Even today as the U.S. Treasury is being pillaged by corporate America, there has been an absence of any significant economic middle class(*) backlash here in America. As the wealth gap between the middle class and upper class has increased more than any time in our history, Americans seem to be mostly helpless in stemming this trend toward inequality.
Will the tide finally turn during an Obama Presidency? After analyzing Obama's economic positions (including health care, tax policies and budgeting), most economists say "yes!"
After eight years of the Bush Presidency, McCain style deregulation and tax policy that favors the rich, the American middle class has been taken hostage and told they will lose everything (trickle down financial ruin) if they do not bailout the big banks, investment firms and insurance companies. Bush & Cheney have perfected the panic mode wealth transfer that Naomi Klein describes so well in "The Shock Doctrine." This multi-trillion-dollar parting gift is their payback to the upper class that helped orchestrate their election.
The U.S. Treasury gained support for the bailouts by promising stricter rules on grossly excessive executive compensation. But now we find out that financial workers at Wall Street's top banks -- the greedy ones that got us into this mess in the first place -- are going to receive payouts worth more than $70 billion and, according to the Guardian, "... a substantial proportion of which is expected to be paid in discretionary bonuses, for their work so far this year - despite plunging the financial system into its worst crisis since the 1929 stock market crash."
Last year, for instance, Merrill Lynch's chairman Stan O'Neal took a golden parachute deal worth over $160 million, after announcing losses of nearly $8 billion at his firm. Did Mr. O'neal's labor bankrupting Merrill Lynch really justify $159,935,000 more dollars from society than a teacher or fireman?
The politics of capitalism attempts to fool us into believing in extreme individualism --e.g., that every man is an island. But, the truth (starkly exposed by Mainstreet needing to bailout Wallstreet) is that we are closely interconnected even if worlds apart in wealth and influence. Mr. O'Neal taking $160 million out of the money system to spend on extravagances, does effect the teacher and fireman via the national debt they will incur to bailout Mr. O'Neal / Merrill Lynch.
Where did the billions of dollars lost by the banks go? Did the money just evaporate? No. Most of it went to these huge CEO and executive payouts to expand the obscene wealth of the upper class. Someone has to pay for the mega-yachts, extravagant parties, multiple mansions and other extravagances of the rich. If you want to see where your money is going, just tune into "Lifestyles of the Super Rich."
Once again, responsible hard-working citizens are paying for the lavish lifestyles and reckless financial abandon of the upper class. How ironic that the same institutions that have been feeding off the middle class like leeches for decades (via unreasonable fees, large interest rate spreads, insurance rate hikes, hyped-up investment schemes, etc.), are now begging for more blood money.
The middle class and poor get crumbs from measly "bailouts" such as the lackluster sub-prime mortgage assistance program and a tax rebate check for $600; while the rich get more tangible bailouts to the tune of billions. Capitalism for the middle class, socialism for the rich, indeed! This is what you get when corrupt Republicans and the Corporate sociopathic personality rule the economy. One of the ways to change this dynamic is to remove corporation's status as a separate entity unbound by individual consequences and place more responsibility on the executives that direct corporate actions.
We need to end the the welfare era for the rich via tax cuts, Halliburton / war "no bid" handouts, oil company gouging and corporate bailouts. Instead, the American government needs to lift the middle class with investments in education, job training, energy independence (from domestic oil companies too!), health care and economic programs such as small business development and tangible mortgage assistance.
The only choice for fiscal conservatives in this election is Obama. By electing Obama POTUS and other fiscally sympathetic representatives, the middle class can then exercise its newfound power over insurance companies, corporations and bankers. You want us to bail you out? Here are some of our demands:
1) Corporations and the rich need to pay higher taxes, period. We are tired of hearing that higher corporate and upper class taxes will increase the jobless rate and slow the economy.
Even Warren Buffet (an Obama supporter) says that our current tax system unfairly puts more of the tax burden on the working class than the rich. The rich pay more taxes as a total collected, but much less of a percentage as the middle class.
Mr. Buffet goes on to say, "There's class warfare, all right," Mr. Buffett said, "but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning."
2) We want tougher consumer regulations on the insurance, credit card and banking industries along with fair mortgage lending practices. It's time for Wallstreet, insurance company's and banks to forgo some of the excessive profits we have seen in the past and pass savings along to their clients.
3) Middle class and small business tax cuts. It's time for some "trickle up" economics.
When Obama becomes President of the United States with a Democratic Congress, the middle class will once again have a strong voice in national politics. If you were advising Obama as he begins his Presidency in 2009, what policies would you suggest he initiate to stimulate and strengthen the economy and middle class (instead of corporate bailouts)?
(*For this blog's purpose I'm referring to the "middle class" as everyone who is not in the "upper class." Even though the "upper middle class," "lower middle class," "working class," and "lower class," combine to make up 99% of the United States population, the remaining 1% owns about one third of private wealth.)