To the Editor:
The old saw, “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer,” does not accurately reflect what has been going on in the United States.
The reality is that our poor remain poor and the middle class is sinking into poverty.
A robust middle class developed after World War II. It was born of collective bargaining that benefited union and nonunion workers. It was nurtured by educational opportunities through the GI Bill, Pell Grants and myriad other programs that made post-high school training possible for children of less affluent members of our society. The economy flourished and became a beacon to the world.
America was on a roll. Fascism had been defeated through force of arms and Communism eventually died a natural death. Surely, I thought, corporate power and the wealthy few never again would dominate and bend government to their purposes. Pitting the 99 percent against the one percent – or even the 90 percent against the 10 percent – would be no contest. Silly me.
From the inception of the New Deal, so-called conservatives relentlessly attacked union bargaining power, chipped away at the tax code to benefit the wealthiest few, and dedicated themselves to serving corporate interests.
And now, with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, government is explicitly offered for sale to the highest bidder, and we don’t know who is doing the bidding.
The maldistribution of wealth in America is currently more pronounced than at any time in our history, surpassing even the excesses of the “roaring ‘20s” that propelled us into the Great Depression.
After the 1929 stock market crash, the Hoover administration exacerbated our economic woes by cutting government spending and balancing the federal budget. This should sound familiar because it is exactly what Europe is doing today and what Republicans in Congress insist we do here.
Austerity didn’t better our economy in the 1930s, and it isn’t solving Europe’s economic crisis today.
As the few atop of the economic pyramid gather in more and more of the nation’s wealth, an oligarchy is empowered and democracy is endangered. Meanwhile, the electorate obsesses over gay marriage, abortion and birth control. A significant minority can scarcely abide a black family in the White House and promotes the fiction that the president somehow is not really one of us.
I keep wondering how bad things will get before voters hold our legislators responsible.