We have become a profoundly unequal society. Unless we can build momentum for a new political agenda, we'll be divided into a small minority with fabulous wealth and a permanent underclass with few hopes or prospects. Unfortunately, our mainstream political dialogue shows no sign of adapting to these realities.
We need an active, independent left willing to challenge the push for smaller government. A well-managed government can revitalize the economy even as it makes our world a better place to live. Many Americans seem to understand that instinctively. Where, then, is the movement that will make that argument?
When you sit down to enjoy the Super Bowl, enjoy a healthy side of irony with your wings. In much of Europe, soccer embraces a rapacious form of capitalism that would make Mitt Romney blush, whereas in the U.S., the NFL eschews the blue and white heat of high finance for a philosophy that is tinged with more than a touch of red.
Looking forward to Tuesday's State of the Union address, we are seeing a somewhat bolder Barack Obama. The White House has already pre-announced or leaked several "fourth-quarter initiatives," in the president's words. Some of these can be accomplished by executive order; most will require legislation. The measures that can be achieved by presidential order include reducing the down-payment or interest on federally insured mortgages to stimulate home ownership. Among the measures requiring legislation is a tax plan that would increase taxes on the wealthiest in order to finance the tuition help for community college students and more generous child tax credits for working families. Obama also wants an excise tax on large banks and he is calling on Congress to pass a law giving all workers seven days of annual sick leave. All this amounts to a salutary whiff of class warfare, of the sort that identifies the president with most Americans, against the one percent. And there will probably be a few more surprises in the actual address that have not yet been leaked.