Wednesday, February 23, 2011

American Federation of Scapegoats

Mike Thompson's commentary:
The gap between the richest 1% of Americans and the rest of us is wider today than at any time since just before the start of the Great Depression. Writing for, Eva Pereira noted recently that since 1983, 43% of all financial wealth created in America went to the top 1%, 94% went to the top 20% while the remaining 80% of Americans were left to divvy up just 6% of the wealth created since the early 1980s. As a result, the Website pointed out, income inequality in America is even greater than in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, nations that revolted in part because of income inequality.

But not to fear, Republicans have responded by targeting the wild excesses of…public employee unions. Having sucked the wealth out of workers in the private sector, Republicans are now targeting workers in the public sector for wanting decent pay, health care coverage and a retirement spent above the poverty line. To this end, Republicans have been busy sowing intra-class warfare by stirring up resentment among the middle class against public employee unions. Apparently, Republicans are hoping that you can always hire one-half of the working class to kill the benefits of the other half, to tweak a quote by railroad baron Jay Gould. Pay no attention to that man in the gated community who shipped your job overseas, destroyed the value of your home, drained the wealth out of the country and tanked the economy, go after your neighbor for having health care coverage.

The war on public sector unions began in Wisconsin and has since spread to Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. As Ezra Klein pointed out in the Washington Post last week, states aren’t in dire financial straits because of public employee unions, states are reeling because of a recession brought on by the excesses of Wall St. But as MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell quipped last night, “Republicans aren’t about to let a crisis go to waste.”

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