Assault on The Middle Class

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Assault on the Middle Class

Some Republicans are proposing legislation to lower the minimum wage for teen-agers. This idea has been around for a long time. They say more young people will get jobs, and that will help the whole economy. They propose calling it a “training” wage. After a specified period, it will automatically go up to the minimum wage. So, basically, they are saying that the problem with the U.S. economy is that workers make too much money. If we just pay them less it will make the whole country better off.

It is true that more young people would find jobs if this were enacted. But those would not be new jobs. People making minimum wage would be fired and replaced with “trainees” at a lower wage. When their “training” period is over, they will be fired and replaced with new “trainees.” The people proposing this are the same ones who sent our jobs to China and Malaysia, and provided tax breaks for companies that outsource. They are the same people who assert that we need millions of illegal immigrants working in this country because citizens just will not work.

This is part of an all-out assault on the middle class in America, and it is really puzzling why people with jobs that do not pay quite enough to make them financially secure support these guys. It must because a lot of people really like the rhetoric used by these fellows. They talk about “financial discipline” and “fiscal responsibility” and “reducing government spending.” There is a huge disconnect between what they say and what they do, however. Voters and the media do not seem to notice.

The right wing does not want less government spending and more individual freedom. They want to destroy the middle class. As one of their “experts” said, “Deficits don’t matter. Ronald Reagan proved that.” They simply cannot stand the thought of most Americans achieving a comfortable lifestyle and some degree of financial security. The assault on unions is a prime example. Collective bargaining has brought a great number of benefits to all workers, not just union members. We no longer have child labor. We have safety standards in the workplace so we do not have 100 workers a day killed on the job, which was the norm a hundred years ago.

The assault on unions and the attempt to implement a sub-minimum wage are just the vanguard in an assault on nearly all of us. Now they openly say they want to eliminate the two most successful government programs in history, Social Security and Medicare. They say they cost too much. Actually, they pay their own way through payroll taxes. The problem is that the Congress takes that money and spends it on other things, like two—whoops! make that three—unnecessary and unfunded wars.

I can (sort of) understand the mentality of the guys with fat bank accounts, with all sorts of political clout, who do not want to see other people prosper. It makes them feel special. That new Escalade somehow does not seem so prestigious when the plumber has one just like it. What I cannot fathom is why so many members of the middle class enthusiastically support candidates who want to take away their financial security, wreck their retirement, and crush any attempt to crate an equitable and affordable health care system. The plutocrats say, “Bring me something to beat you with” and they dutifully hand them sticks and bricks.

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