What does a sick child; a soldier patrolling the DMZ in Korea; an elderly widow trying to figure out how to survive on the money she has and the prescriptions she needs; a family facing foreclosure; a small family business that finds itself facing bankruptcy and forced to close the doors; an illegal alien who is working for peanuts, living in squalor, and worries daily of being deported; a sailor manning a post deep in the bowels of a United States Navy warship in unfriendly waters; a family living in their car while trying to find a job; a recent college graduate struggling to figure out how to pay off their tuition on an entry level wage; or a single parent who worries that the car they own will break down and they will lose their job ALL have in common?
In all these circumstances, the wealthy have figured out a way to make money off of them. The American economy has become “vulture capitalism”, built on victimizing those who were already victims of disease, poverty, circumstance, or just plain bad luck. D.U.I.s are not a matter of public safety, but a matter of revenue. Many of the problems of our society could be solved if not for the loss of profit a solution would represent to those who have found schemes to make money off them.
This is nothing new. The slaughter of native Americans to open the way for white European expansion, the bondage of Chinese workers who built our first railroads, to indentured servants who sold years of their life for a chance to live free, to the darkest days of our history when slavery was an accepted evil that could only be eradicated after one of the bloodiest and most costly conflicts in American history.
We used to be a country that made things. Cars rolled out of Detroit, steel flowed from Pittsburgh, and Chicago was the place if you needed machine tools. Mighty trains criss-crossed the nation, distributing food, fuel, lumber; and many other things that were produced and built in this country.
In just a few decades we went from foundries and factories to junk-bonds and sub-prime mortgages. We once exported world class quality and now we import third world wages while we hemorrhage American jobs.
We have been betrayed by the money changers. They constantly shuffle money around in the stock market, or hide it off-shore to avoid taxes. They peddled the belief that every American can be a self made man, all they had to do was play their game. They touted the virtues of self reliance and the liberating promise of entrepreneurship. Trouble is, the already rich know the game too well, and anybody laying their money down does so on the table they own that is rigged.
America rode a wave of wealth and power after WWII. We were strong industrially, economically, and socially. Returning G.I.s weren’t going to slave for poverty wages and unionization was the norm as these veterans did the same thing at home that they did in combat and that was banding together and looking out for each other.
Corporations, emboldened by the experience of flexing their industrial muscle and using the relationships formed by working closely with the War Department, now had to deal with this new breed of workers.
Many other challenges, previously unimaginable, confronted America’s newfound place in the spotlight. The Korean conflict was settled in what can only be called a draw, and an embarrassing and costly disappointment in Vietnam. On the home front, America faced the struggle for Civil Rights as people migrated to the cities in search of jobs. Assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy broke our hearts. Women were burning their bras, no longer satisfied with being relegated to the home. Patriotism itself seemed under attack as young men burned their draft cards and fled to Canada to avoid compulsory military service.
The Greatest Generation was once so sure that they had earned a life of peace, predictability, and comfort, negotiated collective bargaining agreements to that end. This stability was shaken by upheavals like Watergate, the oil embargo, and terrorism.
Meanwhile, the lesson the world learned from America took hold in many countries that were our friends and even our enemies during the global conflict that touched almost every corner of the world. Peoples previously isolated and insulated from outside influences were suddenly confronted with paradigm altering cultural changes of their own. Coming to the realization that innovation and education could lift an entire society, they studied those elements they found in the Americans and applied them to their own society.
So when “free trade” agreements and most favored nation trading status were conferred, an eager and hungry world got their chance for a bite of the American Dream.
In hindsight, the battle lines were drawn more clearly than they were in the 1860s. The rebels now replaced by working class blue collar wage earners. The federal troops are still taking their marching orders from the white collar wealthy industrialists. Like the Confederacy of old, workers win many of the battles, only to be losing the war as wages stagnate, executive compensation soars, and long established factories that once anchored whole communities move entire manufacturing to other countries for the promise of lower operating costs and more profit.
Greed is the biggest threat facing our country. Greed has broken down communities and families across the nation. There is an UN-CIVIL War brewing across our nation. It’s a war between the “HAVES” and “HAVE-NOTS”.
The “HAVES” live in their exclusive manicured neighborhoods or gated communities. To them, work is an endless schedule of meetings and phone conversations with a lot of head nodding, handshakes, and fake smiles. To them, disappointment is bird crap on their sixty thousand dollar Mercedes, or junior or the little princess had to settle for Harvard instead of Oxford.
The “HAVE-NOTS” are the working people. Some are living from paycheck to paycheck, one major illness or expense away from losing it all. Others look a lot like the “HAVES”, except they carry 2nd and 3rd mortgages, heavy credit card debt, and hope that they can retire someday.
Patriotism has de-evolved to placing a silly magnetic ribbon to the back of your SUV that says, “Support our troops,” that was made in China. Patriotism has become so disjointed and unfocused that there are groups out there attacking other groups who are exercising their First Amendment rights to Free Speech. Of course free speech never has meant that those exercising that right be protected from the consequences, but it’s always been a two-way street.
Post World War II, American workers were as united as ever, with the highest percentage of unionized citizens in America’s history. This gave birth to the middle-class.
Since then, American workers have been under assault. The frontline has always been organized labor, because we set the bar for wages, benefits, and working conditions for ALL workers.
The tactics used by the rich have been devastating to working people, and meant to divide us by race, religion, political affiliation, and any other specific belief or prejudice they could use to make workers start forming up divisions within the ranks.
It’s even easier to keep working people confused in the age of the 24/7 news cycle, the internet, and fake news.
A questioning attitude is a great thing, when it comes to safety and self improvement through curiosity and education, but when that attitude paralyzes you from standing with those with which you have the most in common with, it may be time to set aside some of those doubts and figure out your own belief system and who you are as a citizen and working person.
This is easier for those who claim to be Christian, because they exercise faith regularly, but that is no guarantee that all Christians follow the same doctrine. Too many who claim the title only use it as a bully pulpit to criticize others, or to mask other material agendas.
America is facing it’s own Berlin Wall moment, like the Soviets did in 1991.
Ironic, given the fact there is so much talk about walls in our country these days.
With all the urgency of the need to rebuild the nation’s traffic and utility infrastructure, it is the struggling middle-class that is fighting to preserve the American Way of Life.
Until the members of the middle-class band together to rebuild our social and economic infrastructure, we will keep losing ground in the present Un-Civil War that is being waged against us.