Class Warfare

As we struggle in these difficult economic times we hear talk of shared sacrifice. The mounting deficit virtually demands that we take action to get our budget and our economy under control. Shared sacrifice makes for a great talking point, but any serious conversation about shared sacrifice will evoke cries of "class warfare" from the voices on the right. For them any suggestion that the wealthiest among us share the sacrifice that the poor and middle class have already been bearing, yields claims of class warfare.

If one examines the facts of our current recession, claims of class warfare ring hollow. It is the poor and middle class that have experienced the job losses. It is the poor and the middle class who are the 99ers. It's the poor and the middle class who will suffer most from the proposed program and entitlement cuts. Ironically much of this problem could be solved by simply eliminating the Bush tax cuts and returning to the tax levels of the Clinton era.

We Grew Together

Yet the facts go further in condemning the claims of the right. When you look at the share of income and increases in overall wealth for the last 40 years you find that there is indeed class warfare. Except in this case the claims of the right are 180 degrees from the reality of the facts. It’s not the wealthy who are being attacked, but rather the poor and middle class that are being slowly sucked dry by the wealthy elite of our country.

In short the facts are that middle class incomes have remained flat for over 40 years. Over that same period the share of wealth of the top brackets has increased exponentially. Only in the years leading up to the Great Depression have we seen income disparity like that which we are experiencing now. During the last 40 years, according to Elizabeth Warren’s analysis of government data, the income of working males has actually decreased by $800 per year. The middle and lower classes have been so affected, that we now have the highest level of child poverty in the industrialized world.

Income Gains Since 1971

The evidence of this ongoing class warfare is plentiful, yet staring these facts in the face the right would have you believe that there is a class war against the wealthy in this nation. They argue that the unions are dragging us down with their obscene healthcare benefits and retirement plans. They argue that the Department of Education is dragging us down. They argue that medicare, medicaid, social security, pretty much anything that benefits any of us in the middle class is the source of our problems as a nation. While making these claims, they ignore that during this recession alone, the middle class has seen it's average income shrink by $1,000. They ignore the facts that during this recession only the wealthiest 10% have experienced growth in income and wealth, just as only they have experienced growth in income and wealth for the past 40 years. While making these claims they ignore 40 years of flat wages for the middle class, they ignore growing poverty and they ignore a shrinking middle class.

In the face of these facts they argue that our belts should be tightened. Yet while they argue that we should tighten our belts, their policies have led us to take loans from China to give tax cuts to the rich. For the right, class warfare against the wealthy is asking the middle class to take a loan, which as a citizen of the US a portion of the debt is yours, so that you can give a tax cut to the wealthiest among us.

In 2008 Fortune Magazine listed the 5 wealthiest corporations in the world as all oil companies (Exxon Mobil, Gazprom, Shell, Chevron, BP). In 2009 3 of the top 5 corporations were oil companies, and in 2010 they represented 3 of the top 6 wealthiest corporations. In the face of these facts, the right argues that we should make cuts to program after program while they fight cutting billions in subsidies to the wealthiest corporations in the world.

Giving billions of dollars to the wealthiest of Americans, to the wealthiest of corporations, while cutting programs for the poor and middle class is the very definition of class warfare.

The right argues and has been arguing for 40 years that giving money to the wealthy creates jobs. Empowering the wealthy with more wealth will trickle down to the rest of us creating prosperity for all. Again, the facts don’t support this. When looking at the data it becomes clear that the money goes to the top and never comes back down.

It would be ridiculous to argue against the idea of wealth. Not because the wealthy are powerful, but because we don’t need a class war against the wealthy. However, it is also ridiculous to ask the poor and middle class to do their “fair share” while we refuse to ask the same of the wealthiest among us. Shouldn’t those wealthy patriots who have received the most benefit from our nation be the most willing to pay their fair share? They did so during the Great Depression. They did so during World War II. If sharing the burden was patriotic then, how has it become class warfare now?

No true conservative could truly believe that our nation will survive fiscally or otherwise if our middle class dies and is replaced by a class of poverty. The left has played it’s part in supporting the idea of trickle down, putting more money in the hands of the wealthy. How can we expect the voices on the right to begin to engage on this issue from a perspective of truth and fact if the left won’t do so itself? We must stop fighting only for the rich and begin fighting for everyone. Class warfare must be done away with in favor of equal rights and true shared sacrifice for all classes.

“To whom much is given much is required”. It seems that both the right and the left should be able to agree on this simple truth.