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May 14, 2015


Ridiculously low wages paid by corporate America over the past several decades has been both debilitating and destabilizing in their distorting effect upon our economy and American society in general with resulting under-investment in infrastructure, education and other areas of civic involvement and improvement for which we have just begun to pay the price.

We have chosen to favor Wall Street profits over investment in America’s future and that of its people. As I pointed out in a recent blog, our austerity policies are beginning to resemble those of Third World countries since we have eschewed investments in our country and our people in favor of tax and other giveaways to fatten the bottom lines of corporate America. I agree with Stiglitz and Piketty that the resulting hollowing out of our economy from adoption of such narrow policies benefitting only the few is unsustainable.

My reaction to those who claim otherwise? Numbers don’t lie. We can’t go on this way; something has to give, and I don’t think we have to wait until nearly all of our bridges have collapsed and nearly all of our people are illiterate to identify and solve the problem, a problem in fact long since identified but left untreated by political choice of politicians who have personal skin in the game and a vested interest in retention and even expansion of the status quo on behalf of their patrons and themselves.

Who gave them the right to exclude the rest of us from sharing in the fruits of our nation’s economy? It’s not their economy; it’s our economy.  Why must tens of millions of us live in poverty and the social debris poverty causes in order to further enrich the already superrich? We cannot and will not go on this way, and (unless there is change) the day is coming when the Occupy Movement and Baltimore will look like cakewalks by comparison, a prediction with which a few billionaires lately  and publicly agree as they (if tardily) see the handwriting on the wall. Change should start with substantial wage increases across the board; we will take care of corporate excesses and arrogance at the polls and/or in the streets.

As I blogged just recently, we (the richest country on earth – even if such wealth is unevenly held) are beginning to come up with Third World numbers which by many measures, including infant and maternal mortality, education and infrastructure maintenance, present both disgusting and embarrassing metrics one would expect to find in the banana republics of Central America. We are in a sense watching America sicken and perhaps die for want of housekeeping, economic justice and living up to the democratic ideals we claim to hold.

Our democratic idealism that was once our rule and guide has now descended into myth, e.g., working hard and keeping your nose clean will lead to success in life. Not so – you’re more likely to become rich and successful (per Stiglitz and Piketty) if your parents are rich and successful regardless of how hard you work or how clean your nose. One is more likely to score if he/she starts the game at third base rather than at the plate with two strikes already called on the batter as the rich on third base win and the poor at the plate lose – again.

I think our decline is happening because our politicians design policies which are captive to the demands of money changers rather than to the needs of the people, policies which when played out result in great wealth for a few Americans and impoverishment for tens of millions of other Americans who are struggling to survive in an economy shaped by the few. This is a situation that can and should be changed if enough of our tattered democracy remains to provide a framework for necessary change to be instituted before we (per Piketty) flame out.

Economic justice in a democracy demands far more than an occasional raise in wages from the corporate power structure (as in crumbs that fall off the king’s table); our citizenry needs to either join the power structure (as in Germany) or create one of its own based on democratic idealism where both rich and poor finally come to recognize that our country, our economy   our healthcare, our trade agreements, our tax system and our conduct of domestic and foreign policy generally belong to all of the people and their decisions and not to just a narrow slice of our citizens whose interests are not our interests. Our fundamental problem is political and involves choices in how and for whom we are going to spend and/or invest public resources, as in, shall we give Goldman Sachs and its ilk another tax break or spend the money educating children and renewing our infrastructure, or as otherwise stated, shall we spend and send our  money to a bottomless pit or shall we invest in America’s furniture, its future and its people which benefit all of us down the road? I vote for investment; I like to get my money’s worth.

I think we need to have a new and different way of looking at all of our problems whether involving wages, trade agreements, tax levels, intellectual property, healthcare , war and peace and any other problem either real or potential that modern political states are called upon to resolve for the benefit of all of their citizens. I think we need to look at and resolve our problems from the standpoint of the American people rather than from the standpoint of the special interests lurking in the corridors of political power waiting for their corporate welfare dole of new tax cuts, weakened regulations, bigger “defense” appropriations etc.  We need to make Lincoln’s “of the people, by the people and for the people” a reality in order to rescue democracy from oligarchy and our people from the clutches of total corporate control, and I hope I am overstating fact as I here suggest that at our present rate of decline we may skip Third World status in favor of failed state status unless we change course – drastically and soon.

There remains hope; it is not too late to salvage our democracy from this corruption of politics and money we see all around us. We the people must run our own show and control the corporate culture before it totally controls us, and preferably by a chastened Congress rather than by mobs in the streets. For starters, we can elect many new faces to the Congress who understand the situation and fearlessly act to rectify it – and then go from there.    GERALD     E


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