How did our United States Ship-of-State (US SoS) lose its bearings and crash? And why are the captains thwarting the rescue of the crew and full righting of the SoS. This wasn’t a blameless accident; for more than 30 years, our captains have been steadily steering us to wreckage. Yes, the leaders of both major political parties. However, I give the Republican party an extra dollop of blame because since President Reagan, our first corporate President, it’s been going increasingly off the rails in reckless promotion of self-interest and corporate welfare over community and country. It’s not my father’s Republican Party.
Corrupt politicians, at all levels, have colluded with the elites of business and finance to tilt the playing field to their advantage and against us. To achieve this, they’ve been stirring up the citizens so that we are duped into casting blame upon one another. So long as we remain angry, divided and distracted, corrupt politicians will continue to serve themselves and their wealthy benefactors. Politicians’ allegiances belong to hidden power brokers who selected them and paid for their expensive campaigns. That’s why we, but not the one percent, are suffering economically as we have not since the Great Depression. Our incomes have been flat or declining for 30 years, and our future is bleak. One in seven Americans lives in poverty. The one percent, on the other hand, has been getting fabulously richer. In recent years, 95 percent of all income gain has gone to them. Salaries of CEOs in the top 500 companies are almost 400 times larger than the workers, while a generation ago; CEOs made only 30 times more. We got left out when the pie was divided, something that honest leaders and unions would guard against. Both are now only a shadow of their former selves. Still though, unions and like-mined citizen groups remain our last hope in keeping the barbarians from storming the last gates.
What to do? Together, as united citizens, we must reject the elite’s carefully crafted, canned message that it’s our fault. I won’t dignify the exaggerated half-truths and falsehoods by repeating them, but the pitch is that some of our neighbors are getting more than they deserve, thus hurting us. And furthermore, government is at fault. These untruthful, inflammatory accusations have been pounded into us so that we angrily finger one another while the real perpetrators steal legally (though immorally) from the public treasure. Nor is the problem our “government,” our legitimate, necessary means for managing a decent, civilized society. It’s as only good as the elected leaders. Sadly, too many corrupt politicians work with wealthy accomplices to make laws that hurt us and help them. Think low wages, dangerous work and polluted water in West Virginia. We must automatically reject politicians’ donor-created talking points, and their insincere concerns about us. Follow the money that supports them. We need to ask, are they trying to build a stronger community, and more economic and social justice? Or is it about dividing and deceiving the public with hot-button wedge issues? Clue: If they harp endlessly about the budget and deficit but never address the obscene spending on corporate welfare, and defense, and instead focus like lasers on public “safety nets,” and shedding safety regulations, they’re shills for big money. Let’s rid ourselves of self-serving politicians who loot our public treasure for the corporatocracy. It’s up to us to rescue ourselves and our SoS by electing honest leaders who work for us. If we don’t, we are merely choosing among different masters.
Bill Mattson, Rhinelander