This is going to be
short and sweet long and boring.
I know you shouldn’t talk about politics or religion with your friends…and you, PaleoPosse, are my friends… but with what’s happening in Wisconsin and some of the crap happening here in Florida, I feel the need to be a little political. So forgive me if I cross any boundaries, and feel free to critique my opinions.
First and foremost, a few images for context.
No, I don’t want you to compare crowd sizes, or the spelling of signs, or the apparent wealth of the different people in each picture. What I want you to do is IGNORE THEM.
That’s right. IGNORE THEM.
Ignore them because there are much bigger issues at hand, and because all this union vs. anti-union speech is just a distraction.
Sure, there’s certainly a power-play involved here…diminishing the power of unions diminishes the power of the Democratic party. But again, IGNORE THIS. It’s not about Republican vs. Democrats anymore. It’s about the Rich vs. Poor.
Take a good look at this figure, and think about what it represents. When people are asked how much wealth is owned by the top 20% of America, on average they guestimate that it’s around 60%. Ideally, they say, it should be around 30%. Now, clearly not everyone polled has a great understanding of economics, but needless to say, reality is much more extreme than people imagined.
In reality, the top 20% of American households control over 80% of the wealth, while the bottom 20% control approximately 1% (and the latest numbers show this has only gotten worse.)
Michael Moore was in Wisconsin yesterday, and while I don’t always trust Michael Moore’s numbers, he made a pretty shocking statement: He claims that 400 people control 50% of the wealth in the United States. Again, take this with a grain of salt BUT… if it’s even close to true, how did it happen?
I don’t know how it’s happened… but I’ve seen story after story showing that our wealth disparity is approaching (or in some ways, passed) the levels seen in the 1920’s, during the Gilded Age. The short story is that the greatest “redistribution of wealth” (to steal a term from the GOP) in history has happened in the past 30 years, and it has been a transfer from the middle-class to the supreme-upper class.
This disparity of wealth resulted in an economic disaster that could have been as bad as the Great Depression, but we’ve avoided it…for now. For a while there, it seemed like the country was on the right track. We saw the vast abuses that happened in Wall Street, we knew that we had to make our regulations more effective…and then… we all forgot…
Personally, I think that the Tea Party was just too entertaining, and we didn’t understand the threat to society that they actually represented. Regardless, today, in 2011, our elected representatives are going batshit-crazy trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist, and they’re doing it at the expense of the middle-class.
What am I talking about? Well, I’m talking about Scott Walker’s anti-union reform. I’m talking about the GOP attack on last years Health Care Bill (imperfect as it may have been). I’m talking about Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, rejecting 3 Billion dollars in federal money to build a high-speed rail from Orlando to Tampa, on the basis that rejecting the money will somehow “save taxpayer dollars,” even though it gets simply diverted to another state… I’m talking about the fact that GE, Bank of America, ExxonMobil, and Citibank paid ZERO DOLLARS in taxes for 2009, despite making record profits and paying out insane corporate bonuses. I’m talking about the fact that the CEO of my own company (sorry, can’t say who) was paid 11 Million dollars in bonuses in 2009, the same year that over 1,000 people were laid off and the company itself did not perform exceptionally well.
The answer to our current problems (high unemployment, high federal deficit, massive state budget cutbacks, poorly funded infrastructure, expensive healthcare system) is simple.
Increase taxes on the rich, and make sure they actually pay them.
And yet, what is being done is the very opposite of that. I leave you today with one last set of figures from American Progress.org, showing 10 social programs that are being threatened by massive cuts, and an equivalent tax break for wealthy individuals or corporations that could pay for them. Which is more important to you?
If this turns your stomach the way it turns mine, go write a letter to your congressman, and if that doesn’t feel like it will help, go find a local progressive movement and show your support. And most importantly, remember to vote in the next election.