Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Disparity between Rich and Poor Is What Divides Us

I hear it said that there is no significance difference between America’s two major political parties. But I say there is one very significant and overriding difference: You see, in my teens, my great-grandfather counseled that the difference between Republicans and Democrats boiled down to one party that is supportive of the well-to-do and the other party supportive of those who are not so well-to-do. And, in my life, that same view has been formed via the contrast between Republicans and Democrats in their deeds and actions, formal speech and writing, colloquially, and in the social legislation proposed/supported by each party.

Historically, Democrats, albeit there have been Republicans who also have jumped on-board, are the ones responsible for major social legislation: minimum wage, Social Security and unemployment insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, Civil Rights, and Healthcare Reform. Moreover, Democrats support regulation, which protects in particular those who are not so well-to-do or do not have the where-with-all to protect themselves – regulatory law so that they are not snookered into some “weasel deal.”

Whereas the Republicans do not support minimum wage increases and some even propose its abolishment, they support privatization of Social Security and seemingly do not support unemployment insurance, they will repeal healthcare reform legislation if they gain the majority in November, and they support abolishment or severe entitlement restrictions. Republicans support minimal regulation, and those who are more ideologically libertarian support no regulation.

Then there is the creation of the Wall Street centric Federal Reserve, which has highly contributed to our current economic state of affairs, codified by Congress in 1913, and of which the impetus for its creation came from an extraordinarily secret meeting at the Jekyll Island Club in November of 1910. The attendees at that meeting were Senator Nelson W. Aldrich and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Department A.P. Andrews, and five of the country's leading financiers. No one there gave a hoot about labor or minority inequities, and not a one was a progressive reformer. Their only concern was monetary policy and the establishment of a central banking system in order to achieve greater control over the creation of wealth.

It’s that creation of wealth mindset, Republican Party support for minimal regulation and free market economics, versus Democratic Party support for those who are not so well-to-do in the form of entitlements, that has created today’s political polarization. It has also lead to unacceptable inequality between the low, middle, and upper class.

It’s also a mindset that brought us an “extraordinary state of affairs … facilitated by the U.S. Supreme Court’s scandalous Citizens United decision [Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a ruling that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in elections], which swept away decades of restrictions on corporate spending to influence elections. The Republicans’ success in blocking [campaign finance] legislation that would at least have required the big spenders to disclose the sources of their money means voters have to operate in the dark.” So writes E.J. Dionne, Jr. in his article, “The Shadow Class War of 2010.”

Dionne writes, “The good news is that the class war is bringing a certain clarity to politics. It is also another piece of evidence for the radicalism of the current brand of conservatism. This, in turn, is forcing Democrats to defend a proposition they have been committed to since the days of Franklin Roosevelt but are often too timid to proclaim: that government has a legitimate and necessary role in making economic rules to protect individuals from abuse.

“The country doesn’t need this class war, and it is irrational in any case. Practically no one, least of all Obama, is questioning the basics of the market system or proposing anything more than somewhat tighter economic regulations—after the biggest financial collapse since the Great Depression—and rather modest tax increases on the wealthy.”

It seems to me that on November 2nd voters must decide whether or not “government has a legitimate and necessary role in making economic rules to protect individuals from abuse,” and they need to vote accordingly.