What would certain members of the white elite and political manipulators do if working class and poor whites figured out they were being played? Those Tea Party members might reconsider how easily they’re being manipulated into racially scapegoating others and recognize it’s a class battle they need to be organizing against. The Southern Strategy aka “Operation Scare White People” has been such an oft-used ploy to get them to work against their interests I wonder how can so many be led down a very familiar path time and time again?
Meanwhile Kevin Drum, as stated in his Mother Jones article, The Fate Of The Tea Parties suggests that the Tea Party is a fad stating —
We’ve seen similar conservative movements flower like clockwork during previous Democratic administrations, and they always burn themselves out after a few years. The tea party movement has ascended faster than its ancestors, partly because of lousy economic conditions and partly because of the power of modern media, and my guess is that their fall will be equally swift when it comes.
— I’m not as certain as he purports to be of their pending fade to obscurity. The damage left in their wake often lasts far beyond the sputtered agendas only to be reignited again. In this case the economic indicators may be far worse than what we are being led to believe as the more “radical” forecasters have been warning of a major collapse since 2005-2006 and a permanent shift where mere recovery won’t bring back the removal of a big chunk of the infrastructure.
In fact, The Institute For Policy Studies has published their latest annual Executive Excess report http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/executive_excess_2010 showing the spike in profit margins for CEOs of companies who get rid of large swaths of their employees. It pays to fire people!
A New York Times Executive Pay News article from July 23, 2010 agrees:
Executive compensation at financial firms and other corporations began soaring beginning in the 1990s. When the bottom dropped out of the economy in recent years, large pay packages became the focus of public fury — particularly when they were going to executives of companies receiving taxpayer funds. President Obama has said that executive pay packages encouraging excessive risk led to the practices responsible for the financial crisis, and his administration has looked for ways to curb executive pay. But officials have acknowledged that some of these actions may not reduce the biggest paychecks on Wall Street.
President Obama appointed Kenneth R. Feinberg compensation overseer or “pay czar” for banks bailed out by the government. In a report released on July 23, 2010, Mr. Feinberg named 17 financial companies that made questionable payouts totaling $1.58 billion immediately after accepting billions of dollars of taxpayer aid in 2008.
Only about 180 of the 420 companies that accepted bailout money were subject to his review, and Mr. Feinberg has no authority, other than the threat of public embarrassment, to renegotiate compensation arrangements that he finds objectionable.
The news that certain billionaires have pledged to donate half of their accumulated wealth would certainly seem to address some of these problems, right?
Another NYT article on The Real Say On Executive Pay:
Federal filings already tell investors how much top executives make. The median salary of a Standard & Poor’s 500 chief executive last year was $1.025 million, and the median total pay package including bonuses and non-salary income was $7.5 million, according to Equilar, an executive compensation research firm. The median pay of private-sector workers in the United States was about $30,000 in 2008, the most recent year of data. With benefits added in, that comes to roughly $36,000.
While there are many brilliant CEOs – like one of my personal faves Sir Richard Branson -who’ve led their companies to great innovation while meeting the needs of its employees (it also helps when you’re living in a Western country that provides health care, paid time off, child care and other premiums), some companies have taken the idea of capitalism too far. While it may be true altruism and capitalism have always been at odds, there was a time the great robber barons were also great philanthropists. There was also a time when those occupying the top 1% of wealthiest citizens paid their fair share of taxes.
All of that changed after Ronald Reagan took office – as well as the regulation. We see how well running on an “honor” system and removing the leash of the beasts worked. The malfeasance continued through Bush-Clinton-Bush and we’re seeing the effects (many of which were carefully disguised) reach critical mass during the Obama administration. It’s quite a mess to clean up that will take more than four – or even eight years to make a real dent into it. Yet something must be done and fast to address this! Unemployment for blacks has nearly tripled during this period as well, yet the contrast between those who are remaining hopeful versus those reaching for pitchforks is very telling.
We also have no guarantee what the agenda of the next administration will be or what the state of this country will be in at that time. This destabilization also isn’t limited to the United States. Certain interests have been working against the good of the nation looking for short-term gains at the expense of overall health for the past three decades by eroding environmental protections (from trying to obfuscate global warming exists to refusing to sign the Kyoto Agreement), deregulating financial protections, outsourcing jobs that provided middle-class salaries oversees (getting laws changed to make that legal and profitable with additional tax breaks to do so), to violating laws by paying undocumented workers (of all nationalities) over citizens and highly skilled legal immigrants, adopting the overall devaluing mentality where taking care of your own was paramount (i.e. New Deal legislation), deciding that military dominance required trillion dollar spending (borrowing money we don’t have) which has weakened the value of the US Dollar and other abandonment measures which has culminated in the one-two punch of the collapsed economy and the very real emotional trauma of citizens who realize the bottom has fallen out and there’s no easy remedy.
This goes beyond “pulling oneself up by the bootstraps”. When we look at the costs of an education at colleges and universities the price of attendance has exploded. Tuition at the name schools has tripled ($20K average to nearly $60K) in the past two decades while the standard of living has plummeted. The costs of the “second-tier” schools has equally increased percentage-wise. While some then suggest students turn to community colleges and state schools they are now instituting greater restrictions and attendance caps for students who wish to enroll. If education is the key to getting out of poverty and increasing one’s earning potential the costs will bar many from being able to do so. Everyone doesn’t follow a linear path into college after graduating from high school. People may have life circumstances that take precedence, join the military, need to mature or wish to pursue other life experiences. Many people have to work full-time jobs that won’t accommodate a day schedule for classes. Others need to be encouraged to start businesses instead or take of vocational trades as long as core competencies are met.
Certain online curriculums being offered to meet the needs of today’s modern student yet certain segments of society has still not caught up to the shift in technology. It should be noted that certain employers are specifically stating preferences that their ideal candidates are those that have received their education from certain types of schools. I’m not certain about the legal ramifications of that but in this current economic disorder many questionable tactics are being used to eliminate applicants due to the glut of an overqualified candidate pool.
We know that many people who’ve achieved success have not solely done so because of hard work. Connections and exposure to networks have a huge impact on what doors are open to people. That isn’t an excuse for being ill-prepared or lazy. Life isn’t fair though and this is the time of a new world order. It behooves us to be aggressive and proactive at making the necessary adjustments. Many of us will need to be even more creative in thinking outside the box and focusing on a career and life trajectory if we are to thrive.