Majorities of the middle class have voted against their own self interest since the Reagan Era began. We remain in a death spiral where our chest-tightening, middle-class anxiety feeds our bad choices — fueled by not-even-below-the-surface racial/gender/sexual orientation hatred and the Xristian Xrazie-fueled culture wars. Pete Wilson invented wedge-issue politics, and Karl Rove perfected it with the
stolen elections of Chimpy McStagger.
But, at the end of 2013, we might be on the edge of the promise of the Occupy movement: there seems to be a whiff of populism in the air, despite all the noise over distractions that Wingnuttia throws at us (See Christmas, War On), Twittering on the Twatter, Facebooking, and Reality TeeVee.
In a previous post, I mentioned that Clinton-era warmed over weak-tea economic advisor Larry Summers wrote about stagnation is the new normal. Given that ol’ Larry was the one who convinced Big Dawg to sign the law that scrapped Glass-Steagall, well, maybe he was bragging that his plan was working as designed?
As seems obvious to most, this War on the Middle Class will leave us with a few people on the top of a huge pile of ill-gotten gains, and everyone else in the bottom (the 99%), you know, where they belong according to the 1%ers. We are told that resistance is futile and we should graciously accept the few crumbs that the plutocrats deign to throw our way.
As I mentioned earlier, this demolishing of the middle class is not an immutable law of nature, it is the result of nearly 40 years of policy designed to do this. Let’s be clear: it is the policy of the United States government for the last 30+ years to serve only the interests of corporations and their owners.
However, policy can be changed, and we can change it.
Here’s a few ideas, in no particular order of things we must change, and can change:
- Raise taxes on the richest Americans, back to pre-Reagan 70 percent, and close the damn loopholes.
- Restore some sanity to inherited wealth. Do we really want to enable Paris Hilton’s lifestyle? Think of it as an intervention.
- Tax Wall Street transactions. Kick the Hedge Funders right in the balls.
- Enforce antitrust laws to stop anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions and break up such mega-merged industries as banking, airlines, gas, phone networks, broadcasting, etc. If the laws are not robust enough, then we need new ones.
- Change the tax code so that it removes incentives for bad-boy economic behavior (such as out-sourcing US jobs overseas, CEO bastards’ out-of-control compensation, and the gambling that lead to our current Second Great Depression). Maybe besides removing incentives, these changes should punish this sort of thing.
- Enact a new Glass-Steagall law. D’uh.
- Embark on a spending spree for research and education. K-through college needs to be funded such that anyone who wants to go on to higher ed can go on and not end up with crippling debt. We need to take first place in having an educated populace, like we once did.
- We need a Kennedy-style man-on-the-moon challenge for clean energy, and climate change. The so-called Carbon Tax would be a good way to fund it, too.
- Nerd Alert: We must fund NASA. We need some ’60s optimism again, and every dollar invested returns in multiples of benefits. It’s not just Tang and Teflon.
- Outlaw the influence-peddling in D.C. Some call it lobbying, but I’m a simple man and call it legalized bribery.
- Pass a constitutional amendment to roll back Citizens United. Heck, amend the constitution to explicitly state that corporations are not people. They are not even Soylent Green.
- Pass the union-enabling card check legislation, and make union-busting patently illegal.
- Cancel all the Free Trade deals. Just kill ’em dead. Another fine finger-fuck from Bill Clinton, by the way. Ross Perot was right about that sucking sound. Er, that other sucking sound.
- We are not Great Britain. We must get out of the empire business. It didn’t end well for them, and it won’t end well for us.
- Our stimulating the economy only through a Reagan-like build-up of the military-industrial complex would be better spent on, oh, I don’t know, building and operating high-speed trains (I’m writing this draft on the train, duh). Let’s try some nation-building at home.
- Reform the Media. It’s not just a question of the long-dead Fairness Doctrine, but the media should be serving the people. The airwaves belong to us, so news outlets that demonstrably and intentionally misinform us (Lie To Us) should be penalized for their misdeeds. (Yes, I’m looking at you Fox. I’m also looking at CBS, NBC, and ABC.)
Our Betters are doing fine, thanks. Corporate profits and cash on hand is at a record high; while real hourly wages are lower than when Chimpy was “elected” in 2000.
Wingnuttia is emboldened to cut food stamps and unemployment assistance during a depression. Gallup tells us that 72 percent of respondents said big government is a bigger threat to the nation’s future than big business or big labor. [sic, and also ha-ha. Big Labor! Killer material, dude.]
Yeah, we are dumber, less engaged in the common good than we are in reality TeeVee. I think a combination of bloggers, muckrakers, and an engaged citizenry can help to lead to a new progressive era.
Call to Action
I read someplace that no rant should be without a call to action. Choose a topic above, any one of ’em, and email your representatives in Congress and ask them what they are doing about that topic, what their position is. Be friendly but be persistent. When they blow you off (and they will, usually with a form letter), call them. The staffer will blow you off, too, but they will tally the number of calls that they get on any topic or piece of legislation.
A family friend who worked as a staffer told me that almost never do the officials read their constituents’ email, and said essentially that it is the lowest form of “talking” to the representative; lower than faxes. Phone calls come next (there was some metric that they use like each call counts for 100 people), but real letters, physical mail is the gold standard for being heard. The Representative sees a stack of letters and starts to sweat a little.
Let’s make ’em sweat.