The newly-released economic statistics are quite sobering. They do not bode well for the majority of Americans – those who are members of the middle and lower classes. Here is a summary of the data:
· The average middle class wages are currently at a level that they were at in the 1970s
· The average wages of the those in the bottom 10% have substantially declined
· One out of every six Americans are below the federal poverty line that at approximately $22,000 for a family of four and 11,000 for an individual have been set absurdly low
· One out of every four children is living in poverty
· There are some fifty million Americans without health insurance. This is not taking into account the many millions who are inadequately insured
· Those who receive health insurance through their employers have dropped to about 55%
· Unemployment remains dangerously high.
The plethora of candidates aspiring for office of the presidency in the Republican Party are focusing their attention and directing their hyperbolic rhetoric on the current administration as the cause of this malaise. This, of course, is heightened nonsense. In addition, their supposed remedies focus on further limiting the role of government and eroding the already fragile social safety net that is currently in place for the tens of millions who are suffering.
Those in public office, regardless of political affiliation, have ignored and at times exacerbated economic conditions for many years by catering to those at the very top of the economic ladder. It is to them that their attention is directed, for this is the source of the largesse that keeps them in power. They have collectively chosen to ignore the essential needs of the many in favor of the seemingly unquenchable avarice of the few. The system is undemocratic and essentially corrupt.
Over some thirty years, the government has essentially collaborated with corporate power to effectively move public monies to private hands thus devastating the commons. The end result has been to drain public coffers of the necessary resources to maintain and improve national infrastructure, provide for adequate health care and help maintain access of all Americans to sufficient nutrition and shelter. In addition, there are now proposals to constrain those federal regulations that insure the quality of air and water.
The system is thoroughly broken. It cannot be repaired by one person's vision. It is bankrupt, for the vitality of the structure is based upon the primacy of the individual above the public good and the expectation of making profit from every avenue of modern life. For example, to base a health care delivery system on the unfettered accumulation of profit is to guarantee that good health ultimately falls within the providence of those with wealth and power. Longevity statistics support this contention.
In spite of this reality, transformation is possible. The path out of this darkness resides in the determination by the many to exercise their power by effectively seeking to elect those candidates for public office who truly reflect their needs. The current strangle hold that the powerful exert on the economic destiny of the majority of Americans can only be effectively broken by the collective will to sever the connection between private money and public policy. Passivity in light of this reality will only insure that the nation continues its decline.