Thursday, August 03, 2006
Keeping The Collapse Of The Middle Class A Secret
Shush! Don't tell anyone that the middle class is collapsing. Median income has been falling for five years straight. Health insurance eludes us. Pensions are disappearing. House prices and college tuitions are insane. Yet corporations continue to sacrifice our measly jobs in order to "compete". But don't tell anyone. We can't divert attention from The War On Terror, or from setting the world on fire with The Untamed Flame of Freedom. It's hard to sell democracy, but we'll get there.
Of course, I kind of understand why we're having a hard time selling it. Iraqis look at the American system, with its meek and browbeaten wage slaves, and they don't see "rule by the people". What they see is a mercenary oligarchy of wealthy men trying to squeeze the blood out of the common man. Why import that to their own country, which is screwed up enough as it is? The irony is that if Congress and the President paid more attention to the economic needs of the majority in the good old U.S. of A., rather than pandering to their worst reactionary prejudices, we could not only hold corporations in check, tax the rich the way they should be taxed, and provide for the physical health and financial solvency of all Americans. We might also convince the Iraqi people that maybe democracy is not so bad. But the grotesque hypocrisy of the Bush regime undermines our rhetoric better than any propaganda Al Jazeera could ever invent.
Remember Hilary Clinton, the evil woman who wanted to institute universal health insurance? Anyway, Devil Girl, working with the Democratic Leadership Council, has come up with something called "The American Dream Initiative". This proposes a universal retirement savings plan, whereby American businesses would be required by law to open accounts for their employees, and far earlier in their careers than is typical for 401(k) plans today. It also proposes universal health insurance - at least for children - as well as a strategy for making commercial health insurance programs more affordable to small businesses and individuals.
The Republicans have demonized this proposal as a monstrous waste of tax payers' money. But consider the source - the reverse alchemy of the Bush witch doctors has transformed a 5.6 trillion dollar surplus into a deficit, and raised the national debt by 42 percent. Faced with its pockets turned inside out, and its ledgers red as much with blood as with debt, the Republicans step lightly around the most obvious remedies to the deficit. More taxes - especially on corporations and capital gains. Here we have yet another irony. The Bush regime may actually be as afraid of the rich as the rest of us. Why else would they continue to coddle them so obsequiously?
But corporations need their profits - don't they? - even if they do nothing with them other than overpay their chief executives. And who are we to deprive the rich from making ever more money on capital gains? That would be like robbing the planet Mercury of sunlight, wouldn't it? It would be simply unnatural. The American economy is booming, they say. Growth abounds, and wealth is effulgent everywhere with the green and golden bloom of cold hard cash. If you sense that the middle class is falling, that it may be suffering, that it has lost its pride and its courage, that it stinks from the rot of its own demise, please keep it to yourself. You'll ruin the party!
"Marie Cocco: The Meltdown We're Not Supposed to Talk About" from TruthDig