What’s the matter with America? What is happening here to the oldest Republic in the world is a warning signal to the world. Madison warned about the potential harm factionalism has been historically to the Republican form of government and now we are seeing the results. We are now a divided nation, a divided nation on several fronts. It is not just what we see in our elections now between Republicans and Democrats, it is much deeper than that. We no longer have a Republic but rather an oligarchy. Our perception of the role of government changed. We are divided into two camps those who see a role for government in our daily lives and those who would eliminate most of the functions of government with a return to more of a laissez-faire attitude. We have returned to the view that the business of government is business.
One of the key results of our governmental dysfunctions since the days of Ronald Reagan is the huge income inequality and disparity that we now have. Government was perceived by Reagan as being evil. President Clinton said the era of big government was over. Government has failed to do one of their primary functions and that is to protect the American people and to promote and provide for the general welfare.
Just for a moment let us review history from the Franklin Roosevelt administration to the Presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson. During the tumultuous years of the Great Depression we recovered from economic hell. The average person in 1929 suffered from income inequality as we do now. Americans could not afford to buy the goods we produced and as a result the Great Depression lasted a decade. President Roosevelt saw the need to regulate greed in order to save Capitalism. During the subsequent years the gap was substantially narrowed as income equality became closer to being a reality. Our middle class was the envy of the world and real prosperity wasn’t around the corner it was a reality. The advancement of social democracy continued with the culmination of those efforts taking place with the passage of Medicare and Richard Nixon going a long ways towards the start of protecting our air and water when the EPA was formed.
During the intervening years between then and now we have seen large-scale efforts to destroy the social safety net that the preceding Presidents passed. It was the Reagan years that saw the beginnings of the change towards where we are today. What we have today is a government that is dysfunctional. We have a society today increasing torn apart to where in some cases Americans can no longer talk together about politics.
With the Reagan years came materialism and an emphasis on me and what is in it for me. Wages became stagnant and have been stagnant since then. The Federal Reserve Board has discovered the phrase wage inflation. The boom periods have been a boon for the wealthiest among us. The burgeoning middle class is shrinking due to wages decreasing while costs increase.
Our government has been in the most part bought and paid for by lobbyists. It has been said for over 100 years that Bankers own our representatives. It has always been difficult to find justice for those who have been harmed by uncouth and illegal actions of speculators. You can trace our problems with bankers back to our first Depression in 1819. Even our legislators are allowed to do insider trading to advance their pocket books to the detriment of those they represent. Congress has become the millionaire’s club. Campaigns are grossly expensive with competing billionaires competing for influence while the interests and needs and wants of the people go unheeded.
We have seen the 4th estate, the media bought out by corporate interests. Gone for the most part, are the independent journalists who exposed corruption in the past. Cable TV and talk radio have become outlets for brainwashing in the name of news. The repeating of lies and slanted news for 24 hours a day has given us an uneducated electorate ginned up by lies into a passionate fervor. We only see on the news the vision of America that the wealthy corporate heads and their marketing departments want us to see. Any unattractive image will be sold as being caused by the violent and lawless youth of today.
Really give us all a break and do your job and show America for what it is like today, not in some scrap-book or Rockwell painting. The media owes us a responsibility to show we citizens not only the beauty but the ugliness.
We are losing sight as a society as to what is truly valuable. It is not the second or third house that a wealthy person owns. It is not the 3rd or 4th television set. We have given up on our morals and sense of collective purpose for the idea and the fiction that you too, can become wealthy. And don’t forget, average citizen, you will become wealthy if we remove your taxes and rules and regulations that keep you safe and secure from bad food, bad air and bad water. We have bought into this cult of the individual. We have allowed some of the wealthiest among us to forsake our education and pensions for the promise of a big financial future if only you privatize your safety net.
Unfettered greed and materialism has given us anxiety and fear. We have gained a fear of the loss of a job and the ability to make enough money to get by while buying into a religion to help explain away the why of it all. The inequality of income has given us greater poverty and more mental health issues. The wealthiest would divide us and have we the people put an undue influence upon social issues rather than what really frightens people who is what their financial future will be. Religion will not feed us but the masses often depend on it in hard economic times.
What we need is a second Bill of Rights, that Franklin Roosevelt proposed. We need to have a freedom from want, an assurance of a good job, an opportunity for good health, food on the table and a roof over our heads. If we don’t have a right to those simple life necessities than America may well remain a divided country but a divided country between the haves and the have-nots.
We have gone against what the founders of our Republic tried to teach us in their writings and their speeches. Some of us have bought into lie that our Constitution was formed to limit government. The truth is that our leaders recognized the weakness of the Articles of Confederation and they met to enlarge government and to make it strong enough to enable the United States to become a nation instead of 13 sovereign states. All of the lies on talk radio are designed to make fools of us all and to increase their financial power by lessening the influence of our federal government.
The greatest danger is that if we continue to see a decline in wages our economy will sink into a Great Depression. Don’t place your faith and allegiance to banks and corporate CEO”s to keep us moving forward. We have seen and heard this story before, we have seen what has happened when we place to much of a reliance and faith into the elites who keep promising that better times are ahead. Yes, better times have occurred for the top 1 and 1/2 percent who have seen record financial gains and record company profits. We have the world’s most billionaire. But good times have not occurred for the rest of us. At some point the incomes for most of us will not be enough to keep the Wal-Mart economy going.
Lest you forget, that even the Greeks realized the danger of a government in the hands of a few. Aristotle taught us that Oligarchy’s are a perversion of government.
In America, our representatives us we the people their allegiance. We are betrayed by those who support and defend the wealthiest among us to the degradation of we the people.
John Maynard Keynes was wise when he condemned capitalism for,” Its failure to provide for full employment and its arbitrary and inequitable distribution of wealth and income.”
We as a nation saw our greatest days when we had the largest middle class around. We can be the light of hope for many if we just raised the minimum wage to a livable wage and raised revenue to ensure that we rebuild America’s infrastructure so that our children and grandchildren will find that their country will be able to compete in the global economy. If we do not invest in the future our children and grandchildren will be condemned to live a life that will guarantee that their future will not be better than the past. Let us not gut America for the nearsighted aim of a profit for today while we outsource our future.