THE BLOG
03/20/2013 05:02 pm ET | Updated May 19, 2013

The Super-Rich and Their Enablers Are Playing With Fire

The big money interests and the politicians who do their bidding -- mostly, but not exclusively, Republicans -- have rigged the economic and political systems to such a degree that, unless we see some radical changes in the current state of affairs, sooner or later, the American Dream is going to be revealed as a fraud and what the elites are creating exclusively for their own benefit is going to blow up in their faces. Unfortunately, the inevitable social explosion that their grasping for unlimited political power and even greater concentration of income and wealth than presently exists will produce collateral damage and unpredictable outcomes for the people already victimized and those of us simply standing on the sidelines witnessing the gutting of the ideals that all Americans claim to uphold.

Quite soon, if current trends continue, it is going to become impossible to continue hoodwinking ordinary working people that the American system works the way it is supposed to and more and more of them will wake up to the reality that they have been victims of a decades-long confidence trick. So far, they have seen nothing wrong with the rich getting richer -- believing erroneously that they had a shot at climbing into the ranks of the wealthy or, at least, the relatively prosperous. However, the poor -- not to mention the middle class -- are not supposed to get poorer. That is not the social contract that we assumed we were all working under. But, the most powerful and pernicious members of the top one-percent, with the collusion of their bought-and-paid-for political allies tore up that social contract a few decades ago and have been enriching themselves at the expense of everyone else and using their unprecedented wealth to ensure that their wishes will prevail at all levels and in every branch of government.

Are the architects of this state of affairs likely to cease and desist anytime soon? So far, they have given no sign of doing so. On the contrary, they are backing efforts to further disenfranchise those most likely to oppose their agenda and block all efforts to slow, let alone reverse, the widening gap between their share of the economic pie and the scraps left for everyone else. So, given the current trajectory, what outcomes lie ahead? Recent history suggests that countries that tolerate unfettered political oppression and unregulated economic exploitation of the majority by a tiny minority for any length of time risk serious social upheaval. This is especially unsustainable in democracies. People eventually figure out what is going on and the oppressed and exploited -- along with their allies -- find ways to bring public attention to the injustices they are enduring. These can include anything from mass demonstrations and marches, as occurred in the civil rights era, to targeted strikes (watch out, Walmart), to a replay of the race riots that set alight a number of American cities in the early 1960s.

Leaving aside the incurably gullible and willfully ignorant among their supporters, the perpetrators of this dangerous situation are not stupid. Most of them must be fully aware of the logical consequences of their actions. So, what is their end game? Abandon the country they have ruined for permanent residence in the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, Singapore or Switzerland where they are already stashing untold billions of dollars? Possibly. Or, they may be planning to further fortify their gated enclaves in the U.S. If so, they might need to rethink that option, if things seriously fall apart. Thanks to the gun and ammunition manufacturers -- whom they have wholehearted and generously supported -- there is a lot of firepower out there -- much more potentially in the hands of, or available to, the disaffected majority than the forces of law and order and some rent-a-cops. Even the latter would have to decide what side of history they were on.

Is this potentially cataclysmic scenario imminent? Probably not, but something substantive needs to happen soon, if irreparable damage to the social fabric of the country is to be avoided.

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