A business magazine, of all places, lays out in one place why people are upset. See the article for the charts, but in a few words:
- Unemployment is at its highest rate since the Depression.
- Corporate profits are at an all-time high.
- Wages as a percentage of the economy are at a fifty-year low.
- Income equality is at its highest since the 1920s. CEO pay is up 300% since 1990; production workers’ pay is up 4% in that time; the minimum wage is down 9%.
This isn’t news; I talked about it on my Last Century page more than ten years ago. But what’s new is getting people to look at it and getting people out in the streets to protest it.
The Republicans have a plan: give more to the rich! Seriously, Herman Cain is now leading the polls with a plan for a huge new set of taxes for the poor, and lower taxes for the rich. Because the biggest problem in GOP sees is the desperate plight of rich people. They own the country now, any new productivity improvements profit only them, but they need even more coddling. Next, I suppose, is the 4-4-4 plan: the top 4% get 4 poor people as slaves 4-ever.
The GOP is now so arrogant that they advertise their desires openly. Cain isn’t hiding his contempt for the poor and his advocacy for the rich; he’s running on this platform. But usually it’s a lot more coded. We didn’t get where we are by direct advocacy of plutocracy. We got here by thirty years of propaganda aiming at destroying liberalism. The target was always government, or crime, or unions, or health insurance, or unemployment insurance, or gays, or immigrants, or Muslims, or public schools, or fiscal stimulus, or affirmative action, or Michael Moore. They’ve got half the population convinced that anything that benefits the nation as a whole is wrong and must be stopped.
That’s the amazing bit, really: it’s no surprise if the top 10% vote for a party that enhances their interests (though the actual top 0.1% is actually much less reliably Republican; the really rich often develop a social conscience). But there’s some huge fraction of the electorate that now reliably votes against their own interests. They don’t advance under Republican rule any more than the rest of us do, but they identify more strongly with Wall Street than with their own declining jobs.
This isn’t news either; it’s partly the Southern strategy (rely on cultural affinity to divide off white men from people in a similar economic situation), partly fearmongering based on the endless 1969 in the conservative mind, partly libertarianism, an enormously successful diversion of otherwise smart people’s attention away from whatever the corporations are doing. And partly it’s just a process that’s out of control: radicalism has no downside for these people.
But losing elections makes people listen. Let’s give them something to think about– out of office.