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There is a feeling among the masses generally that something is radically wrong. They are despairing of political action. They say the only thing you do in Washington is to take money from the pockets of the poor and put it into the pockets of the rich. They say that this Government is a conspiracy against the common people to enrich the already rich. I hear such remarks every day.

Oscar Ameringer, 1932

According to the author of What's the Matter With Kansas?, Paul Krugman won't save us:

“Inequality” is the most basic issue of them all, the very reason for liberalism’s existence. It is about who we are and how we live. Virtually every other liberal cause pales by comparison. This is the World War II of political subjects, and if we are going to win it must be a people’s war, not a Combat of the Thirty between the plumèd knights of the Beltway.
Thomas Frank, writing for Salon, is skeptical that no matter how well-intended and accurate the arguments of pols like Robert Reich and Nobel-adorned economists like Paul Krugman, no matter how plainly and persuasively they lay out the case, the issue of ever-widening class division in this society will only be met and resolved by a popular, grassroots movement, not by the paladins of Washington or their cohorts and critics within the Beltway.  The reason is that the issue goes to the heart of Americans' existence, our very perception of ourselves as a people. The reordering of our society that we see happening all around us is simply not a subject that can be dissected by a series of articles in the New York Times, nor solved by lectures in a Berkeley classroom. This is not an academic subject at all. To view it as such anesthetizes us from the reality:
“Inequality” is not some minor technical glitch for the experts to solve; this is the Big One. This is the very substance of American populism; this is what has brought together movements of average people throughout our history....
Frank also doesn't believe "Inequality" is a word that does the problem justice, and in fact lends itself to the types of wonky, chart-driven discussions we are all familiar with. It also opens the door to endless political "debate" about something which should be quite visceral:
It is a pleasant-sounding euphemism for the Appalachification of our world.
Frank notes that unlike their forebears, Democrats today run from the word "class." But he searches in vain for another way to characterize the totality of what has happened to the country in the last three decades:
[I]n the ever-rising cost of healthcare and college, in the deindustrialization of the Midwest and the ballooning of Wall Street, in the power of lobbying, in the dot-com bubble, in the housing bubble, in the commodities bubble. It was made possible by the signal political events of our time: the collapse of the New Deal coalition; the decline of labor; the infernal populism of the New Right; the fall of antitrust and the triumph of deregulation; the rise of Ronald Reagan, and after him Newt Gingrich, and after him George W. Bush, and after him the Tea Party, all of them bringing their pet tax cuts with them to Washington.
All the terminology and analysis in the world, he says, isn't going to solve a problem that ultimately comes down to a vast theft of wealth deliberately conceived and executed by the wealthy.  No charts, no "roundtable discussions," no debates, no think-tanks and no Blue-ribbon Presidential task forces are going to reverse this course. This course will only be confronted and reversed by ordinary people, fed up, conscious of what has been done to them,  talking and organizing amongst themselves and demanding--or taking--action.  The movement must come from the bottom up, not from the top down:
[I]n its basic, brutal thrust — something  dead simple: Inequality happened because our leaders set out to make it happen...[.]

* * *

The rich got so goddamn rich, in other words, because the signature policies of the Great Right Turn were designed to make them rich. And, as the world knows, these policies weren’t limited to Republicans; Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama—plus, of course, their resident economists and cabinet members—all more or less endorsed the basic tenets of the free-market faith. They are all implicated.

(Italics in the original).

While Occupy Wall Street (already a distant memory) famously "changed the conversation," it is more than the conversation that needs changing. And it's not going to be changed by aging kulaks like myself, for example. When the generation that finally and fully comprehends the magnitude of the deception that has been foisted on them--the narrowing of their futures resultant from massive student loan debt, inadequate employment options and an indifferent, exploitative corporate culture more concerned about protecting its own bottom line than providing real opportunity--that is when the "changes" will be far more than just "to the conversation."

And when that happens, a lot of people aren't going to like it.

Originally posted to Dartagnan on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 05:10 AM PST.

Also republished by Income Inequality Kos.

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Comment Preferences

    •  That's exactly right (12+ / 0-)

      People forget that the New Deal happened because people were already out in the streets.

       I detailed some of this here and here.

        Not many people noticed these diaries at the time, but maybe soon people will become more aware of how things get changed in Washington.

      None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

      by gjohnsit on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 08:30:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  History has been sanitized. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Every successful grassroots movement to combat the robbery of the lower classes by the upper - and, it must be said, quite a few unsuccessful ones - employed a kind of civil violence. Not murder and destruction - though that too is a common feature - but a determined willingness to disobey the commands of the wealthy and powerful and their hired enforcers, and to RESIST them, not in a legal way - that is, the way they were expected to behave - but in an effective way, a necessary way. They invented their own law, having need of it, and disregarded that which was given to them.

        All the marches that would not be deterred by police or the military, all the riots, all the sabotage, all the impending threats to the status quo, and all the atrocities committed by the wealthy in an attempt to quell them, have all been papered over, tucked away, and strategically forgotten. You can still find them, now, but they will not be spoonfed to you. They are not in your 9th grade history book. CNN will not tell you about them. You have to dig a little, and the deeper you dig, the more you will find.

    •  It also required... (8+ / 0-) FDR.  India arguably required a British public.  And the USSR, a Gorbachev.  Even the most entrenched of the privileged retain some basic idea of right and wrong, and there is -- a lot of the time -- a point where it is clear as day that you cannot continue to prosper off the pain and suffering of others.  

      Part of it is the popular movement.  Another part is having enough of a vision of common interest in society and recognition of the humanity of your victims that at some point it shocks the conscience.  I think that's a lot of what a popular movement does.  The rich and powerful don't just act from fear of being dragged away in tumbrils.  They also act because their noses have been rubbed in the human cost, to the point where a few of them are of like mind with the oppressed and are willing to act with courage against the interests of their class.

      If that never happens and you have a revolution anyway, tumbrils it is.  After which things suck for everyone.  And if it never happens -- if the disenfranchised are sufficiently dehumanized, Spartans and Helots, then I think you get genocides, or something similar, in slow or fast motion.

      ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

      by jessical on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 08:55:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We thought we had an FDR in Obama (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but we got some of the worst qualities of Carter and Clinton combined instead.

      •  Ghandi Said It (0+ / 0-)

        When talking about non-violent protest; he claimed it would only work when your opponent had a conscience, something many of the 1% lack today.  Their sense of entitlement is over- shadowed only by their sense of outrage when anyone dares to question their position.

      •  It Should Be Said However (0+ / 0-)

        that, in all the cases you mention, including FDR, it was a matter of following, not leading. FDR didn't enact the New Deal because he wanted to end the suffering of average Americans under the Great Depression; he did it to stop a growing popular push for Socialism. The British didn't just decide to be nice guys and grant independence to India; they were no longer in a position to control a huge far-flung empire and couldn't afford to rebuild at home and fight popular uprisings in India, not to mention all the problems in other parts of the empire. As to the USSR, there were  so many causes of its downfall including the inability to sustain its constant military expansion, the cost of empire, and internal and external uprisings that it's more surprising that it lasted as long as it did rather than when and under whom it ended. There has only been one constant to all revolutions and that is the refusal of the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes. As to violence, in most cases the violence has arisen from the counter-revolution rather than the revolution itself although even that has not been true in all cases. It is true that, often, wealthy people have been in the vanguard of popular successful uprisings but, in most cases, these leaders didn't come from the ruling classes but, rather, from the higher echelons of the working class or, if you prefer the middle classes, who have hit their own ceilings in terms of mobility. But one could argue that this has more to do with education and an inability to move forward within the existing society than actual financial wealth. Just as an aside the leaders of the French Revolution tended to come from the wealthy merchant class, not the poor. And the American revolutionaries weren't averse to a little violence against dissidents either - it was fear of this violence which led to the settling of the province of Ontario in Canada, not by the wealthy British loyalists but by farmers, native Americans, and small merchants who didn't quite share the passion for change that the mostly wealthy leaders of the revolution did ie they didn't see any benefit in it for themselves and preferred to leave rather than be tarred and feathered or hung by the Revolutionaries which I'm not sure was an improvement over the tumbrils. The Guillotine was, at least, assumed to be a humane form of execution.

      •  Thank-you (0+ / 0-)

        Too many people romanticise the 'masses', both in their character and their power to get things done alone.  Put simply (WARNING: anyone using 'put simply' is probably over-simplifying) those at the levers of power engineer, usually without conspiracy but by their daily actions and our reactions, to make sure that they alone will be able to operate those levers properly and efficiently---the prisoners' dilemma can do the rest, even far from Jay Gould's observation that he could pay half the lower classes to kill the other half.

        A prisoners' dilemma is breakable only by an external force's lowering the utility of making a solo deal. To a certain extent, the very real prospect of starvation even if an individual deal were made helped to do this, both directly and by making the very real violence and corruption in the unions more acceptable...and the old American Stalinists were right:  the New Deal, and we must add now the Great Society, were tremendously counter-revolutionary in that they raised the conditions of refusing to revolt from 'possibly deadly' to 'unpleasantly survivable'.  You can now probably survive, with no job or a bad one, without a union, needing only to accept the humiliation that is part of the bargain.  (I've done UI/UX design, and recently had to spend time in a Quango 'jobs placement' centre, and [though projection were almost certainly in play] it seemed to me that the place were designed to lower pride, that is level within the hominid dominance hierarchy acceptable.)

        POP THE STACK:
        In the absence of the ability to operate the levers, one needs operators trained in their operation who are willing to work with you to some appreciable extent...this is hard to do: the fringy evangelicals, for example, thought they had such in George W. Bush, but despite how it looks from our side, from their P.o.V. he never really delivered much.  A good sign that you've got an appropriate operator is when the stupider of the other operators hate him (it's usually an 'him')...Gracchus was assassinated, if Smedley Butler wasn't fibbing the malefactors of great wealth intended the same for F.D.R....the rich are split on Obama, formerly about 60-40 for, now probably 70-30 against.

        When someone asked me why Obama couldn't 'be F.D.R.', I answered something like '...because he wasn't born rich and so aristocratic that he could look down on the super-super-rich of his day as arrivistes.'.  I always expected that the first black President would be a go-along-to-get-along moderate Republican...I just thought it would be Colin Powell.  Since I actually bothered to listen to what he had to say campaigning, he has surprised me very little...and I'm afraid that we won't be able to do much better....

  •  He's Wrong Because it Was Elites Who Solved It (29+ / 0-)

    the first time.

    --Granted, that was in response to tremendous public pressure for many kinds of reform, including movements for replacing capitalism itself with an entirely new system of economy and economic ownership.

    I think that an important reason there hasn't been more outcry is that so many informed people understand we really did (largely) solve this problem once before, and the success was so dramatic that our total economy skyrocketed while we lifted scores of millions of working class Americans into a middle class lifestyle, the only large middle class (here and abroad) ever in human history, and we became sole global superpower on top of all that.

    In the face of such a breathtaking record, one within living memory, I think the educated and enabling classes have been deluding themselves for decades that the point was "just around the next bend" when ownership and leadership would realize it was beginning to kill the goose that laid the mother of all golden eggs, and turn back.

    The push for free trade should've given the game away, because free trade decouples ownership from its home base society whose golden egg becomes too small to warrant the cost of feed.

    Thanks for pointing out that this goes back to Carter.

    Count me among those who doubt there will come sufficient pushback from the people. We are returning to the historic norm of a negligible rich class and everyone else poor or working poor, the main condition of all 8,000 years of civilization outside the New Deal Anomaly.

    Anyone who mentions "Occupy" as a significant development must not have seen movements like the Civil Rights movement, a profoundly narrow-focused movement around 100 times the size and duration of Occupy.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 05:39:49 AM PST

    •  That doesn't follow. Because one effort is (14+ / 0-)

      larger than another doesn't mean they can't both be significant.

      You've also contradicted yourself  a bit there. If the impact of the Civil Rights movement took time and sustained effort, why shouldn't Occupy's impact take time to see? I'm not trying to argue that Occupy was the end all, be all, but you've made a cynical, self-fulfilling prophecy there. If folks feel sure they won't make a difference, then they...won't make a difference.

    •  Did fear of Communism help inspire the New Deal? (20+ / 0-)

      I've always thought that people with leverage will drive change, "crisis-driven" or whatever.  You make an interesting point that the elite class had to support the changes that brought about the great post-WWII boom because the working class had leverage - the threat of "franchising" Communism in America.  Therefore, along with Globalization and cheap energy, it seems to me that the end of the Cold War became a major nail in the coffin of support for the working class by the wealthy.

      West. No further west. All sea. --Robert Grenier

      by Nicolas Fouquet on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 06:13:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It was elites who created the US (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jon Sitzman, wytcld

      It was elites who pushed for abolition. It was elites who pushed for civil rights. Sure, the masses followed, but they first needed someone TO follow, in terms of motivating ideas and leadership. This will never not be the case.

      "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

      by kovie on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 07:08:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I couldn't disagree more (8+ / 0-)

        Real abolition didn't come around until a bunch of Haitian slaves defeated the greatest armies on Earth, including Britain, Spain, and France (twice).
          Only then did the feat of Gawd cause them to think twice about slavery.

         Same goes for civil rights. The elites only embraced civil rights once the masses were already moving.

           The masses don't need the elites. They never did. They can create their own leaders. They often do.

        None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

        by gjohnsit on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 08:43:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Huh? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          What did the Haitian revolution have to do with the US abolition movement, which began in earnest in the 1780's, let alone ending slavery in the US? It was actually northeastern US elites who spearheaded it, from Franklin, Adams and Hamilton to Garrison, Stowe and Douglass (who had earned the right to be called a moral and intellectual elite).

          As for the civil rights movement, King, Marshall, Rustin and Abernathy were all elites, in the same sense as Douglass, meaning intellectual and moral elites. Successful movements need good leaders--i.e. elites--planning, strategizing, writing, speaking, organizing, etc.. They don't just happen on their own.

          Btw Toussaint L'Ouverture was an elite, moral, intellectual AND military. Meaning, he was a cut above most people with the gifts and skills to lead a successful revolt.

          To be an elite doesn't have to be a bad thing.

          "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

          by kovie on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 08:56:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It had everything to do with it (4+ / 0-)

            Haiti's revolution was finally won in 1804, the first and only successful slave revolt in the history of the world. President Jefferson signed the bill outlawing the importation of slaves in early 1807.
               The same year Britain began supressing the slave trade.

             Coincidence that the slave trade became a bad thing shortly after a bunch of Haitians gave slaves all over the world hope? I don't think so.

             Toussaint L'Ouverture was a former slave.

            None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

            by gjohnsit on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 09:08:46 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  May I reacquaint you with the constitution? (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gjohnsit, James Allen, acornweb

              Specifically, this part, in Article I, Section 9:

              The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
              The constitution all but mandated what Jefferson, a man against slavery in theory but not so much in practice, who also opposed the Haitian revolution, signed into law. You're engaging in post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

              Btw by the time the import of slaves was outlawed, there was no more need for it, internal trade having become more than adequate to maintain the needs of plantation owners (and a huge contributor to the breaking up of slave families, which until then was relatively uncommon).

              Sadly, while the Haitian revolution succeeded initially, 200 years of external and internal oppression indicate that it was only initially successful. Same thing for most Latin American countries, which may have freed themselves from foreign control beginning with Bolivar, but then became the victims of internal oppression (largely due to US military, economic and financial interference, which began under the Jeffersonians, e.g. the Monroe Doctrine).

              "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

              by kovie on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 10:04:53 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I must admit (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I was not aware of that section of the Constitution. You score one for that.

                 OTOH, that section doesn't say that importation will be outlawed.
                   Nor does it explain how either slavery or the slave trade was outlawed by Britain, Spain, Netherlands, Denmark-Norway, and France in the 14 years after the Haitian Revolution.
                   And when you consider that the Haitian Revolution was initialy successful in 1798, that moves the calendar back even further.

                  It isn't controversial to say that the Haitian Revolution was at least partly responsible for the abolition of slavery around the world. Historians conceed that point.
                   The only point of contention is how much influence did it have.

                None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

                by gjohnsit on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 10:27:18 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  No doubt it, at the very least, (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  both emboldened slaves and those who sought to help free them that it was indeed possible, and put slave nations on notice that their evils would not go unchallenged from within and without (there was support for the Haitian revolution in the US, not from the Jeffersonians who opposed it, but from the Federalists who supported it, both on principle and because it wasn't against the French, whom they mistrusted).

                  However, it's still a stretch to claim that its (partial, as it unfortunately turned out) success was a primary reason that the US and other countries ended the slave trade, and, eventually, slavery itself. Do you have evidence to support this contention? It would be interesting if it were true, but I tend to doubt it. My understanding was that the slave trade ended because it was unprofitable and not worth the bother and international opposition.

                  "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                  by kovie on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 12:25:36 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  the slave trade (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                     Since slavery was/is one of the most profitable enterprises in history. It continues today despite being outlawed in almost every nation on Earth, which just demonstrates its value to slave holders.
                       If it was unprofitable then why did slaveholders fight so hard to keep it?

                      As for the influence of the Haitian Revolution, it is impossible to prove. However, it is easy to find evidence. For instance:

                     History reveals that the British political class was horrified by the Haitian Revolution and saw the further import of African captives as a security threat.
                       These new Africans, unbroken by years of subjugation and with the flame of liberty yet not doused, had played a critical role in the Haitian revolt. In the view of the British and other slavers, to maintain that flow of captive humanity would be to create the conditions for continued uprisings and resistance in their Caribbean colonies.
                     If you study slavery you will find that the slave holders always lived with some fear of the people they enslaved.

                    None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

                    by gjohnsit on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 04:15:34 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  The slave trade is different from slavery (0+ / 0-)

                      Both part of the same evil "tradition", but not the same thing, at least at the time of the former's abolition. Eventually the internal slave trade, which stayed legal, proved to be very profitable, but what was abolished was the external slave trade. And, actually, I think that abolishing the slave trade made slaves more valuable, which benefited slaveholders. So I can see why they'd have been ok with abolishing it, perhaps even pushing for it.

                      If anything slavery became even more horrible after the slave trade was abolished, and families began to be broken apart more often to support the internal slave trade, especially with the expansion of Americans to what was then the southwest and today the gulf states, where cotton became king.

                      "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                      by kovie on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 06:57:31 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

          •  To be "an "Elite" does not have to be a bad thing (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Velvetus, todamo13, acornweb

            IF and only IF they are willing to pay their share of the tax burden. If they stop sending their many accounts off shore, it they stop paying starvation wages to their employees, forcing the employees to depend upon gov't subsidies to survive. These "elites" are   taking corporate welfare and putting it in THEIR pockets. Where does this "corporate welfare come from?" It comes from the pockets of the, ever shrinking, middle class.
            The only program that will turn this around is a really PROGRESSIVE tax code. One similar to the tax code that was in our nation in the 50s under a REPUBLICAN, President Eisenhower. It was  91% on the ultra wealthy. We don't have to go back to 91%, so stop having strokes, folks, but a 60 % tax on the top 1% would get this country back on her feet, with badly needed NEW infrastructure, an up graded educational system and Medicare for All.

            •  To be an elite is a matter of fact, not judgement (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              todamo13, acornweb

              Bush was an elite. So is Obama. So was MLK. It doesn't make you good or bad, just outstanding in some way and at or near the top of some hierarchy. Bush was born into his elitism. Obama & MLK had to earn theirs.

              And I agree with the taxation. The more you make and have, the more you owe back to the society that makes it possible.

              I want the country and its institutions to be run by "elites", meaning people who are the best in their respective fields, who are also moral elites, meaning they use their talents wisely and morally. We barely have the former, let alone the latter, these days. Chris Christie? GMAFB!

              "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

              by kovie on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 12:33:26 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The Republican/Teapublican Party (0+ / 0-)

                Seems to entirely devoid of anyone who is remotely "elite," if we are to use your definition of "elite."

                •  Au contraire (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  todamo13, acornweb

                  Plenty of elites there, just the wrong kind, based entirely on money, power or talent and willingness to screw others over. The mafia is run by certain kinds of elites, too. Also the Nazi party was.

                  "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                  by kovie on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 02:00:30 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  "elites" (0+ / 0-)

                We are differing over the definition of the word.

                Douglas and Toussaint L'Ouverture were former slaves. That's hardly what most people think of when they speak of "elites".
                   You sort of have to define them as "elites" based on quality of character and in retrospect.


                None are so hopelessly enslaved, as those who falsely believe they are free. The truth has been kept from the depth of their minds by masters who rule them with lies. -Johann von Goethe

                by gjohnsit on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 03:32:50 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I do (0+ / 0-)

                  There's a bunch of words that have gotten tarnished through misassociation that I'd like to rescue. This is one of them. Conservative and liberal are two others. Nothing wrong with being a certain kind of elite, especially if based on merit or a useful, innocent or natural form of superiority.

                  Now, elitist, that I don't like.

                  "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

                  by kovie on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 07:18:43 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

    •  I think in the 30's they were seriously concerned (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Silina, todamo13

      about a "Bolshevik" revolution here, and had good cause to be.
      Now Marxism is deader than a doornail except as an academic subject, and the "anticommunist" industry that fueled the gop rise has now begun feeding on moderately conservative Republicans having run out of red meat.

      However, the need for social justice which gave rise to communism (which of course failed on its own lack of merit, IMO) is still with us and is more urgent.

      So we are in a "birthing" phase of that new movement. A lot of folks here who were in on the civil rights struggle and Vietnam, etc. may be annoyed that we're early on in a new cycle,  but I think that's where we are.

      ...and we've learned. Most of the progressives that make sense are not arguing for a "revolution", and for lining the upper class in front of a firing squad or to be put out on collective farms, but a restoral of a sustainable middle class based economy with functional, responsive government no larger than necessary.

      So we've got a lot going in our favor.

      As for "Occupy", the main achievement was that, after the media started paying attention to the police over-reaction, the movement was able to bump "austerity" out of the news cycle and the dominant narrative. As a result "income inequality" (even though it's not the most effective of terms) is a thing. Even though austerity is not dead, many more people are questioning whether it makes sense. I'll repeat my opinion that "occupy" needs to become "Occupy the Media" and become a permanent movement to override and out-communicate corporate media.

      The Great Recession was a learning moment for the country as to how Wall street and the financial banking system could become a massive tumor on the "free enterprise system" and how without regulation could threaten the sustainability of the economy.

      The candidacy of Romney was an excellent example of how the real moochers take tax advantages, leverage borrowed money to buy a successful business putting people to work, suck the wealth out of it, saddle it with debt until it goes under, then leaves the taxpayers on the  hook for the workers' pensions.

      There is significant movement around the globe trending toward grassroots dissatisfaction and refusal to acccept serfdom. And we can, (at least for now), connect globally.
      So, we're not that far from being able to manifest that grassroots effort.
      It is going to require a long term commitment, perseverance, persistence, endurance.
      You're right about that.

      You can't make this stuff up.

      by David54 on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 12:15:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Americans are deluding themselves (0+ / 0-)

      because they can't believe this is happening.  As someone who has been talking about this takeover of the plutocracy most of my adult life and trying fruitlessly to wake people up, I can truly say that Americans must be the most self deluded people in the history of the world. Until disaster happens to them, it just isn't real.    Unfortunately everyone suffers for the inertia of the majority, especially those of us who have been around long enough to get old and no longer able to work three jobs to make ends meet.

    •  Occupy ultimately doesn't matter (0+ / 0-)

      because it made some fundamental errors in it's inception and pseudo-organization.  It had great enthusiasm, but little structure and organization.  It also failed to realize that it needed at least some elements of the structure it was trying to overturn.

  •  Very thoughtful diary (28+ / 0-)

    The "elite" have us right where they want us.  For those of us fortunate enough to be working at jobs paying more than minimum wage, just the specter of the next "performance review" is enough to keep us quiet and in our seats.  Productivity in most industries is way up, with less people doing the production.  And we go home exhausted at night, with nothing left to give except the effort expended to change the cable channel.

    Years ago, coworkers would gather after a day at the office and socialize and kibbutz about the latest gaffe by a boss or the participants in an occasional untidy office affair.  I can't remember the last time that happened with any regularity.

    Why?  At the end of the day, we've given all we can, and just want to crawl into the sofa.

    Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, are ultimately not going to change the conversation, at least with respect to quality of life for the working class.  They can't.  They're "made men" in the 1% Club.  

    Folks like Krugman and Reich do, however, serve a useful purpose: they understand the roots of commerce and the connection to inequality.  In that sense, they're historians and scribes who capture the causality of the social step changes to come.  What's still murky is trying to understand the direction that these step changes will be taking us down the road - deeper into serfdom, or onto the path of bloody revolution?  

    Neither is a particularly attractive alternative.

  •  indeed. Thus the pseudo-populism of the new right (14+ / 0-)

    always blaming the gays, the Blacks, the Latinos, the atheists, the Hollywood elite, abortion, evolution. Any and every wedge issue. The very concept of a wedge issue is one designed to shave off a piece of opposition by splitting it. The marriage of "libertarianism," guns, racism, and evangelical willful ignorance.

    A pale substitute for class awareness, or as we used to say, proudly, class consciousness.

    Fear is the mind-killer - Frank Herbert, Dune

    by p gorden lippy on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 05:42:11 AM PST

  •  We see the tiger but haven't yet grabbed its tail. (10+ / 0-)

    The reason I don't prefer "inequality" as the meme is that it's an indicator, not a core problem, and the problem can be solved and a degree of inequality - perhaps a hig degree - will likely still be present.

    There is such a thing as society and for a society to thrive and sustain it requires nutrients like a continuous flow of new people invested in its growth and vested in its wealth, a continuous stream of reinvestment, updates, innovations, adaptation. No one is doing that today, public or private.

    Social goals and society have been eliminated in government and financial discussions,, most intentionally by Thatcher and Reagan. For one tangible example, the institutions of traditional industrial era organized labor unions could have been eliminated but not their core social functions without replacing unions with a new institution that protected society from unprotected labor. The downstream losses of eliminating labor unions contributed to inequality at the macro level but  more profoundly it changed the mission of business and government institutionalizing a disregard for social impacts that were taken off the table.

    The inequality we're seeing is the result of being bad stewards at every level, from voter to President, from worker to boss, from customer to shop owner to neighbor. How do our actions impact society? That's a question, a measure, it's pertinent, strategic, tangible and critical question, and should be at every table.

  •  The last effective part of the Labor movement, (16+ / 0-)

    the public sector unions are under direct assault now. If these unions are allowed to die it will be a great tragedy.

    "Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt before I took office and doubled it after I left. We simply can't afford to double-down on trickle-down." Bill Clinton

    by irate on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 05:53:00 AM PST

  •  "Equality" means "socialism" in my circles (18+ / 0-)

    And this is a working class attitude.  Solving inequality means a handout to the lazy and minorities.  We cannot underestimate the popular movement that has already occurred in America, inspired and sustained by talk radio.

    West. No further west. All sea. --Robert Grenier

    by Nicolas Fouquet on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 05:57:29 AM PST

    •  Some people cannot distinguish between (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      behavior and perception. That treating people or dealing with them as if they were equal does not actually make them equal doesn't register.

      by hannah on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 06:17:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ask them this. (7+ / 0-)

      "Why is socialism a bad thing?"

      Let them answer. They'll say something idiotic and senseless, because that is what they have been taught is the correct answer.

      Then say this:

      "Why do we do socialism for businesses, then?"

      They'll say we don't.

      Then show them how we do and watch the wheels turn.

      •  Yes (4+ / 0-)

        May father has a very good friend who was your basic capitalist well to do American, railing against social democray and celebrating the free market.  So my father schooled him, gently, in the evidence that nearly every "capitalis" business in America is subsidized by public money: the entire defense industry of course, but the auto industry that builds cars that drive on publicly funded roads, bridges, highways; banks that borrow cheaply from the Fed, energy companies with their myriad tax breaks, the housing industry, subsidized by the mortgage interest deduction, also by building roads, sewers, etc for new developments, flood insurance that encourages building where no  insurance company would sell insurance, drug companies that benefit from government research and of course laws against bargaining for bulk discounts, I could go on and on.
        Thank that friend still thinks there is a free market in America?  No he does not.

    •  that is probably the most chilling and sad (0+ / 0-)

      ...thing I will read today.  

      ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

      by jessical on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 09:00:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Time for Talk is Passed. It is now Time for (6+ / 0-)


    And if it does not Happen Qickly and Decisively it will have no choice but to happen Forcefully and that will undo most of the good it seeks to obtain.

    •  We all know it'll eventually come to violence (5+ / 0-)

      but we can't say that, because site rules.

      Fuck that shit. Fuck it right in the ear. There is a time and a place for violent rebuttal, uprising, revolt, and even revolution. Our nation owes its existence to that very thing. Everyone- every last person you will ever meet- who says "violence is never an option" is, ultimately, your enemy on this topic, because they have already declared in their pointy little heads that the enemy must win.

      How do I know this? Because those who would eliminate violent response as a viable option have, by their morally misguided position, ceded victory to those who would ultimately do violence against them.

      We must- we must, and unflinchingly- ask ourselves when violence is an option. I think we should have that conversation, and we should have that conversation openly and publicly. If we don't, we may slide into totalitarianism, and eventually whatever New Fascism arises.

      Violence, in short, is an option, the last one available, the course of last resort. The question we should be asking is, "When?"

      •  Equality: everyone can own a gun ... (3+ / 0-)

        ... and no one is bulletproof. /snark


      •  And the right seems far more prepared, and willing (0+ / 0-)

        when it comes to this-- only their target won't be the rich oligarchs, it'll be us (liberals, treehuggers, blacks, etc).  We can talk about how they got so turned around, aligned against their own best interests (Thomas Frank has written entire books about it, like "What's the Matter with Kansas?") but it seems to me that at this point in our history,  the poor/middle class right wingers have been set up to be the attack dogs of the 1%.  Not the foot soldiers-- the 1% already have the US military, police, FBI, etc.  But something else, that threatens us from inside our own ranks and keeps us from unifying.

        The division keeps us from ever actually being "the 99%."  More like the 49.5% and 49.5%.  I don't think the rich will ever truly be scared enough to allow change until we somehow figure out how to get the poor/middle class of both left and right to align against them (rather than each other).  I wonder if it's possible?

        "It was clear that any research would be in the nature of a post mortem." - Rachel Carson

        by todamo13 on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 07:50:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  When taxes were much higher, the contract (13+ / 0-)

    worked, there was enough money for public colleges to be cheap, for example.

    the facts are out there but the rich do not want to see them because it means either higher taxes or ignoring the poverty

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 06:07:22 AM PST

  •  It's a technical problem, a matter of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PowWowPollock, Dartagnan

    mistaking the symbol for the things being identified and measured.

    Imagine an illiterate person. She's got no access to the wealth of information that's encoded in script. Ditto for a person that's got no currency with which to acquire the necessities of life.

    Yes, both those individuals can be "done for," but in each instance the person is not self-determinative. Rather, she got to take what's doled out and the dole is likely conditioned on being additional submissive on her part.

    As long as we don't insure that each person is subsistant by providing adequate currency, the problem will not be solved, whether it's reading or dollars that are involved.

    Why some people cannot distinguish between the symbol and the thing is a puzzlement. Why some people consider it a boon is not. These perceptual deficits make people subject to domination and dominion is what some people seek.  
    Lepper-lickers are another variant.

    by hannah on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 06:15:36 AM PST

  •  Armando: thank you for this (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dartagnan, Jon Sitzman, mkor7, memary10

    thoughtful, well explicated, beautifully written essay.

    Young adults are the demographic most likely to push fearlessly for social change. They are also the most ripped off and lied to in terms of the college loan industry, pay rates, job security,  etc.

    Our challenge is to help them to recognize, name, and shame the people who are determined to blight their lives. And then we stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the fight.


  •  I think Frank is pursuing a bit of a straw man. (10+ / 0-)

    Who really believes Krugman alone (with Reich et al.) will "save us?"

    Most would agree that there has to be a revitalized labor movement, but that doesn't negate the role of others, including academics and progressive elected officials (Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkely, Al Franken).

    It was the "intellectual" (such as it was) underpinning of Buckley, Kristol's Dad et al.  that helped usher in the ascent of the right (along with racism, of course).  

    Imagine if Krugman did not have a column in the New York Times.

    •  I don't think he means to (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jon Sitzman, The Jester

      disparage Krugman's efforts.   It's just that he sees that as the current focus of the Beltway establishment-- ("Thirteen economists say...") without ever questioning whether whatever thirteen economists say may not matter in the final sense.

    •  Buckley, Kristol, and a whole lot of money. (0+ / 0-)

      He's just saying that this isn't going to change from polite conversation, or charts.  Both are useful, imo, but are clearly not enough.  We all need to get out there and push together, hard.  Non-NYT readers too.

      "Inequality" is a weak, wonky term for the problem, and I'm grateful to Frank for saying this so clearly.

  •  I teach a college class (12+ / 0-)

    to students on personal finance.  It is a 100-level class so I mostly get 18-26 year olds.  I tell them that it's up to them to be the change they want to see.  I inform them of the inequality (although they are painfully aware) and say that I rose up when I was their age (late 60's early 70's) and now it's their turn.  The young must take charge.  It's their world that will be most affected and IS being most affected by atrocious decisions against them.

    Thanks for the diary.

    If you acknowledge it, you can change it.

    by Raggedy Ann on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 06:48:38 AM PST

    •  Krugman is not an insider. He has gone to (11+ / 0-)

      great lengths to criticize the insiders - the "Very Serious People" as he calls them - who have aided and abetted the terrible economic policies of the elites.

      I agree that probably the only way this problem of inequality can be turned around is through grassroots action. However, in your diary above where you stated

      No charts, no "roundtable discussions," no debates, no think-tanks and no Blue-ribbon Presidential task forces are going to reverse this course. This course will only be confronted and reversed by by ordinary people, fed up, conscious of what has been done to them,  talking and organizing amongst themselves and demanding--or taking--action.
      (Emphasis added)

      it is the charts and roundtable discussions, the columns, the movie, and all the other ways that Krugman, Reich, and Stiglitz can show not only what has happened, but WHY, that the ordinary people can be made conscious of this problem, and how they've been victimized for the benefit of a few.

      Every movement needs people like Krugman, Reich and Stiglitz to define the problem so the people can act.

    •  agreed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jon Sitzman, Raggedy Ann
      I tell them that it's up to them to be the change they want to see.

      -You want to change the system, run for office.

      by Deep Texan on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 07:38:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hair-splitting (12+ / 0-)

    Of COURSE we need public intellectual progressives like Reich, Krugman and Stieglitz laying out the way in which income and wealth inequality is growing in the US and calling for fundamental reforms to reverse this. Of COURSE we need a mass grassroots movement to actually make it happen. Neither is sufficient by itself. We need BOTH, not one or the other.

    I literally don't get this tendency towards either/or binary thinking in the US, like it HAS to be this or the other, not both, plus much more.

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 07:05:00 AM PST

  •  For conservatives, the rich matter the most... (7+ / 0-)

    ...and they have been spent decades co-opting the powers of government to serve their enrichment.

    The bankers, the investors, and those running corporations all recognized that the easiest, most cost efficient way to maximize profits was to control government policies. Deregulation. Tax cuts and tax incentives. Monetary policy. Subsidize outsourcing. Privatization of government services. Privatization of government lands and resources. Legal protections from lawsuits, damage claims and prosecution.

    In short, the most profitable investments to be made in the past 30 years have been in the purchasing of judges, politicians, and regulatory agency staff.

    The rich are now brazenly anti-American, though we dare not call it that. They, and those that they control, place their wealth above any interests or needs of our country, and now solely equate the success of American with only the success of its wealthiest. Nothing else matters; no national need can ever justify clawing back any of the privileges they have now cemented. Nothing will move them to sacrifice and of their monetary and power control: not war, not deficits, not national default, not increasing poverty for the elderly or anyone for that matter, not tens of thousands of needless deaths a year due to lack of access to health care, etc.

    Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, will move our current plutocracy to accept any sacrifice, any diminishing of their advantages, most especially because the motives for doing so can only be to benefit those who deserve their lot in life, those whose problems are of their own making, and those who should be solely responsible for solving their own problems. For the rich, the plutocracy, the reality that governments serves a society does not exist. The only see and act through their "me, me, me" lens.

    They are undeserving and in denial of all the benefits that have been provided to them through the lives of the millions of Americans across generations who have generously shared the sacrifices to fund, build and defend this country. That is who conservatives are. That is what every conservative principle is based on.

  •  Excellent article and excellent post. (5+ / 0-)

    This is really good:

    “Inequality” is not some minor technical glitch for the experts to solve; this is the Big One. This is the very substance of American populism; this is what has brought together movements of average people throughout our history. Offering instruction on the subject in a classroom at Berkeley may be enlightening for the kids in attendance but it is fundamentally the wrong way to take on the problem, almost as misguided as it would be if we turned the matter over to the 1 percent themselves and got a bunch of billionaires together at Davos to offer pointers on how to stop them from beating us over and over again in the game of life. (Oops — that actually happened.)

    “Inequality” is the most basic issue of them all, the very reason for liberalism’s existence. It is about who we are and how we live. Virtually every other liberal cause pales by comparison. This is the World War II of political subjects, and if we are going to win it must be a people’s war, not a Combat of the Thirty between the plumèd knights of the Beltway. We owe the economists thanks for making the situation plain, but now matters must of necessity pass into other hands. If the destruction of the middle class is ever to be addressed and solved, the impetus must come from below, not from above. This is a job we have to do ourselves.

    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

    by TomP on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 07:16:00 AM PST

  •  It's the 40% and lots of them are Kossacks (4+ / 0-)

    A 1% doesn't do this and maintain it by themselves. Easy to blame the ultra rich, harder to point fingers at enablers. Only the bottom 3/5ths have seen things get worse, 4th quintile has bumped along at about the same level it always was at. Top quintile has seen things improve.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 07:25:36 AM PST

    •  Thanks for the chart. But, I don't know how you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greengemini, ban nock

      can conclude that the "4th quintile has bumped along at about the same level it always was at."??
      What I find striking is the change in share of total income before 1970. Look at where the bottom 20% were in the 1970s. This is a massive shift in power. What's happened since the mid '80s is basically the creation of economic royalty. Today we are in a well established oligarchy. Before the 1980s we were not.
      The top quintile hasn't merely "seen things improve." These are economic royalists experiencing a solidification of economic and political power.

      -4.38, -7.64 Voyager 1: proof that what goes up never comes down.

      by pat bunny on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 08:21:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Are we the 80% now? (7+ / 0-)

        The problem with that chart is that the red line is included in the orange line. And the red line includes the 1% (and the 1% of the 1%). That skews the numbers much higher than they actually are.

        The 1% should be broken out (though I don't know if the data is there) and the 5% should be broken out by itself.

        I think if you did that the top "5%-minus-1" would look like the top 20% and the top  top "20%-minus-5" would trend right along with the second quintile.

        You might need to switch to logarithmic scale to capture the wealth increase of the top 1%. And so the chart would squish all the other income levels together.

        That's the beauty of the 99%. It's not only catchy, it's not only easy to remember, it's not only inclusive of everyone, it's also accurate.

    •  The top 5% are double-counted in that chart. (0+ / 0-)

      Usually in these charts when you break out the top 5%, or 1%, or 0.1%, or 0.01% separately, you see that most of the gains in the upper levels actually accrued to the very top.

      Code Monkey like freedom / Code Monkey like peace and justice too
      Code Monkey very nerdy man / With big warm fuzzy bleeding heart
      Code Monkey like you!

      Formerly known as Jyrinx.

      by Code Monkey on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 08:33:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Please do not feed the above poster (0+ / 0-)

      Thank you.

      •  I don't get food stamps but I do get where (0+ / 0-)

        you are coming from. Limousine liberals do have reason to fear.

        “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

        by ban nock on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 06:08:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Its less than 40%, IMO (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greengemini, chrisculpepper, ban nock

      Don't forget that in the graph you show, the top quintile/20% also includes the top 1% (and 5% as shownon the graph) - which really drags up the average even when its  part of the the top overall 1/5th.

      I've seen a graph (sorry no link/time to look up) where the same graph you show splits off the top 1%, then 2-10%, then 11-20%, then the other quintiles per your graph.  IIRC, the 11-20% share of income has grown, but only slightly, a few percentage points.

      Meaning what? Well, I think your point is still correct, just IMO that its not really the top 4/10 Americans that are fine with what's happening to society financially.  I have friends that make about 100K, and even if they're doing OK, their college graduate kids are certainly worried and look to not do as well as Mom and Dad.  My friends that make to the mid six figures, yes, you see much more conservative thinking taking hold among them - including many who rose above their parents economic class, but seem to have forgotten that fact.

      In that regard, yes, there is an economic segment of society that mostly is either complicit or somewhat non-caring about the last 30 years.  People making 100K, 200K 500K - very educated, many that rose up to where they are now, but are now proponents of the Republican mantra: fuck everyone but me. They are enables to the policy of the top 1%.

      Its one thing to see oblivious Tea Party types everywhere voting against their own interests. To see upper middle and upper class people fall victim to that same type of propaganda, enabling the conservative agenda. I've seen it happen to some of my best friends over the last 30 years and its distressing.

      •  I didn’t find exactly that graph, but (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ban nock

        according to the one below, this one, the 80th to 90th percentiles got 9.8% of the total wealth gain from 1983 to 2009, or just a little less than their share.

        There are numerous related charts and graphs here, with links to the articles from which they’re taken.  In particular, this PDF from the Economic Policy Institute has a graph showing the share of wealth of the top 1%, the next 4%, the next 15%, and the bottom 80% from 1983 to 2009.

      •  It's somewhat predictable also (0+ / 0-)

        Human nature being what it is. The 1% has successfully created fear of the unwashed. Also the upper middle pays a large share of what taxes are left.

        “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

        by ban nock on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 06:07:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  We're living the Republican Dream (11+ / 0-)

    Every 'new' thing that has happened in the last 30 years has been a Republican idea. They own this. None of this 'both sides' crap. Our guys went along to get along -- not good, but not the same as a compromise. This inequality is the Republican Dream. We need to say it out loud.

    Lower standard of living? Living the Republican Dream.
    Poison in the water? Living the Republican Dream.
    Women dying in childbirth? Living the Republican Dream.
    Rinse and repeat.

    Hoping for the Warren/Sanders or Sanders/Warren ticket in 2016.

    by musicsleuth on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 07:28:16 AM PST

    •  100% agree. I was trying to make this point to (5+ / 0-)

      my father.  All of this is a result of concervative policies that have totally dominated political discourse for over 30 years.   Any "debate" to be had is between right and crazy right, there is no liberal voice.  If you voted for republicans, THIS is what you voted for.

      He couldn't see that.

      "Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself." - Robert G. Ingersoll

      by Apost8 on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 08:06:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Policies have momentum of their own (0+ / 0-)

      That momentum must be slowed before it can be stopped. And it must be stopped before it can be reversed. And even then it will still be a while before you regain the ground you've lost.

      The Reagan revolution didn't appear out of nowhere. It came about because Liberalism had run out of gas. The country was ready for new ideas and the Republicans had them all. Reagan captured the imaginations of a generation of voters and won their loyalty by "defeating" the Soviet Union.

      Clinton could not reverse the course the country was set upon. Nor could Obama reverse course from the disastrous Bush years. They could only slow the momentum and help build up pressure to get the country moving in a better direction.

      I think liberals can hope that 2016 will be the year that the steam finally runs out for the Reagan Revolution and that we can start making positive changes on any number of issues (not just triaging and fighting rear-guard actions).

  •  I agree that "inequality" is a poor word choice. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dartagnan, jessical

    Not only for the reasons Frank gives, but also because it lends itself to the facile misinterpretation that we oppose all reward for hard work and ability.

    Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a better one-word substitute. Your phrase "ever-widening class division" expresses the issue well, but it will take some time and effort to rehabilitate the concept of class - the opposition as unfortunately been quite successful at the Orwellian exercise of co-opting the concept of "class warfare".

    "Turns out I'm really good at killing people." - President Obama

    by jrooth on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 07:30:09 AM PST

  •  it's still debated what helped us (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dartagnan, jessical

    was it the war? was it the new deal? was it just the times?

    it's still argued about endlessly by many.

    Who is going to save us?

    When we are the problem?

    -You want to change the system, run for office.

    by Deep Texan on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 07:36:35 AM PST

    •  What the war did (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ChristianProgressive, todamo13

      was allow us to embrace socialism that would have been totally unacceptable in peacetime. War by its nature destroys wealth, but rallying to defend the nation and its way of life creates and redistributes wealth. War allows us to tax the f--- out of everyone, including the rich. This is one of the great perversities of the Bush adminstration--going to war (under false pretenses, natch) and cutting taxes instead of raising them.

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 09:15:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here's one: The Welfare Class. (5+ / 0-)

    Yes these rich sleazebags are all on Welfare. They are paying only a fraction of their fair share. So call them what they are, Welfare cheats.

    Time to Reoccupy.

    A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

    by onionjim on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 07:38:45 AM PST

  •  I think that violence is inevitable. (5+ / 0-)

    The masses have only one advantage...mass. Even then, I doubt that a violent uprising could be effective against 21st century defenses. However, I can see a scenario in which so much violence is inflicted on the masses to embarrass the ruling class into some token concessions. But even this will be a temporary condition. Class division seems to be an innate characteristic of human societies.

    I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

    by itsjim on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 07:50:14 AM PST

  •  Grass roots progressive movement is great (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pat bunny

    More progressive members of government are great. Together they will create great change...alone ? Not so much.

    -7.5 -7.28, A carrot is as close as a rabbit gets to a diamond.-Don Van Vliet

    by Blueslide on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 07:54:19 AM PST

  •  I hope I get to see it. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brooke In Seattle, Dartagnan

    Maybe it'll mean i can get a job again.

    "Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change." Muhammad Ali

    by blueoregon on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 08:11:53 AM PST

  •  I prefer the far more accurate "income theft." (6+ / 0-)

    Ted Cruz president? Pardon my Vietnamese, but Ngo Pho King Way.

    by ZedMont on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 08:15:26 AM PST

  •  Thomas Frank doesn't think 'inequality' is the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    word?  Well isn't that just too goddamned bad!

    There is no existence without doubt.

    by Mark Lippman on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 08:21:39 AM PST

  •  The 99% movement wasn't started by Krugman (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The only reason we're talking about inequality is because of a grassroots movement to address the issue of the wealthiest Americans hoarding all the productivity gains of the last few decades for themselves, manipulating the media and buying the political process to ensure their hoard grows ever greater.

  •  Tiring of Corruption, Official Impunity, Abuse of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caniac41, No one gets out alive

    Power, and Government Violence against citizens -- so were the citizens of the Ukraine so they did something about it because their government wouldn't.

  •  Grass roots? (0+ / 0-)

    Where does the writer cited think the grass roots movement will come from if thinkers like Reich and Krugman don't make the case?  The people who should make up that movement have been voting against their own interests for decades, now.

  •  Frank out did himself on this article, thanks Dart (3+ / 0-)

    It is only a matter of time, if the "experts" don't fix it for real, before people get so pissed .... it won't end well.


  •  Absolutely true. (6+ / 0-)

    It's gotten to the point where this is the only issue worth discussing: the Class War, how to fight it, how to win it. (Which of course includes the Bill of Rights and Surveillance and the Police State in general.)

    Everything else hinges upon the outcome of the Class War, which, for the time being, perhaps indefinitely, the rich have won almost entirely without a fight by nearly 99% of the population.

    The jury is out as to whether it can be re-fought and won by the 99%. I'd say it's more than doubtful, because of the widespread ignorance, complacency, apathy and complicity. Most people won't even acknowledge either that there is a Class War or that it is a Clear and Present Danger.

    That having been said, I would never have expected Krugman, Reich, Kuttner, Hedges, et al to win the Class War through punditry. All they can do is shine the light once in a while. It has been and will be in the hands of the people to do something, if something still can be done in the Big Brother Age in which we are firmly entrenched.

    Frankly, I'm not really sure there's any other topic that moves me at this point, and it's looking pretty damn hopeless. It seems the grass roots is as tied to a losing strategy of incrementalism as our "leaders."

    Trust, but verify. - Reagan
    Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

    When the rich have tripled their share of the income and wealth yet again, Republicans will still blame the poor and 3rd Way Democrats will still negotiate.

    by Words In Action on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 09:52:15 AM PST

    •  True also (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chrisculpepper, Words In Action

      You said a lot of truth there yourself.  

      Many years ago I took a graduate Labor Economics class.  The professor pointed to Labor's great pendulum swings of history, from being beaten down to rising to get its proper share of the wealth of a nation.  His contention, which I shared until recently, was that there was always a 75 year or so long trough to peak when it came to the fortunes of workers versus the Owners.   Whether it was the Guilds of the middle ages, the Master-Journeyman monopolies of the colonial era or the rise of Unions in the early to  mid-20th century, Labor's share increases and then declines.  

      Well, if he was right, we should start peaking again....when is that going to be?  If the last movement, the birth of the AFL and CIO happened around the dawn of the 20th, over a century ago, it seems to be time now for a true mass movement.

      "Corporate earnings now represent the largest share of the gross domestic product—and wages the smallest share of GDP—since records have been kept" - Robert Reich

      by Copp on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 12:23:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hey, political narrative, aka "the conversation" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dartagnan, chrisculpepper

    is important; that's why so many of the elites are obsessed with media ownership and message control.

    Nonetheless, I agree with you. Tipped and rec'd.

    I tried to go online to find a similar bear head...but when I searched “Big Bear Head” it gave me a San Diego craigslist ad entitled “Big Bear needs some quick head now” and then I just decided to never go on the internet again.--Jenny Lawson

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 09:59:00 AM PST

  •  There have been ominous warnings and portents... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Swig Mcjigger

    ...for years that as soon as people "wake up" or whatever there is going to be massive upheaval and major "change".

    Hasn't happened yet. Probably won't happen in the future without some severe precipitating event.

    The vast probability is that any "revolution" would make things far worse as opposed to better, and would preferentially target those it is supposed to help.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 10:15:43 AM PST

    •  France is a pretty good place to live... (0+ / 0-)

      Not saying perfect, but they at least pretend to give a shit about the average Joe, and let far more bread crumbs fall off the table.

      I'd say a little pruning of the tree of liberty worked pretty well there.

      Nothing comes without a cost.

      The Fail will continue until actual torches and pitchforks are set in motion. -

      by No one gets out alive on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 12:26:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Average American Not Greedy Enough (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chrisculpepper, todamo13

    The problem is that nothing is going to change anytime soon because Americans, like most  people worldwide are not greedy enough to fight for a bigger piece of the pie. They may complain bitterly, but until things get so desperate that they literally have nothing left to loose will they demand more.

    Sadly this just seems to be the way the human race is wired. Most of us are willing to accept the status quo until a critical mass of people are in so much pain that they are driven to revolt.  The results aren't pretty. America was spared this fate back during the Depression because we had leaders at the helm who foresaw what would happen if they didn't forcible redistribute the wealth with the New Deal. For decades our leaders remembered how close we came to collapse and doled out sufficient crumbs to keep people placated.

    Today those lessons have been forgotten and those at the wheel fail to see where they are driving this nation. It remains to be seen how close to the cliff they will take us or if cooler heads will prevail.

  •  Without a truly educated populace, ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    nothing is going to happen.  Unfortunately, those who have devastated this nation know this, and they have had able cohorts among the Me Generation and the GenXers who allowed our schools to be gutted in favor of a corporate/religious model that has created two generations of people who have no clue of what they have lost because they have never known anything different.

    They say that wars are fought by the old and the young.  Well, as long as the old are complicit in this debacle and the young do not know any better, there will be no war, whether real or of words, to return us to the correct path for a free democratic republic.  Thomas Jefferson was right in pushing for free public education, and one of the first Secretaries of Education, Edward Everett, knew well what he was talking about when he said that the greatest defense of liberty is an educated populace, not a strong army (or words to that effect).  

    Now we will reap what we have sown, and no matter how much we rail against it, unless we are willing to actually put the fear of death into the minds of those who would destroy us for personal gain, nothing is going to change.

  •  Don't tell the Republicans (0+ / 0-)

    I think the article, The Math That Predicted the Revolutions Sweeping the Globe Right Now

    holds the clue to what it will finally take to get the masses to rise up.

    In other words if the Republicans go after more programs like SNAP, they might actually finally get people to a point of desperation that it is more important to protest rather than to try to hang on to what they've got.  Hunger has a way of doing that.

  •  ENOUGH!!! (0+ / 0-)

    Someone said that the people who control the world's wealth would all fit in one jumbo jet.  I wish they would take a one way trip and never return.  I am sure the rest of us could muddle along quite nicely with out them.

  •  I am seriously afraid (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that we will have to have a full out collapse before the "grassroots" finally, literally, has nothing left to lose by acting, and therefore acts.

    As long as the White Working Class (which is the swing vote needed for Democrats to regain the House and increase their position in the Senate) has just enough to get by on, they will continue to vote Republican based on social issues.

    One way to bring the WWC back into the Democratic fold short of a full economic collapse would be for Progressives to tone down the Church-baiting, family-baiting, culture baiting, etc.

    It's an issue I deal with all the time as a Christian Progressive .  I generally support Progressive positions on economics and finance, (which in this environment where those are the most pressing issues of the day), but it is hard sometimes when I also have to put up with the Left viewing me, as a heterosexual European-descended Christian male, as the lowest form of scum.

    It would be possible to get the millions and millions of people like me to vote Democratic in larger number if we felt like we were a bit more welcome under the Big Tent.

    I recommend the following as a good primer on the WWC and why they should matter to Progressives:


    It's not that pols like William Reich and Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman WILL NOT save us from income inequality. It's that they CANNOT. Our past and present free market and economic policies have dug a hole so deep for 99% of Americans, nothing short of violent revolution or armed insurrection will effect positive change in addressing the income disparity between the very wealthy and the rest of us peons. Of course, if NOTHING is done, if the people don't fight for an even playing field to give us regular folks a chance to succeed in life, then America may as well change its designation as a "republic" to a "feudal state," and then call it a day. Even though the efforts of economic talking heads like Reich and Krugman might be considered by some as merely philosophical and pedantic in nature, at least they're TRYING to change the system, even if it's through words, not action. Thus, I think Thomas Frank's article in "Salon" was overly critical of them and other economists. Lest we forget, "The Pen is mightier than the Sword!"

    In the past, when the "have-nots" in other countries finally became sick and tired of their government, the wealthy ruling class, and the economic policies which favored the "haves," the people initiated their own "grassroots" movements -- The French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian Revolution of 1917. Are these the types of actions and changes America really wants or needs? There has to be a better way to address income inequality and find the answers to effect the policies necessary to remedy the problem, rather than resorting to such drastic measures, which brought about violent civil unrest, socialism/communism, and in some cases, total anarchy.

  •  Hopefully the change will be without violence (0+ / 0-)

    This is a warning to the oligarchs (yeah, sure I know like they really read the Daily Kos). My oldest son is a sophomore at a pretty mainstream, non radical college in the Midwest.  He talks a lot about not only his fear, but his fellow classmate's fear of what will happen to them financially when they are done with school. I am afraid these students may not take the situation lightly because he has said that a good number of them speak of armed rebellion if things don't change. I don't advocate violence but the reality is that if it happens there isn't much anyone can do to stop it. Again, to the very wealthy, you have had you time in the sun. Pull your greedy heads out of you asses and start redistributing some (most would be preferable) of that money you have stashed away before its too late. All your private security in your gated communities won't stop tens or hundreds of thousands of pissed off and potentially armed citizens.

  •  A couple of points ... (0+ / 0-)

    1) I've been reading Krugman for for years now, and can't recall a single offer of salvation.  In fact, I believe that he has often stated that it will take a massively organized grassroots movement to "fix" this.

    2) The situation we're in is, in fact, somewhat cyclic.  Just as the death of the last man who remembers the horror of the last great war makes the next great war inevitable, so it is with the economy - the folks who have personal recollection of the Robber Baron era have mostly died off, and Congress (with a HUGE helping hand from SCOTUS) has been busily enabling the creation of a new set of oligarchs.  Actually, it's all part of the SAME cycle, as militarism and the economy tend to march to the beat of the same drummer.

    OF COURSE the New Right is wrong - but that doesn't make WRONG the new RIGHT!

    by mstaggerlee on Wed Feb 26, 2014 at 10:37:53 AM PST

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