By Rawlein G. Soberano, Ph.D.
GERMANTOWN, MD (Nov. 16, 2011) — Income inequality has deteriorated over the past several years and is at its highest level since the Great Depression. It is a time bomb lurking in the dark with dire consequences. But this is not a new trend.
Income inequality has been gnawing at the core of our being for the past 30 years. In the late 1980s and late 1990s, the United States has experienced two long periods of sustained economic growth. Yet from 1980 to 2005, more than 80 percent of the total increase in American income went to the top one-percent.
Economic growth was more sluggish in the first decade of this century, but the decade saw productivity increase by about 20 percent. More of the increase translated into wage growth at middle and lower incomes, an outcome that baffles many economists. The 2008 financial crisis exacerbated the trend — the top one-percent of earners has been feeding even more greedily at the trough for decades.
Many Americans who once accepted or even cheered such inequality now see that gain as ill-gotten, as undeserved, as generated from cheating. Most of all, the legal system that once served as the legitimate anchor for the rule of law, that common set of rules that are equally applied to all, has now become irrevocably corrupt and is seen as such.
Republicans want the American people to close their eyes to this inequality and accuse anyone who bring it to their attention as guilty of sowing “class warfare.” They use this rhetoric to distract people from what is going on.
There is nothing intellectually dishonest and sort of gutter politics to come out of the failure of the American Jobs Act to pass because of Republican obstruction and destructive agenda to make President Obama a one-term president. That was all their focus and what consumed them in the past three years. They hope Americans would not see their shenanigans and blame BHO if unemployment continues to be high.
As usual, they resort to political rhetoric calling for the dismissal of police officers from the force for lack of funds, though it was their economic policies that crashed Wall Street. Their demagoguery against teachers, police officers and firefighters, many of whom belong to unions was the product of their political gamesmanship in playing with people’s lives to stay in power.
Vice President Joe Biden called it like it is without the verbal games of saying what is politically acceptable while hiding the truth.
Confrontations are entering a dangerous new stage. Many city officials are under pressure from constituents, tired of unsightly tent cities, dead grass and unhealthy conditions.
The cost to already struggling municipalities which must protect and clean up after the protesters is growing. In Atlanta, it’s more than $300k; in San Francisco, more than $100k; NYC overtime costs have risen to $3.4 million; in Minneapolis, it’s $200k; in Boston, the total tally is $2 million and counting.
This is money they can use to cover other expenditures, like food for the hungry, heating oil for the elderly, shelter for battered women, inter alia. Tea Party groups across the country are accusing local and state governments, charging them fees to hold rallies in public parks, while allowing Occupy protesters to set up camp for free.
Herman Cain talks about the envy of OWS over the success of the rich. We love winners, but hate cheaters. Wall Street bankers have been guilty of theft, fraud, market manipulation and other shameful machinations in the past 15 years and got away with it.
This is the consequence of self-regulation of their own conduct which doesn’t work. It takes a lot of balls to accuse protesters as just jealous of their hard-earned money. Where was the class-hatred during the Reagan years when it was something to crow about by openly dumping on the poor? Where was the envy in the last two decades when unions shrank and CEO pay, relative to the median pay, started to rise in leaps and bounds?
Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of Congress and don’t believe their representatives share their priorities. Most of them don’t share the average American experience. Congress has become an exclusive club that counts 245 millionaires (66 in the Senate and 179 in the house). While one-percent of Americans are millionaires, 66 percent of the senators and 44 percent of House members are.
Even the 2010 elections, with its battle cry of “taking our country back,” a freshman class of senators has a medium net worth of close to $4 million. Their political operation tells us that to run a campaign involves very deep pockets.
House ethics rules dictate that a lawmaker should “never use any information coming to him confidentially in the performance of his governmental duties as a means for making a private profit.” But House rules are only enforced on an internal basis, and breaches of the rules are often just lightly punished.
A bill by two Democratic Representatives (Louise Slaughter of NY and Tim Waltz of Minn.) was introduced to stop insider trading in Congress. It only got 14 Congressional sponsors.
Paul Ryan, the GOP evangelist of mendacity, double-talk, and fear-mongering has the impudence to accuse President Obama of “preying on the emotions of fear, envy and resentment” and “sowing social unrest.” His rationale seems to be that by proposing the American Jobs Act, the President is making people mad that Republicans won’t support it.
With the reaction generated by the messenger, the Republicans know that BHO is right and are afraid that they have been exposed for their diabolical meanness. The irony regarding the American Jobs Act is that its individual provisions have had bipartisan support in the past.
The Republican camp that increasingly acts not like a traditional peacetime political organization, but more like an apocalyptic cult or one of the authoritarian movements from the early 20th century European history. This was a form of violence and serious escalation even from the days of GWB when the party was mostly limited in its willingness to use human beings as pawns in a homicidal ploy for political power.
Bush and Karl Rove sacrificed Iraqi lives and the lives of American servicemen for oil and votes. This current group of Republicans, many of them criminals, cheaters and goons, held hostage the American people and threatened to destroy them if its didn’t get what it wanted.
Most people are accustomed to thinking of America as a stable nation where politics is not a life or death issue but more of a topic at the dinner table. Now it seems to be headed in the opposite direction where 99 percent who have access to guns and other weapons (thanks to the NRA) have nothing (they’ve already lost everything to the greed of Wall Street) more or very little to lose in the economy that has destroyed their lives.
The problem with easy access to guns and their proliferation is that it takes only one hothead to open Pandora’s box to create mayhem, spill blood and spark violence. Desperate people do stupid things that they would otherwise not do under normal circumstances. But these are not normal times with the number of poor out of a job, hungry, especially their children, while Wall Street makes bets on their bad luck and grim future.
Knowing what happened in the past when Wall Street was betting even against their own products that they were selling investors, it would not be surprising if it anticipates making money from OWS, from the potential violence that can erupt into bloody and deadly confrontation. Is Goldman Sachs following eerily these developments, keeping track of the thousands who are passionate in expressing their deep discontent with the status quo?
They must have already started asking themselves how they can make money off them and establish a special fund, e.g., Global Rage Fund whose investment objective is to monetize OWS protests as they spread around the globe. They must be confident there’s plenty of money to be made from this chaos, e.g., police batons and bandages, barricades and stun guns, replacement to broken windows and overturned vehicles, and construction materials. Through market manipulation, Goldman Sachs and (Tim) Geithner’s Marauding Raiders are poised to corner this new “futures” trade, and the consequences will be deadly this time around.
Rawlein G. Soberano, Ph.D. is the President of the Asian American Business Roundtable.