Just reading the papers and keeping up with social media is clear indication that many of the so-called 99 percent — in the U.S. anyway — have lost their minds. A cornerback in a football game spouting bravado is nationwide news.
Really! It caused a lot of silly White folks to go to their racist playbook. You would think those folks would be tired of that racist crap. It sure doesn’t put food on the table.
Like Martin Luther King said once, when a White southerner’s stomach wrinkled from hunger is growling he was fed Jim Crow, but it didn’t fill him up. But a football player acting, well, like you might expect a football player to act, warrants all this attention. Imagine being mad at a player for getting all excited when the owners of most NFL teams have ripped off the public for their stadiums. I can’t remember the last time a professional sports stadium was built without public money.
In fact most of the stadiums have been built with a majority of public money. And the truth be told, very seldom does a sports stadium benefit us working stiffs. Most of us can barely afford tickets outside of the end-zone seats. It may benefit the denizens of the local power structure and enrich them but it only takes money out of our pocket.
And worse yet there are a lot of things to get excited about. The government is spying on folks and the president said they are going to stay the course. The government reduced the food stamp benefit even though it has been reported that the need is greater than at any time since the depression.
The government is still holding people at Guantanamo Bay, many of whom it has already been determined have done no wrong. Our prisons are overflowing with citizens, many that are serving long sentences for nonviolent and drug crimes. People are still losing their homes and many others are underwater.
But we — like Pavlov’s dog — have been trained well we respond to what they have programmed us to respond to. And when we talk about poverty in the U.S. people have the nerve to try to attach all kinds of reasons for poverty and low wages except for the truth.
David Brooks wrote an editorial in which he tried to say that increased wealth and hoarding wealth have no effect on the poverty of millions of America. Instead he tried to pull out that tired tale about family values — or the lack of — causing poverty. He pulled out the old tired idea that a high number of unmarried women is the cause of poverty.
He mentioned lack of education as well, but ironically poor education is often the result of having less money, especially in the attempt to attain a college education. He pulled out a few other excuses, which ought to land him in the worst place in hell.
His bottom line is not to focus on the real problem: a class-divided nation, in which the richest one percent hoard all the wealth. According to Brooks, “some on the left have always tried to introduce a more class-conscious style of politics. These efforts never pan out. America have always done better — liberals have always done better — when we are all focused on opportunity and mobility, not inequality: on individual and family aspiration, not class-consciousness.”
The truth is that the rich have hoarded most of the world’s resources. They got their money from our labor and using “their” government to extort and exploit us while making us think that this is our government.
A recent report by Oxfam America, exposed that while there was some economic growth since 2008, the one percent — the really rich folks — got 95 percent of it and the remaining 95 percent got only five percent of it. One report said that the U.S. doesn’t even look like a first-world country anymore because the disparity between rich and poor is so wide.
These are terrifying times, actually downright scary times. The political economic social system known as capitalism, or the current system, that works to separate the poor and working class from its wealth is holding sway.
That’s nothing new; they have held sway for a few hundred years. And of course class society has held sway for thousands of years, ever since the first hoarder figured out how to create and hang on to the surplus of a society.
It has been brutal, and of course our current system has had some even uglier manifestations, particularly colonialism. But neo-colonialism has caught up with its not so distant cousin. Check out the conflicts in Africa. Practically every one has its roots in European colonialism.
In fact, if you look just beneath the surface you will see the former colonial masters not so invisible hand at work. But much of the period of class hegemony and oppression has also been characterized by resistance.
As we celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday I was reminded that he was part of a struggle. While he called out the triplets of evil — militarism, racism and rampant materialism — he fought against it with all his might. He didn’t just blog about it or have a meeting about or join a blue-ribbon panel to research the problem. He fought back against it.
Mel Reeves welcomes reader response to firstname.lastname@example.org.