Class Warfare Indeed

February 19, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Today, I’d like to re-post some pieces from a wonderful article written by Chris Weigant.

NOTE: The following is excerpted from “Friday Talking Points [155] — Class Warfare Indeed” by Chris Weigant.


Before I even begin here, I’d like to address what my critics will respond with, when they hear what I have to say. They’re going to call these ideas “class warfare.”

You know what? They’re right.

I am calling on the middle class and the working class and all the other classes that make up over 19 out of every 20 Americans to start fighting back. Note that, please — fighting back.

Because there has indeed been class warfare waged in America in recent decades, and our class is losing — and losing badly. The wealthiest of the wealthy — the modern-day robber barons among us — have been successfully waging class warfare on the rest of us for so long now that I am sick of it and I think it’s time the rest of us fought back, rather than meekly submitting to the whims of the moneyed class.

So, before my critics even have a chance to respond, I will save them the trouble — you are damn right that there is class warfare happening in America. By admitting this, I’m urging the people who have borne the brunt of the situation to wake up and begin to stand up for what is right.

We’re Becoming a Third World Country

Republicans are slashing spending so drastically that we are in danger of becoming more like a Third World country than the largest economy on Earth.

Don’t believe me? Consider what is being cut, by governments at all levels. We are told that there is no money to keep the streetlights on all night, for instance. That’s right — just like those pathetic countries that can’t keep the electricity on 24 hours a day, we can’t even afford to light our roads at night anymore.

We are told we can’t afford to pay for the most basic of services from our governments any more — things like police on the beat, firefighters who protect us, libraries to educate our young, and the teachers to teach them.

So sorry, no money for such frivolities. But we can’t even discuss the hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks we are handing out to the people who need it the least, because that would be unseemly, somehow.

The Difference Between Corporate Taxes and Yours and Mine

Corporations love to whine about how American corporate taxes are “the highest in the world,” but they never seem to mention the fact that most giant corporations pay little or no taxes whatsoever, because of the loopholes their wholly-owned subsidiary (or “Congress,” as we so quaintly still call it) creates for them to exploit.

They’re not even subtle about it, either — take a look in any corporate annual report, and then compare their profit numbers to the profits they report on their income taxes.

To their investors, the corporations actually brag about their immense profits, but these profits completely disappear when they fill out their taxes. Hey presto! The practice of keeping such a “second set of books” is almost universal in the American business community. What’s even more astonishing is that it’s fully legal for them to do so.

The share of total government income which comes from corporate taxes has actually shrunk drastically from what it was even a few decades ago. What this means is that your income taxes are a bigger share of what government takes in, because corporations have been getting away with not paying their fair share for decades now. And that’s not even the worst part.

This is the first period in American history — perhaps in the history of the entire world — where we have gone to war (in not just one, but two wars) and refused to raise the money to pay for what our leaders told us were wars that were necessary to fight for our own security.

Let me repeat that, in case you missed it — when a country goes to war, it raises the taxes to pay for it. Until now. Instead, we were told to “go shopping.” What we are seeing right now in our budget battles is a direct result of this inability to perform such basic mathematics.

You want to cut $100 billion from the budget? How about we get out of Afghanistan, then? That would pretty much save us the money that the Republicans want to hack out of services right here at home. We’d rather pay to train police halfway around the world than to pay for the policeman who patrols your own street. How is that setting our priorities straight? We pay more for our military than just about the rest of the world combined, and yet we can’t afford to pave our own roads. Once again, a hallmark of the Third World right here at home.

It wouldn’t be so blatant if Washington hadn’t just extended the tax cuts which were enacted at the beginning of our two wars. Seven hundred billion dollars in tax cuts for people making over a quarter of a million dollars per year was added to our deficit as a direct result.

Which makes all the Republican claims about being “deficit hawks” a cruel, cruel joke. Let’s see… take our current deficit… add hundreds of billions in tax cuts for the wealthy… then subtract sixty billion in cuts. What do you get? A deficit which is hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars bigger. It’s basic math, folks.

The Republican Attitude Towards Working People

This sad jest of misplaced priorities can be seen in Republican attitudes towards people who work for a living versus the bankers who destroyed our economy. When the subject of bonuses — bonuses, for Pete’s sake, of millions upon millions of dollars each, for the very people who had tanked America’s financial system and whose companies had been bailed out by public money — was brought up in Washington,

Republicans howled that “private employment contracts” were sacred. “Sacred!” they told us. We couldn’t possibly force these financial geniuses to give up million-dollar bonuses which they “earned” in the same year they destroyed their companies and almost destroyed our whole economy, because employment contracts were so untouchably sacred.

These geniuses might actually take other jobs in other countries if we didn’t hand over bags and bags of taxpayer money to them, as a personal reward for the biggest financial screwup in human history, we were told (as if such an exodus of “geniuses” would have been some sort of “bad thing” for America).

Why Aren’t They Focusing on Jobs?

Like I said, it is a cruel joke. Republicans — and many Democrats, when you get right down to it — who defended the bankers’ truckloads of money in bonuses, are now joining in the Union-bashing with outright glee. The governor of Wisconsin is even rumored to be considering calling out the National Guard to break a teachers’ strike today — something most Americans thought was a thing only read about in history books.

Republicans on Capitol Hill are working hard to slash the jobs of hundreds of thousands of cops, firefighters, teachers, researchers, construction workers, food safety inspectors, border patrol, and too many other valuable members of the workforce to even name. You know what their leader had to say about these thousands of jobs they were killing? “So be it.” Really — that is their attitude to laying off massive amounts of people in recessionary times — “So be it.” I’m surprised he didn’t just say “Let them eat cake,” personally. Republicans have not done one thing so far to create jobs.

Not one bill to create one job has even been considered by the new Republican House. The only time the subject came up was when they voted down an extension of unemployment benefits. They’re destroying good jobs at will, but refusing to even address the issue of creating jobs — all so billionaires can continue to pay the lowest taxes they’ve paid in half a century. Their priorities are clear as an expensive crystal wineglass.

Which is why you can’t say I’m proposing to wage class warfare, here. I am not encouraging class warfare in any way. I’m merely pointing out that this war is already raging. In fact, the millionaires and billionaires are pretty damn close to declaring total victory in this war.

They’re about to con America into giving up many of the basic services American governments have been able to provide for hundreds of years — things like streets which are lit at night, and libraries that are open every day of the week. They’re about to fire teachers and cops and all the rest of them, just so they can keep on cutting taxes on the robber barons of the new century. Which means I am proposing nothing new here.

A Call to Arms

What I am in fact proposing is that the public see the term “class warfare” for what it is — a supposedly-bad term for what should really be called “the middle class fighting back.” Because once you see through these particular “clothes” on the modern-day Emperors, it becomes a lot easier to realize that class warfare has been raging for a long time now — and the 95 percent of us out here who have been continually screwed during this battle are about to lose again (even more drastically, this time) if we don’t start ranting about it in earnest.