In a fascinating article entitled”Plutocracy Now”, by Kevin Drum, that appeared in the March and April (2011) issue of Mother Jones, there’s enough food for thought to sink the hopes of middle America.
Discussing the fact that income inequality has grown dramatically since the mid seventies, and not solely due to the increase in numbers of college graduates, the article does what all good investigators do: follows the money trail. To quote, “If politicians care almost exclusively about the concerns of the rich, it makes sense that over the past decades they’ve enacted policies that have ended up benefiting the rich.” (p. 22)
Noting that the bottom 80% of wage-earners now loses, collectively, $743 billion every year, it follows that that the top 1% gain $673 billion and…you guessed it…that money is coming from we poor slobs at the bottom and middle of the totem pole. Here’s a sobering but all-too-true quote: “The odds of experiencing a 50% drop in family income have more than doubled since 1970.”
That seems pretty obvious, to me, as I read the unemployment figures. Pensions are a thing of the past. 401(k) plans…where workers bear all the risks of the volatile stock market…are underfunded. Home foreclosures are up. Likewise, personal bankruptcies have increased. All these gloom-and-doom statistics, from Jacob Hacker’s book The Great Risk Shift are, as Mick Jagger famously put it, “enough to make a grown man cry.”
UNIONS UNDER SYSTEMATIC ATTACK
Within the article are some remarks about unions, especially telling in the light of the Cheddar Rebellion now underway in Madison, Wisconsin and—according to a “prank” phone call to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker—merely part of a much larger plan by newly-elected Tea Party Republicans, to strip unions of their power to bargain collectively for the little guy. Says the “Mother Jones” article, “Unions, for better or worse, are history.”
The article goes on to say that even if private-sector unions increased from the current 7% to 10%, it wouldn’t be anywhere near enough to restore the power of the working and middle classes, which are being systematically stripped, through actions such as those we are seeing on our television set nightly, from the Land of the Cheeseheads. And, as of March 9, 2011, the Republicans seem to have found a way around the MIA Democrats (the 14 who fled to Illinois) and rammed a bill down the state’s collective throat , perhaps illegally, that only spells more trouble in Dairyland Paradise,
There’s way more depressing stuff within the “Mother Jones” article (pick it up at your local newsstand…if it still exists after the bankruptcy of the Borders near you), but the final thought of the article is that the infrastructure of economic populism that the old Stallone film “F.I.S.T.” (set in Dubuque, Iowa) filmed for the ages back in the ’70s needs to be rebuilt and that “figuring out how to do that is the central task of the new decade.”