"Ask not what your country can do for you... ," "if a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." "United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do..." an immortal speech by then President John F. Kennedy.
We survived communism, racism, sexism, assassinations, terrorism, the Vietnam War, President Nixon's criminality other calamities and tragedies, but Milton Friedman economics and Reagan era policies of deregulation and union busting continue to fuel rampant fraud and unconscionable greed sending us veering so off course we are at war with each other and sinking into poverty while the few amass such a vast concentration of wealth we are in danger of becoming one of those "banana" republics we once derided.
Divide and conquer, a timeless tried and true strategy. Who is dividing, and who is conquering? The disparity of wealth should inform us: folks quote the division as 99 or 98 percent of "us" to the resulting 1 or 2 percent of super rich. Have we fought this polarization, this exploitation, this lack of morality, this me me me world as we did with the robber barons of old, going on strike, unionizing, organizing? No, most of us apathetically go off in a "you can't fight City Hall" manner while others embrace the dog-eat-dog practice and turn on each other in a survival of the fittest mode while others knowingly or unknowingly become lackeys of the very people who oppress us. Why else would we fight to retain tax cuts for the very wealthy and not extend unemployment benefits?
This 2 percent we blindly support, why? What do they do for us? Create honest jobs for a fair wage, implement new industry, support this great country of ours by paying their fair share of taxes. Or do they sell defective product, tainted food, shoddy merchandise all for the quick buck. We fight with each other, scrape by and make do and sometimes don't and lose our houses, buy guns, get sick, go to war, pay loan sharking credit cards, drink and argue about who is more patriotic while these super rich laugh all the way to the bank and spin any attempt at economic justice as "socialism". Are we the elephants chained when young and so used to the chain they stay put even when they're not there? Can we stop being brainwashed and start looking out for the common man, common good, our own interests?
Years ago I was filming a commercial in Mexico. I've never been adverse to making a profit, cutting corners, making money. The corporate sponsor demanded the crew work a 24-hour day for 12 hours pay because she wanted to return to the USA early. (Other representatives of her company were present, a whole retinue in fact.) I naively explained we were already on a very tight schedule and budget and I couldn't ask the crew to work for nothing even if they agreed to go 24 hours straight. The executive informed me we were in Mexico. Anything goes. Small scale yes, altruistic, no. I just couldn't go there. Couldn't cross that line. There is no line any longer. Look at the jobless rolls, the investments that disappeared, the foreclosures, rape of our land, the modern day ghost towns while billionaire corporations are flush with cash and profitable again and we are governed by fear.
When did "ask what you can do for your country" become "how can I suck it dry"? When did money become the be-all and end-all of our existence with an attitude of to hell with whom we exploit, bomb, destroy as long as it fills our pockets. When did public services like education, prisons, the postal service, health care, public safety have to be for profit? Our multi-national corporations have an allegiance to money not to us yet we retain an allegiance to them contrary to our interests and gain violence, discord, mayhem and poverty of spirit, as well as economics.
We all want the same things. We all love our country and deep down we all love each other or we wouldn't rally together in war or senseless acts of violence and defend each other when push comes to shove. How about getting back to the U.S. of America, the "us," and stop the illusory rhetoric that divides us like who is more patriotic? It solves nothing and wastes precious time we need to get us back on track. Can we pull back the curtain and take a good look at who is behind? It's us. Not the super rich. We enable them. They cannot exploit us without our consent. Can we open our eyes and start working together to focus on the real problem, the 2 percent WHO HAVE THE MONEY and not the manufactured disputes that drown us in the morass. Can we force the robber barons of today to make their money the fair honest way, by earning it, not stealing it? "United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do..."