Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Stop Coddling the Super-Rich - NYTimes.com

Stop Coddling the Super-Rich - NYTimes.com
The above Op Ed letter submitted by Warren E Buffet, "Stop Coddling the Super-Rich" is a breath of fresh air. However his "outing" the rich and legislators in Washington begs the question, "why now?"  The political slant in favor of the rich has existed since at least April 30, 1789 when George Washington was sworn in as president.
It also begs the question what expectations do the rich eg., Warren Buffet have concerning any outcomes based on our country, politicians, and all taking Mr. Buffet's advice.

Our country is in serious trouble, not only due to our debt and mortgage crisis, which was not a lapse in judgement but rather chickens coming home to roost to poor morals leading to unethical and illegal behavior bred in America culture and escalated since the 70's,  but financial and cultural trouble do to the erosion of the middle class.  The shrinking middle class call to arms got a lot of play during the Reagan years and interesting statistics leaped to the forefront.   However, for every statistic heralding the end of the middle class there was one to suggest things were not so bad.

The boundaries between classes are  imaginary  spanning around groups according to economic and psychological standards. In the 1980s at least one economist defined the middle class as a state of mind. "Says Lawrence Lindsey, assistant professor of economics at Harvard: "A middle-class person is someone who expects to be self-reliant, unlike the upper class with its unearned wealth or the lower class with its dependency on society. Far from declining, the middle class is bigger than ever, and its ethic is alive and well."" (Is the Middle Class Shrinking? by Stephen Koepp; Gisela Bolte/Washinton and Jon D. Hull/Los Angeles Monday, Nov. 03, 1986 Time Magazine)

Like the little engine that thought it could middle classers through hard work, determination and belief in themselves felt they had arrived at a station in life  that at least would not be toppled. As comforting as this is at first blush this mindset ethic has created a false sense of security that has caused the middle class to react slowly to a drastically changed, even more, uneven terrain that at one time affected the small percentage of middle class fringers who found themselves overwhelmed by American politics and the resulting economics. Like Dorothy observing, "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore," more and more middle classers have been awakened from the American dream into an uncertain nightmare on Elm street where one must stay awake and alert.

In essence the fringe group has eaten at a significant part of the core middle class and the new fringe has failed to realize it is now the outskirts of the middle class and spinning of the circumference. Never has the saying, "a paycheck away from" hunger, homelessness, no health insurance, the working homeless, and displacement been so real for so many.
"Joel Kotkin seems to concur with some of this doomsaying. In his piece in the Dallas Morning News, Kotkin says:
Most disturbingly, the rate of upward mobility has stagnated overall, as wages have largely failed to keep up with the cost of living. It is no easier for poor and working-class people to move up the socio-economic ladder today than it was in the 1970s; in some ways, it’s more difficult. The income of college-educated younger people, adjusted for inflation, has been in decline since 2000." (Warner Todd Huston, "Is the American Middle Class Disappearing?" Canada Free Press 2010)

Still not a believer?

  • 61% of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49% in 2008 and 43% in 2007.
  • Only the top 5% of households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.
  • A staggering 43% of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.
  • For the first time in US history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.
  • 66% of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.

Have we seen the last of the attacks on collective bargaining?  Probably not.  Power struggles such as in Ohio where Democrats staged a walk out in favor of unions, in Massachusetts where the attack on unions was led by Democrats and  in Indiana point to a government as usual panicked and looking for money in a business as usual support- big- business environment.  There is absolutely no creative thinking based on a long range view of  the real state of America advocating the case for the little people, the heart of our country.

It is patronizing for president after president to ascent we are the strongest greatest country on the planet when even the most ignorant of world affairs know we lead in military expenditures only.  We have lost ground in education and health care and steadily slide down the world leader list.  We still have not conquered the game of race and what is most startling is that many polls suggest most A

If we take Mr. Buffet's "we're all in this together" advice what then? We may avert a financial apocalypse, the middle class may still believe in the American dream which supports the upper class risking the possible complete demise of the middle class, and Mr. Buffet and the rest of the really really rich, stay that way.   By the way the American Dream is based on the premise that anyone can become part of the upper class through you guessed it, through hard work, determination and belief in ones selve, laudable ideals to be sure, but grossly misplaced.   I would think there would be many writings out if they are not out now about the American cast system.

Government backed credit card companies and banks are the new loan sharks able to change rules, interests and contracts in a single sweep of the pen.  Many churches are still only sellers of "pie in the sky" that nominally support the poor and down trodden but not in deference to their own fiefdoms.  We are a society without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable and unmerciful from the greatest to the least.  Because of the aforementioned we are a nation of cynics.
Time for some black eyed peas and cornbread as I ponder, where is the love?

 Dismal wouldn't you say?