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by Ron Cruger
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"Poof' goes the middle class"
Our generation and a couple of generations preceding ours thought that their optimistic
prediction that democracy will naturally control excesses of income and wealth. These expectations have failed to come true.
In the meantime, America’s middle class has gone “poof.”
Each decade during the past
30-years we have found much of our middle class disappearing. “Poof.”
Some try to
claim that government should not play an active role in the establishing of the “one-percent,” the middle-class and the poor, but
government has a lot to do with the making of that structure. Taxes and tax exemptions alone can contribute to the making of a nation’s
structure. Governmental favoritism towards one class over another can create a lopsided national configuration.
The struggle between classes has come to the forefront more in recent years, but it has been growing for decades. The efforts of groups
such as the “Tea Party” and their spotlight on the “one-percent” of Americans has made most citizens aware of the disparity between
the “haves” and the disappearing of our middle class. “Poof.”
The struggle of the
“haves” to keep what they have and to enlarge their holdings continues – nothing new since our country was founded. But at different
times in our country’s history the pendulum swings in favor of the “haves” – governmental actions favor those who “have” and neglects
those who don’t “have.”
Check this statement out:
“The true friend of property, the
true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the
creature of man’s making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it. The citizens of the United Sates must effectively
control the mighty commercial forces which they themselves have called into being…The absence of effective state, and especially,
national, restraint upon unfair money-getting has tended to create a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men,
whose chief object is to hold and increase their power.”
Who said that? President
Obama? No. House speaker John Boehner? No. It was Theodore Roosevelt in 1912.
“In short, property and markets rest on government and law…they had to be restrained and limited by government and law. Without
such restraints and limits, greater economic inequality would lead to government policies that reflected the interests of those at
the top. Swamped by the tides of inequality, democracy would give way to oligarchy – the very concern that recent economic events
have cast in stark relief.” From “Winner-Take-All Politics,” by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson
I believe that even the most fervent Progressives look to eliminate waste and excess government in our nation. One doesn’t have to
be a “flaming liberal” to understand what Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in his acceptance speech in 1936 and how many of the problems
faced then are similar to those we encounter today.
“For too many of us the political
equality we once had was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated in their own hands an almost
complete control over other people’s property, other people’s money, other people’s labor – other people’s lives. For too many of
us life was no longer free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness.
“Against economic tyranny such as this, the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of government. The collapse
of 1929 showed up the despotism for what it was. The election of 1932 was the people’s mandate to end it. Under that mandate it is
And so with the ebb and flow of the political and economic situations
we find ourselves in today it would be wise to look backwards for just a moment to see what measures were taken yesterday to correct
what we similarly face today.