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2010: America Held Hostage

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Bob Burnett       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   4 comments

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If you were out of the United States for most of the year, or rely upon the mainstream media for all your "information," you missed the big news of 2010: we're having a class war and greed is winning.  To get their way, the rich are holding working Americans hostage.


In September, new Census figures showed the income gap between America's richest and poorest was the widest on record:  "The top-earning 20 percent of Americans - those making more than $100,000 each year - received 49.4 percent of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4 percent earned by those below the poverty line [15 percent]."  It's one example of what Senator Bernie Sanders called "a war against the working families of America." 


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This is not a covert action.  Every day there's a headline that some giant corporation had record profits and their executives got enormous bonuses; often on the same page there's another story about record unemployment or middle-class folks who lost their homes to foreclosure.  The question is why nobody but Bernie Sanders, and a few brave progressives, are willing to talk about our class war.


There are three explanations.  One is that it's become politically incorrect to talk about class warfare In the US.  By shouting "class warfare" every time progressives tried to raise taxes for the rich, conservatives have done an effective job of robbing the phrase of its potency.  As a result, many Democrats -" including the POTUS -" run away from any suggestion that this country is turning into a plutocracy and regard it as too "radical" to suggest that Republicans are engaging in class warfare, holding Americans hostage.

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Another explanation is that the conservative media has become so powerful that most commentators on mainstream outlets like CNN and THE NEW YORK TIMES are afraid to mention the systematic war on working families waged by America's power elite.  It's a subject that's not popular with rich media CEOs.  And, when pundits do write about this subject, they get a slew of angry mail suggesting they are  (gasp!) a "socialist." 


But the third and most troubling explanation is that our fellow citizens suffer from a collective psychosis: Americans think the US can't operate without the rich and so they are, in effect, protecting them. 


Groucho Marx told a joke about a man who complains to a psychiatrist, "My brother thinks he's a chicken."  The shrink responds, "That's terrible!  Why don't you tell him the truth?"  The man answers, "I would, but we need the eggs." 

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Americans don't tell the truth about the class war because we believe we need the "eggs."  As a nation we've developed Stockholm syndrome and fallen under the spell of our captors.  We've succumbed to the Republican message machine. 


Hitler's Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, famously said: "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."  That's what's happened to our national discussion of economic policy, Republicans have sold the big lie to the American people. 

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Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.

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