We're an odd bunch, we Americans. We've had a hate-hate relationship with the very rich for as long as we've existed as a country, but damn their golden hides, we can't stop taking care of them.
After all these years we've become used to sparring with the super-rich over how much they get to keep and how much they should share. They want to keep it all. We want them to behave like responsible citizens, and they don't think they should have to.
It's a long-standing battle, but it was infinitely fairer when they needed us as much as we needed them. Most of them built their fortunes while still being Americans in America, by being major forces in the building of the strongest, richest country in the world. Now there is almost nothing American about the major corporatists, but we still insist on treating them as if they were a part of us. We can't help ourselves. We cling to our nationalism, to our sense of superiority, and even after decades of sliding downhill, of watching our resources leave our shores for parts unknown, we can't believe our industry, our infrastructure, our wealth, is gone. We refuse, in fact, to believe it, even though our roads, our bridges, our buildings, our very way of life is crumbling around us.
We are slow to learn. It's one of our least likable traits. As our factories and our mills closed, one by one, we heard over and over that we would be stronger as a nation if we adjusted to becoming a service economy. Many of us knew a scam when we saw one, and protested mightily. Others kept harping about buggy whips or some such.
A service economy meant only one thing: The many would be serving the few, with no real rewards for the many. If we stopped building things, we would be dependent on other less stable economies for our goods. We would lose an entire sector of workers without making provisions for a new kind of labor. If wages went down--or became non-existent--our tax base would shrivel, as well.
So what did we do? We went along. We rewarded the super-rich, those vainglorious bastards who shipped our jobs and our wealth out of the country, not just by cutting their taxes to bare bones, but by treating them as whole-cloth Americans while they turned their backs on us and refused to do anything more for our country than live here.
We really should have known better, but once again, we've let big money nearly destroy us. They've grown stronger, thanks to us, and now they've invaded our lives, right down to choosing the politicians most likely to let the super-rich maintain the status quo.
These are not the Rockefellers or the Vanderbilts--the money people who, ruthless and greedy as they were, hauled us into the industrial age and built this country, brick by brick. They wanted it all, too, but at least they knew to keep it within our shores. They weren't above buying politicians in their day, but their power only went so far. They were rich but their riches didn't own us for decades on end.
Now it does. It buys politicians and courts and it buys silence. It buys respect where respect is not deserved. And we're growing poorer and shabbier every day. We're a shadow of our former selves while the stockpiles of the very rich have grown beyond their wildest dreams--and our wildest imaginations.
They don't need us. They don't want us. And as long as we keep insisting that everything's gonna be all right, the super-rich will be alive and doing exceedingly well in America.
As for the rest of us--we'll be exactly where they want us.
(Read the article in Truthout that prompted this. It's an issue that needs to be up front and on our minds come the next election cycle. If we stop blaming them we'll have nobody to blame but ourselves.)
Note: Cross-posted at Dagblog and Alan Colmes' Liberaland. Featured on Crooks and Liars MBRU. Appreciate it!)