The GOP war on workers has killed again...
It’s time to stop the conservative's war on working people in America.
Since the birth of our nation, conservatives have always been wary of average working-class Americans having too much political or economic power. John Adams, the second President of the United States and a Federalist (precursor to today’s Republicans), was very wary of the working class, which he referred to as “the rabble.”
Adams believed that if a country or society wanted to be stable, then it must have a governing elite that must be separate in both power and privilege from “the rabble.” Many Federalists of the era didn’t even want working class non-landowners to be able to vote.
In the era from the 1940’s through the 70’s, “the rabble” gained a lot of power in America, both economically and politically. They formed unions and led protests, and made life absolutely miserable for Conservatives.
This strong working class and its support for Democrats like FDR led to Ronald Reagan leading the charge in the 1980’s to take the working class down a notch. Now, that 34-year-old conservative campaign to destroy the American working class, and strip it of its wealth and power is bearing fruit – and claiming lives.
Last week, police in Elizabeth, New Jersey found 32-year-old Maria Fernandes dead in her car, which was parked in a convenience-store parking lot. Friends of Fernandes told police that she worked as many as four jobs, and often tried to catch some sleep between jobs, by pulling over in parking lots.
According to investigators, Fernandes’ death may have been caused by inhalation of gasoline fumes, from a gas can that had spilled in the back seat of her car. Fernandes’ friends said that she kept a gas can in her car because she had, in the past, run out of gas while driving between jobs.
Fernandes’ tragic and untimely death is a stark reminder of the challenges and struggles that low-wage working-class Americans face every day. But working-class Americans like Maria Fernandes wouldn’t have to face those struggles, and wouldn't have to live off of such low wages, if it weren’t for the 34-year conservative war on working people.
A new study from the Economic Policy Institute has found that, “if inequality had not risen between 1979 and 2007, middle-class incomes would have been nearly $18,000 higher in 2007.” But, thanks to Reagan and the war on the working class, all of America’s income growth over the past 34 years has gone to the wealthy elite, while everyone else has been left to struggle.
As the EPI study points out, average household incomes grew by 53.4% between 1979 and 2007 BUT those gains were far from equal. For example, the bottom fifth of American households saw incomes rise by just over 29% between 1979 and 2007, while incomes for the top 1 percent of households rose by a staggering 244.7%.
Similarly, as Anna Bernasek points out over at The New York Times, back in 2003 the inflation-adjusted net worth for the average American household was just under $88,000. By 2013, that wealth had fallen to just over $56,000.
For the past 34 years, America’s wealth has been siphoned away from the working class, and pumped up to those at the very top. As a result, we’re seeing more and more people like Maria Fernandes, who have to work multiple jobs just to survive.
It’s time for this insanity to stop. America is the richest country on the planet, and there’s absolutely no reason that working people should be living in poverty. The working class has been and always will be the backbone of the American economy, and conservatives in Washington need to accept that fact.
It’s time to end the 34-year-old war on working people in America, and give all Americans an equal shot at success.