Take a good look at the picture above. This is a real picture I took today in downtown Manhattan. The woman with the sign was holding up plates made up of magnets she had created and was selling on Broadway. What would drive someone into having to humiliate oneself in this manner? She had no choice. She had recently lost her job as an Administrative Assistant in NYC and could not find work. Her husband's salary kept her just above the threshold for Medicaid and they could not afford the medical coverage at his job. So as a diabetic, she needs insulin and is forced to the streets to try and hustle some money. Welcome to the real battlefield of class warfare in this country.
We hear the term class warfare thrown around carelessly by the right and their propaganda network, Fox News. When? Whenever someone has the temerity to suggest returning the tax rates to the 1990 levels. You remember the 1990s? The last time this country had a decent economy? Returning to the rates of the 90s would essentially mean that the richest people in this country would need to pay more in taxes. But that is anathema to the Republican Party and the Fox noise machine. So they trot anyone they can in front of the cameras to cry class warfare!
The idea behind the crying is that it is somehow unfair to point out that the rich are rich and therefore should pa y more than the poor. That those who do are pitting one class against another. But the cold hard reality is that the ones who truly wage class warfare are the Republicans and the ruling class. They do it by changing the poor into the lazy and the rich into the job creators. Those are the talking points. The democratic talking point is much simpler. If you make a lot of money, you should pay a higher tax rate than someone who does not. There is no warfare involved -- just the facts.
But the opposing talking point is designed to actually wage a war of words. To demonize the poor, as somehow being totally responsible for their plight in life. I have had conversations with good people on the right, who simply do not get it. In their minds if you make $250,000 per year, you are not rich. To them, the poor are lazy and deserve what they get. To them everyone in America has the same opportunities. Unfortunately all of those premises are absurd. But they believe them because Fox reassures them every night that it is true.
When you examine the income gap in this country you start to see the true results of true class warfare. Comparing the ratio of the average income of the richest 10% to the average income for the poorest 10% the United States rank 82nd in the world. The bottom 50% of this country control only 2.5% of the wealth. The top one percent of this country now controls 70% of the nation's wealth. If the poor are the ones waging class warfare, they need a new war strategy. From 1980 to 2006 the richest 1% of America tripled their after tax percentage of the nation's income while the bottom 90% had their share drop 20%.
Not satisfied, the ruling class has employed their Fox network to prop up the notion that the real problem in this country is unions and what remains of the decimated working class. From Ohio to Wisconsin to Florida we have seen rogue Governors force legislation through State Assemblies designed to strip the middle class of worker rights that people fought and bled for in this country for over 100 years. The object of course is to squeeze the once proud middle class of this country into the working poor. To force people who used to have reliable jobs to learn how to say, "You want fries with that?"
I just pray that we awaken as a country to the people behind the curtain. The wizards who are really pulling the strings. There was 40 million dollars pumped into the recent Wisconsin recall elections folks. Forty million dollars for seven STATE senate seats. Why would someone pay 40 million dollars to influence seven local races? Because it is Wisconsin where the people rose up in protest finally. They lost the battle by one seat but the message has been sent. Democracy will not go gentle into that goodnight.
Because for every talking head shill on Fox News crying about how the "takers" are waging class warfare against the "makers, there is a woman standing on a NYC street corner; forced to humiliate herself in order to by insulin for her diabetes. One of those two people is talking about class warfare while the other is the victim of it. I pray we learn which is which before we all find ourselves on the same street corner, wistfully remembering what our country used to be.