by theyoungturks, Wed Sep 15, 2010 at 12:45:26 PM EDT
First, let me get this out of the way - I have no problems with the rich. I plan on being rich. I'm an American. I believe. We all believe we can get to the top and enjoy the spoils of wealth. We are Americans.
That's never been the issue. And in my lifetime the poor or middle class have never come close to declaring anything other than envy for the rich. But there is a class war going on. It's being conducted by the rich on the middle class in this country.
Again, let's be clear. It's not by all of the rich or even most of the rich. There are great philanthropists among the rich. In fact, over 40 billionaires just pledged to give away half of their money to charity. Bill Gates earned his money, is giving it away and has no interest on declaring war on the middle class.
I'll even give you the classic line - some of my best friends are rich. So, this isn't about some ridiculous stereotypes or populist demagoguery. This is about stone cold facts.
Some of the wealthiest people in this country have been systematically trying to reduce their own taxes and make sure their companies are not regulated by the government. This makes sense. They want to make more money. But in the process, they have bought our politicians, corrupted our system and ultimately given us enormous income inequality.
This income inequality doesn't seem just, but that isn't my main issue. The real problem is the results of that inequality. It leads to speculative bubbles, crashes, recessions and depressions. It leads to the middle class losing their pensions, having stagnant wages for the last thirty years and lacking opportunity to move up the chain. It kills our economy and ultimately it kills the American Dream.
Here are some numbers on the rich versus the middle class that demonstrate what I'm talking about:
All of the money went to the top. Do you know that between 1979 to 2007 income for the bottom fifth of the country went up by just 16%, but for the top 1% income it went up a staggering 281%?
The rich got much richer. This is not an accident. People like the Walton family and the Koch brothers have been doing this for a long time. The Waltons don't want to pay estate taxes for understandable reasons because they plan to inherit and pass on billions of dollars. It is cost efficient for them to buy our politicians for a couple of thousand dollars in campaign donations. The Koch brothers hate taxes and regulation of their businesses. If you want to know how they have hijacked our system you should read this brilliant articleby Jane Mayer in The New Yorker.
Meanwhile, you know what happened to the poverty rate - it went skyrocketing up. Now, one in seven Americans lives in poverty. That's 45 million people. Last year, we had the highest increase in poverty since the government started keeping these numbers in 1959.
The poor are growing, the middle class is shrinking and the rich are getting even richer. This is how you build a Third World country. So, the next time you hear about class warfare, understand which direction it's going in.
Some of the wealthiest people in this country pulled the wool over your eyes and picked your pockets. I don't have anything against the rich and I understand their motivation. But the rest of us are crazy to keep letting it happen. At some point, you have to fight back. Not with pitchforks, but at the very least with your votes.
Now that you know the game that's being played, it's incumbent on you to make sure you join the battle. Help us save this country and rebuild our once great middle class.