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Wed

01

Sep

2010

Bye Bye American Pie
Wednesday, 01 September 2010 05:13

by Timothy V. Gatto

Sometimes I become more than just a little bit angry when I read what passes for news in America. What makes me even angrier is what passes for opinion on the left side of the blogosphere. Don’t get me wrong, some of the articles and op-ed pieces are nothing less than astounding. In fact, most of what I read on lefty sites are the only thing that keeps me from slitting my throat on days when it seems that the people in America have just forgotten how to think for themselves. Still, I don’t believe that most people understand what our biggest problems are. I may be wrong and I’m open to the thoughts of others, but these are, I believe, the most pressing problems that Americans face.

The economy is what’s on most people’s minds. I’m not an economist, but I have read some of the articles of people that are economists. It’s a subject that is hard to get very far away from.  I can’t help but notice that it is the middle-class that is bearing the brunt of this recession/depression that we are going through. It seems that the middle-class is always the sector that bears the weight of bad economic times.

The reason most often cited for these bad economic times is that the economy isn’t growing.  Maybe I’m crazy, but it seems that most of the economic pundits actually expect that the economy should always be growing. That seems a little bit naïve to me. From what I have read about in history books is that economies are constantly shrinking and expanding.  The problem with capitalism is that it works fine when the economy is expanding, but when it is shrinking… not so good. This is but one facet of the argument between capitalism and socialism.

Another facet of the capitalist-socialist argument is that capitalism favors the rich. In a perfect world, the rich would help the middle and lower classes. The reason for this is not just for altruistic reasons; it’s a necessary part of preserving capitalism itself. A system that only works for the upper echelon of the society can’t possibly survive if the majority of the people can’t survive. It seems that in America, the upper class of this society has forgotten this. Maybe that is the reason why the the bottom 80% of Americans only has 7% of the wealth. That’s right, the bottom 80% of this nation only hold 7% of its wealth! When I came across that statistic I was floored. As far as the top 20% of Americans, the top 1% of Americans holds 42.7% of this nation’s wealth, while the other top 19% hold 50.5%.
 

As I see it, that is quite a disparity in social classes. I’m surprised that people haven’t made this a centerpiece in political circles. If the Democrats were really the party of the average working people of this nation, why isn’t the disparity between the haves and have not’s brought to everyone’s attention? If I were running for political office, I would be driving that point home to the average American voter every chance I had. I think that maybe most of the politicians that currently hold public office don’t really want that information to be something that families talk about over the dinner table. The reason is probably because most Congressmen and Senators belong to the top 20% that own 93.3% of the nation’s wealth, or that they believe they will enter that bracket sooner than later.

This brings us to the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy that are about to expire. There are conservatives and some Democrats that believe it is “foolish” to raise taxes when the nation is sliding into a depression. They believe that the rich who will see their taxes rise will refuse to hire people for their companies, and even worse, they will stop trying to make more money because it will only be taxed away. I think that this argument is ridiculous. I think that the people that make this case also believe it to be ridiculous but think that Joe six-pack will believe it to be valid. The trouble is… they may be right. It seems that Americans seem to believe just about everything that is thrown at them. I don’t know if it’s because Americans are getting stupider, or that they just don’t bother to think about the information that is thrown at them.

Now, knowing that most Americans really aren’t sharing the biggest piece of the American Pie, let’s think about these never-ending wars. Look at the war in Iraq. Think about all the cruise missiles we launched at them. Forget about the million Iraqi’s that we killed and the other four million that were displaced and the radioactive cities that spawn mutant children to not so proud Iraqi mothers and fathers, think about how much that war cost. Every cruise missile costs over a million dollars. Think about the tanks and the Hummers and the Stryker’s and all that gasoline that we poured into the jets and all of the other vehicles. The United States military is the largest consumer of petroleum in the world. We have spent almost a trillion dollars this year on the military. When we finally leave Iraq we can sleep well knowing that China has bought the majority of shares in their oilfields.

So is there any good news? Not really. When you think about the things I have written about, don’t you wonder why people aren’t screaming about it? I do. Every day I wonder why there aren’t millions of us marching in the streets. After all, most of America’s industrial base has been out-sourced overseas where corporations get their labor for dirt cheap. As far as the hi-tech jobs that we were supposed to be getting, we are importing computer engineers on student visa’s so they can be indentured servants for the corporate tycoons. Almost all of our industrial production has been outsourced. There are not enough jobs to go around. Even if all the companies in the U.S. found themselves in a financial position to hire, there aren’t enough jobs to go around. The average Wal-Mart employee makes $12,000.00 a year which means that they will probably be eligible for food stamps. This is not a good picture.

The government has to stop enabling the financial sector to continue as if there was no crisis that almost brought us into a depression. We are financing another bubble like the .com and housing bubble, but this bubble is hundreds of times worse. This time it will be the government that will need to be bailed out. Just who is going to do that? If interest rates rise, for the amount of debt the U.S. Government is carrying it would mean that the debt would rise by 100 million per year.  We are already approaching 100% of GDP in debt. How in the world will we ever survive financially?

The politicians in America have to realize that the heady days of thoughtless spending is (or should be) a thing of the past. We need to cut our losses and cut this outrageous defense (and I use the term loosely) budget by at least half (maybe more). The troops need to come home and we need to extract ourselves from this phony war on terror. The government can’t keep using the military as a jobs program. If we must keep these people employed, let them rebuild our infrastructure.

Let the tax cuts for the top 2% of the wealthiest expire. They can afford it. No more free ride for the rich. The same goes for corporations. Let’s stop the bleeding and give them tax credits for new jobs created in this country. All of the free trade treaties like NAFTA and CAFTA need to go. This is our county’s survival we are talking about. We need to give our elected officials a wake-up call. They can’t keep representing the corporate world at the expense of the citizenry. Americans of every political persuasion can see what has been going on and we’re really sick of it.

We don’t just want a bigger cut of the pie; we want to make sure the pie doesn’t disappear. This isn’t a time to do “business as usual”.  We are in crisis. It’s time that we start demanding that our government starts acting responsibly. We went from tracking down terrorists to bringing democracy to Afghanistan to saving the Afghani women to hunting terrorists again. Most Americans and most of our military don’t even know why we’re there! I don’t believe the White house does either. Enough is enough. We have everything on the line here. It’s time everyone realized it.

timgatto@hotmail.com  "Complicity to Contempt" and the novel "Kimchee Days or Stoned Cold Warriors" can be found at Oliver Arts and Open Press or at all online booksellers.

 
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