Income inequality is killing us — literally. The gap in wealth and income between the upper 2% of the population and the middle and lower 80% is larger today than at any time since the 1920’s. The sagging economy of today is a disaster for millions of hard working Americans. It is a distant curiosity to the few who earn as much as $3.7 billion dollars this year. Do you know who is paying that salary? You are. You are being robbed.
It is common that families require both partners to work just to keep their nose above water, and as the economy heads toward what many foresee as a collapse no amount of effort can save the day in an increasing number of households.
The effective minimum wage is lower than at any time since the 1960’s. More people live under the poverty line than at any time since the 1980’s. Worst, there is no voice for that 80% much less the bottom 15%. Historically, middle America has turned to the Democratic party to advocate on their behalf for higher wages and greater benefits.
Since 1980 the Democratic Party has increasingly abdicated this role to become Republican-light. This phenomenon has been widely discussed, but the effect of this prostitution for votes is now being exposed to a public that just doesn’t want to look at the reality. The truth is the reason America is rapidly becoming a second rate nation is that there is no Democratic Party anymore.
I am not confident that Barrack Obama will do much to change that, but I remain hopeful he can. To do so, he will have to focus the dialog of the campaign on the real problems we face – a ballooning debt problem that is unprecedented on all levels; a stranglehold on Congress by a very few people of great wealth and power, that 2% who make the decisions that mean whether we buy gasoline to get to work or give milk to our children.
He will have to slap America across the face so we open our eyes to the many hands in our pockets, taking our labor, energy and enterprise for their private gain without so much as a glance at the desperate condition most families find themselves in despite a 75% increase in productivity in the past 20 years. We work harder, longer hours, produce more and are paid less that any time in 50 years.
That is robbery. It is taking what you and I have – our time, effort , knowledge and experience, and paying us a small fraction of what it is worth to those who enjoy the fruits of our contributions. We are not given an opportunity to object, it is just taken.
One of the most impactful actions by Ronald Reagan was the breaking the union in the Air Traffic Controller strike. Ever since workers are afraid that if they exercise the little power they have by striking they will simply lose their jobs. Business has become so emboldened they no longer think of unions as a counterbalance but as an annoyance at worst and often an ally in the process of robbing America.
If Obama even has an interest in tackling this biggest of all problems – more critical than any of the much hyped threat of terror attacks, climate change or any of the many things many are worried about –he has a huge hurdle to overcome. Most people have been brain washed into thinking that anyone who talks about this is a “classist” or worse. We have been fed the soma of goods and services, prescription drugs and phony conservativism so much that we are half asleep to the world we actually live in.
America must be wakened, preached to, enlightened and activated to take on their own problems as if they have the power to do something. If Senator Obama can pull that off he will be a true American hero. If he isn’t up to the challenge, I despair for all of us. If he is unwilling to even try, he is just another one of the long string of false populists.
I have my fingers crossed. Senator Obama, the ball is in your court.