• The real norm
    January 15,2014

    The real norm

    With the latest paltry employment statistics, it is apparent the “Great Recession” is continuing. This, despite governmental finagling (lies) about unemployment and under-employment figures, to make the situation seem better than it is. The increasing disparity of wealth between the rich and poor has prompted commentators to call this the “New Golden Age.” But this “new age” of skewed wealth is not an anomaly — a deviation from the norm — but the actual norm in the 250 years of American life.

    The real anomaly was the 35 years of relative economic equality between the “New Deal” years with its progressive legislation, and the ’70s when it all began to fall apart as the income of the working class began to stagnate and the plutocrats gleefully gathered in the surplus profits. “To believe in the ‘American Dream,’” as George Carlin sardonically put it, “you have to be asleep!”

    Even our deified leaders of the past supported the idea of a wealthy elite ruling over us and felt deep distrust of the mass of ordinary citizens. That’s us, folks — you and me. James Madison stated that the primary responsibility of government is “to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority. Those without property, or the hope of acquiring it, cannot be expected to sympathize sufficiently with its rights.” Sounds exactly like what the Koch brothers would say. Or as John Jay, the first chief justice of the Supreme Court, put it, “The people who own the country ought to govern it.”

    Alexander Hamilton declared that the people are a “great beast that must be tamed. Rebellious and independent farmers had to be taught, sometimes by force, that the ideals of the revolutionary pamphlets were not to be taken too seriously.”

    A century ago John Dewey, the great American philosopher and educator born in Burlington, wrote: “Democracy has little content when big business rules the life of the country through its control of the means of production, exchange, publicity, transportation and communication, reinforced by command of the press and other means of propaganda.” He could have written that the day before yesterday. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, President Obama, Gov. Shumlin and all the other legislative lackeys who have been bought and paid for by campaign contributions from the corporate mafia.

    Al Salzman


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