A look back at 2011 reveals a year wherein notably consistent themes tied together a seemingly chaotic rabble of events that tested the American experiment in self-governance. The year began inundated in a cacophony of corporate-sponsored Tea Party caterwauling, but ended with a new and more robust voice of the people occupying public spaces in direct defiance to the authority of the financially and politically powerful.
In an attempt to capsulize some of the broader subjects that defined 2011, I have selected three stories that have had a significant impact on our nation and world.
Debt Wish XI: The GOP/Tea Party Plan To Tax The Poor
America’s Republican/Tea Party contingent, who are defined by their dogmatic devotion to lower taxes as a panacea for everything, have finally found a sector of society that they can comfortably saddle with a higher tax burden: The Poor.
That’s right. These anti-tax zealots have concluded that fairness cannot be achieved in the country’s tax code as long as there are disadvantaged freeloaders who are allegedly not paying into the system. While they fight tooth and nail to protect wealthy individuals and corporations from contributing even modest amounts to the nation’s recovery, the rightist brigade is marching lock-step in favor of soaking the poor in order to heal the malaise on Wall Street and the misery of long-suffering bankers. Their battle cry goes something like this: “Half of the Country Doesn’t Pay Any Taxes At All.” Fox News has been pushing that theme for quite a while. For the past two years they headlined it on Fox Nation right at tax time.
“Conservatives say if you don’t give the rich more money, they will lose their incentive to invest. As for the poor, they tell us they’ve lost all incentive because we’ve given them too much money.” ~ George Carlin
The national debate triggered by the Occupy Wall Street protests has given the wealth gap a renewed focus in the public arena. And with good reason. That gap is wider today than it was just prior to the Great Depression; wider, in fact, than it has ever been. The brutality of that economic disparity has thrust our nation into a bitter and persistent recession. But it has also inspired millions of Americans to step forward and demand reforms that not only restore fairness, but readjust the balance of political power.
Conservatives regard this new activism as a declaration of class war. But it’s important to note that they only call it war when we fight back. The war was already in progress and, as Warren Buffett said, “We (the rich) are winning.” Now a new survey reveals that Buffett is not the only one-percenter that is fighting on our side. The Wall Street Journal (ironically) is reporting that…
“A new survey from Spectrem Group found that 68% of millionaires (those with investments of $1 million or more) support raising taxes on those with $1 million or more in income. Fully 61% of those with net worths of $5 million or more support the tax on million-plus earners.”
Murdochalypse: Ruse Of The World
It’s too bad that Rupert Murdoch shut down the News of the World. If there were ever a time that it was needed, it’s now. The NotW’s specialty was sordid, scandalous, misbehavior by important persons and institutions. The fall of the House of Murdoch fits neatly in that mold: A billionaire media baron brought down by flagrant violations of law and morality. Numerous arrests and resignations. Billions of dollars in asset value evaporated. Just imagine how the NotW would have covered this story:
This has been a tumultuous year during which many Americans suffered in ways not seen since the 1930’s. It has been a year that revealed the depths of the ethical depravity that a major international news enterprise would sink to in order to get a story and to tighten its grip on power. But most of all it was a year of hope demonstrated by committed Americans who brought the fight for fairness, equality, and an end to corruption, to the streets and parks and civic centers of cities across the nation.
2012 will likely be dominated by election news. The Republican clown car will roll across the country with Bachmann, Perry, Santorum, Paul, Gingrich, and Romney, as its passengers (and occasional hitchhikers, Palin and Trump). And the media, led by Fox News, will invent scandals and crises with which to batter progressive advocates and values. They are already fomenting fabricated predictions that the President’s reelection campaign will be the nastiest in history. This is from the same folks who, for the past three years, have been bashing Obama as a Kenyan socialist bent on delivering America to its enemies. But the people will have the final say, and by this time next year we’ll know whether the nation has recovered from its temporary Tea Party insanity.
Happy New Year Everybody!