Sunday, December 13, 2015
The American Dream: A Reality Check
America is no longer the freest nation on earth. We're not even in the top ten (we rank 21st in the world. just behind Portugal and ahead of Spain) We're not the most economic successful nation either. We rank 12th. Education is considered perhaps the most important determent of a nation's future. How do we far compared? Well, we rank 36th overall out of 60 nations. Schools have gone from a place of acquire knowledge and develop critical thinking and socialization skills to glorifed babysitters, abusive, undisciplined and sometimes dangerous students, not to mention teachers having sex with students (given the ages of some of the students, it borders on pedophilia).
Well, it appears what happened was that the vehicle which droved and protected the working and middle classes, the unions, declined. Unions were essential to protecting worker rights; for ensuring they had safe jobs; for making it possible to buy homes and to save for "rainy days" as well as their children's education by striking for a livable wage as well as kept our children out of the labor force and in school. They kept us healthy by demanding that employers provided health care, and gave us time off to relax (by the way, Americans are ranked 37th in the world for overall health in case you're wondering). Yes, Labor did have it faults. There was corruption. There was greed, especially in the upper echelons where Labor presidents and staff earned as much as the corporate presidents and board members they were suppose to protect the workers from, and yet the employees still gained more than they lost.
These days, unions are about gone in private sector with about 6% unionized and basically survive only in the private labor market (comprising roughly 1/3 of all government employees), albeit much more clipped than in previous years. In addition, corporations began exporting jobs, especially production jobs, to undercut unions and above average paying jobs and take advantage of pennies on the hour workers with no benefits as well as child and prison labor and a no strike guarantee labor force; all while continuing to get taxpayer based subsidies and tax breaks.
This study went on to confirm that, thanks to corporate money, the business-government revolving door, the working and middle class have little or no impact in US policy---domestic or foreign, or in US laws. This was verified again when the not-so-supreme Supreme Court affirmed Citizens United which declared that corporations were, in fact, "people" and as such, entitled to the same rights as flesh and blood people were, with one key exception. The High Court also ruled that money equated to free speech, and while you and I are capped as to how much "free speech" we are allowed to contribute to political campaigns, these "Frankensteins" aren't restricted in what they can give. That means they can buy who they want out in the open.
As if all this wasn't bad enough (and it is), there's some more news on the economic front. As I told you earlier, the 1% control not just the federal government and a significant amount of the wealth, a new study shows that globally, the top 1% controls just under 50% of all the world's wealth---48%, which wasn't supposed to happen until sometime in 2016. That equals around $218 trillion dollars (yes, trillion with a "T").
Pew Research: The American Middle Class Is Losing Ground
America's Middle Class Is Getting Squeezed Out
Middle-class families, pillars of the American dream, are no longer a majority, study finds
Pew Study: Middle Class Declining, No Longer Majority
The Top 1% Now Owns 50% Of World's Wealth
US Confidence in Institutions Remain Below Historical Norms