Thursday, July 13, 2006
Class War In America
Do you respect Bill Moyers? Do you think he is an immoderate hothead or an evil leftist? If not, consider this quote from a speech he made in 2004: "Class war was declared a generation ago in a powerful paperback polemic by William Simon, who was soon to be Secretary of the Treasury. He called on the financial and business class, in effect, to take back the power and privileges they had lost in the depression and the new deal. They got the message, and soon they began a stealthy class war against the rest of the society and the principles of our democracy. They set out to trash the social contract, to cut their workforces and wages, to scour the globe in search of cheap labor, and to shred the social safety net that was supposed to protect people from hardships beyond their control."
Do you respect The Wall Street Journal? If you do, consider this quote from an article it published in 2005: "Although Americans still think of their land as a place of exceptional opportunity - in contrast to class-bound Europe - the evidence suggests otherwise. And scholars have, over the past decade, come to see America as a less mobile society than they once believed. As recently as the later 1980s, economists argued that not much advantage passed from parent to child, perhaps as little as 20 percent. By that measure, a rich man's grandchild would have barely any edge over a poor man's grandchild....But over the last 10 years, better data and more number-crunching have led economists and sociologists to a new consensus: The escalators of mobility move much more slowly. A substantial body of research finds that at least 45 percent of parents' advantage in income is passed along to their children, and perhaps as much as 60 percent. With the higher estimate, it's not only how much money your parents have that matters - even your great-great grandfather's wealth might give you a noticeable edge today." Other sources claim that closer to 65 percent of that all-important advantage of wealth is transferred from one generation of rich Americans to the next.
The rich are multiplying their economic advantages without regard to the rest of society. The vast proportion of new wealth generated by American business belongs to them. From 1950 to 1970, the top 1 percent of society gained $162 dollars for every additional dollar earned by those in the bottom 90 percent. From 1990 to 2001, the top 1 percent gained $18,000 dollars for every new dollar made by the American everyman.
Americans tolerate this glaring inequity because they still believe that hard work will allow them to rise - that ours is still "the land of opportunity". This is simply no longer the case. According to economist Tom Hertz, "While few would deny that it is possible to start poor and end rich, the evidence suggests that this feat is more difficult to accomplish in the United States than in other high-income nations."
If you wish to learn more about the ongoing class war started by the rich, check out the link below.
"Aspects of Class in the United States: An Introduction " from the Monthly Review