War on the Middle Class Lou Dobbs
- From: "David R" <ho.ho@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sun, 17 Jun 2007 02:22:34 -0400
time for some truth
How the Government, Big Business, and Special Interest Groups are Waging War
on the American Dream and How to Fight Back,
In a sweeping analysis, Dobbs looks at every aspect of the decline of the
middle class, from a lack of political representation to America's corrupt
health-care system. He demonstrates that the gap between America's newest
haves and have-nots is not merely financial, but instead involves the
erosion of education, employment, government, and community. Dobbs proposes
a series of measures to resolve each issue and incite people, whose future
is being mortgaged to benefit a powerful few, to preserve their rights and
George W. Bush claimed through two presidential campaigns that America has
become the "ownership society." I couldn't agree more. America has become a
society owned by corporations and a political system dominated by corporate
and special interests, directed by elites who are hostile -- or at best
indifferent to -- the interests of working men and women of the middle class
and their families.
Corporate America holds dominion over the Republican and Democratic parties
through campaign contributions, armies of lobbyists that have swamped
Washington, and control of political and economic think tanks and media.
What was for almost two hundred years a government of the people has become
a government of corporations, and the consent of the governed is now little
more than a quaint rubric of our Declaration of Independence, honored as a
perfunctory exercise in artifice, and practiced every two to four years in
midterm and presidential elections in which only about half of our eligible
voters go to the polls.
We stand on the brink of being judged by future historians as the generation
that failed to heed Abraham Lincoln's call to assure that the "government of
the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
There is almost no countervailing influence in our society to mitigate, even
at the margins, the awesome and all but total corporate ownership of our
political system. Labor unions are nearing extinction, and those that
survive are in the midst of internal leadership struggles to find relevance
in our economy and our society. Most of our universities are rarely, if
ever, bastions of independent thinking, social scholarship, and activism.
Instead they are dependent and rely upon either the federal government or
the favor of corporations and the wealthy for funding their very existences.
Our churches are in decline and tend to expend their political energy on
issues such as gay marriage and highly amorphous "family values" rather than
on the relevant causes of our time, including the preservation of our
traditional national values of independence, equality, personal freedom, the
common good, and our national interest. Isn't preserving the American Dream,
and fighting back against those forces that would diminish or destroy it, a
worthy cause for our traditional institutions and to all of us who care
deeply about our great democracy and way of life?
Most alarmingly, our federal government has become so dysfunctional that it
no longer serves well the needs of the people, nor do our elected officials
assert the common good against the power of money and capital.
No one believes more strongly than I do in our free enterprise democracy, or
in the importance of capitalism as the driving force of our economy. At the
same time, I also strongly reject unfettered capitalism, and those forces
that now rampant corporatism has arrayed against our middle class and those
who aspire to be part of it.
The title of this book reflects an evolution in my understanding of our
failed public policies, business practices, and politics over the past five
years, and of their disastrous impact on the single largest group of people
in this country -- our middle class. My understanding has, admittedly,
evolved far too slowly, and occasionally only haltingly, especially when I
consider that the result of those failed policies, practices, and politics
are now so painfully obvious: Middle class working men and women and their
families have been devastated.
In this conflict, the middle class is not collateral damage. Working men and
women are not innocent bystanders in a great national accident. Our
political, business, and academic elites are waging an outright war on
Americans, and I doubt the middle class can survive the continued assault by
forces unleashed over the past five years if they go on unchecked.
Whether the issue is a total lack of border security, an illegal immigration
crisis, taxation, education, or jobs, big business and big government are
unchecked in their attacks on the common good. Most of our elected
officials, whether Democrat or Republican, have been bought and paid for
through campaign donations from corporate lobbyists and other special
interest groups. We've reached a stage where lobbyists no longer merely
influence legislation but write the actual language of what becomes law.
The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 is only
one such example. Credit card, banking, and other financial institutions all
but wrote this measure. As a law, it now means that many middle class
families cannot turn to the protection of bankruptcy, even though the
leading cause of personal bankruptcy is the medical and health care costs
incurred by catastrophic illness.
In conjunction with the Bush administration's unwavering commitment to
faith-based economics and free trade at any cost, the effect of its failed
public policies has been draconian. Our unrepresentative Congress has
actually cheered on corporate America's business practices -- practices that
have destroyed millions of well-paying middle-class jobs, and continue to do
so. We are witnessing something that would have been unimaginable a quarter
century ago: the emergence of a House of Representatives and a Senate that
ignore the will of the majority of Americans, the middle class. Politicians
have become viciously and vacuously partisan, and contemptuous of their
constituencies. These forces are committed to a world order that views
national sovereignty and borders as inconvenient impediments to trade and
commerce, and our citizens as nothing more than consumers or units of labor
in a global marketplace. That ideology has damaged, perhaps irreversibly,
our manufacturing base as a result of the corporate offshoring of production
facilities and the outsourcing of jobs to cheap overseas labor markets.
Each night, as I conclude my nightly broadcast on CNN, I have the gut-sick
feeling that we have chronicled another twenty-four hours in the decline of
our great democratic republic and the bankrupting of our free enterprise
economy. Almost every night it seems we report on the erosion of individual
rights and individual liberty, on ever bolder attempts by political and
business elites to define what America now means, and on actions of elected
officials, corporate leaders, and special interests who seemingly are
determined to deny millions of Americans the same economic and educational
opportunities that previous generations enjoyed.
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