In 1968, following hundreds of inner-city rebellions over the span of four years, the President Lyndon Johnson’s 11 member panel to study civil disorders in this country Kerner Commission warned Americans: “
Our nation is moving toward two societies, one Black, one White–separate and unequal.” And so it was. So it is.
Instead of having the affect of arousing public support to save Johnson’s Great Society, that announcement seems to have signaled to the plutocrats in this country that it was time for them to come together and reclaim the nation’s wealth that had been redistributed among the poor, first by President Roosevelt’s New Deal, and then by Johnson’s Great Society, with its civil rights, and its gender equality, and its Skirmish (War) on Poverty.
I was visiting California maybe 20 years after Kerner and the signs were unmistakable, but few were paying attention to them. By then, Ronald Reagan was President and the new Gold Rush was on in earnest. I noticed a so-called, vanity-license plate on a luxury automobile which read “GREED.” Clearly it was acceptable, to not only be wealthy and self-indulgent, it was okay to boast about it.
Corporations were beginning to export jobs to foreign countries, wholesale, to take advantage of cheaper–often sweatshop–labor. Greed.
At the same time, the Black community was under siege. A Marine Lt. Col. named Oliver North and the CIA were master-minding a plot to sell crack-cocaine in inner-city ghettoes, in order to pay for illegal weapons to be used in a Latin American counter-revolution. While “GREED” was the order of the day on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, it was like “New Jack City” on the streets of Watts–crime, and drugs, and mayhem were the order of the day.
Outsourcing got so bad, there was a television situation comedy about the practice. Just try to speak to a company service rep today, for any company that still offers “human” problem-solving in this country. You can’t because the vast majority of those jobs have long ago been outsourced.
Now, here we are, 20 years after New Jack City and the plutocrats who have benefited greatly from 40 years of upward redistribution of the nation’s wealth–the “Wealth Gap” between the rich and poor is huge, and getting larger–now these rich rulers and bosses are openly blaming the victims for their crimes. This at a time when the number of poor people in this country is the largest it’s ever been, and the percentage of poor, especially working-age, adults in poverty, is the largest it’s been in 30 years.
They’ve got a lot of nerve, or “moxie,” or “chutzpah,” or whatever it is that lets people like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who represents one of the poorest states in the union, even fix his mouth to criticize President Barack Obama’s proposal to make the tax rates millionaires pay equal to those paid by ordinary workers.
The proposal has been dubbed the “Buffett Rule,” after billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who called for higher taxes on rich folks like himself in an Op-Ed article where he admitted he pays a lower tax rate on his billions than does the wage-earning secretary who works for him.
Republican lawmakers in Washington condemned the idea as “Class Warfare,” harkening back to one of their favorite targets, so-called “Marxist,” “Socialist” ideology which puts people together across racial and geographic lines, according to their economic “class.” Those greedy plutocrats who made off like bandits in the 1980s, 1990s, and then when the economy went into the tank in 2008, got paid again in federal stimulus money which they put in their bank accounts instead of doing their part to stimulate the national economy, those rich rulers are now crying “class warfare” all the way to the bank.
They understand, and it must be true that: “The more you eat, the more you get hungry.” And so, after their stunning victories over President Obama in government-shutdown and the debt-ceiling confrontations, now that the President is arguing for tax increases on the wealthy as part of his deficit reduction plan, they realize it’s time for them to dine again. Like Robin Hood, only they want the government to continue to steal from the poor and give to the rich.
For his part, President Obama is clear: “Either we have to ask the wealthy to pay their fair share, or we have to ask seniors to pay more for medicare, or gut education,” he said in the Rose Garden Sept. 19. “This is not class warfare. It’s Math.”