by Peter Mathews, Professor of Political Science, Cypress College
In the present “recovery” of the last three years, the top 1% has captured 93% of the total growth in income, according to UC Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez. That left only 7% of the new income to be shared by the 99% of Americans. This was the result of tax cuts on the super rich, tax loopholes and subsidies for big corporations, such as big oil companies, and cuts in public education that would have created opportunity for working Middle Class Americans.
A recent study indicated that 47% of Americans were either struggling to make ends meet or living in poverty. Most of these are Americans who are the Working Poor. At the same time, the top 400 income earners in this nation each received an average of $214,000,000 last year. The average American’s individual income was $26,000 last year. Since the beginning of 2008, 4.6 million plus jobs were lost. All of this and more were the direct result of former President Bush’s and Congress’ wrong headed policies of eight years: “Trickle Down Economics” with huge tax cuts for the super rich; An unjustified, costly and debt generating war in Iraq; Unregulated, Free Trade (not Fair Trade), job exporting, trade deficit generating, anti-worker policies; Further deregulation of banks and finance, allowing Wall Street to go wild.
The best way out of this mess, and to restore the shattered American Dream, is to learn from the spirit and substance of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. While faced with the worst economic Depression in history, FDR inspired us to believe that government should be made a positive instrument that helps provide full-fledged opportunity for all Americans to achieve the American Dream (at the very least, entry to the Middle Class).