Thursday, November 20, 2008

Class issues never went away

Renowned historian Howard Zinn, writing about the growth of the labor movement and the rise of class consciousness in America before, during and after the Civil War, argues that the two main political parties leveraged the issues of war and reconstruction - national issues - to quell the class conflict expoding during that period.

He writes: “On these issues the political parties took positions, offered choices, obscured the fact that the political system itself and wealthy classes it represented were responsible for the problems they now offered to solve.”

We can apply this quote to the current crisis America is facing - the credit crisis or financial turmoil or deep recession or worst recession since the Great Depression (call it what you will).

The Democrats and the Republicans took positions and offered choices on how best to deal with the economic crisis facing America and then acted as if they, and the wealthy classes they represent, were not the ones who caused it.

Everyone knows both parties are in the pockets of big money and that lobbyists with the most bling bling are the ones with the most bills bills. Democrats are trying to claim the high ground, like they have nothing to do with the way America looks today. Sure George W. Bush ran the country into the ground for eight years, but we also had major problems under Clinton.

A country with such wealth and such incredible poverty, and both are completely out of control. Ford Motor Co. recorded a $12.7 billion net loss in 2006 and gave its new CEO at the time $28 million for four months on the job. This is a guy who, together with the other "big three" CEOs from the auto industry, flew into Washington D.C. this week on a private jet to ask congress for a $25 billion bailout. Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-New York said at the hearing, "It's almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high hat and tuxedo. It kind of makes you a little bit suspicious."

While we're on the issues of soup kitchens, new government figures showed that nearly 700,000 people went hungry last year in America.

As much as the political parties, the wealthy they represent and the mainstream media want to avoid it, this has everything to do with issues of class. We need to call the problem what it is if we really hope to solve it.

So what do you do when the two political parties offer solutions and choices on how best to fix the problem while obscuring the fact that they, and the wealthy they represent, are responsible for it? Let me know what you think.

2 comments:

Don said...

Gabe,

You're right on. It's all about greed---What's in it for me-me! They should all be arrested and have to give back the money they stole to the American people. Here I am walking around some of the worst neighborhoods in Atlanta for Obama for Change. I just hope it's not what he claimed it would be with McCain, More of the Same. I just hope after January 20th, Obama does something dramatically different to help us all. I have a feeling that I am hoping for too much though.

DS

Mr. Stein said...

I hope you're wrong, but I share your worry.