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Tuesday, August 07, 2018


Working people need a #MeToo movement

by Tom Sullivan

(Mark Dixon/ Flickr)

Extreme poverty is receding worldwide. Good news. The bad news is extreme inequality is on the rise as well. So while people may get off the bottom rung of society's ladder, they have nowhere to climb, Axios reports.

With China's economy booming, lifting 900 million out of poverty since 1990. The World Bank adds that while two-thirds of the world lived on less than $5.50 per day 20 years ago, today less than half that do.

But while Europe remains the least unequal place to live, Axios notes the World Inequality Report calculates that the 7 million richest people on the planet collected "13.8% of all economic growth since 1980." Social mobility is falling. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates in the United States, to take a country at random, it would take a family in the bottom 10% of incomes five generations to move into the middle class.

Capitalism once advertised better than this. Which is why socialism is gaining newfound popularity, writes Michael Tomasky in the New York Times. Capitalism like this makes socialism more appealing to younger Americans:

You’ve seen the United States go from being a country that your parents — or if you’re 28, more likely your grandparents — described as a place where life got better for every succeeding generation to a place where for millions of people, quite possibly including you, that’s no longer true.

As that happened, you’ve seen the rich get richer, and you’ve perhaps noticed that the government’s main response to this has been to keep cutting their taxes (in fairness, President Barack Obama did raise the highest rate in 2013 to 39.6 percent from 35 percent, although for single filers, that rate didn’t kick in until earned income went above $400,000).

You witnessed the financial meltdown of 2008, caused by big banks betting against themselves. Capitalists might want to consider how all that looked to a young person who came from a working-class family and who probably knows someone who lost a job or even his house, while some of the bankers who helped create the mess walked away with golden parachutes, like that of Countrywide Financial’s Angelo Mozilo, which The Times valued at $88 million.
Soaring profits, tax repatriation holidays, and stock buybacks for a few. Decades of stagnant wages and gnawing financial insecurity for most. Even now, after decades of the U.S. government ignoring elite greed and lawlessness, the Paul Manaforts facing justice are only the tip of the iceberg, writes Catherine Rampell. They have had free rein (reign?) to pillage without fear of prosecution.

Tomasky continues:
I could go on like this for 20 paragraphs. Many more, in fact. But you get the idea. Back in the days when our economy just grew and grew, we had a government and a capitalist class that invested in our people and their future — in the Interstate highways, the community colleges, the scientific research, the generous federal grants for transportation and regional development.
A 28-year-old today — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to take one at random — has never seen that kind of corporate capitalism, only the more rapacious, post-Reagan kind. The kind many Democrats embraced in vying to complete for campaign funds from the deep-pocketed. No wonder the young are calling capitalism on the carpet.

At Netroots Nation in New Orleans on Saturday, Ocasio-Cortez called on Democrats to rededicate themselves as the party of working people and to the policies that from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Lyndon Johnson built the world's greatest middle class:
“These are not new ideas,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “We are picking up where we last left off, when we were last our most powerful, when we were our last greatest. It’s time to own that our party was the one of the Great Society, of the New Deal, of the Civil Rights Act. That’s our party. That’s who we are. It’s time for us to come home.”
Perhaps it is time working people abused by capitalism custom-formatted for oligarchs got a #MeToo movement. Want a raise? Me too. Job security? Me too. A raise, a fair share of the economic growth your labor creates? Me too. Health care that heals the sick instead of bankrupting them? Me too.

Tomasky advises a nervous capitalist class, "You want fewer socialists? Easy. Stop creating them."

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