Friday, September 24, 2010

OPINION: Poverty A Much Bigger Problem Than We All Think

Can We Talk?
By Jack Fairweather

For the majority of the so-called American middle class it is not going to be okay.  For the working poor, the unemployed and under employed, it certainly is not going to be okay. For other, believers and supporters of the corporate state…well, they’ll be okay…for awhile.
Daily, weekly, monthly we are treated to conflicting reports of the state of our economy and society.  We are told there are 13 million children in the United States who live in poverty, we are told that now…as far as the U.S. Census is concerned…1 in every 7 Americans is in poverty.
Given the thousands who were not accessible to the Census the number is probably closer to 1 in 5 or 6.  But, don’t worry we are assured it’s going to be okay.  Not hardly.
The signs are all around us…we don’t have demagogues and charlatans of the types that arose in the 1920’s and 30’s to offer visions of America’s potential greatness and world leadership.  We have the Tea Party. We have Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh.  At some level even those people realize that the empire is dying, the economy is close to, or has, collapsed.  A period of precarious social instability is on the horizon.  The country’s leadership, President Obama among them, are only mortal.  They can only wave their swords and send their military against a tidal wave of global instability that cannot be stopped. 
Certainly not by the corporate state  America has become.  They will continue to throw trillions of dollars at the economic and social problems…although the social problems are far down on their list of things to be done.  That list is controlled and written by the global corporations and banks that enjoy the major benefits of “stimulus” and “bail outs”.
How will the people cope with such a decline?  Some, no doubt, will continue to cling to the dreams of a superpower and a glorious imperial tomorrow, others, we can hope a majority, will take individual and collective responsibility and face up to the new reality of stark limitations.  Will the people listen to those who are stable and rational, who speak of a need for a new simplicity in lifestyle and sense of being a nation that leads through a truthful and transparent example of concern for human rights and providing the basic needs of all its people?  That will require a radical change in our system to one of defiance of the corporate state, protection of the ordinary citizen and fostering the common good.  The alternative is to put in place the brutality and technology of our internal security and surveillance capability to crush all dissent.
The passivity of Americans in this time stands in sharp contrast to the actions of workers and the poor, joined by students, educators and others, in street protests and strikes in France, Turkey, Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Iceland.  In those places people of all political persuasions, and none at all, are trying to bring sanity into their governments.  Again, we have the Tea Party, and ranters like Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh, people who, when you read between the lines of their rhetoric, would turn the clock back to a time when Wall Street, the banks and corporations had their way with the people and their money without any regulation or other obstacle.  A time when the common people “knew their place and stayed in it.”  Well, that’s still pretty much the case. 
“Democracy Incorporated” is the title of a book written by Sheldon S. Wolin, a retired professor of political philosophy at the University of California and Princeton.
In this book, which award winning journalist Chris Hedges calls “one of the most important and prescient critiques to date of the American political system” Wolin coins the phrase “inverted totalitarianism” to describe this countries system of power.  More on that in a column next month.

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