03/23/2009 09:28 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Economic Double Standard

We all know that despite the rhetoric that fills our political debate, there are two standards in this country: The standard for the very wealthy, and the standard for the Rest of Us. That's nothing new - but what is new is how obvious it has become. As I document in my syndicated newspaper column this week, there's no effort to hide the double standard anymore.

The discussion about the sanctity of contracts really shoved the double standard right up in our grill. The government at once insists it had zero power to revise contracts at a company it owns (AIG) while asserting almost total power to revise contracts at companies it merely lends to (GM and Chrysler). Then, in a reversal, the government insists it has total power to renegotiate mortgages for vacation homes that the super-rich own, but zero power to renegotiate mortgages for primary residences that the Rest of Us own.

I guess the good news is that in becoming so overtly hypocritical, the government is educating the public in a more effective way than ever before. Whereas there used to be the pretense of "fairness" and "equal protection under the law," those platitudes are being debunked by very clear, very easy to understand actions. And that's where the populist anger is now coming from - America is finally awakening to the fact that this is not a democracy, it's a kleptocracy.

Some say realization is "dangerous" - but that's the same thing the Establishment was saying when the country demanded transformative change from the Roosevelt administration. Indeed, the term "dangerous" is an epithet routinely thrown around by the staunchest defenders of the status quo. What this moment really is, IMHO, is a huge opportunity - and if progressives shirk that opportunity and use it for our positive agenda, you can bet conservatives will seize it and use it for their negative one.

Read the whole column here.

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