by Joel S. Hirschhorn
Saturday, 11 August 2007
Massive amounts of Chinese imports are threatening public health and safety. Many food and consumer products pose risks. Lead in children’s toys and jewelry. Toxins in foods for pets and humans, and in toothpaste. Unsafe automobile tires. Many prescription drugs made with few safeguards. The list is endless. The federal government is not safeguarding American citizens through thorough testing of imports. Why?
Simple: The Chinese have us by our budget-deficit balls. Our government depends on China for loaning us money and for not dumping the vast hoard of over one trillion dollars it has accumulated by financing our huge deficits and selling us virtually everything. Dumping dollars is called the Chinese economic nuclear option. They can wreck the American economy any time they want. America is being held hostage because of our government’s disastrous fiscal and trade policies. And, yes, all this middle-class-killing free trade globalization favors corporate interests.
It is hard to keep track of all the ways the American public is being sold out by the federal government as our Constitution and rule of law are shredded. Our jobs are sent overseas and shifted to lower paid illegal and special-visa-legal immigrants. There is no economic security. Banks and credit card companies rape us financially through criminal interest rates and fees. Mortgage companies took advantage of millions of home buyers that now face foreclosure and financial ruin. We pay outrageous amounts for gasoline and, in many parts of the country, for electricity and natural gas. And still 15 percent of the population lacks health insurance, and those with insurance face rising costs. And millions of Americans face hunger and homelessness. And by the way our education system sucks.
Yet the vast majority of Americans that are not in the Upper Class and living lavishly are not fuming, screaming and ready to revolt. They may feel cheated and screwed, but they have not yet concluded that they are politically oppressed – that their government is criminally selling them out, with no end in sight – that their democracy is delusional.
The following facts are typical of so many that should help Americans wake up and prepare for the Second American Revolution:
The top 300,000 income earners in America make more than the bottom 150 million combined.
Ninety percent of the Fortune 1,000 companies have set up deferred pay plans that let their top executives set aside, tax-free, retirement income far above 401(k) limits, and 69 percent have set up “supplemental executive retirement plans” that shield execs from company-wide pension cutbacks. That’s how these fat cats obtain tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. All this continues even though an amazing 77 percent of Americans say corporate executives “earn too much” and 61 percent believe wealthy Americans “should be taxed more.” according to a new Harris Poll.
Billionaire Warren Buffet paid just 17.7 percent of his $46 million in income last year, without trying to avoid taxes, compared to his secretary who paid 30 percent of her $60,000 salary.
The top two execs at America’s largest private equity partnership took home over $600 million last year — and paid taxes on that windfall at the capital gains bargain rate of just 15 percent. And Congress shows no desire to close that tax loophole.
Millions of non-wealthy Americans face home foreclosure and bankruptcy, but right now there are five residential properties in the United States listed at $100 million or more.
Like some science fiction fantasy, millions of hard-working Americans are popping anti-depressants with abandon to dull the pain of obscene political and economic realities. American puppets, slaves, and victims obediently obey laws, pay taxes, borrow and consume, and endure stress, fatigue and sleeplessness. Meanwhile, the mainstream media feed them propaganda and entertainment. Worst of all, far too many believe they can elect Democratic or Republican politicians that will make things better. Though millions are suffering, bitching and moaning, they remain stuck in a political stupor. They are unready to rebel politically and take back their country from corrupt politicians and the moneyed interests that control them. They have not become political dissidents – the kind that throughout human history rise up and overturn dreadful ruling classes and governments.
Rather than contagious political activism we have compulsive consumerism. Americans keep borrowing and spending, providing about 75 percent of the economy that mostly benefits the Upper Class. That spending is their potential political power. Yet they do not understand that only by using their spending (and debt) as a political force will they get the government to serve and protect them. That means reducing spending to obtain specific political actions, like cutting spending by 10 percent until President Bush ends the Iraq War.
Cheap Chinese products help keep consumers pacified and distracted, even as Americans lose jobs as industry after industry collapses because of floods of Chinese imports. Our delusional democracy produces delusional prosperity. How much worse must life for ordinary Americans become before the masses rise up in rebellion? Apparently, a lot worse.
By then, China will probably become the world’s only superpower, built with the wealth extracted from the USA . The lesson of history is the rise and fall of great (arrogant, self-indulgent) nations. The USA is in free-fall. Soaring economic inequality is just one symptom.
Cheap Chinese products are a powerful and insidious destructive force. Free trade globalism more than violent terrorism or military attack is bringing America to its knees. But no presidential candidate is making this their main campaign theme. Shame on them. And shame on anyone voting for them. Perhaps if voter turnout dropped to, say, 20 percent, then we might stop playing our bipartisan delusional democracy game and take our country back.
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