1 January 2015
The View from the Cheap Seats
by Juan Sebastian Chavez
The history of the world is not the story of everyday men and women. What matters is conquest and domination. Ordinary women and men matter only as cannon fodder. History has very little regard for those of us disinclined to kill and maim. The vast majority of us are no more than spectators at the big game. And most of us are warming the cheap seats at that.
The Right has complained incessantly for over 30 years about stifling government regulation. They have lobbied, successfully, for extensive deregulation and tax relief for business, all the while holding themselves up as “job creators,” and yet the US, once the land of opportunity, has become the most unequal of developed nations.
Since the late 1970s the earnings of the average (male) American worker have fallen by 30% (adjusted for inflation). In that same time period, the average earnings of the top 1% have nearly tripled (from $393,000 to $1,100,000 in adjusted dollars). The top 400 wealthiest individuals in the US now have more wealth than the bottom 150,000,000.
Still, the 1% see themselves as sorely abused.
Those who believe themselves to be better than the rest of us build bigger and better fortified mansions. They refuse to pay their fair share of taxes and the infrastructure that allowed this country to become an economic, democratic, and military superpower is crumbling.
They created the myth of their own exceptionalism to justify their immoral behavior when, in fact, they are small men, who gained access to the top shelf by standing on the shoulders of giants.
The things that set us apart, that make us better, keep us stronger, depend on a shared vision of the common good – which requires shared contributions. As wealth and power shift to smaller numbers the few channel their resources into the defense of the status quo.
They shift their tax burden to the middle class by hiding their income behind tax-protected capital gains and salting away their accumulated wealth in offshore accounts.
They instigate wars of choice, funded with dollars taken from our public schools and universities and fight them with volunteers who they use up like pack animals.
- They obstruct, obfuscate, refuse to do the business of government, and systematically disenfranchise the 99%.
They justify their dirty deeds by invoking God and patriotism, though they are anything but pious or patriotic.
They gutted our manufacturing capability by outsourcing our jobs overseas. They then turn around and sell their domestically designed, foreign produced devices to the very people whose jobs they have given away so cheaply.
And we don’t care—because we love our iCrap.
The 1% and their conservative minions do not recognize the social contract. There is no longer any “common good” as the interests of the Ruling Elite have diverged from the interests of everyday people. The 1% have systematically defunded the underpinnings of society; highways, bridges, water treatment systems, public transportation, health care, education, because these things must be funded with taxes.
The abuses of the rich and powerful are not unique to the US. Around the world, governments, corporations, religious leaders, institutions empowered to do the business of the people are betraying those trusts. Peoples are rising up all over the world, in the Middle East, Asia, Russia, South America, India, in response to the excesses of the Ruling Elite.
When will we stand up?