Trying to get some things done, like getting a haircut, etc. Then it’s off to see moms!
First, some Nuyorican music (played by a combination of Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Panamanians, whites... etc):
-=[ Excavating the Future: Class War ]=-
The only thing worse than a knee-jerk liberal is a knee-pad conservative.
-- Edward Paul Abbey (1927-1989)
Knee-pad conservatives love to spew the fave talking point that “liberals want to take money from some people and give it to others.” What they fails to understand is that the “some people” they’re referring to are the richest 1% who now own about 70% of the wealth (I’ll have to check for the exact number, but trust me, it’s not that far off).
This kind of wealth gap hasn’t been seen since the great Depression. Is it no wonder that we’re all struggling today? As billionaire, Warren Buffet has stated, there is a class war and the rich are winning it.
Let me roll back a little right now...
When I was a young child, my class went on a class trip to New York’s World’s Fair. What I saw there was the promise of a future in which technology would make our lives easier and the increase of leisure time would free all of us to pursue the lofty goals of the further reaches of human development. There were moving sidewalks, automated homes, skyways, and trams. There was modern architecture and a moonwalk on a roof. At that time, young president stood up and proclaimed to the entire world that we would set foot on the moon before the end of the decade. As a young child, I remember thinking this would be the world I would inherit.
It was a different time, a time of hope and optimism.
And why shouldn’t it have been so? Our country had overcome a major depression, won (and paid for) a global war, created the finest educational structure the world had ever seen, financed an advanced education for millions of GIs, and built a large number of innovative and effective corporations.
People then still remembered the sadistic excesses of the wealthy and powerful of earlier times and, through visionary politicians and legislation, created an economic system that was fair to both investors and workers. Not only did investors become wealthier and more numerous, but a typical working-class American -- working a 40-hour week -- could support a family of four.
The huge income gaps of the 1920s had been slightly reversed in the 40s and 50s, and were largely held at bay in the 60s and 70s. Except for people of color, this can be rightfully considered the greatest Golden Age for the middle class ever.
But that wasn’t all. In those days, corporations were more progressive in their thinking -- there was a moral force helping build a climate of fairness and openness. People took pride in and saw their organizations as part of their community. They saw closeness between their own interests and the interests of their companies. The implied promise of the corporate executive or business owner then was, “Work hard with me, grow with me, and you will share in my prosperity.”
Then in the 1980s, a new kind of political life form arrived with a vengeance. Apologists for the wealthy and the powerful sold a new set of values to the public that allowed pro-business, anti-worker politicians to get elected. They, in turn, changed our economy from one that benefitted both the investor and worker classes, to one that today benefits investors at the expense of workers.
Today, investors regularly plunder the workers, the professionals, and low-level managers that have produced over the decades and they invest those stolen assets outside our country -- purely for their own benefit -- with no regard for those who work hard or for our society.
It gets worse. No matter how much time and effort workers expend in improving equipment or increasing efficiency, they don’t share in the benefits. As a group becomes more effective, it increases the chances that some of the other workers will be fired, and those who remain will have to work harder than they did before, with incomes that don’t keep pace with inflation. The middle class is told that “competition demands it” -- despite record corporate profits and astronomical incomes for investors and golden parachutes for corporate executives.
Of course, the executives and stockholders exempt themselves from the cost-cutting competition and get filthy rich in the process. As a result, between 1979 and 2000, the stock market rose over 1,100%, but real wages for the middle class didn’t keep up with inflation. In terms of opportunity, the U.S. no longer leads in terms of upward mobility. Several advanced nations leave us in the dust (France being one).
This increase in the disparity in wealth and income between the ultra-rich and the poor-and-middle-class is not, as knee-pad conservatives and lower life forms will tell you, because the wealthy work harder or are more successful on a level playing field. It’s because corporations now have all the power, and they have conveniently shifted their values from fairness to survival of the fittest.