It used to be if you worked for a company for 20 or 30 years you would retire with a pension and health care. For the rest of your life. It was the deal we made with employers. You give us a job. We make you lots of money. And when we are old we don't have to eat cat food.
It was a very simple social contract. And it worked amazingly well. American workers built the strongest most amazing economic world power. We did something no other nation had ever done. We created wealth.
Wow. That is not a little thing. Think about it. For the first time money wasn't just inherited. Or taken by force. America was the first nation to allow for the creation of wealth independent of family status. What an amazing thing.
Sadly, many people don't remember this. Somehow the system that worked for decades like a well-oiled machine became so skewed it started to screw the very people it relied upon to be successful. Who would do such a thing? And why would they do it?
Well the answer to that takes us down a slippery slope of conservative supply side economics. It takes us back to the days when Reagan was in the White House and the great scam began: the "democratization of money." Yes, the American workers were sold on a scam that was going to strip them of their pensions and health care and they never saw it coming. As a matter of fact, they were convinced to give up their pensions willingly.
Unbelievable, but true. The American worker was told they would share in the billions that were going to be saved by getting rid of pensions and lifetime health care. I kid you not, this really happened.
How was it done? By lying to American workers.
Who did it? Conservative-funded groups.
Why? To get rid of pensions and lifetime health care benefits.
What was the result? Poverty wages, job losses and income instability.
Where are the billions of dollars the American workers were promised? In the Cayman Islands, mansions and yachts of those who decided that trickle down only went so far. As a matter of fact, it stopped at the door to their offshore bank.
The endless, and at this point mindless, rant of "small government, less tax" doesn't even make sense when you see the real purpose of "small government," which is evidently only small government for the working poor and middle class, and obtained by gutting programs and privatizing everything from our schools to our prisons, post office and military in order to launder our public funds into private profit for corporate masters, I mean sponsors -- no, sorry, corporate "persons." And that is only the first part.
The second part is even more convoluted. It is only "less tax" for the already excessively rich and those same corporate persons. I mean, you and I aren't "entitled" to tax breaks. Nope, that is only for the rich. It is disgustingly simple what the conservative movement is all about; to give as much of our money to the already rich as they can before too many people catch on.
Well, are you catching on yet? Do you see what has been done? Are you beginning to see how we can change it?
Do you want to see more funding for schools, higher wages and a return to income equality and economic stability? We can do that.
Do you want more arts and less testing? Better food in our schools? More parks, less fracking? Do you want bike paths, gardens, renewable energy and community not real estate development?
We can do that too.
The taxes we pay, they aren't a bill, they are our share of the costs for our property. Because it all belongs to us. The roads, they belong to us. National parks? Ours. Schools? Yup, they belong to us too. It's all ours, people. We just stopped understanding that. And abdicated responsibility. And we know what nature thinks of a vacuum. So what filled it? And how do we now take it all back?
I'm here to tell you, the system is not broken. We are. We've been beaten, demoralized, belittled, overworked, underpaid and intimidated. We've been told when we can and cannot speak at meetings and our towns and state houses were taken over by fanatics and those who are motivated by self-interest and greed. But it doesn't have to be that way.
In every town. In every school district. In every county. Every state. We are growing stronger every day. We are remembering that this is ours. This country. This land. And we are ready to take it all back. We aren't going to let our world be trampled by trickle down fantasies and silly slogans.
If you want to change the world, stop complaining about the world and start changing it. How? Get involved. Go to meetings. Speak up. Call your member of Congress. Get together with your neighbors. Pick an issue, do you want better lighting in our parks? Let's make that happen.
Last week I reviewed local ordinances and budgets. I contacted members of Congress and spoke to our School Board and Borough Council. This isn't magic people, and they are not dragons for us to slay. They are our friends, family and neighbors. And until you get off your sofa, log-off your computer and actually show up at a meeting, we are going to have more of the same. Because though nature may abhor that vacuum, she also doesn't care what fills it. And if you don't, someone else is going to.
So if you are okay with the way the world around us is operating, fine -- stay home, watch TV and continue to ignore everything. But then don't say the system is broken. Because you have no idea if it is broken or not. You aren't doing a damn thing to make sure the system works.
But when you are ready to change the world, I'll be here waiting for you.