Democrats Must Reclaim the Center … by Moving Hard Left

By NICK HANAUER, politico.com, Aug 14, 2018

America needs a centrist party that actually represents the economic center, not just zillionaires like me.

Every time Democrats lose a presidential election, blue America promptly collapses into civil war—and never more so than in the aftermath of 2016. Progressive Democrats, buoyed by a number of high-profile victories, insist that if the party is to have any hope of fending off Trumpism, it must decisively move to the political left by embracing the populist messaging and agenda of insurgent outsiders like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Establishment Democrats (egged on by eye-rolling pundits and concern-trolling never-Trumpers) dismiss that idea as electoral suicide, contending that now more than ever is the time for the party to reclaim the political center by championing an agenda that pragmatically appeals to voters on both sides of the aisle.

And you know what? They’re absolutely right. All of them. The Democratic Party must reclaim the political center. And the only way to do that is by boldly moving toward the so-called “radical” left.

If this strikes you as counterintuitive, you’re not alone. By respectively attempting to purge the center or marginalize the left, progressive and establishment Democrats alike have displayed a willful ignorance of where and what the center actually is. This is not mere wordplay. Over the past several decades, Democrats have allowed a mistaken and self-destructive definition of centrism to become party orthodoxy. It continues to undermine party unity at a time when a unified Democratic Party is more essential than ever.

In fact, there are two kinds of political centers: There’s the ideological center—the one that Democrats are waging a civil war over. And there’s the majoritarian center—the one where most of the people are. If Democrats hope to be a majority party, it’s the majoritarian center they need to embrace. And to understand the difference between these two strains of centrism, it’s important to understand exactly what the center is measuring.

Imagine lining up every person in America on a yardstick, with the poorest person standing to the far-left edge of the stick (zero inches) and the wealthiest person standing to the far right (36 inches). Assuming that people are equally spaced, and that there is no correlation between wealth and weight—if you could balance that yardstick on the tip of your finger, the fulcrum would fall on the 18-inch mark, the exact center of the yardstick, with exactly half of all Americans standing to the left, and the other half standing to the right. Clustered on and near that 18-inch mark are the median American families—the middle-middle class—the majoritarian center of the American electorate, at least from an economic perspective.

Now imagine that very same yardstick with every American standing in their very same spots—only this time, rather than balancing people, we are balancing their personal wealth, stacked up in $100 bills. [see illustration] But because 2 percent of Americans (of which I am one) own 50 percent of the nation’s wealth, to balance this yardstick you’d now have to slide your finger nearly all the way over, beyond the 35-inch mark, just inside the far-right edge. This fulcrum balances the interests of capital, not people. And unfortunately, this is the yardstick of our current ideological center—a centrism informed by the bad economic theories that have guided the policies of both parties for more than 30 years.

This precarious balancing act helps explain why policies that would clearly benefit the majoritarian center are so often rejected as ideologically “far left;” for a centrism that seeks to balance the interests of capital is a centrism that seeks to balance the interests of the very wealthiest Americans against those of everybody else. It’s this sort of “one dollar, one vote” logic that led to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision—a logic that threatens to subvert American democracy itself. For a system that justifies the wealthiest 2 percent purchasing the same political influence as the other 98 percent, isn’t really a democracy at all. I’m not saying that self-described “centrist” Democrats are any more greedy or corrupt than their progressive colleagues, but if they’re honest with themselves, they should recognize how much they have internalized this orthodox ideological bias. Indeed, this is what they mean by “pragmatic centrism”: an economic policy agenda that necessarily balances the interests of business (the few) versus the interests of labor (the many), in an attempt to best serve the interests of all. Yet as pragmatic as such an approach might at first appear, when viewed from a majoritarian perspective, the ideological center consistently fails to hold.

Take, for example, the minimum wage, a stereotypically lefty policy if there ever were one. But is it really so lefty? In fact, the federal minimum wage is extraordinarily popular, with 71 percent of Americans supporting a raise to at least $10 an hour—even according to a partisan survey conducted by Republican pollster Frank Luntz on behalf of the minimum-wage-hating National Restaurant Association! Ouch. In a country as politically polarized as ours, I’d say that 71 percent support for anything is about as majoritarian centrist a policy as you’re likely to get.

But what about a $15 minimum wage? Surely, the higher we raise the minimum wage the more extremist the policy becomes, right? Again, not from a majoritarian perspective. According to a 2017 Pew Research Center poll, a majority of registered voters—52 percent—favor raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour (support far stronger than the 41 percent approval rating currently enjoyed by President Trump). But more importantly, a $15 minimum wage would benefit far more workers. At $7.25 an hour, the current federal minimum wage provides a floor under only 1.3 percent of all wage and salary workers—a cohort one might fairly characterize as occupying the far left of our economic yardstick. By comparison, a hike to $15 an hour would directly or indirectly benefit 29.2 percent of workers. And with half of all American jobs paying less than $18 an hour, a $20 minimum wage would directly cover a majority of workers, while indirectly pushing wages higher for many millions more. From a majoritarian perspective—a perspective that asks, “Who does it benefit?”—the higher you raise the minimum wage, the more centrist the policy becomes!

And the same holds true for many other policies routinely caricatured as “far left.” After 40 years of erosion, the current $23,660 overtime threshold now guarantees time-and-a-half overtime pay to only 8 percent of workers, but a return to a 1970s-level threshold would cover 66 percent. Less than 30 percent of college graduates manage to get through school without accumulating often crushing levels of student debt, but tuition-free public college would offer an affordable higher education to every qualified student. And with an enrollment age of 65, only 15 percent of Americans enjoy the privilege of purchasing affordable health insurance through Medicare, but “Medicare for All” would deliver exactly what its name implies. All three of these proposals enjoy majority support, while directly benefiting the majority of Americans. So to mischaracterize these policies as “lefty” rather than “centrist” would be to abuse those words. Small wonder that “socialists” like Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez have gained so much traction with mainstream voters. “This race is about people versus money,” says Ocasio-Cortez. “We’ve got people, they’ve got money.” That’s as clear a declaration of majoritarian centrism as voters might hope to hear.

You self-described “pragmatic” Democrats who publicly fret that such policies would be far too costly to taxpayers or to employers should remember that there is nothing pragmatic about losing elections. You can’t be the grownup in the room if you’re not in the room. That’s why you never hear Republicans worrying about how to pay for their $1.5 trillion tax cut for the rich: It’s a losing argument. And besides, your trickle-down instincts are wrong! The U.S. economy was never as strong, nor its middle class as secure, as during the three decades when the real minimum wage and the overtime threshold and public subsidies for higher education were at their peak. Medicare for All wouldn’t burden employers; it would relieve them of their costliest employee benefit. And if we do need to raise taxes on the wealthy in order to rebuild the middle class, so what? There is simply no correlation between top tax rates and growth. Stand up for the middle class for a change and you might be rewarded. But there is absolutely nothing to gain—economically or electorally—by aping a trickle-down narrative that just isn’t true. On economic issues, the Democratic Party has long embraced an ideological definition of centrism that simply has nothing to do with the center. And both the party and the nation have suffered as a result.

***

There once was a time when both parties vied to occupy the majoritarian center, an era when American politics was more a struggle over means than of ends—until, after three decades of unprecedented and broad-based post-war prosperity, the Republican Party lurched violently to the right, and the age of New Deal centrism came to a close. Supply-side tax cuts, attacks on unions, a crusade against “big government” and other tactics of the Reagan revolution helped put us on the road to a new Gilded Age. And while Republicans certainly led the way, we wouldn’t have gotten here as quickly had Democrats not kept driving in the same direction every time we managed to get our hands on the wheel.

Sure, we drove a bit slower and made a few detours before delivering the working class to a neoliberal paradise of billionaires and paupers. And we offered an occasional helping hand to the millions of Americans we left behind in a ditch. But while we tried to strike a more compassionate balance than our GOP counterparts, our deference to the tenets of neoliberal orthodoxy kept our economic agenda firmly tilted toward the interests of the super-rich.

Under Bill Clinton, the wealthy got financial deregulation and capital gains tax cuts worth hundreds of billions of dollars, while our most vulnerable citizens got a higher Earned Income Tax Credit and CHIP—benefits worth just tens of billions. Under Barack Obama, the Wall Street titans who had used their regulatory freedom to crash the global economy got bailouts and bonuses and a monetary policy that inflated their assets, while some in the middle-class got affordable (or, at least, less unaffordable) health insurance, and millions of homeowners were left to drown in their underwater mortgages.

This isn’t to say that the Affordable Care Act and EITC expansion weren’t worthwhile programs. I’m a Democrat for a reason. But “we suck less than the Republicans” just doesn’t cut it, politically or economically. Reagan’s class war left the economic center in ruins. Restoring shared prosperity required nothing less than a Marshall Plan for the middle class. Instead, centrist Democrats let them eat charter schools.

In the golden age of New Deal liberalism, organized labor delivered shared prosperity for the middle class and electoral success for the Democratic Party. A mountain of studies have shown that strong, private-sector unions reduce inequality and raise middle-class wages for workers who belong to them and for those who don’t. Other studies have shown that when unions decline in a state, the Democratic Party’s share of that state’s vote declines along with them. Thus, upon returning to power in 1992, it should have been a no-brainer for Democrats to rewrite the nation’s labor laws to make it easier for workers to organize—and harder for bosses to stop them.

But they didn’t. In the 1980s, as Reaganism was ascendant, “centrist” Democrats started blaming much of their party’s struggles on organized labor: By doing the bidding of that “special interest group,” centrists argued, Democrats had alienated the middle. So, instead of taking its policy cues from a labor movement it dismissed as corrupt, lazy and market-distorting, Bill Clinton’s Democratic Party let Wall Street set its agenda. The Robert Rubin wing of the White House believed that working-class Americans didn’t need collective bargaining rights to force their employers to pay a living wage, or redistributive programs to guarantee them a fair share of after-tax income. No, what the economic center really needed was for government to wage war on the deficits, trade barriers and financial regulations that were holding back economic growth. Labor law reform was out; welfare reform, NAFTA and deregulated derivatives markets were in.

Some of these measures might very well have contributed to the late-1990s growth spurt—but they also set the stage for the 2008 crisis while accelerating the decline of American manufacturing and with it the labor movement. And though median wages did rise during the Clinton expansion, so did economic inequality. And unlike this brief spike in wages, inequality has been relentlessly rising ever since.

Centrist Democrats weren’t blind to this inequality. They just refused to believe that it was a product of the economic rules they helped write. Working people weren’t falling behind because markets were structured to funnel all the rewards of growth to the top, centrists told themselves; the middle class was falling behind because it lacked the skills to compete in the new “knowledge economy.” After all, wages were rising for highly educated Americans—you know, like centrist Democratic politicians—so middle-class Americans just needed to become more like them. Companies said they were desperate to give high-paying jobs to American workers, if only they could find workers who were qualified to do the jobs. None of this meant that centrist Democrats were blaming the middle class for its struggles. They didn’t expect working Americans to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” without any help from Uncle Sam (they weren’t Republicans, after all.) They just thought that the median worker needed a better education or retraining, not a modicum of bargaining power with her employer. It wasn’t rapacious economic elites who were preventing workers from getting reasonable wages and benefits. It was the damn teachers unions.

Of course, minting more college graduates didn’t reduce inequality; it just produced a new class of extremely well-read baristas with crushing college debt. The “skills gap” was always a lie told by corporations who just wanted to pay less for high-skill labor. Still, the myth survived well into the Obama presidency, when a unified Democratic government once again declined to modernize labor law, while selling education reform as an elixir for inequality.

It’s been three decades since centrist Democrats abandoned the majoritarian economic center, and the consequences for the middle class have been devastating. Since 1980, the bottom 80 percent of American workers have effectively been bypassed by economic growth while absorbing most of the costs of public disinvestment in housing, education and the social safety net. After-tax corporate profits have doubled from approximately 5 percent of GDP to 10 percent—about a trillion dollars a year—while wages as a share of GDP have fallen by about the same amount. Meanwhile, the richest 1 percent of Americans went from collecting 9 percent of personal income to about 22 percent today. Taken together, these changes amount to a shift of more than $2 trillion a year from middle-class paychecks to the bank accounts of corporations and the very rich.

Some of my fellow filthy-rich capitalists would like you to believe the middle class has actually benefited from having us gobbling up more and more of America’s annual income gains. After all, they claim, we “job creators” know best how to productively invest wealth: The more capital we get to control, the more economic growth we’ll be able to produce—and the benefits will trickle down!

Yeah, right. Contrary to popular wisdom, America hasn’t enjoyed drastically higher economic growth since 1980 than more egalitarian Western countries. And a moment’s glance at how the “job creators” are currently investing their windfall illustrates why: Right now, roughly 55 percent of corporate profits (about $1 trillion, or 5 percent GDP) is going into stock buybacks—the signal marker of corporate malfeasance and self-dealing—while an additional 37 percent goes to dividends. This means that 92 percent of the profits that American businesses make this year will be spent on enriching the small, elite fraction of the population that owns significant amounts of corporate stock. Meanwhile, at a time of so-called “full employment,” inflation-adjusted wages for the bottom 80 percent of American workers are actually declining.

After the corporate elite slices off its giant share of the income pie, the median American family—those standing near the 18-inch halfway mark of our majoritarian yardstick—is left with about $59,000 a year. Had inequality held constant since 1980, that figure would be $86,000. Had middle-class incomes grown with productivity (as they had in the previous three decades), the median American family would be earning over $100,000 a year.

Let me underscore this point: America owes the median family a raise of somewhere between $25,000 and $40,000. Per year. This—not the fictional entitlement crisis—is the inconvenient economic truth that elites in both parties lack the political courage to confront. And only by enacting policies that right this wrong can Democrats lay claim to being a truly centrist party.

Of course, Democrats never quite gave up their belief in redistribution. But because they stubbornly stayed beholden to their ideological center, these redistributive measures were always too little, too late—and of little help to the majoritarian center. The Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid to millions of low-income Americans—but it condemned the median family to complicated, costly and uncertain health insurance exchanges. Similarly, Obama proposed raising the minimum wage, but at first only to $9 an hour, and eventually to $10.10—a change that would have raised the wages of just a small percentage of workers at the very bottom of the income distribution, many of them nonvoters. Attending to the needs of the most vulnerable is a fine thing, of course. But it is impossible to build a winning coalition out of the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution. The rich get tax cuts, the poor get scraps and the middle is left to fend for itself.

Is it any wonder then that so many working- and middle-class voters could see little practical difference between the policies of Democrat Hillary Clinton (one of the more qualified presidential candidates ever to win a major party nomination) and those of a lying, racist, vainglorious, authoritarian, know-nothing like Republican Donald Trump? Clinton was correctly seen as the leader of a Democratic establishment whose “centrist” policies had long served to undermine the legitimate interests of the middle class. So why not take a flyer on Trump? It is in this way that three decades of Democratic ideological centrism helped lead our nation down the neoliberal road to Trumpdom.

***

All is not lost. Well, not quite yet. There is still an opportunity for a unified Democratic Party to retake Congress in November and remove Trump from office in 2020 (if not sooner). But being anti-Trump is not enough. To build an electoral majority Democrats must come together and embrace an economic policy agenda that boldly and decisively reclaims the majoritarian center. And this will require sacrifices from progressives and centrists alike.

For you centrist Democrats who have long dominated the party establishment, it is time for you to admit that a “pragmatically centrist” agenda that enjoys neither majority support nor serves a majority of voters, is neither pragmatic nor centrist. In fact, it’s suicidal. Indeed, when Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz earnestly insists that Democrats must “go after entitlements” (“Medicare for Fewer” rather than “Medicare for All”), his only real chance of uniting voters is in opposition to Howard Schultz. And don’t you dare think for a moment that you somehow know better than voters what’s good for them, because “Econ 101!” or something. Econ 101 is bullshit—at least in the way that it’s been relentlessly misapplied to public policy these past 40 years. And as for trickle-down economics—“a rising tide lifts all boats” and all that—well, that’s a demonstrable con: Tax cuts for the rich don’t create growth (if they did, Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax giveaway wouldn’t have resulted in declining wages and record stock buybacks). A higher minimum wage doesn’t kill jobs (if it did, the job market wouldn’t be booming in Seattle and San Francisco and New York and in every other city or state that has recently hiked its local wage floor). Deregulation isn’t a magical potion of market efficiency (unless if, by “efficient,” you mean efficiently wiping out the savings of millions of working- and middle-class families through a predatory lending and derivative-fueled economic collapse).

As for progressive Democrats, it’s time for us to stop trashing the very notion of centrism itself. The “centrist” wing of our party (and to be clear, it’s a wing, not the center) isn’t uniformly evil or corrupt. They’re not bad people. They’re just wrong. They believed what economists told them, and then tried to govern accordingly. But they’re still Democrats, and as such, we all broadly share the same inclusive values and goals. Moreover, by relentlessly reviling the center, progressives needlessly cede it. Which is stupid. The Congressional Progressive Caucus is already the largest Democratic caucus in Congress. So you know what that makes them? The center!

Free from the elitist constraints of ideological centrism and refocused on the wants and needs of the majoritarian center, a unified Democratic Party has an opportunity to build an electoral wave strong enough to swamp the gerrymandered seawalls of the Republican-controlled Congress. And what would a truly centrist Democratic agenda look like? A $15 minimum wage, a restored overtime threshold, affordable public college, Medicare for All, paid family leave, crucial infrastructure investments, modern labor laws, and substantially higher taxes on wealthy corporations and individuals would be a good start. If that sounds like the platform of lefties like Ocasio-Cortez, it’s because it is. But when ideologically “lefty” ideas are both broadly popular and broadly economically beneficial, they occupy the majoritarian center from which electoral majorities are built.

Democrats need to stop balancing the economic interests of the top 2 percent against the interests of everyone else and start focusing on the needs of the majoritarian center—the 80 percent of families who have been left behind by 40 years of trickle-down economics. Raise wages now. That’s the kind of pragmatic centrism the majority of Americans truly want, and that our economy needs.

Nick Hanauer is a Seattle-based entrepreneur and venture capitalist, and the founder of Civic Ventures, a public-policy incubator.

Big Lie: America Doesn’t Have #1 Richest Middle-Class in the World…We’re Ranked 27th!

AlterNet [1] / By Les Leopold [2]  June 18, 2013  |

Excerpt

America is the richest country on Earth. We have the most millionaires, the most billionaires and our wealthiest citizens have garnered more of the planet’s riches than any other group in the world. We even have hedge fund managers who make in one hour as much as the average family makes in 21 years! This opulence is supposed to trickle down to the rest of us, improving the lives of everyday Americans. At least that’s what free-market cheerleaders repeatedly promise us. Unfortunately, it’s a lie, one of the biggest ever perpetrated on the American people. Our middle class is falling further and further behind in comparison to the rest of the world. We keep hearing that America is number one. Well, when it comes to middle-class wealth, we’re number 27….Wealth is measured by the total sum of all our assets (homes, bank accounts, stocks, bonds etc.) minus our liabilities (outstanding loans and other debts). It the best indicator we have for individual and family prosperity…”Financialization means the increasing role of financial motives, financial markets, financial actors and financial institutions in the operation of the domestic and international economies.”…In short, financialization is when making money from money becomes more important that providing real goods and services….Once we unleashed Wall Street, their salaries shot up, while everyone else’s stood still…

Full text

America is the richest country on Earth. We have the most millionaires, the most billionaires and our wealthiest citizens have garnered more of the planet’s riches than any other group in the world. We even have hedge fund managers who make in one hour as much as the average family makes in 21 years!

This opulence is supposed to trickle down to the rest of us, improving the lives of everyday Americans. At least that’s what free-market cheerleaders repeatedly promise us.

Unfortunately, it’s a lie, one of the biggest ever perpetrated on the American people.

Our middle class is falling further and further behind in comparison to the rest of the world. We keep hearing that America is number one. Well, when it comes to middle-class wealth, we’re number 27.

The most telling comparative measurement is median wealth (per adult). It describes the amount of wealth accumulated by the person precisely in the middle of the wealth distribution—50 percent of the adult population has more wealth, while 50 percent has less. You can’t get more middle than that.

Wealth is measured by the total sum of all our assets (homes, bank accounts, stocks, bonds etc.) minus our liabilities (outstanding loans and other debts). It the best indicator we have for individual and family prosperity. While the never-ending accumulation of wealth may be wrecking the planet, wealth also provides basic security, especially in a country like ours with such skimpy social programs. Wealth allows us to survive periods of economic turmoil. Wealth allows our children to go to college without incurring crippling debts, or to get help for the down payment on their first homes. As Billie Holiday sings, “God bless the child that’s got his own.”

Well, it’s a sad song. As the chart below shows, there are 26 other countries with a median wealth higher than ours (and the relative reduction of U.S. median wealth has done nothing to make our economy more sustainable).
Why?

Here’s a starter list:

  • We don’t have real universal healthcare. We pay more and still have poorer health outcomes than all other industrialized countries. Should a serious illness strike, we also can become impoverished.
  • Weak labor laws undermine unions and give large corporations more power to keep wages and benefits down. Unions now represent less than 7 percent of all private sector workers, the lowest ever recorded.
  • Our minimum wage is pathetic, especially in comparison to other developed nations [3]. (We’re # 13.) Nobody can live decently on $7.25 an hour. Our poverty-level minimum wage puts downward pressure on the wages of all working people. And while we secure important victories for a few unpaid sick days, most other developed nations provide a month of guaranteed paid vacations as well as many paid sick days.
  • Wall Street is out of control. Once deregulation started 30 years ago, money has gushed to the top as Wall Street was free to find more and more unethical ways to fleece us.
  • Higher education puts our kids into debt. In most other countries higher education is practically tuition-free. Indebted students are not likely to accumulate wealth anytime soon.
  • It’s hard to improve your station in life if you’re in prison, often due to drug-related charges that don’t even exist in other developed nations. In fact, we have the largest prison population in the entire world, and we have the highest percentage of minorities imprisoned. “In major cities across the country, 80% of young African Americans now have criminal records” (from Michelle Alexander’s 2010 book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness).
  • Our tax structures favor the rich and their corporations that no longer pay their fair share. They move money to foreign tax havens, they create and use tax loopholes, and they fight to make sure the source of most of their wealth—capital gains—is taxed at low rates. Meanwhile the rest of us are pressed to make up the difference or suffer deteriorating public services.
  • The wealthy dominate politics. Nowhere else in the developed world are the rich and their corporations able to buy elections with such impunity.
  • Big Money dominates the media. The real story about how we’re getting ripped off is hidden in a blizzard of BS that comes from all the major media outlets…brought to you by….
  • America encourages globalization of production so that workers here are in constant competition with the lower-wage workers all over the world as well as with highly automated techonologies.

Is there one cause of the middle-class collapse that rises above all others?

Yes. The International Labor organization produced a remarkable study (Global Wage Report 2012-13) [4] that sorts out the causes of why wages have remained stagnant while elite incomes have soared. The report compares key causal explanations like declining bargaining power of unions, porous social safety nets, globalization, new technologies and financialization.

Guess which one had the biggest impact on the growing split between the 1 percent and the 99 percent?

Financialization!

What is that? Economist Gerald Epstein offers us a working definition [5]:

“Financialization means the increasing role of financial motives, financial markets, financial actors and financial institutions in the operation of the domestic and international economies.”

This includes such trends as:

  • The corporate change during the 1980s to make shareholder value the ultimate goal.
  • The deregulation of Wall Street that allowed for the creation of a vast array of new financial instruments for gambling.
  • Allowing private equity firm to buy companies, load them up with debt, extract enormous returns, and then kiss them goodbye.
  • The growth of hedge funds that suck productive wealth out of the economy.
  • The myriad of barely regulated world financial markets that finance the globalization of production, combined with so-called “free trade” agreements.
  • The increased share of all corporate profits that go to the financial sector.
  • The ever increasing size of too-big-to-fail banks.
  • The fact that many of our best students rush to Wall Street instead of careers in science, medicine or education.

In short, financialization is when making money from money becomes more important that providing real goods and services. Here’s a chart that says it all. Once we unleashed Wall Street, their salaries shot up, while everyone else’s stood still.

 

Do we still know how to fight!

The carefully researched ILO study provides further proof that Occupy Wall Street was right on the money. OWS succeeded (temporarily), in large part, because it tapped into the deep reservoir of anger toward Wall Street felt by people all over the world. We all know the financiers are screwing us.

Then why didn’t OWS turn into a sustained, mass movement to take on Wall Street?

One reason it didn’t grow was that the rest of us stood back in deference to the original protestors instead of making the movement our own. As a result, we didn’t build a larger movement with the structures needed to take on our financial oligarchs. And until we figure out how to do just that, our nation’s wealth will continue to be siphoned away.

Our hope, I believe, lies in the young people who are engaged each day in fighting for the basic human rights for all manner of working people—temp workers, immigrants, unionized, non-union, gays, lesbians, transgender—as well as those who are fighting to save the planet from environmental destruction. It’s all connected.

At some point these deeply committed activists also will understand that financialization both here and abroad stands in the way of justice and puts our planet at risk. When they see the beast clearly, I am confident they will figure out how to slay it.

The sooner, the better.

See more stories tagged with:

middle class [6]


Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/economy/americas-middle-class-27th-richest

Links:
[1] http://www.alternet.org
[2] http://www.alternet.org/authors/les-leopold
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_minimum_wages_by_country
[4] http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—dgreports/—dcomm/—publ/documents/publication/wcms_194843.pdf
[5] http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/programs/globalization/financialization/chapter1.pdf
[6] http://www.alternet.org/tags/middle-class
[7] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B

 

The Middle Class Faces Extinction—So Does the American Dream

Stewart Lansley, Los Angeles Review of Books, Alternet.org,  June 3, 2013

This article first appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books

Excerpt

Inequality is now one of the biggest political and economic challenges facing the United States…The return of inequality to levels last seen in the 1920s has had a profound effect on American society, its values, and its economy….One of the most significant effects…has been the capping of opportunities and the emergence of downward mobility amongst the middle classes, a process that began well before the recession. Around 100 million Americans — a third of the population — live below or fractionally above the poverty level. A quarter of the American workforce end up in low-paid jobs, the highest rate across rich nations, while the wealthiest 400 Americans have the same combined wealth as the poorest half — over 150 million people…The nation is at last waking up to what has been reality for years — the vaunted American Dream (the ability of citizens to go from rags to riches, and one of the country’s most enduring values) is increasingly a myth…The stagnating incomes of the bulk of Americans, along with the shrinking of the middle, are the mirror image of the rise of the plutocracy and the return of the gilded age…the long wage squeeze and the growing concentration of income at the top led to record corporate surpluses and an explosion of personal fortunes…the effect was the upward redistribution of existing wealth and the fueling of the bubbles — in property and business — that eventually brought the global economy to its knees. That inequality is also acting as a profound drag on the prospects of recovery…But unless Obama can find a way of breaking the firewalls created by the new plutocrats to protect their wealth from economic collapse and political interference, the likelihood is that the American middle class will go on shrinking, the American dream will further erode, and the nation’s economy will continue to stumble from crisis to crisis.

Full text

Inequality is now one of the biggest political and economic challenges facing the United States. Not that long ago, the gap between rich and poor barely registered on the political Richter scale. Now the growing income divide, an issue that dominated the presidential election debate, has turned into one of the hottest topics of the age.

Postwar American history divides into two halves. For the first three decades, those on middle and low incomes did well out of rising prosperity and inequality fell. In the second half, roughly from the mid–1970s, this process went into reverse. Set on apparent autopilot, the gains from growth were heavily colonized by the superrich, leaving the bulk of the workforce with little better than stagnant incomes.

The return of inequality to levels last seen in the 1920s has had a profound effect on American society, its values, and its economy. The United States led the world in the building of a majority middle class. As early as 1956, the celebrated sociologist, C. Wright Mills, wrote that American society had become “less a pyramid with a flat base than a fat diamond with a bulging middle.”

That bulge has been on a diet. The chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers — Professor Alan Krueger — has shown how the size of the American middle class (households with annual incomes within 50 percent of the midpoint of the income distribution) has been heading backwards from a peak of more than a half in the late 1970s to 40 percent now. The “diamond” has gone. The social shape of America now looks more like a contorted “hourglass” with a pronounced bulge at the top, a long thin stem in the middle, and a fat bulge at the bottom.

One of the most significant effects of America’s hourglass society has been the capping of opportunities and the emergence of downward mobility amongst the middle classes, a process that began well before the recession. Around 100 million Americans — a third of the population — live below or fractionally above the poverty level. A quarter of the American workforce end up in low-paid jobs, the highest rate across rich nations, while the wealthiest 400 Americans have the same combined wealth as the poorest half — over 150 million people.

With a growing percentage of the current generation facing a lower living standard than their parents, more and more US citizens express a “fear of falling,” worried about a further loss of livelihood and their relative income status. The nation is at last waking up to what has been reality for years — the vaunted American Dream (the ability of citizens to go from rags to riches, and one of the country’s most enduring values) is increasingly a myth.

In a poll conducted for The Washington Post before the 2012 presidential election, respondents were asked which was the bigger worry: “unfairness in the economic system that favors the wealthy” or “over-regulation of the free market that interferes with growth and prosperity.” They chose unfairness by a margin of 52–37 percent. The mostly pro-self-reliant American public are perhaps coming to recognize that their much-heralded virtues of hard work and self-help are no longer an effective means to economic advancement.

The most damaging impact of growing inequality has been on the American — and global — economy. It has been one of the central rules of market economics that inequality is good for growth and stability. The idea was enshrined in the postwar writings of the New Right critics of the model of managed capitalism that emerged after the war. “Inequality of wealth and incomes is the cause of the masses’ well being, not the cause of anybody’s distress” wrote the Austrian-American economist Ludwig von Mises, one of the leading prophets of the superiority of markets, in 1955.

It was a theory that gained traction during the global economic crisis of the 1970s and with the publication in 1975 of a highly influential book, Equality and Efficiency: The Big Tradeoff, by the late American mainstream economist Arthur Okun. This theory — that you can have either more equal societies or more economically successful ones, but not both — has been used to justify the growth of inequality in the United States, a trend that has since spread to a majority of the rich world. One of the telling by-products of the current economic crisis is that this theory is now being challenged. It is now being increasingly argued that the levels of income concentration in recent times have had a significant negative effect on the economy, bringing slower growth and greater turbulence and contributing to both the 2008 crash and the lack of a sustained recovery.

Perhaps the most significant convert to these ideas is President Obama. A year ago, he remarked, “When middle-class families can no longer afford to buy the goods and services that businesses are selling, it drags down the entire economy from top to bottom.” Addressing delegates at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos in January 2013, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, endorsed this view, “I believe that the economics profession and the policy community have downplayed inequality for too long […] [A] more equal distribution of income allows for more economic stability, more sustained economic growth.”

This view goes against the grain of the economic orthodoxy of the last 30 years. As the Chicago economist Robert E. Lucas, Nobel prizewinner and one of the principal architects of the pro-market, self-regulating school that has dominated economic strategy in the Anglo-Saxon world, declared in 2003, “Of the tendencies that are harmful to sound economics, the most poisonous is to focus on questions of distribution.”

A growing body of evidence and opinion now holds that this idea is wrong. In fact, the “distribution question” — how the cake is divided, between wages and profits on the one hand, and between the top and bottom on the other — is critical to economic health. Over the last 30 years, the rich world, led by the United States, has steered a growing share of national output first to profits and ultimately to the top one percent. Across the 34 richest nations in the world, the share going to wages has fallen from over 66 percent in 1990 to less than 62 percent today. The result is a growing detachment of living standards from output. The stagnating incomes of the bulk of Americans, along with the shrinking of the middle, are the mirror image of the rise of the plutocracy and the return of the gilded age.

This decoupling of wages from output creates a critical structural fault that ultimately brings self-destruction. First, a growing pay-output gap sucks consumer lifeblood out of economies. To fill this growing demand gap, levels of personal debt were allowed to explode. In the US, the level of outstanding personal debt rose almost threefold in the decade from 1997 to $14.4 trillion. This helped to fuel a domestic boom from the mid-1990s, but one that was never going to be sustainable.

Secondly, the long wage squeeze and the growing concentration of income at the top led to record corporate surpluses and an explosion of personal fortunes. Instead of being used to create new wealth via an investment and entrepreneurial boom (as predicted by market theorists), these massive cash surpluses were used to finance a wave of speculative financial activity and asset restructuring. The effect was the upward redistribution of existing wealth and the fueling of the bubbles — in property and business — that eventually brought the global economy to its knees. That inequality is also acting as a profound drag on the prospects of recovery.

A central feature of the President’s annual State of the Union address on February 11 was its call to “grow the economy from the middle out,” to “reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth — a rising, thriving middle class.” In his call for more active government to reduce inequality — from a 25 percent hike in the minimum wage to higher taxes on the rich — Obama was adding some meat to his earlier call “to restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share.” Yet, despite a succession of lofty speeches, the best evidence is that since 2008, growth has continued to be very unevenly shared. The economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty have shown that over nine tenths of growth in 2010 was captured by the top one percent. This is in stark contrast to the 1930s, when the big gainers from recovery were most ordinary Americans and the big losers were the superrich.

Obama’s program for change fails to match the radicalism of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s or that of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty three decades later. Of course, creating a more equal America is hardly a cakewalk. The United States has rarely been more divided on the politics of change. Before Congressman Paul Ryan became Mitt Romney’s controversial running mate, he had blasted Obama’s proposed (and modest) tax measures on the rich as “class warfare.” Other global leaders seem equally disempowered in the face of the might of a global billionaire class determined to preserve its privileges, muscle, and wealth.

But unless Obama can find a way of breaking the firewalls created by the new plutocrats to protect their wealth from economic collapse and political interference, the likelihood is that the American middle class will go on shrinking, the American dream will further erode, and the nation’s economy will continue to stumble from crisis to crisis.

See more stories tagged with:

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poverty [12]


Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/economy/income-inequality-defers-american-dream

Links:
[1] http://lareviewofbooks.org/
[2] http://www.alternet.org/authors/stewart-lansley
[3] http://lareviewofbooks.org/article.php?id=1657&fulltext=1
[4] http://www.alternet.org/tags/income-inequality-0
[5] http://www.alternet.org/tags/american-dream
[6] http://www.alternet.org/tags/economy-0
[7] http://www.alternet.org/tags/state-union
[8] http://www.alternet.org/tags/obama-0
[9] http://www.alternet.org/tags/council-economic-advisers
[10] http://www.alternet.org/tags/alan-krueger
[11] http://www.alternet.org/tags/depression
[12] http://www.alternet.org/tags/poverty-0
[13] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B

 

Ayn Rand’s Gospel of Selfishness and Billionaire Empowerment Is Plaguing America

Thomhartmann.com / By Thom Hartmann [1], Sam Sacks [2]  February 7, 2013

Thirty years after her death, Ayn Rand’s philosophy of selfishness and billionaire empowerment rules the world. It’s a remarkable achievement for an ideology that was pushed to the fringes for most of her life, and ridiculed on national television in a notorious interview with Mike Wallace.

But, it’s happened. And today, the United States and other independent governments around the world are crumbling while Ayn Rand’s billionaires are taking over.

With each new so-called Free Trade agreement – especially the very secretive Trans Pacific Partnership, which has less to do with trade and more to do with a new law of global governance for transnational corporations – Ayn Rand’s reviled “state” (or what we would call our democracy, the United States of America) is losing its power to billionaires and transnational corporations.

Ayn Rand hated governments and democracy. She considered them systems of mob rule. She grew up in Russia, and as a child watched the Bolsheviks confiscate her father’s pharmacy during the Russian Revolution. Likely suffering from PTSD from that incident, Ayn Rand devoted her future writings to evil government, including the “evil” of its functions like taxation, regulation, and providing social services to the poor and sick.

She divided the world into makers and takers (or what she called “looters”).

On one side are the billionaires and the industrialists. People like Dagny Taggert, a railroad tycoon, and Hank Rearden, a steel magnate. Both were fictional characters in her book Atlas Shrugged, but both have real-world counterparts in the form of the Koch Brothers, the Waltons, and Sheldon Adelson. According to Rand, they are the “Atlases” holding up the world.

So, in Atlas Shrugged, when the billionaires, tired of paying taxes and complying with government regulation, go on strike, Ayn Rand writes that the American economy promptly collapsed.

On the other side are the “looters,” or everyone else who isn’t as rich or privileged, or who believed in a democratic government to provide basic services, empower labor unions, and regulate the economy. They are the leeches on society according to Rand (and according to Mitt Romney with his 47% comments). And, as she told Mike Wallace in in 1959, they do not even “deserve love.”

To our Founding Fathers, looking out for the general welfare of the population was an explicit role of the government, one of its most important and the reason this nation was created when we separated from Britain.

But to Ayn Rand, a government that taxed billionaires to help pay for healthcare and education for impoverished children was not just unwise economically, it was also immoral.

Nature abhors a vacuum – both in the wild and in politics.  So, when people, organized in the form of a government, are removed from power, then money organized in the form of corporations and billionaires moves into the vacuum to take power – which is exactly what’s happening today, worldwide.

In the thirty years after her death, the United States crept closer and closer to Ayn Rand’s utopia. Reagan dramatically slashed taxes on the rich and went after labor unions. Clinton deregulated financial markets for the rich, ended welfare as we know it, and committed our nation to one globalist corporate free trade agreement after another.

And, under Bush and Obama, we’ve seen the rapid privatization of our commons, the further erosion of social safety nets, and more losses of national sovereignty with more so-called free trade agreements.

In Europe, we’re seeing sovereign governments neutered by Conservative technocrats. According to Ayn Rand, the rich can never be asked to sacrifice. So instead, it’s working people across the Eurozone who have to pay for the bad investments that the banksters made in the run-up to the global financial collapse.

As we saw in Greece in 2011 with the deposing of Prime Minister George Papandreou, and all across the state of Michigan over the last few years with financial managers laws, when democratic governments are unwilling to do the bidding of the rich, they’re immediately replaced by corporate lackeys who will.

The Taggerts and the Reardens are holding the reins of government today.

Which explains why Corporate America paid an average tax rate of just 12% in 2011 – the lowest rate in 40 years. It explains why 400 billionaires in America now own more wealth than 150 million other Americans combined. And it explains why fewer impoverished Americans are getting less federal assistance than at any time in the last half-century.

Ayn Rand envisioned a world without governments – a world where the super-rich are free to do as they wish.

We tried that during the so-called Gilded Age of the late 19th Century – before Ayn Rand was alive. If she’d watched the ruthlessness of the Robber Barons like she did the Bolsheviks, she may have reached different conclusions.

She may have realized that American Presidents like Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower were right when they made sure that wealth was more evenly distributed and the Billionaire Class was held in check.

Or she may have come to understand that corporations and billionaires owe their wealth to the state and not the other way around. Without favorable patent and copyright laws, a court system, an educated workforce, and an infrastructure to move goods about the country, then no one would be able to get rich in America.  We’d be like the Libertarian paradise of Somalia.

As Harry Moser, the founder of the Reshoring Initiative,argued [3] in The Economist, “Corporations are not created by the shareholders or the management. Rather they are created by the state. They are granted important privileges by the state (limited liability, eternal life, etc). They are granted these privileges because the state expects them to do something beneficial for the society that makes the grant. They may well provide benefits to other societies, but their main purpose is to provide benefits to the societies (not to the shareholders, not to management, but to the societies) that create them.”

Sadly, this understanding of how democratic republics work – and why – has been lost this generation.

And Ayn Rand’s disciples are making sure the next generation never finds it again.

Idaho State Senator John Goedde, who chairs that state Senate’s Education Committee, introduced a bill this week that would require all students to read Ayn Rand’s book “Atlas Shrugged” before they can graduate. Goedde explained that the book made his son a Republican and that it “certainly gives one a sense of personal responsibility.”

Between stupidity like this, and the re-birth of Ayn Rand through corporate-funded think tanks and Hollywood movies, the Billionaire Class wants to make sure the next generation buys into a toxic ideology that’s quite literally destroying the world as we know it.

They don’t want the 21st Century to be “America’s Century.” They want it to be the “Billionaire’s Century.” And if they succeed, then the middle class in America – and through most of the developed world – will go extinct.

Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/economy/ayn-rands-gospel-selfishness-and-billionaire-empowerment-plaguing-america

Teaching People to Hate Their Own Govt. Is at the Core of the Project to Destroy the Middle Class

By Dennis Marker, AlterNetAugust 21, 2012

The following is an excerpt from Dennis Marker’s new book 15 Steps to Corporate Feudalism [3], published this year. In the text  below, Marker shares one of the steps he sees as central to the destruction of the middle class since Ronald Reagan took over. 

Mini-excerpt

…Teaching the middle class to hate their government was an essential part of the [conservative] plan… A middle class cannot exist without a strong government. This is because only a government has the power to stand up to the giant corporations of today’s world …Thirty years ago at the onset of the Reagan Revolution, the middle class basically appreciated and respected their government…the basic message of Reagan and the conservatives was that everyone would be better off if the federal government just disappeared. They were smart enough not to say this directly, however. Instead, they just landed one body blow after another without openly expressing their desire to destroy the government….

Excerpt

…Teaching the middle class to hate their government was an essential part of the plan to implement Corporate Feudalism. A middle class cannot exist without a strong government. This is because only a government has the power to stand up to the giant corporations of today’s world, or the powerful individuals and private armies of earlier times…If you want to put an end to the middle class and replace it with a feudal republic, you would need to change people’s perception of their government…

Thirty years ago at the onset of the Reagan Revolution, the middle class basically appreciated and respected their government and believed that living in the United States was good for the middle class. They took their status for granted. The connection between what was good about the United States and its government was clear to the American public … government is very different from what it was when Reagan took office. It is much weaker, no longer able to offer the protections or provide the services the middle class took for granted thirty years ago… And in its weakened state the US government has lost the support of the very citizens who depended on it the most, the middle class.

How did this happen? When Ronald Reagan got to Washington, he set out to convince the middle class that their government was their enemy, using his considerable powers of persuasion. The basic message of Reagan and the conservatives was that everyone would be better off if the federal government just disappeared. They were smart enough not to say this directly, however. Instead, they just landed one body blow after another without openly expressing their desire to destroy the government….

Full text

Your goal for this step is to figure out how to teach the middle class to hate their own government using a strategy that takes into consideration the political climate of theUnited Statesof thirty years ago.

Teaching the middle class to hate their government was an essential part of the plan to implement Corporate Feudalism. A middle class cannot exist without a strong government. This is because only a government has the power to stand up to the giant corporations of today’s world, or the powerful individuals and private armies of earlier times. It is the government that enforces the laws to protect the middle class from those who would like to become their economic rulers. That is why prior to the Industrial Revolution and the creation of the middle class all economies were run according to some version of the feudal system. If you want to put an end to the middle class and replace it with a feudal republic, you would need to change people’s perception of their government.

Obviously a government does not have to be on the side of its people, as can be seen by the existence of countless dictatorships and oligarchies throughout the world. Even the corporatocracy that currently exists in theUnited States falls far short of being on the side of its middle class. But US history shows that a government committed to serving its citizens can, in fact, help create and maintain a healthy middle class even in the face of powerful corporations whose only interest is maximizing their own power and profits.

It is like the story in old westerns of a big bad landowner who takes what he wants when he wants it, ruthlessly terrorizing a town without a strong sheriff. Any individual who tries to stop the landowner is beaten into submission or killed. The situation continues until the town finds a strong enough sheriff to regain control over the landowner and his gang. This is the Old West version of the feudal system. In westerns, the feudal lord comes first and the sheriff comes later. But in the United States of thirty years ago, the government was the strong sheriff keeping the late-twentieth-century feudal lords from taking what they wanted. As long as the government was supported by its citizens—particularly its middle class—no one could ride into town and steal what belonged to the people. But if the government were weakened or destroyed, a different situation would arise. The intent of the plan for Corporate Feudalism was to convince the middle class to fire their sheriff. And that’s just what happened.

Thirty years ago at the onset of the Reagan Revolution, the middle class basically appreciated and respected their government and believed that living in the United Stateswas good for the middle class. They took their status for granted. The connection between what was good about the United Statesand its government was clear to the American public. For the most part, people believed the government was on their side and largely responsible for the high standard of living they enjoyed. Their government built the roads that made transportation easy. Their government made the laws and regulations that kept US workers safe at their jobs. Their government ensured that their food was safe. The labor strife that had empowered the middle class was now decades old, and the Vietnam War had ended, although not well. In many ways the United Statesof thirty years ago was a happy place, and most people understood their government’s role in keeping it that way. While there were problems, including the energy crisis, they seemed manageable. Not everyone was happy with everything the government did, of course, but there was general agreement that the USgovernment was the best government anywhere.

Then the US government found itself in the crosshairs of the brand-new Reagan Revolution with no way to understand why it was under attack and no way to defend itself. For thirty years, it took blow after blow. Now, while still standing, that government is very different from what it was when Reagan took office. It is much weaker, no longer able to offer the protections or provide the services the middle class took for granted thirty years ago—the same kinds of services that many European democracies have continued to provide for their citizens during the period of US economic and social decline. And in its weakened state theUS government has lost the support of the very citizens who depended on it the most, the middle class.

How did this happen? When Ronald Reagan got to Washington, he set out to convince the middle class that their government was their enemy, using his considerable powers of persuasion. The basic message of Reagan and the conservatives was that everyone would be better off if the federal government just disappeared. They were smart enough not to say this directly, however. Instead, they just landed one body blow after another without openly expressing their desire to destroy the government.

For example, Reagan attacked government workers, contending they were lazy, they wasted taxpayer money, and they involved themselves in issues they knew nothing about, like regulating large businesses and corporations. Within the first few years of Reagan’s election, the morale of the federal workforce plummeted as these employees saw their image shift from being considered public servants trying to make life in the United States better for everyone to being seen as lazy, despised bureaucrats wasting taxpayer money. Far from being a place where committed public servants worked to help the public,Washington,DC, became known as the place where crooks, thieves, and lazy workers stole taxpayer money for foolish purposes or their own personal benefit.

While federal workers had unions to protect their jobs, they did not have high-priced lobbyists and media consultants to safeguard their image. The unions representing federal workers came under the same harsh attack as the workers themselves, but the attacks went largely unanswered. The nation’s first movie star president had intentionally created this negative image of government workers, and he was convincing.

Following Reagan, other conservatives continued to lead the charge against the government, often using the same language the Reagan administration had employed. Few found language more effective than the Reagan one-liner, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” but they didn’t need to. The leap from John F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” to Reagan’s cynical and supposedly frightening “I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” had been successfully made.

In addition to waging a full-scale campaign against the government and its employees, the Reagan administration also implemented another practice that was equally destructive to the image of government—filling government positions with people who hated government, a practice that continues to this day. For those seeking to change theUnited States from a middle-class democracy to a corporate feudal republic, there are three major advantages to this practice. First, you give government jobs to your conservative friends and cronies. Second, you keep dedicated public servants who want to see government succeed out of government. Third, and most importantly, you have a cadre of conservative ideologues working inside the government to sabotage and destroy the government at every turn.

The advantages for conservatives of sabotaging and destroying the government are almost limitless. Looking at a few examples from George W. Bush’s administration shows why. Thirty years ago the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a government agency committed to protecting the public by monitoring the safety of toys and other products, made a positive difference in people’s lives. However, during George W. Bush’s administration conservatives who filled many of the civil service positions and all of the politically appointed slots did not believe the government should be in the business of helping to protect the public, and they did everything in their power to avoid carrying out their responsibilities. When Congress tried to give the CPSC more money to do a better job of regulating products imported fromChina, for example, the Bush-appointed agency head refused. She said they had plenty of money to do their job, although in reality they weren’t doing their job at all. Then reports started coming in about unsafe toys originating in China. People were outraged, as they should have been, and blamed the government. By failing to do their jobs, the conservatives were encouraging people to give up on their own government, which was exactly what conservatives wanted.

Thirty years ago, in an effort to make their point, conservatives often exaggerated the examples of government corruption and waste, but during George W. Bush’s administration scandals involving everything from toys to military contracting became the norm. And who were the perpetrators of most of these crimes against the United Statesand its taxpayers? They were government-hating conservatives working inside the government, placed there for this very reason. Each time one of these conservatives was caught in another scandal, the American public’s view of government deteriorated a little more. If you believe in a government that helps its citizens, this seems bad. But if you believe that the best government is no government this seems great, so the people who wanted to establish Corporate Feudalism couldn’t have been happier.

That was the plan used by Corporate Feudalists to convince millions of middle-class people to hate their own government. Did you think of a more effective way to accomplish this goal? Or do you believe the plan that was used was the most effective one available?

Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/teaching-people-hate-their-own-govt-core-project-destroy-middle-class

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[5] http://www.alternet.org/tags/government-0
[6] http://www.alternet.org/tags/corporate-feudalism
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