How many people have realized that the presumption of belonging to a “middle class” is delusional and dangerous? Enough to toss the reactionaries out of Congress in 2012? Maybe, but wouldn’t the current crop be replaced by a new bunch of corporate-sponsored whores?
These question gnawed at me today after a dental bill took a big bite out of my dwindling savings; after it occurred to me, for the thousandth time, that sheer luck is the only thing that prevents many of us in this country from slipping into poverty.
On the plus side, the Occupy movement has focused media attention on the fact that average Americans are being routinely robbed by bankers, hedge-fund managers, CEOs and politicians who work only for super-rich constituents. As Barbara and John Ehrenreich recently wrote:
One reason the concept of an economic 99% first took root in America rather than, say, Ireland or Spain is that Americans are particularly vulnerable to economic dislocation… Unemployment benefits do not last more than six months or a year, though in a recession they are sometimes extended by Congress. At present, even with such an extension, they reach only about half the jobless. Welfare was all but abolished 15 years ago, and health insurance has traditionally been linked to employment…
… Where other once-wealthy nations have a safety net, America offers a greased chute, leading down to destitution with alarming speed.
So what’s to stop corrupt Congresspeople, indirectly aided by an ineffectual, neoliberal president, from making living standards even lower for most of us? For now, almost nothing. The conniving skunks who control the House and, to a lesser extent, the Senate, remain dead-set on preventing any relief for the unemployed, the homeless, the soon-to-be-homeless, the sick but uninsured and all other poor or near-poor people.
As Robert Reich noted today, “big money is taking over government,” in the absence of campaign finance reform. Nothing will change until we can elect politicians who aren’t owned by big business and can therefore respond to our needs — good schools, an upgraded infrastructure, decent jobs, a social safety net.
Without real change, more and more people will slip into poverty, at roughly the same fast pace our government is becoming fascist.