Ask any American on the street how they might characterize the last five years of this country’s history, and I guarantee you that the first word they think of would NOT be “stable”. They’re more likely to say just the opposite. Even if they themselves are employed, have gotten a raise or expanded their business, it’s extremely likely that they know people that are much worse off. They know people who used to be doing ok, but are in a worse economic situation than they were a few years ago… and through no fault of their own.
And in that environment of great “collective struggle” comes the big news from this week… the Stock market is booming again, with the Dow Jones trading at its highest volumes ever. For March 5th, 2013, the Dow closed at 14,253… beating its previous record high from 2007. On Wall Street right now, people are making money by the minute.
But what about the rest of us? An article from the Atlantic sums up the picture the 99 percent. Median household income sits at a 10-year low…
National unemployment continues to stammer about the 8 percent mark, but companies have more cash on hand than any time in recent history. What the disconnect is here? If corporations are hoarding cash now, what incentive do they have to hire workers again? Isn’t that how capitalism is supposed to work?
Well, it’s not working because GOVERNMENT is not working. I’m not against Wall Street or the Dow Jones… it’s good to see our stock market roaring back from the collapse of 2008 and the doldrums. But the big corporations are doing so without giving a single thing back to the American people. As Katrina vanden Heuvel points out in a Washington Post Op-ed, the financial sector is not being taxed on any of these transactions. They are getting to do them for free, while the United States Government struggles to decide which kids get Head Start programs and which do not.
Just as Wall Street proclaims that happy days are here again, the rest of us are facing a National Crisis. As Paul Krugman notes from a recent New York Times piece, public investment has ground to a screeching halt. Even if some state and local governments are slowly beginning to crawl out of the hole, there’s no way they can do that fast enough on their own. So we, the American people, keep slogging through while our roads and schools continue to crumble, and our communities’ future continues to be deferred. The missing link between Wall Street prosperity and main street is public investment. But if we don’t tax, there’s no way we can invest.
I hope the readers of my blog remember today for what it is. It is a day where Wall Street gets to celebrate how much money it is making, while the rest of us suffer in silence. It is a day that politicians can breathe easy knowing that they’ve successfully defended the wants of the few over the needs of the many. It is another day where pervasive income inequality continues to take a heavy toll on this nation. It is a day when more of our nation’s children will go hungry without enough food to eat, a safe school to study, or a source for them to develop positive social bonds. It is a day where we let the 1 percent rob the rest of us of the lives we struggle to attain.
The only question left to ask… how long will it be before the rest of us get fed up?