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Our ‘class warfare’ starts at the top

The phrase du jour for many political pundits is “class warfare.”

The claim is made when certain facts about the current American economy are raised, when media attention is turned to the Occupy Wall Street movement.

According to these shills, if facts about growing income inequality in the U.S. are noted (including between aging and younger Americans) and attention paid to the slim minority of top income earners who have increased their take and share of the national wealth in dramatic fashion, while the vast majority of wage earners struggle to get by, we hear this is “class warfare.”

When suggestions are made that the super rich might pay a small fraction of that inflated income in the form of additional tax, we hear “class warfare.” We are told that such suggestions are an attack on a minority. More than that, it is an attack on “job creators.”

The terms are used to defend what is becoming an increasingly obvious myth — that anyone, with hard work, skill and desire can become a member of the privileged minority. Mathematically, of course, this is impossible. And recent studies indicate social mobility has slowed in the U.S., that it is more difficult to crack through economic “class” barriers.

What we now have is, indeed, class warfare, but it begins with inequity. The fact that people awaken to disparity and join the battle should surprise no one. The fact it would be the young —so-called “millenials” — who provide the impetus for the backlash should not be surprising. Unemployment has hit this age group harder than others. Economic prospects for a great many Americans 18-35 are uncertain, if not bleak. And many are well educated enough to recognize unacceptable inequality. This should concern those mostly older Americans who swallow the rhetoric that supports and justifies the gross disparity in wealth among Americans. Younger citizens who wish to change the situation are being joined by increasing numbers of American working people of other ages. These are the very people who will, in no short time, make critical political decisions, including those concerning entitlements for the aged. They are the workers who must have decent jobs and entry to a middle class in order to have the latitude to prop up a social system expected to ingest a record dose of clients in the next 10-15 years.

For this group to question a system that allows for grossly disproportionate income growth for a minority is justified. For this group to put pressure on the “job creators” and their political and media supporters is not out of line.

The “job creators” have not done their jobs. The argument has been that, to raise taxes on the super wealthy — by even a marginal amount — or to close loopholes for corporations making record profits will cause them to withdraw, to cease in their roles as “job creators.” Yet, with tax rates currently among the lowest in a half century, and actual tax payments by some corporations being minimal, where are the jobs? The “job creators” have nearly quadrupled their profits while the middle class shrinks and the average American struggles to stay on an even keel. Where are the jobs?

The truth is that the real “job creators” are middle class businessmen and women.

You know — the other “class.”

It is only a matter of time before this group wakes up and joins the battle. How long will it be before inept politicians of all stripes, and the supposed economic leaders of the nation, understand the nature of our “class warfare” and take cooperative and positive action to head off what could be a terribly destructive fray?

Karl Isberg

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