A protester at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations
Photo by: Google Images
The global revolution that keeps making the headlines looks like it's just getting started
Let me clarify something at the outset: I don't like it. It's human nature to resist profound upheaval, particularly when it's international. Change of this magnitude - even positive change - can be scary.
But dramatic change, and the growing desire for it, is now the defining characteristic of our era because we find ourselves living in an age where our government - both sides - seems increasingly incapable of governing well, where our faceless corporations have been ruled 'people' by our Supreme Court, where those same corporations seem to have more power than elected officials, where social inequality is off the charts and where special interests apparently hold more sway than the voting public.
Our democratic institutions look increasingly bought and paid for, or merely unresponsive when they're not paralyzed.
President Barack Obama was elected with a historic mandate to reform our political culture and has already scored some historic victories but his mandate has been constrained by one half of a contemptuous Congress and by the deliberate misuse of the Senate filibuster.
Observe how Obama's unremarkable plans to cut spending in defense and entitlement programs - coupled with modest tax increases on the rich - have been stonewalled by Republicans, who have clearly demonstrated they would rather damage our international credit rating that concede an inch on taxes for the richest one percent.
What's that if not an admission of how deeply unequal our society has become?
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Protecting shareholders profits means that employees and consequently the local community have to take the hit. When big corporations cut or make health care unaffordable they force many of their employees into the public health-care system. But why should taxpayers foot the health care bill for sores like Wal-Mart's employees while this company takes in the most revenue in the world?
The squeeze is on, everywhere you look, except at the top. Republicans have apparently made it their sacred mission to defend billionaires from the burdens of citizenship. Don't touch our 'wealth creators' they cry, but that defense is threadbare when the only wealth they've created in over a decade has lined their own pockets.
Do the math: since 1970 the American working and middle classes have seen a bare 5 percent rise in their incomes; but between 1979 and 2007, the top one percent saw their incomes soar by 281 percent.
If you don't have a problem with disparity that then you don't understand what an attack it is on the basic building blocks of democratic our society. Banana republic levels of inequality are now putting us closer toy Honduras than Sweden.
There are 20 somethings who have reached maturity who don't remember a time when America was not at war. They have graduated college anchored with debt. Most of them can't find a decent job that will help them repay it. It's far from an American Dream.
Somethings going to give. Soon.