We wonder about things key to our political business, and about the ways in which they affect the lives of “ordinary” Americans.
People like middle-class citizens struggling to maintain their station, many now on public assistance. Like 14 million unemployed workers, as many as 50 percent unemployed for at least two years. Like owners of small businesses struggling to keep enterprises viable, unable to provide remaining workers with a leg up on flatline economic conditions; business owners who find it difficult to get loans to boost trade.
Why is it that, with little or no help going to ordinary Americans, is it so easy for fat cats, giant businesses and corporations to prosper?
We are told by some clever souls that it can happen for everyone, that the key to rebounding from the recession is to improve attitudes. Once attitudes change, we will spend again, business will improve, there will be jobs galore.
But, it is tough to spend when you are without a job, or when you are on unemployment, receiving a fraction of what you once made. It’s difficult to improve your attitude when doors close in your search for work, hard to be perky when you are underemployed, working for a pittance, without benefits.
It is not difficult if you are working on Wall Street. There is a surge in employment at the firms that played central roles in the economic collapse. Profits at many firms are extraordinary; there is cash in reserve.
It is not hard to be optimistic if you are Big Oil. Things are going swimmingly for all but BP, and a smart gambler would bet on its recovery. It is common practice to register drilling platforms in other countries, with lower taxes. Oil companies benefit from tax breaks (as much as $4 billion a year). Capital investments in the oil industry are taxed at lower rates than in many other industries.
Things are good for agribusiness. Any idea what corn subsidies are these days? In the past, farm subsidies were put in place to keep family farmers from growing products and regulate the price of commodities. Now subsidies are provided to huge farm enterprises to, in effect, prompt ever-greater production of commodities, the prices for which, often, fall below a level that will support small growers.
Lots of folks are doing well. If they aren’t ordinary Americans.
How did it get this way, and what can we do about it?
We need look only at the manner in which many politicians walk in lockstep with big money, arm in arm with lobbyists. Republicans and Democrats alike are guilty.
And who pays the price?
Who bailed out the banks and financial firms? Who pays farm subsidies? Who shoulders the burden of tax breaks to Big Oil? Who takes it in the shorts on a regular schedule? Ordinary Americans. On the orders of elected officials.
Ordinary Americans are being stiffed and it requires massive outrage. Ordinary Americans need to stop gulping the pap proffered on talk shows and partisan networks, stop ingesting biased nonsense from talk radio and the Internet, and demand a change. We don’t need Tea Party complaints about taxation (the truth is we will probably have to pay more taxes in order to deal with our enormous debt —payment that should be shared by everyone, proportionate to fortune). Rather, and here we are in full accord with Jim Huffman who recently wrote a letter to the editor on the subject, let’s begin with real campaign finance reform. Demand that an activist Supreme Court stop currying favor with corporations and big money. Let’s bring our elected officials back to the home dugout, cut off the campaign funding from interests that benefit from breaks, bailouts and subsidies.
Then, maybe, once we come to our senses, we can put a bunch of folks behind bars for cheating the American people and making a mockery of a once positive and productive way of life.