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The "70" Percent

posted Feb 4, 2012, 11:31 AM by Angelica Wolf   [ updated Feb 6, 2012, 5:19 PM ]

Recently, the news has been filled with those in this country who claim they represent the 99% vs. the 1%. They say that they are crying out against the tyranny of the rich over the poor, management over labor, the haves over the have-nots, etc. Some political operatives have tried to quickly align themselves with these disaffected individuals by claiming that they are their “voice” in Washington, DC so as to increase their party’s power base. The question is, are these claims true? Is the American public really so divided politically, socially and economically?

 

Over the past couple of decades, it seems both parties have moved further to the extreme right or the extreme left while giving very little thought to the broad base of the American public. I believe this effect is largely the result of special interest money corrupting the political process. Recent polls have found that most Americans favor smaller vs. larger government, less government spending, less intervention in both social and business areas, less foreign intervention and less foreign aid and finally, a focus on common over special interests.

 

Most Americans feel government has grown too large and the demands of these huge bureaucracies have become ridiculously onerous. As the federal government continues to grow (it is the one sector of the economy to experience a boom since 2008) states and both large and small businesses find it increasingly difficult to function. Local school boards chafe under the government mandates placed upon them by unrestrained federal power. State healthcare programs (Medicaid) are pathetically underfunded from the feds and so the indigent sick suffer for lack of care. Healthcare-related businesses find that reimbursement rates don’t even come close to covering costs and many hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices have shut down because they can no longer operate at a profit.  Big corporations find the regulations foisted upon them by out-of-control and out-of-touch agencies make it more profitable to move business (and jobs) overseas. Small businesses find they cannot even afford to comply with the massive regulation associated with these new laws (e.g. Dodd-Frank) and simply close up shop.

 

Government spending is quickly undermining national security and sovereignty because of the massive amounts of borrowing required to support its growth. Because the US Dollar has held the status of a global reserve currency, our government has been able to borrow money very cheaply for decades. When money is cheap, it is easy to make interest payments on the debt. However, anyone who has ever had an adjustable-rate mortgage knows that when the interest rate goes up, the old debt can quickly become unaffordable. When the government runs a deficit, it means they borrowed the money from somewhere else to pay for everything in the budget. In 2011, the federal government took in $2.3 trillion but it spent $3.6 trillion. This means that they borrowed $1.3 trillion to make up the difference. In order to get this money from our tax revenue, they would have had to increase our taxes by over 50%! Of course, no one would set still for this so instead of living on what they brought in, they simply borrowed it. One day, that debt has to be paid off and in the meantime interest has to be paid to the lender (i.e. China, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, etc.).  As of the end of 2011, our national debt is over $15 trillion. We are currently experiencing historically low interest rates so the interest payments are affordable. However, even a 1% increase in the interest rate would cost taxpayers an additional $150 billion each year. That is more than $500 for every man, woman and child in the US! If we lose our status as a global reserve currency, interest rates will spike and we will have no choice but to default. Hello Greece, here we come.

 

Our leaders have failed the nation by involving us in foreign entanglements where we have no national interest and no clear purpose or mission. After more than a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are pulling out abruptly and already we are watching the very forces we opposed step in to fill the vacuum. After countless lives lost, injuries to our soldiers, tens of billions of dollars spent, etc., Iran is benefiting by increasing their sphere of influence in Iraq, the Taliban is already in resurgence in Afghanistan and we have further alienated ourselves from the Arab world.

 

Closer to home, we have allowed massive illegal arms shipments into Mexico which have not only been used in the murder of our own border patrol agents but have resulted in the deaths of countless Mexican nationals. The head of the justice department, Eric Holder claims no responsibility even though documents show he had knowledge of the practice while it was occurring. This type of failed leadership continues to underscore one of the biggest problems facing our country – everyone wants to be in charge but nobody wants any responsibility.

 

We have continued to send billions of dollars overseas to buy influence in foreign countries but it has resulted instead in enriching many of the very people who wish to destroy our nation and western culture. A good example of this is Muammar Qaddafi. At the time of his death, it is estimated that he had nearly $200 billion in assets invested worldwide, much of it money from US foreign aid and oil profits from US purchases. Our long-term financial support of Egypt and its leader Hosni Mubarak ended with the popular uprising “The Arab Spring” and he has been replaced by the much more radicalized Muslim Brotherhood. While there is certainly a place for foreign aid, it makes sense that it should be more humanitarian and to support open, democratic governments and less to buy influence of petty dictators.

 

Special interests (both foreign and domestic) have largely taken over the political process in Washington because of the vast amounts of money they spend in promoting the election of one politician or another. One of the largest lobbying efforts in DC represents the Saudi royal family. Flush with petrodollars, they throw money around like its going out of style. The average American finds it disgusting to watch President Bush walking along holding hands with the king or President Obama bowing to him. As our second largest debt holder (behind China) the influence they wield in our government cannot be understated. The Saudi government continues to finance the radicalization of Muslims through the literally thousands of madrasas they have established, through indirect financing of terrorism (e.g. Muslim charities funneling $ directly to terrorists), etc. Most of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia but where was the great outcry of our government against the Royal family? All that influence bought a lot of silence from our elected officials.

 

Domestic special interests have shown that their financial contributions can also buy direct legislative support in Washington. Recently, the National Labor Relations Board sued Boeing for trying to open a new manufacturing plant in South Carolina, a right-to-work state. This was clearly a ploy by the current administration to support some of their largest campaign donors, the labor unions. The administration has also held up the Keystone XL pipeline project (which would create an estimated 20,000 high-paying jobs in the US) until after the 2012 election cycle as a nod to the environmental lobbies. This type of corruption in both parties has become standard operating procedure.

 

Washington and the mainstream news media continue to promote the idea that we are a very polar country. They say we are a country of conservative vs. liberal, right vs. left, rich vs. poor, 99% vs. 1%, etc. I think this is one of the biggest lies in history. On June 16, 1858, Abraham Lincoln, upon receiving the Republican Party’s nomination for US Senator of Illinois, gave a speech in which he quoted Jesus as saying “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Slowly, over decades we have allowed the parties (GOP and DEM) and special interests to divide us into smaller and weaker groups. There may indeed be 15% of the population at the far-left and far-right ends of the political spectrum. It’s time for the 70% of us in the middle to take back our country before it’s too late.


© 2011, Angelica Wolf

 

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