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ETpro's avatar

Does fighting for all Americans include fighting for the would-be oligarchs who fight to have the American Dream all to themselves?

Asked by ETpro (34211 points ) March 15th, 2012

I got this interesting email from Rebuild the Dream today. It read:

    _When I say that those of us working to reinvent and rebuild the
    American Dream are “deep patriots,” here’s what I mean: we are
    truly fighting for “liberty and justice for all.” Not for some. For
    everybody._

    _We don’t just fight against our opponents—we fight for them. We
    fight for every American: no matter where you are from, what you
    look like, who you love, or how much money you have. We believe
    that everyone deserves access to the American dream._

Do you think they are right?. Did the top 1% do well between 1933 and 1980, when we went from having almost no middle class to having the most prosperous, large middle class segment of any nation? Would they do well today if we went back to the policies that built that middle class?

The track we have been on since 1980 is slowly destroying the middle class, pushing those in it down into the ranks of the working poor. Between 1980 and 2008, we went from 65% of Americans being solidly middle class to just 44% qualifying.

As the middle class dwindles, the money that once made it strong flows to the top. Naturally, that is VERY, VERY good for those at the pinnacle, the wealthiest 1/10th of 1% and above. But does actually fighting to benefit everybody hurt those at the top, or just not benefit them quite as much? Suppose we stay the course toward oligarchy? If all the wealth collects at the top, will America remain the economic powerhouse is became during the post-war boom? And so the question. Are those at Rebuild the Dream right that fighting for everybody includes fighting for the true best interests of the top 1% right along with those in the middle, and those below?

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21 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

I say we never stop for the rights of all people in America. This was the foundation, in which America has stood for many years.

I do see a dramatic change that is here and will be here for years to come. The middle class is forever edging toward the poverty level.

I forsee more and more middle class people asking for Federal Assistance and this is NOT where we want to be. It was good while it lasted.

Is there an answer? No. When the factories left America for cheaper labor in other countries, the decline of the middle class also faded with it. It will never be the same.

bkcunningham's avatar

@ETpro, I just started reading the linked NY Times piece. The middle class has been declining since 1970, according to the article. Not 1980. Just wanted to clarify that before the discussion got started. I know it is going to be a good one.

annewilliams5's avatar

I have to agree with @john65pennington. We fight for everyone, even those whose ideas we would spend a lifetime opposing. As bad as it can be here…it can be worse here and elsewhere in the world. There is the little guy, defenseless and cold, that still needs to know that even the small guys here will fight for them. The people, that don’t get it, will always be wanting. The ones that do, are already in the trenches.

bkcunningham's avatar

@ETpro, have you ever heard Milton Friedman’s lectures on middle class warfare from 30 years ago? He was spot on.

SuperMouse's avatar

According to this graph, in 2010 the average wealth of a member of the senate was $13.2 million and the average wealth of a member of congress was $5.9 million. How can folks with that kind of net worth relate at all to the average Johnny Lunchbox and Sally Housecoat living from paycheck to paycheck and clinging tenuously to their job, their house, and the place in the middle class. How can they relate to my friend who has been working full time for forty years hoping to retire sometime in the next decade. She has no health insurance, just suffered a minor heart attack and is now staring down the barrel of $20,000 to $30,000 in medical bills and a retirement even farther off then she ever could have imagined. Republican or democrat, it is a joke to think these people are looking out for the good of all. I really love what @john65pennington and @annewilliams5 said, it sounds awesome and should be a reality. Unfortunately I believe it is far the reality in our country today.

Dang I am getting more and more cynical by the minute!

annewilliams5's avatar

@SuperMouse I agree, and there are days when I feel good about this country’s potential. There are days that I see the problems, full on, and don’t feel so wonderful about things. My father died for the U.S. and the Navy. He died for the little guy. Under those circumstances, I can’t let skepticism step in and rule the day. I understand reality. My house is on the market. We own a small business and have all of the problems that go with that. We have all of the triumphs, too. I was the victim of a crime, about 7 years ago. I have friends who are devoted police officers, and judges that run the opposite way when I enter a hallway. I have a lot of friends with no health insurance, and there are farms everywhere around us that are giving up, because their drowning. A lot is bad. It took a major amount of years to get it this way, and it’s going to take quite a long time to get us, at least, above water again. The thing is this…I know we can do it. I’m not political. I’m simply saying that our reality today doesn’t have to be our reality tomorrow. When we fight amongst ourselves, instead of fighting for everyone, we loose the war from the onset.
Man-I’m sounding like a “We want you” poster from WWII. Ok. I’m stopping. Done.

YARNLADY's avatar

The defense of our country is in defense of Freedom for all. This includes freedom to have unpopular opinions, but with Freedom comes Responsibility to respect all the things our country stands for.

flutherother's avatar

The American dream was never about a wealthy few and an impoverished many. It was just the opposite of that, everyone was equal and had an equal chance. Those days are over and there are millions of Americans today who are in poverty or sliding into poverty. For these people the dream is no more and it has been replaced with a nightmare.

If American democracy worked there might be hope that something could be done about it but American democracy is a puppet with big money pulling the strings and the inequalities are going to keep on growing.

YARNLADY's avatar

@flutherother An examination of our history shows us these things can and will be overcome. Most of us have no idea how lucky we are to enjoy the type of freedoms we have in this country.

flutherother's avatar

@YARNLADY First it requires the will to change things. Americans may be lucky to enjoy the freedoms they have but you can’t always depend on luck. America is diverging from its original vision and needs to be put back on track. Democracy should represent citizens, not big money interests.

rooeytoo's avatar

When these discussions start, it always sounds as if the participants feel themselves to be better informed and capable than the average American. This average American, based on what I read here, is a poor dumb poverty stricken soul who needs enlightened individuals such as flutherites to protect and guide them.

I agree with @YARNLADY, Americans are a resilient and resourceful bunch. My parents lived through the great depression when Lard Sandwiches were supper on many nights. They worked hard enough to buy the lard that it didn’t even clog their arteries and they survived. Instead of bitching about those who are making millions a year, I am working to join their ranks. If I were in my 20’s, 30’s or even 40’s, it would be a lot easier.

SuperMouse's avatar

@rooeytoo I am confused, are you calling the OP a“poor dumb poverty stricken soul who needs enlightened individuals such as flutherites to protect and guide”? Because really I don’t get that impression at all from @ETpro. Also, I don’t get the impression that anyone is bitching about those who are making a million dollars a year. This question is about wondering whether the people who run America are fighting for the good of the 99% or of the 1%.

Jaxk's avatar

I think most of us are fighting for 100%. The question above seems to want to divide us into groups fighting against each other. I can’t buy into that. We may have different idea on how to best elevate the economic conditions for all but that doesn’t mean (or shouldn’t mean) you have to destroy some so that others do better.

ETpro's avatar

@john65pennington That’s certainly what I’d like to see.

@bkcunningham So I see. I’d picked up 1980 as the starting point inseveral previous sources, which I couldn’t locate this time out. I wish I could find a graph to see just how it did vary over time.

@annewilliams5 Thanks.

@bkcunningham Milton Friedman was a clever apostle of true class warfare. He managed to make those getting decimated by it appear to be the people launching all the attacks. He was a key architect of the policies in taxation and spending that have led to the erosion of the middle class. It’s amusing to listen to him so eloquently blame the middle class for eviscerating themselves. If they really had a master plan, it isn’t going so well.

rooeytoo's avatar

@SuperMouse – I have no idea how you reached either of your conclusions.

bkcunningham's avatar

@ETpro, what policies in taxation and spending did Friedman launch that have led to the erosion of he middle class?

SuperMouse's avatar

@rooeytoo I came to the conclusion that @ETpro is not a “poor dumb poverty stricken soul who needs enlightened individuals such as flutherites to protect and guide” by reading this and his other posts here on Fluther. Read his stuff and you will see @ETpro is anything but dumb. Just because one disagrees with an individual’s perspective does not make the individual sharing that perspective is dumb, stricken, or in need of protection.

I came to the conclusion that no one on this question is bitching about the 1% by reading the question and the responses. I don’t see a single response bitching about that. As a matter of fact most of them, say the “fight” is for the good of all people. I am one of the very few who argues it is not and even I don’t complain about the 1% some of my best friends are in the 1%, ok that’s not true rather, I said that I don’t see how members of that class can understand how those of us in the lower classes live on the day to day and helping those of lower socioeconomic status is probably not high on their priority list.

I’ll tell you what though, I work my ass off every single day finishing school, working a job, raising my kids, all in hopes of providing security for myself and my family. I harbor no illusions about becoming one of the 1%. That just isn’t in the cards for a gal like me unless I win the lottery. I’m not bitter nor do I begrudge anyone their own wealth. I would however like the legislators I help elect to keep in mind the best interest of the people who put them in office before their own.

rooeytoo's avatar

@SuperMouse – You are indeed confused and your second reading provided no better results than the first. I ABSOLUTELY in no way insinuated or otherwise implied that @etpro is a poor dumb anything.

Do not put words into my mouth.

With regards to the second part, many here do complain about how unfair the world is and no one except the rich have a chance. I think that is bullshit which apparently you do as well based on your recitation regarding your work ethic.

I have no idea what set you off except that you read much into my words that I didn’t put there. I sincerely hope my explanation reduces your blood pressure and the vein throbbing in your neck settles down again. Now would you please get the hell off my back.

SuperMouse's avatar

@rooeytoo rather than berating me, a less in-my-face tactic might have been to clarify for me when I first asked if you were speaking about @ETpro.

When my net worth gets to a million or so I will gladly retract my statement, or go ahead and give me call when you get there and I will be the first to congratulate you and swallow a large helping of crow.

You my friend really need to lighten up. Dial back the attitude a bit and you won’t feel as though anyone has been “set-off.” For the record sweety postings on internet question and answer sites have no impact upon my blood pressure whatsoever.

rooeytoo's avatar

@SuperMouse – I nicely told you to reread my response which has nothing in it to say that I consider etpro anything at all?????

I don’t much care about your net worth and you have no idea what mine is so that is irrelevant as well.

I think it is funny and so sarcastic that you call me sweety, I refuse to drop to your level so I will not call you anything other than supermouse which seems appropriate. Now once again will you get the hell off my back and stop telling me about my attitude. I think if @ETpro feels attacked he/she can defend him/herself without your help.

This is so off topic, I am amazed it hasn’t been modded yet.

ETpro's avatar

@rooeytoo & @SuperMouse May I wad into this swamp? :-)

Thanks to you both for your passions on this thread. I am not in the top 1% right now. I was for a while, but a bad business decision cut my run short. I am a small business owner doing my utmost to get back into the 1% as we speak. I will do it. I do know how. So that is the prespective I come at this from.

As to hating the 1%, anyone who does is a fool. Unless we set up a system where all are equal in every respect (something mankind has never done) we will always have a top 1%. Goven that, we will always also have a bottom 99%.

What I am anxious to see is a return to the system that lifted all—the top 1% and the bottom 99%—to higher levels. From 1933, at the depth of the Great Depression, to 1980 and the Republican Conservative Revolution, we managed to do just that. When ROnald Reagan slashed the top marginal tax rate 70%, we started this rush to social injustice and we also began to hemmorhage debt. Reagan tripled the national debt. The top 1% saw their share of the nation’s wealth skyrocket while the rest of the nation languished in near static income. This is not good for America. From 1980 to 2007, the middle class shrunk form 65% of the population to 44%. If we kill the middle class, we kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

That’s my take on what’s happening. Healing the rift between the two of you is above my current pay grade. I’ll have to leave that to your own good instincts. :-)

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