by Jan Baughman
(Swans - September 24, 2012) This time last year, we were the 99% and we were too big to fail. Now, we are the 47% and we're nothing but a bunch of freeloading failures. It should have come as no surprise, our glimpse into the perspective the elite share when they're behind gilded doors and presumably out of range of the press. Many say that Mitt Romney is out of touch with reality, but from his moneyed perspective, the middle class is that segment earning $250,000 per year. The others thereby relegated to the lower class, who feel "entitled" to a decent home, food, and health care from their government, are a fabricated threat to the money to which the wealthy are "entitled."
In the past year, Wall Street has returned to being occupied solely by bankers and traders untouched by an otherwise sluggish economy and unpunished by the tricks that have created and perpetuated the problems. The elite succeeded in granting personhood to their corporate dollars. Any call for a level playing field -- the American ideal that anyone can make it if they just work hard enough -- has been rebranded as Socialism.
The elite cry out "class warfare" in response to calls for increased tax rates on the wealthy, but class warfare started at the top, and it was launched over 30 years ago when middle-class wages began to stagnate, jobs were outsourced to other countries in order to increase profits, unions were eroded, and support for those at the bottom rung of the ladder was slowly and deliberately cut from under their feet. Increased costs for college education; rising health care costs; personal bankruptcy and home foreclosures; decimated pension plans and retirement savings; cuts to primary education that ensure a poor start for those not born with an advantage...we are the proverbial frogs in increasingly hot water.
So in reality, is it Mitt Romney and the elite who are out of touch with America? Or is it the 99% of Americans that are delusional -- the 47% he disdains as victims, and the remaining whose support he's counting on, who continue to vote against their own socioeconomic interests? Like an endless game of tug-of-war, the Republicans have pulled the Democrats further and further to the right, and their momentum has been strengthened by the tea-party influence and with corporate dollars. No counterbalance exists on the left to change the course, and there is not, as of yet, the will at the bottom to stand up to the elite who control both parties.
Mitt Romney did get it wrong: Americans -- not just the wealthy -- are entitled to a decent home, food, health care, education, and a living wage, and the government should play a role in ensuring this, because the free market has proven that it can't and won't, and "trickle down" only serves to trickle up. We are not "victims," but we are certainly enablers when it comes to perpetuating a system that promotes such income disparity, and the silencing of political voices outside of the elite caste.
This missive is not an endorsement of Barack Obama; rather, my quadrennial reminder that we need to vote our values if we wish to break from the status quo. But the cry is becoming moot because our options are diminishing with each and every election. Just as the elite are getting what they pay for, the rest of us are getting what we vote for, and "lesser evil" voting is not moving us toward realizing a greater good.
Jan Baughman asks you all: Please,Swans financially.
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