Yester eve (whoops! that expression just slipped through a flaw in the space/time cintinuum to land in my cerebral cortex) I enjoyed watching a documentary about the inequity of the distribution of wealth in the country which wastes no time whatsoever telling the rest of us that it's the best place on earth, the richest, the most religious, offers the most opportunity; in fact, if they're being immodest - and they always are - the best at everything. The film was hosted by a former US cabinet minister, and was grounded in economic measurements, or as those of us with a few firing neurons like to call them (and right-wingers can turn away now to avoid feelings of nausea); facts.
Among the many pieces of independently gathered evidence in the piece, one in particular stepped out of the TV, slapped me around the face, did a pee on my rug, kicked the dog and jumped back into the ether. It was this: in 2010, the 400 richest people in America held assets worth more than 150 million Americans did. Four hundred obscenely wealthy people (yes: obscenely wealthy) holding assets equal to those held by half of one of the most populous nations on the earth. It's a staggering statistic which goes beyond immoral - and why? because, as the film illustrated, the enormously rich very rarely actually spend any significant proportion of that money - it simply disappears in order to make more and more money.
The myth is alive and well in right-wing USA (I'm not sure if there's a genuine left-wing USA anywhere down there) that the morbidly obese cats are 'job-creators', and that we should all lay off them and stop expecting them to pay lotsopf tax. This myth is perpetuated by those very same people (no surprise there, really, since rich people don't tend to become rich by being self-effacing or unselfish) and of course the people whom they pay to speak such utter garbage in public, or to whisper into the ears of legislators while pushing plain brown envelopes onto their desks. Let's use common sense: if these people were 'job creators', they wouldn't be nearly so rich - because they would be spending their money creating jobs! Rich people hoard money; if they don't, they simply don't remain rich - or at least anything like AS rich.
The horrible lie that is The American Dream is partly responsible for this massive and widening gap between the powerful and the powerless. A tiny number of mega-wealthy people in control of unimaginable amounts of money represents a direct dichotomy in the so-called land of democratic freedom. Democracy in a country with such an unbalanced spread of wealth is effectively absent. You may elect people; oh yes - but they will do what their real masters tell them to do (how's the last few years worked in the senate, folks?). Influence is a commodity, it is bought, it is traded, and such a practice has no room for human compassion or empathy; money, after all, likes money likes money. Power too - money buys power, of course; real, tangible power when legislators are answerable to the paymasters of their next election campaign. The losers in the game are the relatively poor (that's ALL of us, boys 'n girls) who are swept along by society's rules with few genuine choices except to conform. democracy? Pah! Don't make me retch.
Americans continue to believe that opportunity is there, just out of reach if only they can stretch a little more, work a little harder and for a little longer. It's a deception that feeds the corporate machine and the pockets of the people who play with vast sums of money in the same way that I used to play with Lego. Time after time I have heard hard-working people in North America blame themselves for not being able to progress, despite their best efforts and with a background of a good education. The system has conditioned North Americans to feel guilty about not being relatively wealthy, even when the cause of their difficulties (2008, anyone?) was entirely out of their control. They beat themselves up because T.A.D tells them that anything is possible if you work hard enough, and a lack of success is therefore due only to their own shortcomings. hell; last night I watched a gblue-collar worker tell a meeting (to discuss forthcoming forced 'efficiency' redundancies at a company which was already successful) that he felt he was already being treated by his employer better than he deserved! What the hell is that about? Rich people will feed us this line until the cash-cows come home; I mean who wants to be part of an exclusive club if the secrets to membership are given away?
T.A.D tells everyday folk that they can ALL escape low income lives and prsoper. Getting rich is considered to be virtuous. This is a very dangerous - and repulsive - way to look at life.
This is also a wicked, oppressive lie. Capitalist systems right now (influenced, I suspect, by the emergence of the China powerhouse, riding largely on the back of a low-inciome work force) seem to rely upon cheap labour - and a very great deal of it. Capitalism NEEDS poor people to stay poor - poor people with low demands will always be necessary. This [particular approach explains why spending power, real-term wages and disposable incomes have all plummetted in the last thirty plus years, while corporate profits have sky-rocketed. Employees are merely statistical elements to be toyed with in order to maximise profits, and wages are a cost that is to be controlled regardless of the effect upon employees. In the current hyper-capitalist system which operates best in the USA right now, it suits corporations to treat workers only as numbers, to force wages down and to reduce their spending power - all because the fastest buck is the best buck. When the system begins to implode again (as spending power drops too low to support the economy effectively), the mega/hyper-rich will already be sitting pretty, losing nothing as they operate globally and continue to spread their vile habits across the world.
This horrible lie of The American Dream, this putrid fantasy - which the people with the loudest (richest) voices love to perpetuate - ensures that millions profess to have hope when in truth there is very little, that millions will continue to be at the mercy of the obscenely rich and powerful who have zero thought for the 45 million people in the USA who live in poverty (world's richest country?), and that a cheap labour force will always be ready and willing to offer its services for pathetic wages to the vast coporations which increasingly control the planet. False hope can - unfortunately - sustain a corrupt economic system, but in the process, it leaves a trail of destitution and death in its wake.
A system which relies upon poverty and exploitation is, I'm sorry to say, nothing less than evil.