OK, I’m still trying to work this out. I have talked about this before but I keep adding scenarios on to it as the situation morphs through new phases. The factories left us. I don’t know about your city but those familiar business names from my childhood disappeared one after another. There were businesses that thrived through the early 40’s, were turned to war production in the mid 40’s, and went right back to thriving in the late 40’s and early 50’s, pretty much until the advent of the computer, when Asia joined the marketplace, beginning with Korea and Japan, and moving, eventually, to that giant, China, a nation that was finally ready to stop resisting progress and to allow some capitalist economics to coexist with its communist government.
At first my thinking just focused on the jobs lost by family and friends (and their facsimiles all over America) who often did not go to college (for any number of reasons) but who earned salaries that promised a safe, healthy life and a comfortable retirement. These workers were climbing up through the middle class, through two cars (and two-car garages), through college for the kids, through family vacations and travels, and through second homes on local waterways or in the piney woods.
And then it all ended – it all slipped away – boom, gone.
But we have lost more than jobs. We have lost our usefulness to the rich and powerful. They are no longer anchored to our communities by their buildings where they used to do business. Perhaps they have fears that their own money will dry up. They blame us for sending the corporations away, for the flight of business from America. They blame the unions and they blame environmental protection laws. They, apparently, do not believe that the great corporate migration was inevitable. When America began importing so many inexpensive products, manufacturers who stayed put either folded or realized they would also have to leave. However, we should not buy the guilt that has been heaped upon us, upon middle-class Americans. We should never accept the prevalent story that most of the money in America belongs in the pockets, safes, and bank accounts of the 1% and that they did nothing to stack the deck in their favor.
The one percent of wealthiest Americans are desperate to hang onto their profits and since we no longer take a major part in producing those profits (we no longer labor for them) (we have not kept up our levels of consumption), they have decided to cut us loose. They believe that they are subsidizing the poor, the lazy, the old, the sick, and the disabled (and the children of these parasites). They picture themselves weighted down by all the bloodsuckers (money-suckers) hanging on to their designer shirts. They are feeling injured and used; they are paying the lion’s share of the taxes and society is freeloading. They have been trying to tell us in many different ways that we cannot afford to pay for the services offered by our government with the taxes we pay. Without their dollars the whole system will come apart. They are, in their insulting way, trying to warn us that they no longer intend to pay but they are trying to engender “taker” guilt so that we will blame ourselves when they yank support for our social programs away. They also feel that they may be able to profit from privately providing these services to us, at a price. I am betting that unless we wake up soon and skew the laws back in our directions (if it is not already too late) that we will not really have any choice about keeping our social safety net. It is all but gone. Wave good-bye! Poverty and disease and sorrow await. The country that was once the richest in the world is broke because the one percent have cornered and intend to keep all the money.
Not only will we be poor, we will lose all the cultural treasures we once enjoyed because they were all subsidized by the wealthy and the corporations. Will a bankrupt Detroit be able to hold on to its art treasures? That’s the question that was asked on the news last week. I don’t know why I didn’t see this coming. My small city already lost access to the ballet companies that used to visit. We lost our very accomplished symphony. Will we eventually lose all our museums? Will all our art treasures go to live in wealthier nations where we will no longer be able to afford to visit them? Will our famous public buildings sit empty and eventually turn into roofless ruins full of plants growing amongst the marble?
I hope I am just having a dramatic dream, that one where the house starts out nicely furnished and structurally lovely, even if including a few strange anomalies and then, in the dream, the rooms gradually retain less and less intact structure until, by the end of the dream, the house has turned into a pile of rubble.
What can we do to fight back and to try to hang on to our social programs which will make our lives more livable, especially if we continue to lose ground economically? What changes can we push for that will return our nation to the prosperity it has long enjoyed and get these fear monkeys off our backs. They sneer when we discuss re-skewing the economy in such a way that it will return the strength to our middle class. They call it “redistribution of wealth”, as if they have not already redistributed it into their own pockets. We actually want to re-re-distribute the wealth. This is not socialism. This is a far more American policy than the laws we have been living with which send all the money to the top and leave an awful vacuum at the bottom. America doesn’t have to fail, but if we are submissive, if we give into “taker” guilt, if don’t elect people who will tilt the whole top-heavy economy back until some of that lucre can indeed run downhill, then to the bottom is where we are going. The Republicans are playing a huge role in turning us into an America in ruins. They refuse to help us keep American infrastructure in order and to invest in businesses that look to the future. I’m not sure that the Democrats are still champions of the common man, but if we elect Democrats in 2014, we will see. If the Republicans keep gaining ground in the House and in the states we are screwed. We will get more of the same obstructionism we have now. (Of course, if the next new thing comes along and we capitalize on it we may all be saved and we won’t have to take back the affluence stolen from us by laws passed by our own lawmakers, but that doesn’t look very likely — the magic solution will probably not be pulled from that shiny old top hat.)
#redistributionofwealth, #re-redistributionofwealth, #thegreatcorporatemigration, #whatAmericalost
This is the view from the cheap seats.
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