Is America’s Middle Class Evaporating?By Mickey Bearman | October 14th, 2011 | Category: Columns, Talk Smart Politics | 1 Comment »
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
These are the words on the Statue of Liberty. Little did I know our country would become a symbol of these words. There are millions of poor people, the middle class is evaporating, and there are masses of people yearning to work. There are seventeen million children in America living at or below the poverty level. There are over fifty-five million people total living in poverty. We are your tired, your poor. We are your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. We are becoming the wretched refuse of our teeming shores. We are the homeless in a tempest created for us. Our lamp has been taken from us at the Golden Door.
What has happened to America? There is unemployment everywhere; children are hungry; the poor are getting poorer; the rich are getting richer. Wars are everywhere, lies and corruption are rampant, billions of dollars are spent to protect oil interests in wars in the Middle East; and hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children have been killed. Let us see who is doing the fighting of these wars—it certainly isn’t the rich. If you want to end wars, reinstate the military draft. Let the rich be drafted, let the politicians’ children and grandchildren be drafted. Even the oil interests could not keep the wars going if that were the case. Chevron, Enron, British Petroleum, Royal Dutch Shell—they control the oil in Iran and Iraq and Saudi Arabia, with pipelines built throughout Afghanistan. Over a million people were slaughtered in Rwanda. If they had oil, we would have been there the next day to stop the killing. We have had nothing but phony wars, soldiers coming home without limbs and with body parts missing. They cannot even get jobs; they can’t live their lives. Right-leaning politicians want to cut budgets, slash or end Medicare along with Medicaid and Social Security. They want to take away the last remaining safety nets of people in need, such as unemployment insurance, food stamps, tax credits, aid to dependent children, and much more. One out of six Americans currently lives below the poverty line, and the number is growing. Poverty rapidly rose during the past three years while the rich have become richer. Median household incomes are falling and the politicians want to slash spending at the expense of human programs by 2.4 trillion dollars over the coming decade.
America for years has been a society noted for protecting its citizens against the misfortunes of life. Today we live in a society that is becoming hostile to that protection. What happened to compassion in America? Compassion is out of fashion in America today. What kind of country is this, where one percent of the population controls seventy percent of the total wealth in the whole country? For every five hundred dollars a Chief Executive Officer makes in a major corporation, a worker in that corporation makes one dollar. From 1979-2005 the very rich of the top one percent of the population’s income rose by four hundred eighty percent. The average annual income of that group rose from 4.2 million to 24.3 million dollars, and Republicans like Representative Paul Ryan say there is class warfare against the rich. The Bush tax cuts of 2000 reduced the taxes on the rich by 4.5 percent. Ryan is right—there is class warfare. The warfare is protect the rich.
Letting the Bush tax cuts expire for people making more than $250,000 a year would save seven hundred billion dollars over the next decade, which would punch a real hole in the deficit. During the depression, when millions of Americans were out of work, losing their homes, hungry and needing help, the government took a different approach under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In that period of time the focus was on humanity, jobs, security—on people as human beings, living with dignity. Today it is nothing but cutting the budget at the expense of the poor and the needy while we fight wars for control of oil and profits of companies like Halliburton. The middle class in America is becoming the poor, as the poor are struggling with poverty. We have become the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, the homeless living in a storm.