Published on Countercurrents.org, by Joel S. Hirschhorn, 07 August, 2008.
Once upon a time when governments no longer served most of their citizens it was the most economically disadvantaged that could be counted on to rebel against tyranny and injustice. Times have changed, for the worse, despite the spread of democracy.
Here we are with a two-party plutocracy that preferentially serves corporate and wealthy interests and lets the middle class suffer and sink. Plausibly, the middle class is unready to revolt because it still maintains a relatively good standard of living despite rising economic insecurity. But what about the lowest 40 percent of Americans that are the working poor?
A recent survey of this group by the Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University conducted this past June looked at the beliefs of adults aged 18 to 64 working 30 or more hours a week, not self-employed and who earned no more than $27,000 in 2007. The results show a fascinating dichotomy. Though there is widespread pain and discontent there is also a stubborn faith in the American dream despite little help from government.
Ninety percent of this group sees the current economy negatively, either not so good or poor, with 52 percent feeling financially insecure and 50 percent feeling less secure than a few years ago. The fractions saying they have difficulty affording basic things are severe, including: 88 percent that cannot save money for college or other education for their children, 82 percent paying for gasoline or other transportation costs, 81 percent saving money for retirement, 65 percent paying for health care and health insurance, 65 percent handling child care, close to 60 percent paying credit card bills, monthly utility bills and rent or mortgage costs, and 47 percent buying food. Three quarters say it has gotten harder to find good jobs and nearly that fraction for finding affordable health care, and 68 percent finding decent, affordable housing.
In the past year this group has had to take many actions to make ends meet, including 70 percent that cut electricity use and home heating; 62 percent that took an extra job or worked extra hours, 51 percent that postponed medical or dental care and 50 percent that took money out of savings or retirement funds.
All this sounds pretty bleak. But are these people mad and pessimistic? Not exactly …
… Forget all that nonsense about the proletariat. Most Americans use their faith in God or religion or conventional politicians to cope, even in some of the most insecure economic times in American history. They remain overly confident in voting as the path to change. The ruling class has successfully used propaganda to dumb down and manipulate most of the public because delusion has become the opiate of the masses.
In God and Barack Obama We Trust could be placed on all our currency if the views of millions of Americans are taken seriously. Don’t you feel better? (full text).