You Should Be Angry
by David Todd McCarty | Wednesday, November 8, 2017
The enemy is a rich guy.
No, not the orange reality star. He’s just one, horrible example of a larger trend of the ongoing redistribution of wealth from the middle and working class to the top 10% of the population. The President likes to brag about the stock market’s gains and record profits for corporations, but what he doesn’t tell you is that unless you’re really wealthy, you’re unlikely to see any of that.
It’s not just the working poor who have struggled with low wages. Middle class wages have been largely stagnant. Between 1935-1980, 70% of all income growth for Americans belonged to 90% of Americans. The top 1% only accounted for 7% of all income growth during that time. Conversely, since 1997, the top 1% account for 72% of all income growth. From 7% in the pre-Reagan years to over 70% today. Income went from workers to investors. After 1997, all income growth went to the top 10% of Americans, with the vast majority of it going to the top 1%.
That’s what happened to the American Dream. It was stolen by a rich guy.
What can Democrats do about it? A lot in fact.
The issue isn’t about the poor, or the working class or even the middle class. It’s about representing the 99%. That’s a lot of voters.
There is a line in the movie Gandhi where one of the British generals says, “You don’t think we’re just going to walk out of India?”
Gandhi replies, “Yes. In the end, you will walk out, because 100,000 Englishmen simply cannot control 350,000,000 Indians if those Indians refuse to cooperate.”
The point is that 3.2 million can’t control 320 million if the 320 refuse to let them.
One of the big problems with Americans is that they don’t see themselves as poor, all evidence to the contrary. They’re just people who haven’t gotten rich yet. Americans see wealth and fame as a real goal worth striving for. Other cultures, much happier cultures, search for meaning, contentment, satisfying work, family and love. Americans want their own television show and a Gulfstream.
This has often prohibited us from convincing the majority of the population that the top 1% should be taxed at a much higher rate because secretly, they hope to be in that top percent someday. The reality is, there has been very little upward mobility in the last 40 years. Americans are mobile, it’s just that the mobility has all been downward.
So, we need to focus on the 99% and convince them that they’re being screwed by the 1%. It’s a populist message really. Not that hard. You struggle to make ends meet and this guy and his friends use hundred dollar bills to light their cigars in the Hamptons. The people making all this happen? Rich Congressmen who take Wall Street’s money and write laws that benefit the few, while the many languish. This isn’t just about being poor. It’s about even making it to the middle class.
This will be first set of generations that will be worse off than their parents. This should make you angry. This should make young people angry. Angry is good.
Now I want to put a face on the people you should be angry with.