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HomeBusinessMr. & Mrs. Middle Class: You've been punked!

Mr. & Mrs. Middle Class: You’ve been punked!

You are being told that we must pony up for Wall Street’s mistakes over the past 20 years. You are being told that if you do not it will only cost you more in the long run. You are being told that if you do not do so, the world as we know it will cease to exist. That part, at least, is correct.

For the past twenty years, beginning with the Reagan administration, economic war has been waged on you, the middle class. The champions of the “free market” demanded that all fetters, all regulations, be removed from the market. It was claimed that regulations were bad, that they prevented the market from operating “efficiently”, that the “freer” the market, the more we would all benefit.

Along with deregulation, those pushing the “free market” concept also demonized “taxation”, claiming that the less you are taxed, the better — that you should be allowed to “keep your money”. Several things were seldom discussed in relation to “tax reduction”. First, the majority of the “tax relief” went to the wealthiest in our society. They saved hundreds of thousands compared hundreds of dollars for those in the middle class. Secondly, the spending did not decrease. Rather than “tax and spend” as they accused the Democrats of doing, the Republicans (champions of the “free market”) simply borrowed and spent. But the spending was not for things of benefit to the middle class. Instead of health care and education, we were given endless war, from which the corporations who had bought the government profited immensely. While our sons and daughters fought and died, Halliburton made billions.

But woe to any who pointed this out. They were accused of waging “class war”. While the moneyed interests waged vicious and constant “class war” against the middle class, they feigned outrage that any would question their intentions. Meanwhile, the middle class saw its wages and standard of living erode. The banks and lending institutions tightened the noose around the necks of the middle class, making it harder for the “little guy” to claim bankruptcy, jacking up credit card interest to usurious levels, killing any legislation that might possibly benefit anyone other than a multi-millionaire. Middle class Americans fell deeper into debt, relying increasingly on credit cards to bridge income shortfalls, the dream of a better future for their children evaporating before their eyes.

During all the time of increased immiseration of the middle class, the wealthy and the multinational corporations were raking in the profits. The income gap between the rich and the poor widened as the “uberwealthy” sucked up more and more of the social wealth. But all good things must come to an end. The “creative” financial instruments designed by Wall Street to suck any remaining wealth from the middle class finally collapsed like the house of cards they were. Wall Street, in a panic, turned to the government it had spent good money for, and demanded a bail out.

So this is where we now stand. Those of you who question the preceding analysis, consider the fact that it is demanded that the taxpayers foot the 600 billion bill for the bailout with no oversight at all. The message delivered by that demand is this, “Mr. and Mrs. Middle Class, you have been punked”.

Tom Paine
Systems Administrator for ASP for hospitals/med surg facilities. Politics mostly socialist/populist. Anti-corporate, pro working class. Student of history who fervently believes that "those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it".


  1. You’re speaking the amen truth, Tom Paine. There are dangers and absurdities galore in this series of collapses and bailouts, but the lack of oversight you mention at the end of your piece is surely the most dangerous and the most absurd.
    The Bush administration’s plan will further strengthen an Executive Branch that has already usurped Congress and the Constitution.
    As stated in Section 8 of Paulson’s proposed legislation: “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.”
    Senator Bernie Sanders has posted a petition in opposition to the Paulson plan. Sanders’ petition calls for a surtax on the very wealthy, and equity stakes for taxpayers. While Paulson’s proposal burdens taxpayers with repaying borrowed bailout funds, the measures that Sanders advocates will help foster economic recovery and build a stronger, saner economy, without resorting to further dependence on the largesse of China, Japan, and the oil oligarchies.
    You can find the petition on Sanders’ website — sanders.senate.gov.

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