Once upon a time, a man could be self-sufficient and raise a family with a 40 acre farm and a mule.
Once upon a time, the North American continent seemingly had unlimited land for farming, raising families, and freedom from oppression by Lords, Kings, and Government-imposed Religions.
And a new nation was born, crafted and created by a select few white men, who desired to create a Utopia – – a country where the populace controlled the government, instead of the other way around. To be certain, they crafted certain provisions to protect the interests of the wealthy against a populist uprising – the electoral college and setting it up so that States Legislatures elected Senators.
There has always been a tension between those with money and those who would regulate commerce. Unregulated capitalism led to cyclical booms and busts, culminating in the Great Depression. This, in turn, led to regulating capitalism, which led to sustained growth and the emergence of a middle class.
By the 1950s a man could earn enough to support a family, buy a house and a car and enjoy a reasonably comfortable standard of living working a reasonable secure job. The American Dream was finally realized. For some. For the American Dream was not for people of color and women were lower class citizens, in the workforce especially, as they were expected to stay home and have babies.
Then came the 60s, and someone of color dared to have a dream – – to dream that a person of color could share in the American Dream. There were assassinations and civil unrest. A social safety net was created and the Welfare State was born. Although born of good intentions, it had its flaws. Chief among which was the fact that, once on Welfare, accepting an entry level job meant a decrease in income. As a result, families became stuck on Welfare for multiple generations.
Along comes resentment, as people on Welfare were painted as lazy – leeches living off the labors of the working class. Welfare families were depicted as families of color, and racial prejudices were once again exploited.
And somewhere along the way, the American Dream became the American Nightmare. We voted for Presidents, Senators and Republicans who would lower our taxes, eliminate the social safety net and force people to go to work. But these elected representatives also began chipping away at the foundations of the economic policies that led to the rise of the middle class.
Those foundations are largely gone now. Free trade agreements put a quick end to American manufacturing. The corporations are still in business, but the manufacturing jobs have been relocated to countries with lower wages, fewer regulations. Government controls on the financial sector have been removed, leading to the Great Recession of 2008. The disparity of wealth between the haves and have-nots is approaching levels not seen since the Middle Ages. The haves have rigged the system and control the message, thereby controlling the group-think of the populace.
George Orwell’s 1984 has become a blueprint instead of a warning.
The American Dream is gone. The standard of living for all except the top 10% is in decline. It now takes 2 wage earners to support a middle-class lifestyle, a lifestyle that comes to a quick end should one of the two develop a serious illness or injury.
This current election cycle paints the reality of where we are in stark contrast. A populist candidate on the Right, campaigning on racial intolerance, violence and hatred is the presumptive Republican nominee. A populist candidate on the Left, campaigning on social justice and democratic socialism has been stymied at every turn by the mainstream media and the political machinations of the hierarchy of the Democratic Party.
Is this where we’re heading?