The class bias of American politics has not only cost us our democracy. It has also cost us our jobs, our health, and our security. For years, the recovery was crippled by the politics of austerity, as a bipartisan coalition took a butcher's knife to the public sector, and as balanced budgets took precedence over basic needs.
Not only do we rank 26th in median wealth, we also are the most anti-employee country in the developed world. Actually, the two go together because rising inequality results from our pro-Wall Street and anti-worker policies.
Only a generation ago, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania had a steel mill employing tens of thousands of people at good wages. The typical casino worker today in Bethlehem makes $10-12 an hour. Many are part-time.
The rich always vote for themselves. They go for their self-interest, their tax breaks, their liability escapes (think Wall Street). Meanwhile, they've relentlessly instructed the non-rich that they too must vote for the rich.
Speaking just like an American Republican, the Communist Chinese-appointed leader of Hong Kong, Leung Chun-ying, said last week that if the state granted democratic rights to its poor and working class, they could dominate elections and choose leaders who would meet their needs.
You are all potential terrorists and will be treated as such. Here's half a Diet Coke as a reward for being compliant.
During the 2014 midterm elections Republicans have waged a negative "slash and burn" campaign, attacking President Obama and Democrats in general. In this hostile environment, most Democrats have been defensive and their message has been muted
To be sure, we are at a crossroads. Poets and audiences need each other. As a member of both groups, I am ready to rise to the occasion.
One in four U.S. employees are low-wage workers. That is 20 percent higher than in the United Kingdom, and the highest percentage among industrialized nations. So how'd that all anti-union stuff work out?
A new report by the Urban Institute and Encore Capital Group's Consumer Credit Research Institute shows 77 million Americans -- 35 percent of those with files at a major credit bureau -- have a debt in collection. But as you can expect, there is always someone profiting from poverty.
The level of U.S. political rancor has reached an intensity not seen since the '60s with its battles over civil rights and the Vietnam War. On the one hand, we have Republicans advocating a new Iraq war and more tax breaks for the rich. On the other hand, we have Democrats saying no to war and standing up for working families.
Rather than focus on jobs, the 1 percent are attempting to turn the 2014 election into a referendum on President Obama.
If we soak the "1 percent" but do nothing to win them over to the cause of making our country more equitable, can that victory really last? I don't think so.
In an America where, when it comes to the political system, the Supreme Court has now granted the dollar the full right to speak its mind, and ever more of those dollars can be found in the pockets of... well, not to put a fine point on it, plutocrats, we need a new (that is, old) vocabulary to fit our changing circumstances.
Stop taxing unemployment benefits. This is a regressive concept. Why should we be taxing the meager benefits of those Americans who are out of work? Give them a break. They're down on their luck. Why require them to pay taxes on benefits?
I carry with me the knowledge that economics isn't about numbers, it's about people. I know now that it's up to us to decide whether the way we pay people, the work we offer them, and how we treat them on the job is just about money or if it's about society, about how we live, who we are, the nature of America.