Proof of Class Warfare Waged by the Rich
by Peter DaSilva
We live in quite a strange age; some compare it with Rome, and it makes sense. Post modernism, neo liberalism, the redefining of the US, the power of the right wing reactionaries with so many facets of our lives (even our language) creates a new paradigm, and it is not pretty.
I am from the US. Before I moved to Niagara Falls, I lived in Hamilton, Ontario. Canada is such a different society from the US. Elections cannot be bought; very little money can be donated to candidates. Religious differences are not just tolerated, they are embraced. Ethnic, national, and political differences are respected.
What is happening in the US.? There are lots of books and articles on the demise of our country. It can be looked upon as sociological or anthropological, but I believe it all centers on class war by the rich. As you will see, it is no accident. In this article, I take different issues and show the proof of how the rich are engaged in class war against us.
1. Income tax cuts for the rich, started by treasury secretary Mellon, and exacerbated in 2007-8 under Bush. Also abolishing taxes on shareholders’ dividends. The rest of us pay for those companies which dodge their taxes. 61% paid no income taxes between 1996-2000 (Gary Weiss, Parade Magazine, 4-13-2008), (National Catholic Reporter, 6-6-03 and Manchester Guardian, 1-9-03 and 1-23-03, and David Cay Johnston, Free Lunch; 2007)
2. In 2003, the Manchester Guardian stated that some states were facing their worst fiscal crises since the Depression, resulting in closing libraries, parks, hospitals, schools, and reduced care for the elderly, youth, and other social services including police and fire. What happened to their tax base? It moved away (Lou Dobbs; War on the Middle Class).
3. Public schools are decreasingly funded by states and more by locality. Poorer districts are more at-risk. As they struggle to find funding, services are cut, health care is cut, and pensions are cut or abolished (starting with Reagan).
4. Those who move their assets off-shore pay little taxes, whether individuals or corporations (David Cay Johnston, Peter Gillespie, 2007).
5. The Associated Press said in 3-98 that tax breaks for the rich do not stimulate economic growth and trickle down anywhere; neither do enterprise zones and other subsidies.
6. Big tax breaks to the oil and gas industry do not result in lower prices (Washington Post, 1999). Speculators control the prices, and they do it on the backs of the poor. (Soros, 2008, McClatchy News, 6-4-08)
7. Welfare recipients are mostly multi-national corporations, not poor individuals. The rest of us pay for this (Labor unions).
8. Social security assessments are capped at incomes over $100,000.
9. Reagan cut the tax rate for billionaires from 70% to 28%, which added a payroll tax on workers. G.W. Bush ensured that those who earned over $218,000 per year got tax cuts. (Screwed, by Hartman)
10. 50 years ago, corporate income taxes made up 1/3 of all federal revenues; now they account for just 1/8. Many of the bigger companies pay no taxes (Lou Dobbs, War on the Middle Class). Furthermore, many government contracts are with “no-bid” contractors which have off-shore tax havens. They pay 6% taxes.
1. The outsourcing of jobs via free trade gives US jobs away while robbing poor nations of their resources. We are told that if we get more education and training, then we will get new jobs, but we don’t.
2. Insourcing jobs has eliminated 3.4 million US jobs (Free Lunch, David Cay Johnston)
3. United Methodist President Vincent said that the US has fostered a deliberate plot to keep people poor, and that the federal government knows that 20% of the US is a permanent underclass, and in a colonized status as surplus labor (Chomsky). It is also aware of a permanent low wage servant class (Barlow, Between Fear and Hope). The theory of surplus labor is proven by the huge US jail population (Michael Moore).
4. Wages continually decline for the vast majority while the rich make huge gains (Chomsky; 1998). This is especially true for people of color (Manchester Guardian, 10-29-04).
5. Many employers find ways to avoid or skirt rules so that employees earn less and get less benefits (2004, Associated Press).
6. The US minimum wage is set so low as to ensure that the poor cannot makes ends meet (Larry Bartels, Unequal Democracy). Conservative economists then say that a raise in the minimum wage will put small businesses out of business, but this has never been proven.
1. Teaching to the test, the 3 R’s, avoiding analysis are what the right wing wants to avoid with public education.
2. A college education is out of the reach of most Americans
Environment, war, and politics:
1. Overuse of natural resources and environmental pollution affect those who live close by (the poor).
2. Sprawl; the rise of suburbs and the decline of cities results in increasing disparity between rich and poor (Between Fear and Hope, Barlow)
3. It is very likely that candidates for public office will win if they have lots of money, and are approved and funded by large corporations (Hartman, Screwed). Politicians compete for the money, which is in the hands of the big corporations and banks. (Prestowitz, The Betrayal of American Democracy). A 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision gives multinational and foreign corporations virtually unlimited spending ability for political campaigns in the US.
4. The rich oligarchy (those in power) make the rules (Bill Moyers, 2004). In the 2004 presidential election, many citizens of color were obstructed from and denied the vote (Manchester Guardian, 10-22-04).
5. Advance registration requirements, residency requirements, literacy requirements, and only one opportunity to vote as well as fewer polls in poor areas, discourage voters.
6. The political class which manages the economy is beholden to those who have significant market power (Swift, No-Nonsense Democracy, 2002).
7. We have withdrawn from the public arena and compensated for this by shopping and entertainment (Swift, Non-Nonsense Democracy, 2002).
8. By privatizing the US defense./armed forces in Iraq, Halliburton has gotten more that $20 billion and moved to Dubai to avoid paying taxes (Klein, The Shock Doctrine). Corporate war profiteers (like Blackwater) get paid lots of money while the US service men and women get very low pay and are the ones on the front lines.
9. The US military’s purpose is world-wide economic domination (Catholic Peace Voice, 3-2003).
10. If workers are poor, then corporations cannot sell as much as they want, so they push the government to go to war so that they can sell to them (International Runaway Shop, Mitch Zimmerman)
Religion and nationalism:
1. Xenophobia is a divide and conquer tactic making it so that we identify with the oligarchy without knowing it.
2. Religious zealots, pushing for one religion over others, also identify with the oligarchy.
3. Illegal Mexican immigration is caused by the movement of capital from Mexico to the U.S. (Peter Dale Scott, Drugs, Oil, and War).
1. Creativity is discouraged, so that what is produced is either offensive, or boring.
2. FM radio originally had few commercials. Now it has as many or more than AM radio. Aren’t they supposed to be licensed by the FCC, with requirements to serve the public good?
Health insurance, bankruptcy, and lending:
1. Unless one’s employer pays, one’s union pays, or oneself pays, only politicians, the rich, and the poor get health insurance, which costs rise more than 10% every year (2008-N.Y.) Currently, many health insurers raise their rates by more than 20%.
2. Adjustable Rate Mortgages were a major hit on middle class homeowners (2008-9)
3. Predatory lenders include: auto dealers, insurance companies, check cashing services, credit card companies, rental centers, as well as mortgage holders. (Barbara Ehrenreich; Straight Goods; 8-11-06)
4. Bush administration policy & congress made it much harder for everyone except the rich to file for bankruptcy. (Washington Post, 2005). This was crafted by lobbyists, and especially hurt those with large health care bills (Dobbs; War on the Middle Class).
5. Reagan deregulated hospitals and drug companies. (Screwed; by Hartman).
6. Tier #1; privatized health care ensures that it is a privilege reserved for those who can afford it (Hartman). Tier #2 is what most other countries have under socialized medicine. Tier #3 is what the poor get in the U.S. (author’s analysis). Lobbyists prevent us from getting health care like other countries. (Prestowitz; The Betrayal of American Prosperity; 2010).
7. Drugs for AIDS are controlled by the pharmaceutical corporations who do not allow generics so that victims in Africa (and Third World countries) cannot afford them (Prestowitz; Rogue Nation, 2009).
8. The U.S. spends about 18% of its economy on privatized health care. Most other First World countries pay one half this amount. (David Cay Johnston; Free Lunch). With infant mortality, the U.S. ranks 36th of all countries. And the U.S. lifespan is shorter than many countries.
9. Only people in the U.S. go bankrupt because of medical bills (David Cay Johnston; Free Lunch).
Domestic proof of the rich waging class war:
1. In 1983, the richest 1% had 33% of the U.S. wealth. In 1999, they had 40.1%. (Greg Palast)
2. In 1973, median household income was $34,900. In 1993, it dropped $1000. To continue this life style, the middle class mortgaged itself to death (Edward Wolff). The chickens came home to roost in 2008 with the sudden recession.
3. College tuition costs make it so only the rich can afford it. (Lou Dobbs, War on the Middle Class). Bush decreased grants to low income students too (Screwed by Hartman). In some states, college was free not so many years ago, and it is still free in many European countries.
4. Justice is for those who can afford it (O.J. Simpson’s first trial).
5. Between 1985 and 1990, hunger in the U.S. increased by 50%, which resulted in children’s development being impeded permanently (Chomsky).
6. A big influence on the delinquent behavior of youth is that their parents’ contact with them has decreased by 40% since the 1960’s. This is because both parents must work (Chomsky).
7. Life expectancy is significantly longer for the rich than for the rest of us. (Sun-Sentinel news; 3-23-08).
8. The Bush administration’s attempt at privatizing social security in 2004. And presently, the right wing trying to curtail social security benefits.
9. The rich are getting richer while the rest of us are getting poorer. We do have affirmative action, but it is for the rich (Manchester Guardian; 1-30-03) [this is how G.W. Bush graduated from Yale].
10. Gated communities are to protect the rich from the rest of us, as are the resorts. (Manchester Guardian; 1-03).
11. Proof of the oligarchy’s power is having industry officials oversee regulatory agencies (Lakoff).
12. Hurricane Katrina drowned more than 1,000 people because of dismantled government agencies. This is deliberate, with the result that multi-national corporations are much less regulated (author).
13. Privatization of government functions and utilities paves the way for corporate control; i.e.: public education and television news programs in classrooms (Michael Moore).
14. In 2005, Congress slashed student loans, Medicaid, and food stamps (Klein; The Shock Doctrine).
15. Interlocking directorates (boards of directors with crossover membership) ensure that the rich keep control of the corporations (author’s analysis).
16. Welfare policies force the poor into the lowest paid sectors of the labor market (Swift; No-Nonsense Democracy)
17. Inheritance has created a wealthy class which control production (Swift; No-Nonsense Democracy).
18. Elections are so heavily influenced by the rich (through the media), that voting doesn’t matter (Swift; No-Nonsense Democracy).
19. Incentives, breaks, subsidies are welfare for the rich corporations, which exceed all welfare payments to the poor., and they eliminate more jobs than they create. (Bluestone; Corporate Flight).
20. Pushing back progressive taxes is the way the rich get subsidized by the poor (Bluestone; Corporate Flight).
21. Other strategies are two tiers in union jobs, and having employees get reduced pensions and health care (author).
22. The housing foreclosure crisis (author).
23. Debit cards fees; profit from exorbitant usury; caused by deregulation. (Phillips: Bad Money).
24. Having a weak dollar increases the worth of multi-national corporations. (Phillips: Bad Money).
25. Banks which guide and risk our economy in reality are guaranteed public utilities. (Phillips: Bad Money).
Foreign Proof of the rich waging class war:
1. Having poor countries use up their natural resources (Manchester Guardian, 2005).
2. Having public water supply privatized or else polluted (author’s analysis).
3. In 2003, Cardinal Maradiaga of Honduras said that poverty is a weapon of mass destruction. “A cow in Europe is worth $2.50 per day, and in Japan $7.00 per day, and 1.2 billion people barely survive on less than $1 per day.”
4. Just like poor cities, poor countries give up anything they can in order to get investment. (Manchester Guardian (2000), Naomi Klein; The Shock Doctrine).
5. The way big corporations control poor countries’ economies is to threaten to pull their capital away. (Naomi Klein; The Shock Doctrine).
6. The W.T.O., I.M.F., and M.A.I. (multinational agreement on investments) were/are strategies from the University of Chicago Economics School “supply side economics” gurus (Milton Friedman) aimed at free trade policies with no overrides (Manchester Guardian Jan. 6, 2000, and Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine). This goes by at least two names: post modernism, and neo liberalism, and it has undermined our economy (Prestowitz: The Betrayal of American Prosperity; 2010)
7. Some countries such as Argentina, Greece, and Ireland had a very large debt which the G7 countries demanded to be repaid before any aid would be released to these countries. This is a strategy to make developing countries “know their place”. (Chomsky)
10. The world is not overpopulated, with not enough food. The rich nations and multi-national corporations are responsible for food shortages (Investors Business Daily, 4-14-99).
11. The U.S. is the only country out of 144 to oppose allowing developing nations to buy cheaper prescription drugs. (Manchester Guardian; 1-2-03)
12. By the U.S. subsidizing exported products, the prices of developing countries’ products are kept so low as to keep them from getting out of debt. A similar thing happens to small farmers in the U.S.: the multi-national corporations dictate the prices they can sell their products for. (Manchester Guardian; 1-16-03)
13. Free trade (& NAFTA) widen the divide between rich and poor (Manchester Guardian; 4-03-03).
14. One in every three people will live in a slum by 2033 (United Nations; 10-2003). This is caused in part by the privatization of public services.
15. Corporate CEO’s make many times more than they used to before 1974, and the discrepancy between their salaries and their workers continues to increase. The richest 2% of the adults in the world own more than half of the world’s wealth. (The Economist; 6-15-06).
16. Archbishop Bertello stated that debt condemns poor countries, and that this is deliberate.
17. Multi-national corporations market (successfully) the concept that we are now in a global economy, AND that we must settle for the ever-widening gap. (Manchester Guardian 12-2-1999, and Catholic Peace Voice 3-2003).
18. “Free trade” allows many thousands of foreign cars to be sold in the U.S, but only very few U.S. cars to be sold in foreign countries (Lou Dobbs; War on the Middle Class).
19. U.S. companies which outsource should be subjected to tariffs/duties on products they import to the U.S. (Lou Dobbs and others)
20. Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, & Morgan Stanley have investment pools to acquire public assets (David Cay Johnston; Free Lunch).
There are 35,000 lobbyists in Washington DC who have more impact on our government than those of us who are not rich. The vast majority of these lobbyists work for the multi-national corporations. It is little wonder which priorities and policies are paramount. (Death of the Liberal Class by Chris Hedges).
Three years ago, when Republican U.S. Senators vote against the “bailout” of U.S. auto companies, it was not just an attack on unions, it attacked suppliers to the industry, stores, restaurants, services, and our tax base. When good paying jobs disappear, tax revenues decline. As a result, schools, cities, counties, and states have to lay off employees (Sherrod Brown; Myths of Free Trade; 2004).
George Lakoff analyzes: If everyone does the right thing, society will prosper. But when people don’t do the right thing, then social programs are needed. But social programs reward the bad cycle (people needing to be taken care of). It is the good cycle which needs to be rewarded (those who do well) [usually inherited wealth]. And conversely, those who don’t do well (usually poor) should learn to become more self sufficient and not be taken care of. Of course, the wealthy mostly inherit their money.
In a conversation with Lynn Williams, the former president of the international steelworkers union, we discussed the way the U.S. is creating a 3rd world nation inside of itself, where the middle class is being punished::
Someone has a medical problem themselves, or in their family; they owe major medical bills despite having some health insurance; and their credit rating is in trouble. But they can’t get a job because employers do not hire people with bad credit.
We recalled indentured servants and debtors prisons, and realized that things aren’t so different in the U.S.
Post modernism/neo liberalism is an insidious way for the multi-national corporations to discourage morality, analysis, and creativity. We are encouraged to follow along, and some of us learn to identify with these goals. Others wonder and watch as the frog gets increasingly hotter in the soup pot.
U.S. govt. regulations hardly regulate multi-national corps. This is not because the govt. doesn’t want regulations, but because the corporations don’t want them. Bullies don’t want regulations. (Author)
In a way, the multi-nationals hold the population hostage. Look at ATT’s offer to the FCC: if you allow us to merge with T Mobile, then we will bring back some call center jobs from foreign countries. (BuffNews Aug. 31, 2011)
The current situation in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey and New York proves the point of this essay. It is not just an attack on the unions, it is an attack on the middle class, in order to redistribute income UP. A society which takes from the many and gives to the few must collapse (David Cay Johnston; Free Lunch).
David Rusk also emphasizes that as the disparity between rich and poor increases, our society will fall apart.
The right wing continually focuses us towards blaming the victim, and away from the multi-national corporations. Why? They also blame the federal government even though they take advantage of it so often. Interesting! (Author)
Analyzing as to why the rich are engaging in class war, we can look at the book: Authoritarian Personality. This book emphasizes (as does Dr. Spock) that a punitive relationship with ones parent(s) creates a rigid personality. There is almost a hostile and repressive quality to this personality; avoiding tolerance and flexibility. Being bullies, their fear of weakness makes them despise most everyone except those with power. Again, they need to force people to learn to become more self-sufficient and not rely on government aid; only the strong should survive.
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