This trickle-down stinks

Commentary
By JEFF INGLIS  |  April 6, 2011

True free-market capitalism has lasted 30 years — barely half as long as its arch-enemy, Soviet communism. It began with Reagan chipping away at the social contract that bound us all together as fellow Americans, as human beings. Now, as funds "saved" by slashing programs for regular people are handed off to megamillionaire plutocrats as tax breaks, we can see clearly that the winner-take-all philosophy has bankrupted America morally, just as surely as it has punished her people financially.

That realization is taking hold among the rich — recent MarketWatch and Vanity Fair columns warn of dire consequences if the wealthiest one percent continue to neglect the suffering of the masses. The rest of us must now drive this point home. The risks if we do not are clear: Republicans in the US House of Representatives have just suggested slashing Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security — without canceling a dime's worth of tax breaks for the uber-rich.

As tax day, April 15, approaches, it is obvious that we live in an era of taxation without representation. The government takes money from the working class — the only people left who do not get massive tax breaks — and makes decisions that serve only the wealthy few.

Today, with endless war and limitless profiteering, America is in crisis. The Reagan-esque "trickle-down theory" appears ascendant, as politicians on left and right alike dole out government handouts to the wealthy and the corporations they own, while simultaneously eliminating government help for those who are the neediest. The stated promise — the vain hope — is that the rich will reinvest in America, creating jobs and thereby spreading wealth to everyone.

But we know that's not working — for decades now, America has been stripped of her wealth, her workers left to rising unemployment, their homes foreclosed upon, their children's schools gutted.

Self-serving politicians have co-opted the Tea Party movement, turned it into a pawn, a shill for corporate interests. The crowds that attend Tea Party rallies obviously do not realize that they are in a very real way demanding to pay higher taxes and receive fewer services, so that corporations can boost profits. Tea Party orators promote destruction of the social safety net that keeps children from starving, the elderly from freezing, and the poor from dying in the swamp of need. It is time for a return to the real Tea Partiers' values, for us to refuse to pay up without a voice in how our collective riches are allotted.

In Wisconsin, in Ohio, and in Maine, working people are finally standing up and reaffirming the true American ideal, one that generations grew up working to achieve: that we are all members of the same community, who thrive or perish together. We should not tolerate a nation in which corporations and the ultra-rich tread on the poor and middle classes, exploiting them by depriving them of fair pay, humane working conditions, and a decent education.

As the greedy, the heartless, and the power-crazed grow in influence, the American dream is turning into a nightmare. It is already a bad dream for far too many.

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