Time to pay attention and be demanding

On a recent Vox Pop program on WAMC, someone called in and asked when America might see a version of an Arab spring in which the citizens took to the streets and refused to move until things got better.

In Great Britain, the streets have been burning. Let’s face it, the Brits have been a lot more fair than we have. They have a national health service and their welfare system has been a lot more extensive than what we provide. Yet when that country tries to downsize their welfare mentality, the streets are set on fire.

Could the same thing happen here?

My bet is that it couldn’t, but if things get a lot worse, all bets are off. That’s why FDR was such a genius. Following the Great Depression, he set a baseline for how low Americans would be allowed to sink. He had to really worry about the communists and the fascists who were making great hay based on the suffering of the people.

For his efforts, he was called a “traitor to his class.” In fact, he saved his class. Among his greatest achievements was the Social Security program that has offered some home to those who pay in and then take out when they get to their old age. I could paint you a pretty scary picture in which Social Security and Medicare as we know them could disappear.

Unfortunately, the folks who sit at the top want it all. They’ve got all the health care and government handouts that they can use. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Take a look at the history of the world. Total greed and the lack of interest in sharing has brought down many regimes.

We do know that the wealth gap between those with the most and the rest of the country has never been greater. We do know that many of those who earn the most in this country have rigged the tax system to the point that they have so many deductions that some of them pay little or no taxes at all.

President Obama is sitting in a tough spot. Ask yourself this: How would you vote if you were a middle-class American out of work? Despite the fact that George Bush and his cronies brought us to where we are, the guy in the barrel just knows that he or she is hurting so they will vote for anyone else, even if the people they are voting for are agents of those that are antithetical to their interests.

To make it worse, if Obama loses, there is every good chance that the Democrats will lose the Senate. That will mean that the Republicans will own it all: the House, the Senate, the presidency, and of course, the present Republican Supreme Court. At that point, you had better believe that these same people will change Social Security as we know it and ditto Medicare. How do we know that? We know it because they have been trying to do it for years.

In Great Britain, the streets are on fire. In the United Sates, we have had such riots in the past, but such revolution would be met with overpowering force. The problem with an Arab Spring and all the other protests of the kind is that a lot of people are out there — many of them diverse — and when the smoke clears, a Joe Stalin or a Hitler could be standing there.

The solution is to do our homework and make vocal demands and use democracy as a tool. We can’t opt out. The problem is that we are a lazy people and easily duped. We have just got to concentrate on what is good for all the people, especially the American middle class; provide access to it and make this a fairer place to live. If we do that, we won’t ever have an American Spring.

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 8/13/11

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One Comment on “Time to pay attention and be demanding”

  1. Stephen from Allentown Says:

    Hi Alan,

    This is Stephen from Allentown, who called into Vox Pop for this show and talked about youth unemployment. Thank you again for all the work you do, you are one of my heroes. I wanted to point out the Thomas Friedman NYT Op-Ed that came out Sunday, entitled “A Theory of Everything (Sort Of)”, it hammers home the relationships between a lot of the factors discussed on that show.


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