Thoughts on the upcoming election and the impending death of the middle class

With the election year already in full stride, here are several things I absolutely know to be true (and a couple of things about which I am quite certain):

• If Barack Obama wants to get re-elected, he is going to have to drop his Cool Breeze persona and go on the attack. The soul of America is at stake.

• As we've been reminded throughout our lives, great civilizations crumble from within. The minute that the American middle class blinks out of existence is the moment when America ceases to exist. Karl Marx believed that for communism to take hold, the middle class had to be obliterated beyond recognition. How much would he be smiling if he learned that the eventual means toward that end would be runaway capitalism?

• What I find sad and embarrassing is the large number of people who, barring that one-in-a-billion lottery payoff, will never rise above their current modest economic status, and yet are willing to suspend their own disbelief by falsely equating what is being perpetrated by the banks and the corporations as just a 21st-century manifestation of the American Dream, which it most certainly is not.

• The American Dream used to involve a good idea, lots of hard work, a ton of discipline so as to resist the urge to cut corners, and even a little luck. The way that far too many people are getting rich these days is through an unholy combination of loopholes, dodges, shady deals and cover fire provided by butt-licking politicians.

• I don't begrudge Bill Gates his money, or Sergey Brin his, or Serena Williams hers. They've earned it. I don't even mind that the six Walton (Walmart) heirs have as much money as the bottom 30 percent of all Americans combined. At least old-man Sam Walton had a good idea, worked hard and exercised discipline.

• I begrudge every rotten penny taken in by derivative-usin', money-shufflin', golden-parachute-havin' crumbs who do nothing but enrich themselves at the expense of others and the overall American economy. They are like voracious worms eating away at the core of an apple, ceaselessly engorging themselves, knowing full well that their actions will eventually cause the shell to collapse on itself.

• In theory, the rising tide of capitalism lifts all boats. But this is, at best, a bastardized form of capitalism, one that acts like an inversion layer, pushing down from above.

• For people in the middle class to praise and defend those whose actions would hasten the demise of said middle class is an abomination. I have a couple of friends who, like me, are on the down slope of life. These two are creepily effusive in their praise of a broken system that will almost certainly prevent them and their progeny from ever making that time-honored leap from the middle class to the upper class. Their defense of those who, by hook or (mostly) crook, have found themselves on the plush side of the Ever-Greater Divide and have used their ill-gotten positions and connections to see to it that no one else joins them in the land of über-wealth saddens me. It's one step away from old Rastus saying, "Oh, Massa, he's all right. He hardly don't beat me any more, and he lets me sleep in the barn on a rainy night."

• A recent report in The New York Times showed that, among advanced countries, America is distinguished as being the place where people born into the lower socioeconomic strata are least likely to advance to the upper or even middle class. Most Americans believe the opposite to be true (and the opposite should be true!), but it isn't.

• Just as there are people these days who are famous simply for being famous, there are people who are rich simply for being rich. They don't make anything or serve anybody. They just have lots of money. And unlike people in the past, they're not using their money to make more money; they're using it to take more money.

• We have to stop equating success with the acquisition of huge amounts of money. Some rich people are successful; many successful people aren't rich.

• The old Republican mantra used to be: I got mine; now you get yours any way you can. It's now: I got mine, but I don't want you to get yours, because it might make mine look smaller by comparison.

• It's hilarious that the congressional whores who shill for the money-grabbers call for less government regulation. It's like bank-robbers saying that it would make their lives easier if vaults didn't have locks.

• This is the scariest statistic I've come across in the past year: According to an article by Tim Dickinson in Rolling Stone, the wages for the bottom 90 percent of all American taxpayers have gone up $1.50 an hour over the past 15 years. For the top 0.01 percent over that same period, they have gone up $10,000 an hour.

• The real reason that Republicans keep complaining about "class warfare" is that they've already started it on behalf of their corporate and financial masters. If they can get away with it and blame it on somebody else, that's a 2-for-1 deal.

• There's absolutely nothing worse than being cheap and greedy. I want to hit those for whom more than enough is never enough.

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