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The Peasants Need Pitchforks

Society & Culture  (tags: abuse, americans, children, corporations, corruption, culture, dishonesty, education, family, freedoms, government, interesting, news, politics, rights, society, Super Wealth )

- 2605 days ago -
The delusion of a classless America in which opportunity is equally distributed is the most effective deception perpetrated by the moneyed elite that controls all the key levers of power in what passes for our democracy.

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Kit B (276)
Wednesday April 6, 2011, 5:49 pm
A “working class hero,” John Lennon told us in his song of that title, “is something to be/ Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV/ And you think you’re so clever and classless and free/ But you’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see.”

The delusion of a classless America in which opportunity is equally distributed is the most effective deception perpetrated by the moneyed elite that controls all the key levers of power in what passes for our democracy. It is a myth blown away by Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz in the current issue of Vanity Fair. In an article titled “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%” Stiglitz states that the top thin layer of the superwealthy controls 40 percent of all wealth in what is now the most sharply class-divided of all developed nations: “Americans have been watching protests against repressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet, in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.”

That is the harsh reality obscured by the media’s focus on celebrity gossip, sports rivalries and lotteries, situations in which the average person can pretend that he or she is plugged into the winning side. The illusion of personal power substitutes consumer sovereignty—which smartphone to purchase—for real power over the decisions that affect our lives. Even though most Americans accept that the political game is rigged, we have long assumed that the choices we make in the economic sphere as to career and home are matters that respond to our wisdom and will. But the banking tsunami that wiped out so many jobs and so much homeownership has demonstrated that most Americans have no real control over any of that, and while they suffer, the corporate rich reward themselves in direct proportion to the amount of suffering they have caused.

Instead of taxing the superrich on the bonuses dispensed by top corporations such as Exxon, Bank of America, General Electric, Chevron and Boeing, all of which managed to avoid paying any federal corporate taxes last year, the politicians of both parties in Congress are about to accede to the Republican demand that programs that help ordinary folks be cut to pay for the programs that bailed out the banks.

It is a reality further obscured by the academic elite, led by economists who receive enormous payoffs from Wall Street in speaking and consulting fees, and their less privileged university colleagues who are so often dependent upon wealthy sponsors for their research funding. Then there are the media, which are indistinguishable parts of the corporate-owned culture and which with rare exception pretend that we are all in the same lifeboat while they fawn in their coverage of those who bilk us and also dispense fat fees to top pundits. Complementing all that is the dark distraction of the faux populists, led by tea party demagogues, who blame unions and immigrants for the crimes of Wall Street hustlers.


My book on the banking meltdown, “The Great American Stickup,” begins with the following words. “They did it. Yes, there is a ‘they’: the captains of finance, their lobbyists, and allies among leading politicians of both parties, who together destroyed an American regulatory system that had been functioning splendidly. …” They got to rewrite the laws to enable their massive greed over everything from the tax codes to the sale of toxic derivatives over the past quarter century, smashing the American middle class and with it the nation’s experiment in democracy.

The lobbyists are deliberately bipartisan in their bribery, and the authors of our demise are equally marked as Democrats and Republicans. Ronald Reagan first effectively sang the siren song of ending government’s role in corporate crime prevention, but it was Democrat Bill Clinton who accomplished much of that goal. It is the enduring conceit of the top Democratic leaders that they are valiantly holding back the forces of evil when they actually have continuously been complicit.

The veterans of the Clinton years, so prominent in the Obama administration, still deny their role in the disaster of the last 25 years. Yet the sad tale of income inequality that Stiglitz laments is as much a result of their policies as those of their Republican rivals. In one of the best studies of this growing gap in income, economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty found that during Clinton’s tenure in the White House the income of the top 1 percent increased by 10.1 percent per year, while that of the other 99 percent of Americans increased by only 2.4 percent a year. Thanks to President Clinton’s deregulation and the save-the-rich policies of George W. Bush, the situation deteriorated further from 2002 to 2006, a period in which the top 1 percent increased its income 11 percent annually while the rest of Americans had a truly paltry gain of 1 percent per year.

And that was before the meltdown that wiped out the jobs and home values of so many tens of millions of American families. “The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles,” Stiglitz concludes, “but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late.”

By Robert Scheer for TruthDig and Truth Out


Jelica R (144)
Wednesday April 6, 2011, 6:18 pm

A sobering story. Thank you Kit.

Kit B (276)
Wednesday April 6, 2011, 6:35 pm

No one is as delusional as the average American. Ask them how they are doing and they will tell "you all is well." Or ask them what they think their chances are becoming wealthy and they will tell you, "workin' on it." I guess since we have been programed to think this way since infancy we really don't have much choice. Or do we? We can make the choice to learn what's going on all around us, we can counter act propaganda and indoctrination with harsh reality. It's not fun, and sure isn't what we want to hear but discovery of truth and reality is the most wondrous of all adventures, open your mind and suddenly things fall into place, suddenly there is understanding and for a while anger. The anger is good, it's makes you want to be active and involved and that is what we all need, to feel involved, to feel important and to make ourselves important.

What label you choose is less important then being a part of the action, being able to contribute - whether making phone calls from home or getting out and carrying signs, signing up voters, working in some capacity for a candidate. Why? Think of it this way: America=Politics=America.

Kathy Javens (104)
Thursday April 7, 2011, 7:15 am
Noted. Great article. I know where I stand in all of this mess. I am not rich, not even working on it. Because I know it will never happen. Not for me, anyway. I am so glad for people like you, Kit, who put things on the table the way they are meant to be: truthfully. And even though this is a very ugly situation, if we all stick together, maybe we can claw our way out. Whatever I can do to help, let me know.

patricia lasek (317)
Thursday April 7, 2011, 8:06 am
I just happen to have a couple of pitchforks in my shed. I'm ready!

Kit B (276)
Thursday April 7, 2011, 8:09 am

Maybe we should add torches to that? Yes, pitchforks and torches, a good old fashioned riot!

Nancy M (197)
Thursday April 7, 2011, 12:05 pm
I like the idea of pitch forks. If I may be so bold, here is the URL for an article I posted back in the early days of Obama's presidency- 700 days ago:

Sorry, I don't know how to turn it into a link here but perhpas you can cut and paste. And I hope you don't mind Kit.

Kit B (276)
Thursday April 7, 2011, 12:13 pm

Two years later and nothing has really changed, Nancy. The opening of Nancy's article:

"Anyone with a 401(k) or pension should visit at least one shareholder meeting this month with a pitchfork - or at least a plastic picnic fork - and demand accountability from the corporate elite..."

Nancy M (197)
Thursday April 7, 2011, 12:16 pm
And I have been voting against all those bonuses and pay raises.

Linda G (187)
Thursday April 7, 2011, 7:11 pm
Well, I used to be anyone with a 401K but it disappeared in 2008 with my 45 yr employment field. I'm off to my local hardware store to buy a pitchfork. I may be able to add a torch too. I am more than ready. And I love the article Kit as it does show that corruptions comes in all parties.

Barbara Erdman (63)
Thursday April 7, 2011, 9:27 pm
Can't say that I blame them :-0 thanx Kitty and noted :)

Tierney G (381)
Friday April 8, 2011, 1:42 am
i was born ready! LOL it is four o clock in the morning here have not slept a wink. i saw something in those eyes of the right wing that scared the hell out of me. I saw pure evil ! I kid you not. Bad karma in the air very bad.
please people we must fight them tooth and nail or next may come the concentration camps!

let lets all refuse to pay our taxes until the rich and mega rich and those death camp corporations start paying their fair share. How can they possibly put the millions of the rest of us peasants in jail? lets really screw em!!!

Helen Avila (166)
Friday April 8, 2011, 8:25 am
The only option we have not is civil disobedience. We no longer have a say in our government. The i individuals who benefit from the current tax laws (rich don't pay but we get to make up their share) were the very ones who WROTE the tax laws.. Since we no longer have a voice in this government, we do not have to obey the rules set out by those who own the GOP and Tea Baggers

Kit B (276)
Friday April 8, 2011, 8:42 am

Any effect revolt against the "powers that be" must be well planned, extremely well organized and begin with a single hard hitting target. In a few days it will be April 15 and it is far too late to plan a tax revolt. Every year on April 15 there are some who gather either at the White House, Capitol building or the IRS offices to protest. Have you seen any significant impact?
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