The Class War

What?  America is a classless society?  Ideally, yes.  In reality, no.

Sure, in America anyone is able to climb the social class ladder through hard work, initiative, etc., etc.   But this is not as true as some would have you believe.

Generally, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  The latest recession is telling.   Lots of bailouts for the wealthy who are today again receiving their customary fat bonus checks.  How are you doing?

The Republicans take the House of Representatives and, under the guise of balancing the budget, attempt to slash spending that benefits the lower and middle income population.   Spending stimulus bills are now verboten (though tax cuts, especially for the wealthy, are always welcome), so the states cannot receive any extra support to balance their budgets from the feds.

The Republicans in the states use the (supposed) state budget crises to destroy public employee unions.  Despite the fact that

over the last fifteen years the pay of public-sector workers, including teachers, has dropped relative to private-sector employees with the same level of education – even including health and retirement benefits.

I do not have the numbers, but I would bet that the private sector employees have not exactly done all that great over the past fifteen years.   Based on the Winners Take All graphs (scroll down just a bit) at Mother Jones, it doesn’t look too good.

James Taranto opines at The Wall Street Journal:

Actual middle-class Americans don’t feel put upon by “corporate power” or “the business community,” because by and large, they own the means of production: They run businesses; they hold shares in corporations through their investment and retirement accounts.

I would love to see the polling on that.

I actually qualify as someone who holds shares in corporations through a retirement account.  Oddly, I do find myself put upon by corporate power.   My experience is that big business will screw me over every chance it gets.

But I digress.  Membership in unions has dropped a lot over the past few decades.  In 1977 26.9% of non-agricultural workers were covered by a collective bargaining agreement.  In 2009, this number is 13.7%.

And over the past few decades, inequality has increased.  Note that the share of income after taxes has declined for the bottom 80%.

Yes, the rich have done very well for themselves over the past few decades.  But it is not enough it would seem.  Class war has been declared by the 20% against the 80%.  It is a sad fact that many of the 80% are supporting the 20% in the war.