Friday, February 7, 2014

How Long Will This Economic Holocaust By the Uber-Wealthy Go On? How Long Will We Allow It To?

Why There’s No Outcry

By Robert Reich
People ask me all the time why we don’t have a revolution in America, or at least a major wave of reform similar to that of the Progressive Era or the New Deal or the Great Society.

Middle incomes are sinking, the ranks of the poor are swelling, almost all the economic gains are going to the top, and big money is corrupting our democracy. So why isn’t there more of a ruckus?
The answer is complex, but three reasons stand out.
First, the working class is paralyzed with fear it will lose the jobs and wages it already has.

In earlier decades, the working class fomented reform. The labor movement led the charge for a minimum wage, 40-hour workweek, unemployment insurance, and Social Security.

No longer. Working people don’t dare. The share of working-age Americans holding jobs is now lower than at any time in the last three decades and 76 percent of them are living paycheck to paycheck.

No one has any job security. The last thing they want to do is make a fuss and risk losing the little they have.

Besides, their major means of organizing and protecting themselves — labor unions — have been decimated. Four decades ago more than a third of private-sector workers were unionized. Now, fewer than 7 percent belong to a union.

Second, students don’t dare rock the boat.

In prior decades students were a major force for social change. They played an active role in the Civil Rights movement, the Free Speech movement, and against the Vietnam War.

But today’s students don’t want to make a ruckus. They’re laden with debt. Since 1999, student debt has increased more than 500 percent, yet the average starting salary for graduates has dropped 10 percent, adjusted for inflation. Student debts can’t be cancelled in bankruptcy. A default brings penalties and ruins a credit rating.

To make matters worse, the job market for new graduates remains lousy. Which is why record numbers are still living at home.

Reformers and revolutionaries don’t look forward to living with mom and dad or worrying about credit ratings and job recommendations.

Third and finally, the American public has become so cynical about government that many no longer think reform is possible.

When asked if they believe government will do the right thing most of the time, fewer than 20 percent of Americans agree. Fifty years ago, when that question was first asked on standard surveys, more than 75 percent agreed.

It’s hard to get people worked up to change society or even to change a few laws when they don’t believe government can possibly work.

You’d have to posit a giant conspiracy in order to believe all this was the doing of the forces in America most resistant to positive social change.

It’s possible. of course, that rightwing Republicans, corporate executives, and Wall Street moguls intentionally cut jobs and wages in order to cow average workers, buried students under so much debt they’d never take to the streets, and made most Americans so cynical about government they wouldn’t even try for change. 

But it’s more likely they merely allowed all this to unfold, like a giant wet blanket over the outrage and indignation most Americans feel but don’t express. 

Change is coming anyway. We cannot abide an ever-greater share of the nation’s income and wealth going to the top while median household incomes continue too drop, one out of five of our children living in dire poverty, and big money taking over our democracy.

At some point, working people, students, and the broad public will have had enough. They will reclaim our economy and our democracy. This has been the central lesson of American history.

Reform is less risky than revolution, but the longer we wait the more likely it will be the latter.


This country has gone downhill and, as a result, many are suffering. What will happen in the distant future when today most people can no longer save? How can anyone ever retire?
Why should we trust a government that wants to cut Social Security and Medicare but bows to corporate demands for ever more profit? How can we trust a government that always has money for war and the NSA but cuts funding for Meals on Wheels and food stamps? How long before more are homeless and are actually out on the streets begging?
My first thought when I saw the title was to blame the internet and the media for the lack of outcry. I'm sure both have contributed to successful people believing outlandish theories. [Lazy freeloaders want free government handouts. These pampered people won't look for jobs if they receive unemployment insurance and food stamps.]

What is the latest Fox has been spreading? How much is enough?
And combine that with Paul Krugman's article about the Plutocrats that was published this morning - Tim Perkins - hedge fund manager sent a whiny letter to the WSJ - saying that the 99% calling for increased taxes on the uber-wealthy and the closing of tax loop holes - just like the Nazi's invading Poland or some other such drivel.

I participate in the Moral Monday's marches in North Carolina - not the arrest part but the actual marches - and that movement is starting to spread. All types of people are involved - Black, White, Rich, Poor, Christian, Non-Religious - it is about economic and educational justice. We are fighting the 'War on the Impoverished' one Monday at a time.
Wouldn't ALEC be considered a "grand conspiracy?" I don't understand how anyone who knows about ALEC doesn't get that these people (corporate CEOs and wealthy individuals) DO conspire against the working class by creating model laws written by corporations at their meetings that make our lives miserable, like no sick leave for restaurant workers, stand your ground laws, and forcing anyone getting solar panels to continue paying a fee to the power corporations for "free riding." ALEC is just one example of the rich and powerful getting together to plan our future in a way that benefits them and hurts us. How is that NOT a conspiracy?
What about Davos? You think those rich A-holes are not conspiring ways to keep paying workers less and exploiting the environment more? How is that not a conspiracy?
What about the Bilderberger meetings? So what if those resolutions are "not binding?" I challenge someone to find one resolution that is agreed to at these rich folks' meetings that has not become or is not becoming policy.

Sure the media (now that it admits these meetings take place after decades of denying it) portrays them as just idea-generating get togethers, but the problem with that is that the ideas they come up with are almost always implemented. Funny how that works, right? But no! Rich folks do not get together to plan (conspire) against the rest of us. Of course not. How naive! What is a union if not a "conspiracy?" All kinds of groups get together to plan in secret.
Nailed it! I've had this on-going argument with a friend...but it finally ended when I emailed him this:
These people...the uber-rich 1%ters go to the same clubs, events, resorts, live in the same enclaves, go to the same private islands...even when they aren't at Davos or Bilderberger! What the hell do people think this relatively small network of people, worth more than 1/2 the world's population, are talking about... Golf and Bridge ? Please!!!! WAKE THE F UP PEOPLE!

This level of naive, uncritical thinking combined with the dreaded label of 'conspiracy nut' ...which BTW THEY CREATED ,,,(fact: "The origin of the campaign to ridicule research into conspiracies was initiated by the CIA in 1967 to undermine the credibility of those who questioned the official claims of the Warren Commission regarding the so-called facts of the Kennedy assassination.")... IS the main problem. We can't beat the enemy if the majority of people can't even spot the enemy!

But we do indulge in the frustration of realizing that the majority of Americans do not know their head from their arse and do not give a shit about anything that does not affect them personally. In fact, most (the majority in my experience) do not even care about issues that DO affect them personally.

I cannot seem to get anyone to pay attention to the TPP, which will affect us all more than probably any legislation has since NAFTA. NO ONE CARES. Look at all the idiots who still bank at Chase and Wells Fargo, even after all their criminal fines.

NOW they are talking about charging depositors to loan them the money (their deposits) the banks use to make loans to other customers. And yet people are willing to pay Wells Fargo a fee to deposit (loan) their money in the bank. Unbelievable! These banks should be laughed out of existence for trying to treat their customers as slaves; instead, they are posting record profits after a huge corporate socialist bailout from the stupid, stupid taxpayer.


(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Your cephalopod can explain why there is no outcry:

I can build an entire ontological argument around nonsense words. Think of the Rannygazoo, a mythological being, greater than great, of which nothing greater can be conceived. Since it is ‘greater’ to exist in reality than in the mind alone, I can prove the existence of the great and powerful Rannygazoo on the basis of words alone:

The same logic applies to the great and almighty Taradiddle, who presides over all things Fiddlefaddle.

In the beginning was the nonsense word, and the word was with Rannygazoo.” Whether magical thinking drives ontology, or the reverse, there are people who think words have the power to change reality, change the laws of physics, dismiss geological history, and misattribute words to deceive and manipulate people. Ontology, blind faith, ideology, and partisan spin: Here are the roots of ignorance in the world.

Cirze said...

And the vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

was always my favorite line along with its close:

He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.


Over foolishness.

Thanks, cephy!