Denying the very existence of an entire class of citizens? That’s waging some very real warfare against them.
There hasn’t been any organized, explicitly class-based violence in this country for generations, so what, exactly, does “class warfare” really mean? Is it just an empty political catch-phrase?
The American Right has decided that returning the tax rate paid by the wealthiest Americans from what it was during the Bush years (which, incidentally, featured the slowest job growth under any president in our history, at 0.45 percent per year) to what they forked over during the Clinton years (when job growth happened to average 1.6 percent per year) is the epitome of class warfare. Sure, it would leave top earners with a tax rate 10 percentage points below what they were paying after Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts, but that’s the conservative definition of “eating the rich” these days.
I recently offered a less Orwellian definition, arguing that real class warfare is when those who have already achieved a good deal of prosperity pull the ladder up behind them by attacking the very things that once allowed working people to move up and join the ranks of the middle class.
But there’s another way of looking at “class war”: habitually vilifying the unfortunate; claiming that their plight is a manifestation of some personal flaw or cultural deficiency. Conservatives wage this form of class warfare virtually every day, consigning millions of people who are down on their luck to some subhuman underclass.
The six ways from The article
- Registering the Poor to Vote is ‘UnAmerican’
- Unemployment Benefits Have Created a ‘Nation of Slackers’
- You Can’t Really Be Poor if You Have a Color TV!
- Food-Stamps: ‘A Fossil That Repeats All the Errors of the War on Poverty’
- ‘The Main Causes of Child Poverty Are Low Levels of Parental Work and the Absence of Fathers.’
- Taxing Working People Less Than the Rich Is ‘Perverse’
Your local government is important. Be informed about the candidates in your county, and participate in the local elections. Your judges and your school board can directly affect you and your family. Who is your mayor?
Let’s go a little larger now.
Put more time and focus into researching your…
Since 1970, federal spending has averaged just over 21 percent of GDP while tax revenues have averaged over 19 percent.
The last time since World War II that federal spending exceeded 23 percent of GDP was in 1982 and 1983, when it rose to 23.1 percent and 23.5 percent, respectively, during what was then called the worst recession since the Great Depression. A Republican, Ronald Reagan, was president, and he was hardly anyone’s idea of a tax-and-spend liberal.
Federal spending is even higher now as a percentage of GDP, but not by much — just between 1 and 2 percentage points. That reflects the fact that the most recent recession was far deeper than the 1981-82 downturn, which lasted 16 months.
Much of the present large gap between tax revenues and federal spending comes not from political decisions but from what happens to a nation’s finances during any deep recession, economists suggest.
But you wouldn’t know it from some of the recent campaign rhetoric. The Republican candidates all want to shrink government’s role by slashing spending and taxes, and repealing or suspending regulations.
—Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney asserted that, because of the rise of the ratio of government spending to GDP on President Barack Obama’s watch, “We’re inches away from no longer having a free economy.”
—Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum: “We’re now at almost 25 percent (of GDP) … the problem is spending, not taxes.”
—Reps. Ron Paul of Texas and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota insisted they would never vote to raise the U.S. debt limit and they decried the rise in federal spending. The recent bipartisan debt deal, which includes a big spending-cut component, won the support of many tea party-aligned lawmakers, however.
—Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke would commit a “treasonous” act if he “prints more money” before next November’s elections. “We would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas,” Perry told an Iowa audience. Economists generally credit Bernanke with helping save the nation’s financial system by stimulating it with a flood of new money.
What’s notable here is not so much the information (this is nothing new to anyone actively researching the subject), but where the information is coming from. For years we’ve had a media that parroted talking points from both sides regardless of accuracy and allowed the public to decide who to believe. That particular strategy leaves the public misinformed- most people don’t pursue the facts with the vigor of journalists, and it’s easy to believe a lie that’s repeated multiple times daily without rebuttal.
Here, the Associated Press takes a rare step into the fact checking department. Rather than simply saying “Team Red says increased spending is the problem, Team Blue says it’s the recession,” the AP is actually looking into the information and reporting which talking points are lies. With blogs, websites and independent media making their names by doing actual reporting, have they forced the AP to adopt higher journalistic standards?