Legislated Theft: We are not your tools or fools

October 6, 2011

“As a whole, the United States remains a prosperous country, but the economy isn’t working for people who make most of their income by working – the share of the nation’s income going to wages hit an all-time low last year, while the share going to corporate profits was at an all-time high.” —Alternet; Joshua Holland, 10/5/2011

In a nutshell this is what Occupy Wall Street is all about.  It’s about the other 99%: American workers.

Conservatives will argue that the rich deserve what they rake in and that correcting the growing income gap inequity in the country punishes success —as if the success of the rich had nothing to do with the contribution of American workers or taxpayers. But this is a smokescreen for theft.  Huge theft. Calculated theft. Planned theft. Legislated theft. They will also argue that taxing the rich in the manner they were taxed during times the nation grew more prosperous is anti-capitalist, or simply, a move to socialism.  But then the United States must have been a socialist country in the period previous to the onerous Reagan presidency. During that time the rich’s draw from the economy was much lower yet we thrived.  We had incomes.  We had jobs.

Holland points out that from 1947, through 1967, up to 1980 when Reagan was elected the top 1% skimmed just 12%, 10.7%, and 12.8% from the heap respectively. This left the remaming 99% the balance to share. With the coming of The Great Communicator American workers were communicated more and more into the realm of less and less.

“By the time George W. Bush was elected,” says Holland, “they were taking in 21.5 percent. And in 2007, the year before the crash, they were pulling in 23.5 percent of our pre-tax income, leaving the other 99 percent to share just 76.5 percent of the fruits of our output.”

How did this happen? Was is technological advancement as the right would argue — is it just the way capitalism works;  is it just the way of the world?  Holland and history say no:

“There are two things that are vitally important to understand about this. First, those at the top of the ladder aren’t any more virtuous, intelligent or hardworking than they were 30 years ago, and this didn’t happen by accident. Some part of it may well have resulted from technological innovations, but the lion’s share of that shift resulted from specific policy changes that the corporate Right fought hard to enact.

“It resulted from the emergence of international trade deals that facilitated offshoring much of our manufacturing base, changes in labor laws and enforcement that cut the unionized share of the American workforce in half, and a shift in priorities at the Federal Reserve that led it to concentrate far more on keeping inflation in check than keeping working America employed.”

The changes in the wealth distribution of the United States now sending a  greater and greater proportion of America’s income to the top 1% come from policies legislated by a congress financed by that top 1%.  This has been happening incrementally and systematically for years and we cruised along in the game like somnambulists.  Then in 2010 the Supreme Court sealed the deal so blatantly it became hard to ignore.

In January of 2010 the court “…ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.”

“The 5-to-4 decision was a vindication, the majority said, of the First Amendment’s most basic free speech principle — that the government has no business regulating political speech. The dissenters said that allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace would corrupt democracy.” — NTY

The court ruled this as if oblivious to the historical power of money. Calling “money” “speech” they sidestepped the dissenters as if money does not, indeed, “corrupt democracy”.  They said this as if they were clueless that the power of money did not leaverage the top 1% to a huge advantage regarding the politics and policies of government.

This is why we have Occupy Wall Street.  This is why the youngest of the Other 99% are joining and saying we will not be your tools or fools.

Jim Culleny


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