?
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