Mike Thompson's commentary:
Based on recent news stories, America has morphed into a Charles Dickens novel. The unemployed asking for more gruel are being soundly rebuffed by Mr. Bumble, a.k.a. Congressional Republicans, who are blocking an extension of unemployment benefits and doing the bidding of the wealthy workhouse board of directors feasting in splendor upstairs.
Meanwhile, the richest 2% of Americans, doing their best Ebenezer Scrooge impersonations, are fighting to keep their massive Bush-era tax cuts and ruminating about prisons and workhouses for everyone else. Many of those still fortunate enough to have jobs are every bit as cowed as Scrooge’s overworked and stressed-out employee Bob Cratchit and are told to feel fortunate just to have a candle with which to warm their hands. Those who’ve lost their jobs are forced to rely on the assistance of relatives ala Nicholas Nickleby.
Even the titles of some of Dickens’ works could describe conditions in contemporary America: “Hard Times” and “Bleak House.” Since 1980, as Timothy Noah pointed out recently on Slate.com, worker productivity has increased by 20% percent, yet 80% of all the increase in income went to the richest 1% of Americans. This didn’t just happen; it happened as a result of tax and trade policies that concentrated wealth in the hands of the few, while millions saw their jobs outsourced and homes repossessed in a contemporary “Tale of Two Cities.”
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”