Our Fast Track to Inequality

When I studied American property as a grad student in the early 1960s, there existed more or less a balance between business and labor with the government playing the role of referee between the two. The super rich faced taxes as high as 90% on their profits.

The election today may be slamming the door shut on American democracy as the time we introduced social security and medicare, loosened the racist barriers, etc.

Since Reagan cut back the regulation of business during his presidency and with Bush’s tax cuts and the Supreme Court opening the doors to unlimited secretive contributions to candidates, we have seen a vast change also stimulated by the global economy which allows nations to exploit their workers to keep prices lower than what we can offer while still maintaining our worker benefits.

We are the the nation that is falling behind and apart — education, no free medical care paid by taxes, military wars rather than economic competition, increasing ethnic prejudices — particularly against Latin Americans and Muslims as well as our African Americans.

Bob Herbert’s Op-Ed Title today says it all. We Americans are on the “Fast Track to Inequality.” His opening paragraphs give us the how:

“The clearest explanation yet of the forces that converged over the past three decades or so to undermine the economic well-being of ordinary Americans is contained in the new book, “Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class.”

“The authors, political scientists Jacob Hacker of Yale and Paul Pierson of the University of California, Berkeley, argue persuasively that the economic struggles of the middle and working classes in the U.S. since the late-1970s were not primarily the result of globalization and technological changes but rather a long series of policy changes in government that overwhelmingly favored the very rich.”

I will get myself out to vote today because two of our NY candidates who were sure winners last week are now running neck and neck with their Republican competitors — Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General and Tom Dinapoli for Comptroller.

Who could have guessed that liberal NY would find itself being whipped by this new game in town? Needless to say things are worse where Obama had his major wins in the face of the threatening depression. The Republican/Tea Party people are clear that their program apart from widening the gap between America’s super rich and the rest of us is a running two year attack on Obama.

And so American democracy may have ended — not with a bang, but with the whispers of our secretive greedies.


“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent [blind copies]

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