To quote Alexis de Tocqueville from his magnum opus Democracy in America (Volume 2, Appendix 5, "Democracy" ): "What is most important for democracy is not that great fortunes should not exist, but that great fortunes should not remain in the same hands. In that way there are rich men, but they do not form a class."
The wealthiest Americans, however, have fought against this advice since before de Tocqueville wrote it. They have instead looked longingly at the example of Great Britain and its hereditary nobility since the time of the Articles of Confederation, seeing in that aristocracy a stability that does not actually exist, except in the minds of the oligarchs and their apologists. It was only by Britain's Edward VII threatening to appoint a sufficient number of "life peers" to overcome opposition in a recalcitrant House of Lords that Great Britain at last established itself as a democracy for all of its male subjects. And it wasn't until 1928--eight years after the United States--that that ancient nation granted women the right to vote.
The Failure of Austerity Measures in Other Countries Is an Object Lesson for America.
We are kept under a blanket of non-information here in America about the economic difficulties in other nations, and how people are reacting to the austerity measures that are being applied in hopes of a solution.
It is not the social-insurance programs--Bill O'Reilly's so-called "Nanny State"--that are causing problems for Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal in the midst of the "Great Recession." If such programs were responsible, then the nations that have the strongest safety nets--Germany and the Scandinavian countries--would be the ones experiencing the greatest difficulties. Instead, these nations seem to be those least damaged by the world-wide economic downturn.
No, the real difficulty facing the Southern tier of nations in the European Union (Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal) is that they have all eased off on the taxation of their richest citizens, while increasing the tax burden of the working, middle, and professional classes. They have drunk the Kool-Aid of von Hayek, Friedman, and the Chicago School of Economics, and are now discovering the same problem that the United States faces today: a decrease of economic and political power for the majority of their citizens, and a concomitant increase for their wealthiest.
Mario Berlisconi, the Rupert Murdoch of Italy and its former Premier, controls some 80 percent of the printed and broadcast media in that country, which has allowed him to hide many of his government's worst transgressions against democratic rule and the economic interests of the majority of Italians. Fortunately, the Italian People are smart enough to see through the obfuscations. (See Stephen Lendman's March 5, 2013 OpEdNews article, "Italians Reject Austerity," for more on this subject.)
No, austerity measures are about as popular among the European peoples as a KuKluxKlan membership drive would be in South-Central Los Angeles.
The problems of Cyprus in recent weeks, where seizures of money directly out of private citizens' accounts was a near reality, is a cautionary tale for America. Felix Salmon, in a February 2009 article entitled "Are Uninsured Bank Depositors in Danger?", quoted from Asia-based investment strategist Christopher Wood's newsletter, in which Wood wrote: "It is amazing that Obama does not understand the political appeal of the nationalization option. [D]espite this latest setback, nationalization of the banks is coming sooner or later because the realities of the situation will demand it. The result will be shareholders wiped out and bondholders forced to take debt-for-equity swaps, if not hopefully depositors."
In discussions in the mainstream media about our "too big to fail banks," no mention is ever made that Sweden nationalized its banks in 1992,, after they had acquired billions in unsecured assets and left Sweden on the verge of bankruptcy. Now, twenty years later, Sweden, despite having few if any natural resources, has one of the strongest, most stable, economies in Europe. That country's nationalizing of its banks has certainly proved a better solution than the Cyprian government's placing a surtax on middle-class depositors, or the Japanese government's decision, taken at approximately the same time as Sweden's bank nationalization, to bear the burden of a bailout. That action led to the infamous "lost decade"of the Japanese economy, in which what had been the number-two economy in the world stagnated and China and Germany passed it by. (For more on this subject see Ellen Brown's March 28, 2013 AlterNet article, "Think Your Money is Safe? Think Again: The Confiscation Scheme Planned for US and UK Depositors .")
A more recent example of effective economic reform is that of Iceland, which has quietly undergone a peaceful revolution over the last five years. The revolution started in 2008, when it was discovered that Iceland's banks had in essence sold their country down the river, leaving it an unpayable debt. The people of Iceland rose up and forced the resignation of their prime minister, his government, the parliament, and the officers of all of Iceland's banks. They then repudiated the debt the "banksters" had imposed, adopted a new Constitution, and began prosecuting former politicians and financial manipulators with equal aplomb, seizing assets and beginning extradition proceedings against those responsible who had left the country. (For more on this, read Joe Martino's "Why Did the Media Keep the Recent Peaceful Icelandic Revolution Quiet? ") I think it has a lot to do with preventing the American people from developing similar solutions for our own problems.
There has also been little mention in the U.S. press of the recent unanimous vote by the United States Senate to turn down adoption of that darling program of right-wingers everywhere: the chain CPI for Cost of Living Adjustments. That legislation would have cut thousands of dollars per year from the Social Security income of seniors already living at a very narrow margin for making ends meet.
Regardless of Media Silence, Class Struggle Is a Reality.
Much of what I have been writing about in the last seven years has been becoming grist for the mill of the mainstream media. The business website of Time recently featured an essay entitled "Marx's Revenge: How Class Struggle Is Shaping the World." Go back to my November, 2012 OpEdNews article "Marxism for Fun and Profit," and check out the articles referenced there--both my own and others'--as recommended reading. I'm pretty sure you couldn't tell me I'm not at least a bit prescient. That old boogie-man of Class Struggle is happening--in the U.S. and around the World. It was the rich who started it. It will be the poor and the middle-classes who end it.
Robert Reich, the former Labor Secretary under Bill Clinton, wrote an essay on April 24, 2012 for OpEdNews entitled "Why Anyone Should Care that Bill O'Reilly Calls Me a Communist." Apparently, Mr. O'Reilly made this ad hominem attack on Professor Reich in reaction to a comment the Professor had made on Jon Stewart's "Daily Show." There, he had argued that, "because America's big corporations are now global, we can no longer rely on them to make necessary investments in human capital or to lobby for public investments in education, infrastructure, and basic R&D." For this reason, he concluded, government would have to step in and do the job that the corporations used to do.
The lack of attention in the press to what is happening in the rest of the world is a means to keep the American people ignorant and complacent. We do not have, as they do in Europe, national newspapers published by the political parties, both left and right, to help keep us informed about developments that the lapdogs of government, the mainstream media, choose to ignore.