Leave it to longtime journalist Bill Moyers to explain our current dilemma in plain and simple language, which can be further boiled down to “It’s a plutocracy, stupid.”
You can watch his speech of slightly over an hour on YouTube (below), the first of the Howard Zinn Memorial Lecture Series at Boston University in October of 2010.
Or you can read the almost accurate transcript of that speech here.
Or, finally, because I know you’re a busy person, you can just read this short excerpt:
The Gilded Age returned with a vengeance in our time. It slipped in quietly at first, back in the early 1980s, when Ronald Reagan began a “massive decades-long transfer of national wealth to the rich.” As Roger Hodge makes clear, under Bill Clinton the transfer was even more dramatic, as the top 10 percent captured an ever-growing share of national income. The trend continued under George W. Bush – those huge tax cuts for the rich, remember, which are now about to be extended because both parties have been bought off by the wealthy — and by 2007 the wealthiest 10% of Americans were taking in 50% of the national income. Today, a fraction of people at the top today earn more than the bottom 120 million Americans.
You will hear it said, “Come on, this is the way the world works.” No, it’s the way the world is made to work. This vast inequality is not the result of Adam Smith’s invisible hand; it did not just happen; it was no accident. As Hodge drives home, it is the result of a long series of policy decisions “about industry and trade, taxation and military spending, by flesh-and-blood humans sitting in concrete-and-steel buildings.” And those policy decisions were paid for by the less than one percent who participate in our capitalist democracy political contributions. Over the past 30 years, with the complicity of Republicans and Democrats alike, the plutocrats, or plutonomists (choose your own poison) have used their vastly increased wealth to assure that government does their bidding.