In the mid fifth century A.D., in the waning days of the Roman Empire, the corrupt ruling elite in Rome turned the once revered legions against their citizen provincials in order to exact what had become a crushing tax burden. In my book, Lessons from Fallen Civilizations I observe that one of the most recurring features of failing civilizations is that a corrupt ruling class will inevitably impoverish and ultimately destroy its own middle class, in the case of the Romans, the small farmer and merchant.
Janet Yellen Eschews Capitalism
Recently, Federal Reserve Chairwoman, Janet Yellen, when testifying before congress, was asked by the avowed socialist senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, “Are we still a capitalist democracy or have we gone over to an oligarchic form of society run by the billionaire class?“
Yellen disturbingly responded, “I don’t know what to call our system—I prefer not to give labels, but there’s no question we’ve had the trend toward growing inequality, and I personally find it a very worrisome trend that deserves the attention of policy makers.”
If Obama’s newly appointed Federal Reserve Chairman is confused about her role in protecting American capitalism, aren’t we headed toward a form of Marxism which cannot help but destroy the middle class? After all, inspired by Marx, Vladimir Lenin created a new system of governance for the Soviet Union which was based on class warfare, which targeted and destroyed the “bourgeoisie,” the small farmer, merchant, and factory owner for its crimes against the workers. While America’s middle class is somewhat difficult to define, the American Democrat party cannot abide a thriving middle class precisely because its prime movers know that most Americans who, through their own industriousness, begin to acquire even modest degrees of wealth soon cease to vote Democrat.
Obama’s America is Shutting Down Entry to the Middle Class
President Obama has recently headed up the Democrats’ new campaign to resolve the problem of income inequality and stated that it is the “defining challenge of our time.” Like so much of what passes for Democrat economic policy, this is a misdirection play, that is, one that is designed to distract their voters and in particular the impressionable, from focusing on the real issue—Why Americans, especially the young, can’t find work. “The scope of the situation is shocking,” said Keith Hall, a former commissioner of the Bureau of Labor statistics. The Brookings Institute found that the share of teens that held any paid job at any point in the year fell from 55% in 2000 to 28% in 2011 and that only half of high school graduates not enrolled in college worked at all.
A young dental student and an expert on the plight of millennials (Americans age 18-30) Salvator Lamastra writes, “My generation is losing hope, and fast. In fact, the economy is so debilitating that some 22.6% of us live with our parents.”
And the situation is even worse for many new college graduates, those who, in previous generations, expected to enter the American Middle Class. Lamastra puts it this way,” Obama has let down the millennials economically in every way possible: high unemployment, sickening health care reform, skyrocketing living and energy costs, staggering high student loan debt and a national debt of $52,948 per capita.”
The Entire Middle Class is Shrinking
As a result of policies put in place by this administration over the past five years, statistics abound which demonstrate that not only is America making it more difficult to enter the middle class but those who were recently counted among its members are increasingly falling into poverty. Examples are:
- One out of 7 Americans are on food stamps. The number has grown from 31 million recipients in 2008 to nearly 50 million today, a shocking increase of nearly 50%.
- The country has 91 million men and women over the age of 16 not working and perennially unemployed. This is 10 million above the 80.5 million when Obama took office. With total employment at around 145 million, there are two (?) who aren’t even looking.
- Jobs are scarce. For the first time since the Carter years, businesses are dying faster than they are being created. Entrepreneurs have greatly pulled back on their plans to expand their businesses or start new ones, citing the huge costs associated with Obamacare, Dodd Frank and the general uncertainty of the crushing regulatory climate.
- Forty nine million now live below what the Bureau of Labor Statistics refers to as the poverty level.
- The value of the American dollar and its commensurate buying power continues to plummet. The price of gold has skyrocketed from $300 an ounce in 2000 to almost $1,900 in 2014.
Why are Liberal Policies So Destructive?
If Yellen exposed her ambivalence about capitalism in her recent statements, Obama was famously exposed during a 2008 debate against Hillary Clinton. Charles Gibson asked candidate Obama why he wanted to raise the capital gains tax to 28%, (the rate that President Clinton inherited) despite the fact that Clinton lowered the rate to 20% and Bush further reduced it to 15%, and in both cases, revenues from capital gains tax greatly increased.
To which he responded, “We saw an article today which showed that the top 50 hedge fund managers made $29 billion last year — $29 billion for 50 individuals. And part of what has happened is that those who are able to work the stock market and amass huge fortunes on capital gains are paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries. That’s not fair.”
While Obama’s facts are highly suspect, his logic is even more specious. If he truly wants to be able fund more government programs to aid the poor and middle class, why would he enact a higher tax andlower revenues to the treasury just to punish 50 people? The answer lies in the fact that for a true Marxist/progressive, there’s no benefit in raising living standards. That’s not his real game. Rather he benefits by having as many as possible dependent on government and or resentful of others, hence the word the word “fairness.” His income inequality campaign is a thinly veiled class warfare tactic, designed to manipulate. It is at the core of Marxist dogma and based on one the most ignoble of human emotions—envy.
Now, six years later, despite this administration’s attempt to manipulate and misdirect regarding their appalling economic record, one senses that Obama along with the liberal establishment is now experiencing a crisis of confidence given that they’ve tried nearly everything from their redistributionist playbook—bailouts, vast stimulus spending, $5 trillion in deficit spending, Obamacare, green energy failed investments and tax increases. Yet, based on Census Bureau Data median household income is $4,000 lower than it was in 2008. Adjusted for inflation, this, is a catastrophe for the middle class.
With the recent publication of Thomas Piketty’s New York Times best-seller and ode to redistribution, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, American liberals can also celebrate the near one-hundred-and fifty year anniversary of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. They can also celebrate the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. After his landslide victory in the 1964 election he brought about the largest expansion of government in U.S. history. He pushed through 200 new laws which created 40 new federal programs designed to lift people out of poverty.
With nearly one hundred million Americans receiving some form of government assistance, his great society has created the great dependency. The size of government in real terms is now five times larger than it was in 1964.
Its cost will be unbearable for those attempting to join or remain in the middle class.
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