The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

August 23, 2013

Potential to fall down the economic ladder


Daily Item

---- — Those who preach the gospel of free market capitalism like to point out what a rich country the United States has become, but that much of the wealth is going to so few is never mentioned in their sermons. Over the last 40 years, more and more of the wealth of this country has moved from the middle and lower classes to those who sit on top the economic pile. At this time nearly one-third of our fellow citizens are poor or live in poverty. More of those in the middle are sinking towards the bottom. The increasing gap in wealth and income between the top and the bottom means we are approaching the status of a third world country.

What I find most disingenuous in the acolytes of extreme capitalism is their constant blaming the poor for being poor. They even like to blame the poor for our problems. Who would make such a conscious choice? These promoters never recognize that they have exported good-paying jobs so that the poor throughout the world can be exploited. They fail to mention that there a millions of working poor who work full-time jobs and even more, but live in poverty because they aren't paid a living wage. They fail to recognize that our for-profit health care system is one of the major reasons that middle class citizens are falling down the economic ladder. We must recognize that many can't find a job and in times of less than full employment many more will be exploited with low pay and long hours.

Missing from their praise of capitalism and the worship of greed it sanctifies is the serious economic blow the crooks on Wall Street caused to so many in our country. It is interesting to note that when the economy is good they praise their blessed economic system and when the economy is bad they blame the government. While the cause of our economic woes is not government, government inaction may allow a crisis to exist and magnify its severity. Government deregulation was a major factor in the economic collapse of 2008.

We can expect the number of those falling down the economic ladder to increase as the corporate economic system continues to strengthen. What the fervent believers don't tell you is that the intellectual founders of this system taught that wealth should go to the top and the masses should only be paid enough to just get by.

We now have the Republican party totally committed to this economic paradigm. The Democratic party has given up the real fight for working people as they too seek the contributions of the corporations and the wealthy. With the loss of political parties to their left, many Democrats now have become Republican "light" as the Republican party becomes fascist "light."

One of the most amazing things to me is the ability of Republicans to continue to get working class white voters to vote for them. It's an old tactic of the rich to use such things as race, ethnicity, and religion to get people to vote against their own best interests. Create the feeling that it's us against them, and the powerful have it made. The wealthy just have to keep the lower classes from figuring out that it is the poor and working class no matter the race or ethnicity that are suffering at the hands of the rich and powerful.

Unless the great middle class in this county doesn't wake up soon, the trends of the last 40-plus years will continue. More and more of the wealth of this country will move from the bottom and middle of the economic pyramid to fewer and fewer on the top. With the corporations controlling most the information stream in this country, it will be a difficult task to enlighten the majority of people. Those who still make up the middle class of this country must fully realize that they could easily fall down the economic ladder if current trends continue.

Jack D. Miller,

Center Township, Snyder County