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Somewhere Between Yesterday and Tomorrow

March 8, 2013

The French aristocracy was not executed during the blood terror simply for the crime of being rich; they were executed for ignoring the plight of the poor. In their defense, yes their defense, let me offer up the observations of a poor man. When you have nothing or very little, you share that environment with all those around you who also have little or nothing. Since that number in this American society is huge and growing, that lifestyle and those opinions, appear to be the opinions to us, of the population as a whole.

Now, take your average golden lunchbox millionaire earning around $ 400,000 annually. He or she gets that paycheck every week and glances at their gross weekly earnings of $ 7,692.30; they look quickly at their deductions and are outraged. But what they don’t ever have to think about is “Oh, my god, how am I going to pay my bills!” With a monthly income of $33,000, what’s a $5,000 a month house payment or a $ 900 per month car payment, or even two of each?

Very quickly, in a matter of a few years, they’ve run out of things to spend money on. You own all the houses and cars you can handle, you’ve got a Rolex or three and you’ve gone everywhere and done everything; well… almost everything. But that damn money keeps piling up by the door, another $33,000 every 30 days, so there’s nothing left to do but to invest.

Let’s suppose for the sake of argument that our golden lunchbox millionaire likes the wild life and spends heavily. Even after deducting any potential tax liability, our millionaire still has around $320,000 to try and live on. So let’s suppose they spend $10,000 per month on a David Crosby size cocaine addiction, or a Bill Bennett sized gambling compulsion. Even after squandering 12 grand a year or even 50, they’re left with only $ 270,000 to live on, with the point being, their lives have nothing to do with ours.

With gated communities, private clubs, private educations, private aviation, limos and personal shoppers, you don’t even sort of bump into these people. After five years they’ve developed an investment portfolio of over a million dollars; after ten years, it’s grown to three million.

This doesn’t automatically mean that these are bad people, but they live in their own world, don’t they; just as we live in ours. They develop their ideas and opinions from among their own; their connection to our world is tenuously threaded at best. We live in alternate realities. Most of us live in the reality of the bitter experience, while the golden lunchbox millionaires live in the prosperity bubble. It is not that they don’t care; it is that they don’t know. Mark Twain said, “A man who carries a cat home by the tail learns something he can learn no other way.”

Now, let’s add our modern news media into the mix. Would you say the modern American news media enlightens this fellow’s perspective or clouds it? When media trumpets say gun control or entitlement reform, our golden lunchbox millionaires might think, “Yes, we need gun control because one of those monsters might hurt me or mine.” The average Joe or Jane might answer, “No, we need a gun, because one of those monsters might break into my house and hurt me or mine.” The average Joe or Jane doesn’t live in a gated community with a heated garage.”

Our golden lunchbox millionaires also want to cut the growth of entitlements, because it will help the outlook for their investment portfolios. What’s a poor man going to think about entitlement reform, other than a direct assault by government on his or her future existence? One side, views it as prudent, good government, while the other sees it existentially.

These lunchbox millionaires don’t see the poverty or understand the struggle just to survive, which millions of Americans face. Instead they see them living on Easy Street on their dime. After 18 holes of golf at the club and a couple of whiskey sours, our lunchbox millionaires vent their anger at the millions of no good, lazy Americans riding on their coat tails.

Profit and responsibility pass each other in the hall each calling the other a stranger. That tech company your broker recommended just sold out and you’ve made a cool $20,000 while 400 people will lose their jobs. You don’t know any of those people; they’ll find other jobs and the economy is improving, isn’t it? If they don’t find other jobs, you’ll never know because who would ever tell you?

“Pfff, facts…You could use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true!” — Homer Simpson

The golden lunchbox millionaires live on 5% of their incomes, while the average American family lives on 100% of their incomes. Over the past thirty years times have never been better for our golden lunchbox millionaires, except for Obama raising taxes to below where they were during the Clinton administration.

The call for personal responsibility rings pretty hollow, but out sourcing is necessary for a vibrant economy, isn’t it? Everyone’s doing it; those people will just have to find other jobs won’t they; but as an investor that’s not my problem, is it?

It’s our problem, with tens of millions of Americans unemployed and millions more losing their homes each year. Wages flat and falling, as the number of American families doubling up has doubled up in just five years; poverty is hard knocking at our door. The American people are justifiably nervous and outraged.

Over a decade of military madness, running wars with tax cuts, tax cuts have now become the primary instrument of economic policy against malaise. The answer to every economic problem is now solved with tax cuts. The Obama stimulus was 30% tax cuts, $500 billion for 304 million Americans and $286 billion for corporate America; doesn’t sound much like an equitable distribution of funds to me.

Our lunchbox millionaires have lived in their prosperity bubble for so long now, that they expect a present even when it’s not their birthday. It is not the cruelty of Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake!” It’s the mistaken belief that there’s cake to be had in the first place, and if there isn’t, well then, it must be your own fault. A media disconnect which says on the one hand, everything is okay and getting better and if it’s not; well, that’s not really news is it?

“Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. Since 1996, dividends and capital gains have grown faster than wages or any other category of after-tax income.” – CIA World Fact Book

Do you understand? We are two societies in this country: one angry, disenfranchised, struggling, poor; the other, affluent, unaware and clueless to the inherent danger of unrepentant Capitalism.

Our Federal government issues edicts and proclamations, speaking over the heads of the majority of the population. Speaking in code, speaking to Obama’s new middle class, you know, couples earning $5,000 per week. A government by the tax cut and for the tax cut with corporate citizenship for all.

It isn’t really very different from the Bourbon king living in his palace of Versailles. And likewise, the results will be the same. When the populace is cold enough and hungry enough, the population will rise. They will rise up in a fury tempered in a crucible of poverty, in an anger which will be completely misunderstood and completely unstoppable.

Just as they did before, just as they always do…eventually.


David Glenn Cox is a senior staff writer for TLR and an award winning author and musician; he is the author of the novel, “The Servants of Pilate”.


One Response to Somewhere Between Yesterday and Tomorrow

  1. liberalvoice on March 22, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    The concentration of wealth in the U.S. is ugly and inequality is continually rising. The distribution of wealth for the U.S. looks the same as a third world country. If you want government by plutocrats and CEOs, you’ve found a home in Reagan’s America. Reagan declared “it’s morning in America.” And since that morning the majority of Americans have been getting screwed by lobbyists for the rich and corporations.

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