It’s not surprising that a CBS poll found an overwhelming majority of Americans approved of President Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday considering the speech seemed less of a report on the actual “state of the Union” than an exercise in something President Obama seems to value above all else… namely, trying to be all things to all people.
He called for investment projects and spending cuts, patted himself on the back for the tax cuts he passed, while insisting we simply can’t afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans that he extended. But more than just “compromises” to the same Republican ideas that have collapsed the economy for a second time in a century and pining for Republican approval like a battered spouse pining for an abuser, the President propagated an incomplete narrative that the American worker is on the ropes, not because of the 30 year assault on the New Deal policies that made the middle class possible, but due to changing “innovation” with “education” the remedy.
” Many people watching tonight can probably remember a time when finding a good job meant showing up at a nearby factory or a business downtown. You didn’t always need a degree, and your competition was pretty much limited to your neighbors. If you worked hard, chances are you’d have a job for life, with a decent paycheck and good benefits and the occasional promotion. Maybe you’d even have the pride of seeing your kids work at the same company.
That world has changed. And for many, the change has been painful. I’ve seen it in the shuttered windows of once booming factories, and the vacant storefronts on once busy Main Streets. I’ve heard it in the frustrations of Americans who’ve seen their paychecks dwindle or their jobs disappear — proud men and women who feel like the rules have been changed in the middle of the game.
They’re right. The rules have changed. In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business. Steel mills that once needed 1,000 workers can now do the same work with 100. Today, just about any company can set up shop, hire workers, and sell their products wherever there’s an Internet connection.”
It’s true the “rules have been changed in the middle of the game”, but not solely because “revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business.” What changed was not just a matter of education – what changed was government policy.
This notion that the American worker suddenly found himself or herself in a losing competition against the rest of the world neglects the historical reality that “booming factories” and “busy Main Streets” did not materialize simply because we didn’t have to compete in a worldwide marketplace.
American workers have ALWAYS competed in a worldwide marketplace and operated in times of broad technological change – doing extremely well and coming out ahead. To say, “competition was pretty much limited to your neighbors” is patently false. If we are reminiscing about the time when “finding a good job meant showing up at a nearby factory or a business downtown”,let’s remember accurately that was when the United States was the largest WORLDWIDE exporter of finished goods and “Made in America” was everywhere. Around the world, the American product defined “quality,” whereas “Made in China” was shorthand for “crap.”
The reasons American workers enjoyed a high standard of living was because our government protected homegrown industries from having to compete with countries with desperately underpaid labor pools, creating this environment through trade, tariff and domestic regulations that protected American industries from rapacious monopolistic competition and American Labor from having to compete with slave wage laborers throughout the world.
It was the also the high marginal tax rates and policies today’s Republicans vehemently oppose that encouraged captains of industries to reinvest at home rather than ship factories overseas as well as discourage the Wall Street gambling rackets that inevitably develop when a small segment of society controls colossal amounts of wealth.
In addition, the strength and vibrancy of the Working Class was not a “given.” American Steel and Auto workers didn’t inherently earn living wages until the workers themselves organized and demanded it out of their employers, who at the time, didn’t have the option of hiring wage slaves from outside the country… again… all because of government policy and the elected representatives who defended the rights of Labor and the “protectionist” policies that made tge late, great, American Middle Class possible. THAT was the magic formula for Middle Class Prosperity.
But listening to President Obama, one would think the disappearing middle class is merely a matter of education. The new message being, if you’re a worker who can’t seem to grasp the “American Dream” your grandparents told you about, then put yourself deeper in debt and get MORE education. Never mind another inconvenient truth that higher education is mutating into just another money making racket slipping out of reach of average Americans and leaving graduates in incredible debt for decades. Like Universal Health Care, many other nations also offer free higher education as far as a person’s ability will take them – considering it an investment in the future prosperity of the nation. In the United Sates, we are encouraged to forget that a mere 30 years ago, a skilled laborer had just as much opportunity to enjoy a middle class lifestyle as a person choosing to go to college.
As FDR quoted, “An old English judge once said: ‘Necessitous men are not free men.’ Liberty requires opportunity to make a living – a living decent according to the standard of the time, a living which gives man not only enough to live by, but something to live for.”
All the more reason for Conservative propaganda outlets to drum into the heads of Teabaggers that our government of “We The People” is the enemy, and any attempt to return to the regulations that made the middle class possible is to be messaged as an outright assault on freedom itself.
William Greider’s article, “The End of New Deal Liberalism” in The Nation stated,
“Political events of the past two years have delivered a more profound and devastating message: American democracy has been conclusively conquered by American capitalism. Government has been disabled or captured by the formidable powers of private enterprise and concentrated wealth. Self-governing rights that representative democracy conferred on citizens are now usurped by the overbearing demands of corporate and financial interests. Collectively, the corporate sector has its arms around both political parties, the financing of political careers, the production of the policy agendas and propaganda of influential think tanks, and control of most major media.What the capitalist system wants is more—more wealth, more freedom to do whatever it wishes. This has always been its instinct, unless government intervened to stop it. The objective now is to destroy any remaining forms of government interference, except of course for business subsidies and protections. Many elected representatives are implicitly enlisted in the cause.
A lot of Americans seem to know this; at least they sense that the structural reality of government and politics is not on their side. When the choice comes down to society or capitalism, society regularly loses. First attention is devoted to the economic priorities of the largest, most powerful institutions of business and finance. The bias comes naturally to Republicans, the party of money and private enterprise, but on the big structural questions business-first also defines Democrats, formerly the party of working people. Despite partisan rhetoric, the two parties are more alike than they acknowledge.
In these terms, the administration of Barack Obama has been a crushing disappointment for those of us who hoped he would be different. It turns out Obama is a more conventional and limited politician than advertised, more right-of-center than his soaring rhetoric suggested. Most Congressional Democrats, likewise, proved weak and incoherent, unreliable defenders of their supposed values or most loyal constituencies. They call it pragmatism. I call it surrender.” Read the rest of his great article here.
Our elected reps can’t deny that we are living in the consequences of them pulling out the rug from under the feet of the working class. They have to acknowledge it, but rather than effectively address it, it’s much easier for them to buy some time by throwing the solution back on the lap of the working class – telling us to stop dreaming of the old world where a person can expect to do better than their parents – and go back to school. You’ll figure something out. Meanwhile, the party goes on in the halls of privilege and power while you’re racking up bills, cracking the books and hoping for economy to magically turn around.
Many Americans are outraged by the powerful influences of money in our political process and understand the dangers to democracy of concentrated wealth. All the more reason why Glenn Beck, Limbaugh and the rest of the Reich Wing media are busy setting their Teabagging followers off on wild goose chases with misleading tales of creeping Socialism and lies equating Liberalism with Fascism – lest the truth of Corporatism, Oligarchy and Plutocracy penetrate their thick skulls.
Meanwhile, the Republicans they support as champions of the American way of life are getting their marching orders from a handful of wealthy Oligarchs like David Koch, who himself stood in the Gallery of the “People’s House” while his little hatchling Republican Reps swore in to the 122th Congress. David Koch also organized a summit of a secretive network of Republican donors in Palm Springs for a long weekend in January 2011 to brainstorm how to put the last nail in the coffin of the former “Land of the Free”, now “United States of Serfs and Lords.” With the floodgates of Citizen’s United gushing unfettered billions into our elections and big moneyed interests infesting our government, rather than use the bully pulpit to bring the case to restoring the dismantled New Deal policies to the people, Obama bows to the power of money and changes the narrative entirely.
I guess some would argue that this is the best he can do given the circumstances, I would argue that his middle of the road “compromises” only serve to keep the people suffering according to Republican plan, setting Obama up to be the one-term President Republicans promised.
William Greider summed it up succinctly, “For many years, incumbent Democrats survived by managing a precarious straddle between the forces of organized money and the disorganized people they claim to represent. The split was usually lopsided in favor of the money guys, but one could believe that the reform spirit would come alive once they were back in power with a Democratic president. That wishful assumption is now defunct.”
The bottom line is that waiting for Obama to bring about the NEW, NEW DEAL policies that will restore the middle class is like “Waiting for Godot”. That day will never come.
Reviving the middle class is not just a matter of innovation and education… it’s also a matter of government policy, unionization and protectionism that President Obama can’t bring himself to champion.
So we may as well just forget the old narrative and buy the NEW American Dream. Max out our student loans and maybe… just maybe… a couple of us here and there can join the top one percent riding the other 99% to the bank unfettered by pesky government…. Or perhaps win the Lottery… or pull yourself up by your bootstraps and marry a beer heiress. Lacking these remedies, your reward will come in Heaven.
We’re up against the same powerful influences FDR was referring to when he said, “Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent.”
In the face of those powerful influences, rather than effectively address the death of the middle class, our government changes the narrative to “go to school.”
We need NEW DEAL LIBERALISM to, once again, save Capitalism from itself and rebuilt the late, great, middle class.
- White Nationalists Throw Hate “Business Cards” at Black Woman - November 6, 2018
- Supposed Persecuted Trump supporter Scams Cons Out of $150,000 - November 5, 2018
- In 3 A.M. Tweet, Trump Complains he’s the Real Victim of Mail Bombs - October 26, 2018
- Melania Trump Claims She’s ‘The Most Bullied Person in the World’ and the Internet Groans - October 11, 2018
- Right Wingers Help Completely False Kremlin-Made Propaganda Video Go Viral - October 9, 2018
- Historian: Mitch McConnell is the “Gravedigger of American Democracy” - October 5, 2018
- Donald Trump Tried To Trick His Elderly Father Into Changing His Will - October 4, 2018
- Survey: Trump Surpasses ‘Terrorism’ as Germans’ Greatest Fear - September 6, 2018
- Ron DeSantis Moderated Racist Facebook Group That Attacks Minorities, Parkland Survivors - August 30, 2018
- Architect: Betsy DeVos’ Ostentatious McMansion Sucks - August 8, 2018