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Huffington: Middle Class in Peril

Arianna Huffington warns the middle class is being abandoned and America is in danger of becoming a third world country. Also, read her remarks on Pres. Obama.

Credit: WBUR's Jesse Costa

All countries have rich and poor. What Third World countries don’t have is a strong middle class. Neither, right now, does the United States, says progressive dynamo Arianna Huffington.

Huffington started conservative, swung the other way, and now she says it’s time for all bells ringing out danger on the health of this country.

The American middle class is under assault, she says. Assault so severe in economic times so perilous that the mighty United States risks going Third World.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guest:

Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, which last month had more than 24 million unique visitors. She’s author of the new book “Third World America: How Our Politicians Are Abadoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream.” You can read her HuffPo column about the book.

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  • Joshua Hendrickson

    I suppose kudos are in order to Huffington for having made the journey from right-wing activist to left-wing activist, and I appreciate the good work done at the Huffington Post. But I always wonder about people who make a political sea change at some point in their lives. Yes, people change … but why? I always find it a little suspicious, regardless of which direction the person switches to. I sometimes get the impression that Huffington just found the Left more fun. At least I assume she’s having fun playing the vocal role of Arianna the Bear on the Cleveland Show.

  • informed American

    Huffington bears some responsibility for the plight of the middle class since she was and still is a big supporter of N.A.F.T.A. and “free trade”, both of which have sent hundreds of thousands of well paying American manufacturing jobs abroad.

  • Yar

    I look froward to reading your book, thank you for your ongoing work.
    We need an Election Carol written in the vain of Charles Dickens, maybe you and Justice Breyer can team up to produce it.
    Money in politics is taking the numbers from polling and applying math to calculate a divide and win system that subverts the needs of our people.
    I desire to hear from the ghosts of Justice Marshall and Robert Kennedy.
    My question for Arianna is:
    Do you think the media is complicit in the current political system due to the tremendous advertising revenue brought in by a “good race”?

    I have yet to hear any media outlet advocate or educate on how to use the write-in ballot to choose a different approach to the money as power.

    When a fringe pastor can make world news with 50 members, why is it so hard for a grass roots citizen candidate to get any coverage, or encouragement to run?

    I desire to see a slate of citizen representatives that will pledge not to take any campaign contributions or PAC money while in office.
    With social media, I think it can be a new day in our political history, we need a little push on how to follow the election process of getting an average citizen elected.
    I hope the Huffington Post will take on this challenge.

    Tom, thank you for your show,
    This is an outlet where the possibility of hope for our society still exists.
    I fear a future where we don’t feel we can change course.
    I value the fourth estate.

  • cory

    Joshua,

    Dennis Miller is another example. Following the money perhaps?

    I sure hope someone takes a moment to define middle class. My wife and I make $11 and $12 per hour and have two small kids. We don’t even qualify for a discounted rate at the local YMCA. We must be middle class or something.

    All you need to do to find what happened to the American middle class is look to the past. Twenty years ago you could make $20 per hour working in a can factory. 20 years ago this wage put you solidly in the middle class. That same job today might pay $9 per hour.

    The American Dream is a dead idea for 80% of us already. We are already well down the road of decline. In a globalized world, their is NO way back to the post WWII boom days. We had an artificially high standard of living for about 40 years, AND IT IS OVER (and has been since Reagan, except for maxing out the national credit card).

  • Chris

    I think it is unfortunate that people do not remember the changes that took place during the beginning of the 20th century regarding workers rights, labor laws, and the rise of unions. Unions get such a bad rap now, but were the driving force behind forcing coporate interests to accept better wages, hours, & working conditions for workers and drove the increase in a stable middle-class America. We seem to be regressing in this respect with Corporate interest regaining their power over the American worker to the middle-classes detriment.

  • Stephen Real

    I remember when Arianna Huffington
    hated Bill Clinton and loved George Bush.

    She truly was a conservative stormtrooper
    and leading member of the shock-troops
    back in the old days of 1990′s,
    so I too wonder about the state
    of her psychological stability.

    She has the uncanny ability to play the populous role, a real political P.T. Barnum,
    where there’s a political “sucker born every minute”.

    And brother?
    Who wants to play the role of a “sucker”?

  • mary elizabeth

    Throughout the two years of Obama presidency, I have found AH to be a demoralizing force-glass is always half empty in her opinion, despite some meaningful work done. She has strenghtened the GOP by presenting Obama as underperforming.
    What qualifies this woman to proclaim that SHE has the answers. Let her throw her hat in the ring and experience the real work of governing in a democracy.
    Sad to see her on NPR.

  • Yar

    @Chris.
    Labor Unions have a bad rap, the Chamber of Commerce is a union of business interests. People don’t even think of it as an union. I live in an area that used to call Sunday night worship “training union”
    Bashing unions is another divide in conquer method used by narrow interests.
    The word union needs to be examined at so it looses its divisive power. Isn’t interesting that a word to bring together is used to divide?

  • Dale

    I read the book over the weekend. I was depressed about the state of our country before I read it; now I’m more depressed. Its a good overview of many of the things that are wrong and how we got here. I was looking forward to the “optimistic” chapter at the end. The first entry on the list of things to do on the National Level is to fix congress. She specifically calls out campaign finance reform. I assume she would also advocate for serious lobbying reform and elimination of earmarks.

    All the other things that involve government on the to do list make sense but they depend on fixing congress so its useless to talk about them until #1 is done.

    So, precisely how do we go about forcing the changes to to fix congress… while we continue to spiral further down? I fear it will take anarchy in the streets and a revolution.

  • jeffe

    Despite what people think of her, she’s right.
    The middle class is becoming the poor and the poor are becoming destitute. One thing that is for the federal guidelines that define poverty in this country are very skewed. For a family of 4 it’s $21,203 per year. Rent and utilities alone anywhere in this country will be about $10,000 to $12,000 per year then there food, and clothing.
    I have not even breached the idea of a car as I can’t see how anyone can afford one. In this state you could not afford to live on $21,203.

    The medium income in this country is $36,000 to $58,000
    With most making something in between.

    In most of the New England area and a family of 4 would be really struggling on 40K a year yet alone 21 or 22K.

    It seems to me that the way we use the numbers in this country to define middle class and poor are skewed towards unrealistic figures in relation to how much it cost to live.

  • jeffe

    Personally I’m beginning to think I wish I owned out right a home with enough acres to support me and a few others.
    It takes an acre of land to feed a person. This sounds kind of nuts on some level but it seems to me we are really heading down towards anarchy and collapse.
    I hope not, but I don’t see how we as a nation can stop this downward spiral. Right now it’s moving pretty slowly, but if unemployment keeps rising and more people are made homeless things will start to fall apart.

    The special interest, such as Wall street, the Banks and most of the large corporations are not interested in the nation as place that offers what was called the “American dream”. That is a quality of life that is decent and sustainable. This is what is eroding and as far as I can see these entities do not seem to be concerned about 40% or even 60% of the populace falling into poverty. Of course one could say this can’t happen, but it already did in the Great Depression and that effected only about 30% of the population. (30% unemployed and underemployed)

    If it falls to 60% that is the historical tipping point of mass revolts.

  • BHA

    Campaign finance reform: If you can’t vote for someone, you can’t give money to them or their campaign.

    Unfortunately the courts have decided that giving money to a candidate is “free speech”. So, yes, you can buy an election or get a state level proposition passed or killed by people and organizations from outside the state (think Prop 8 in Cal.).

    And the Supreme Court has now decided that businesses are voters and can shovel a ton of money to a candidate.

  • BHA

    You’ve got it right jeffe. The Great Depression hit a lot of people hard, but those who could grow their own food didn’t go hungry. When gas gets so expensive you can’t afford to buy it for the car or prices at the grocery store rise to a level people can’t pay, seeds are still cheap. Pigs and chickens are easy to raise. Owning a few acres might be the ONLY way the “non-rich” will make it in a couple of decades.

    You hear the term “subsistence farming” and a lot of people think “poor” and maybe look down on that family. But there is nothing wrong with being able to provide for your family even if (and maybe ESPECIALLY if) you don’t have the latest big screen TV, etc.

  • Christina Ruth

    Jeffe,
    I agree and I worry for my kids because they will spend most of their lives struggling to live in a nation in its death throes. A huge part of the problem with the current state of politics is its dividing nature “us vs them” mentality that is directed at other Americans. We are being forced apart from within and it is apparent the architecs of this do not care what happens to the majority of American citizens. “United we stand, divide we fall” and “A house divided against itself cannot stand” is becoming increasingly prophetic. You think we would have learned from the past, but since we have dumbed down our educational system to the lowest common denominator and made “larning” a object of scorn, most folks are oblivious to our past mistakes. So sad!

  • http://www.venturacommenter.org F. William Bracy

    It sounds very strange to say, but several are saying it. “The United States was once a third-world nation, and could very well once again become one.” If I said it, (which I did) it wouldn’t get the attention that it would if Arianna were to say it, whom I respect very much. I refer participants to an article that compares Uncle Sam’s current situation to the so-called “Chilean Miracle” from the 50′s-on where the CIA and neoliberals like Milton Friedman propped up the Pinochet regime — with such “miraculous” results. Only the rich “recovered,” you see, which is exactly what Friedman had in mind to begin with. Arianna, we are of one mind on this.

    Read “Rope-A-Dope Neocapitalist Plutocrats” at http://www.venturacommenter.org/ventura-county-local-politics-2010/float-like-a-butterfly.php

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    Cory,

    since when has Dennis Miller changed his political stripes? Last I heard he was still a right winger. Of course, the last I heard was back in ’04 when he was shilling for Bush and helping to swiftboat Kerry. So there could be plenty I don’t know.

  • BHA

    Tom, please address this baloney that the $250K+ crowd will not create jobs if they have to pay a few thousand extra in taxes. And remember it is a couple of percent more on the amount OVER $250K.

    - How many jobs do the massively overpaid CEOs and executives, etc create?
    - How many do the massively overpaid professional athletes create?

    ABSOLUTELY ZERO. They get paid an astronomical amount of money, but they DO NOT create jobs. The people who make the most money are NOT small businesses.

    How much do the rich cut their taxable income with deductions and other tax avoidance planning that are not even available to the middle and lower classes?

    A lot

  • Ellen Dibble

    There was a bill in the Senate to “fix” campaign finance a couple months ago. Scott Brown voted against it (he being one of those key Republican votes that might save the day), on the grounds unions were not included in the groups that had to report donations. I couldn’t understand why Senator Brown didn’t use his wedge power to get the unions INCLUDED in those that must report.
    The scant news on the subject was more than discouraging. It was a huge loss.

  • Sasha Drugikh

    All teabaggers:
    Please don’t distract yourself by praising capitalism. It works well, combined 60/40 with socialism, but we ALWAYS must be on the alert for crony capitalism, aka the rule of oligarchs (in the oil and defense industries). This is what happened in Russia, and the teabaggers who fancy themselves patriots will be of no use here if our oligarchs keep it up.

  • Ellen Dibble

    As to tax deductions, I believe the middle class (not me) start to look at deductions with the mortgage interest deduction, which opens the window for other deductions (medical, givings to church, charities). And if people are not living in homes, they are losing that deduction opportunity. Standard deduction only. Straitjackets for more and more of us.

  • Webb Nichols

    The description of the Middle Class is ridiculous. Anybody earning less than 250,000 dollars?

    There are many people in professions Lawyers, Doctors, Architects, Business Persons who earn less than 250,000 dollars a year.

    A Principal in an Architectural Firm who has worked for 30 years is lucky to earn 200,000 dollars a year and more likely 150,000.00 and even less.

    Webb

  • Ellen Dibble

    I think the average income (individual, not household) is $42,000. It may be median (as many below as there are above). If you look at the tax situation, the way benefits dwindle, that EXACT CENTER is where you have the MOST financial burden.
    If you are John Doe, you are carrying this country.

  • Nancy

    Arriana is repeating the message of Obama. (redistribution of wealth and restoring the middle class to good health)
    However, instead of aligning her position and promoting Obama’s agenda she too speaks negatively on all levels. Using scare tactics and fear as the base of her argument.
    Maybe this sells books BUT…

  • Chris

    Median Household income for 2008 in US: $52,029

  • sequester30

    This discussion should have been begun in the 1970s. It’s too late now for the middle class. The oligarchs have won and people still don’t seem to realize it.

  • T. Voyd

    It has been said, “you get what you pay for”. I believe you also “get what you vote for”. Freedom is having a choice, a two way street rather than a one way street. Simply a choice in the direction you wish to go.

    This will seem radical, but consider anyway, just don’t vote. Send a message to our government and just don’t vote anybody in office. Putting someone in office only to complain about what they are doing won’t work. There are many ways to use your voice.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Can we change things without sounding socialist?
    Well, for one thing let the unemployed who are trying to start up businesses use the same interest for borrowing money that the banks use when they are trying to short-sell or otherwise get rich by smart gambling — Zero percent?
    Borrowing at 30 percent, whether for education or for getting started with a farm or whatever, is punitive. There are people who would say Great Idea, and they would have FREE money for a year to get that started. Banks would see they have Resources (a yacht?)

  • Nancy

    When is Liberal Media going to understand they need to put their petty opinions/differences aside and SUPPORT the President 100%!

  • Carolann Najarian

    We agree. In order to know who far back we’ve fallen one needs to travel out of this country. Compare infrastructure, education, and the condition of the middle class — Americans should be appalled. We’re not only 3rd world — try #11!

  • jeffe

    I think Tom is forgetting his history.
    In the 19th century poverty was rampant and the disparity of wealth was out of control.

    As a nation we were here before and not to long ago.
    It was also like this after WW1.

  • Fred

    Arianna, you’re my hero….as I feel and expousing the same line….for many years. There is a diminishing middle class as we’ve basically gotten rid of middle class jobs. I’m going to have to buy your book….BRAVO….

  • Dave Brown

    A key factor has been our courts granting the rights of individuals to corporations, creating entities with vastly more power than individuals or even government.

    These immortal corporations have the freedom to accumulate vast wealth, promoting policies that weaken the majority of their employees while bestowing ridiculous largesse on a favored few.

    Weaken the mega-corporations and the middle class might have a chance.

  • Ellen Dibble

    One more point about lending to start-ups. Early in the 2000s you could deduct interest on loans on Schedule C, the personal business part of the 1040. This was a good thing, with this caveat: Banks had separate “business” credit cards, which had interest rates that were three times as high as non-business cards. I guess the idea was that it’s tax-deductible; let them eat cake.
    So any loans my business had from then on (mid 2000s) were on the non-business cards from then on, and non-deductible. I was clearly informed that ONLY specified “business” credit cards were deductible on Schedule C. That’s what the difference between the two kinds was: one is deductible (and high interest), and the other is not deductible (and low interest).

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    Growing up in the 70s, I always supposed my family was in the middle class, because we weren’t poor, never went hungry, was first on the block to buy a VCR, etc. I knew we weren’t rich, and both of my parents worked, but it was obvious we weren’t poor.

    As an adult from the 90s onward, I have never made more than $10-11,000 a year, have sometimes had to rely on charity food boxes, have never bought a new car (and never owned a used car either during my twenties), etc. I know my family and I are poor. It’s never really bothered me in the sense of depressing me or stressing me out, but I chalk that up to temperament. I have always counted my life happy, for even when I didn’t have a TV or internet, I always had books and a typewriter, and that was enough.

    What scares me is the actual middle class (of which I am assuredly not a financial member) being destroyed by debt and the lack of a proper safety net. If the Tea Party is composed mainly of conservative white middle class boomers who still have a generally higher income than most, and they are freaking out, what will happen to this country when the younger, less fortunate folks of the m.c. really lose their shirts? I am not optimistic about them joining the progressive cause en masse, largely because my generation has been mostly used to a Republican economic model and aren’t inclined to think about an American economy in genuinely socialist terms. My generation is not as culturally conservative as those Tea Party boomers, but it is the economics of the situation that matter.

    My best friend and I were talking yesterday, and he had an interesting observation about the Tea Partiers. He sees them as the conservatives of the Baby Boomers, the ones who kept their crewcuts in the hippie years and dissed the revolutionary spirit of the era. Over time they worked, gained wealth, and pretty much ruled the world through sheer numbers and influence. Now they see their influence waning, a black man for president, etc. But what my friend figures is that they are yearning to embrace revolution like they were too conformist to do when they were young. Of course, now they are old and reactionary, so their idea of a revolt is a reactionary one, which they are embracing with all the horrid spirit of a child’s tantrum. It’s the second childhood of the anti-hippies!

    People, often conservative, have long judged the Baby Boomers to be the most selfish generation of all time. Now the Tea Party has a chance to prove them right.

  • Eric M. Jones

    I would like to suggest that the progressives become MUCH less polite. Call Cheney a coward and TRAITOR. Call Limbaugh a drugged-out plutocrat. The Left is so damned polite. The conservatives have their shills rabble-rouse.

    Call a lie and LIE. Time to get tough.

  • Simon

    Totally agree! I have been wondered for long time, why there is no one in Washington who stands for the middle class people.

  • Ramani Rangan

    I feel we have forgotten that we have been on the global market economy for many years. By saying that it is the politicians are abandoning the middle class without mentioning that the American multi-global companies that have created the Chinese wealth by investing in a country that the working force is dictated to, have no real representation and we know they the average chinese can not ask for reasonable wages and conditions. So, my point is that the American capitol system abandoned the people along time ago. Look behind the front, the face and we will find that there are interests that are building the Chinese industial and military complex and these few powerful Americans are not loyal to The Flag or the America people.

  • Dennis Kerr

    Please ask Ms. Huffington if her book includes tax deductions for imports, and deductions for the costs of exporting jobs.

    We are paying the difference for tax deductions that are used to take away the exact same jobs needed to pay for those taxes.

  • http://ebenmarkowski.com eben Markowski

    I hold Fox news very responsible for spreading the disinformation and slander that is creating the tremendous partisan devisions in America and dragging us down. We have a right to free speech in this country but I do not believe that this affords us the right lie ( blatantly ) especially when one calls themselves a fair and balanced news. Where is the accountability. Howard Stern was constantly under fire for saying “poop and pee” on air and fined accordingly. Why can’t we / our Government hold Fox news to the fire. I want them (Fox) fined for the ACORN scam, for using staged footage, for slander to Shirely Sherrod…………….

    Eben

  • Lisa Hiserodt

    I did a little research regarding consumer spending and found the following information interesting becasue it illlustrates the degree to which the poorest are supporting the richest in terms of consumption -

    assuming all households are equally responsible for generating “personal consumption expenditures” for GDP.

    Using information for
    “Person consupmtion expenditures” (as part of gdp)
    and “Total Households” ….

    1970 – $10,228 per household to consumption
    2000 – $63,892 per household to consumption

    using household income from census:

    Percentage of income for consumption:

    20% 50% 95%

    1970 68% 29% 11%
    2000 334% 142% 41%

    equitable distribution for consumption
    (based on % of total avg income/3):

    1970 16% 17% 21%
    2000 87% 87% 87%

    consumer burdent (% difference)

    1970 47% 7% -10%
    2000 246% 55% -46%

    the lowest 20 percent is given the top 5 a surplus….

    seems like feudalism.

  • jim thompson, fort mill,sc

    Tom:

    Arianna is a voice of reason. The middle class has been slipping away. However, it is hard not to suffer from dispair.

    As someone who has been involved with what was once sensible conservative politics, literally “on the bus” with Ronald Reagan in 1976 & 1980 I am wondering how the GOp has become the party of Palin & a “new” Newt Gingrich. What kind of party questions the President’s birth records, his religion, and the patriotism of those who disagree? I watched in horror as the Senate judiciary committee Republicans went after Thurgood Marshall and Rand Paul wonders about the civil rights act.

    We live in strange times, but Arianna is so correct that we need to become activists and stand up against this non-sense.

  • Ellen Dibble

    We need a thinker (Huffington?) to figure out what Americans can do which cannot be under-bid by Chinese workers.

  • john smith

    Tom,

    It wasn’t the demonstrators who caused the firehoses and clubs in the streets. The demonstrators were legally exercising their 1st amendment rights. It was the government, state and federal that responding with firehose and clubs. Thats like saying that the viet namese who were defending their country against the US were responsible for the war.

  • Pankaj Ahire

    Lean times always force a retrospection. This extended recession has certainly forced us to look at the foundations of how our wealth is distributed.

    But what we forget is that the very notion of Capitalism as espoused by Americans, is predisposed to create such an inequity.

    Any solution without significantly examining our basic economic principles would be a patch job at best, and at worse will end up creating even more skewed distribution.

    The need of the hour – in face of realities of globalization – is to re-examine our founding economic principles, and as Arianna states in her closing comments — above all, the need of the hour is to reinvent ourselves.

  • Terry Brewster

    Greetings Arianna and Tom, This lady seems to be the most accurate national commentator. Her exposure of these flag-waving traitors, that put their own power lust far above the needs of the U.S., and the world, are gross hypocrites. Tea Party is a tool of traitors, Koch brothers, to cut regulations they violate. What organizations does she see actually trying to improve?

  • Mark

    Again! All part of the plan! Wipe out the middle class!

  • Yar

    Tom,
    Money is just a number on a page. We have the power in our workers to do anything we want. In reality we have not bailed out Wall Street or paid China for the goods they provided us at below cost. We have only moved numbers on a screen.
    That is not a contract for slavery, it is just a bluff in a poker game.
    The american worker is the power, and we have to take that power under control by putting average citizens who can lead into office.
    We must quit using American Idol to find political leaders.

  • http://www.venturacommenter.org F. William Bracy

    Jamie (or Jimmy) asked, “Why are people not ‘in the streets’”? They are … but on the wrong side of the street, of course. The caller also wondered why people are voting against their own best interests.

    The answer, as I suggested earlier in this discussion, is because of a very specific “conspiracy,” if you will, which I refer to as “Rope-A-Dope” neoliberal politics. This is real.

  • Marie Ugorek

    Truth is truth, no matter who says it.

    As daughter of a pastor, granddaughter of an engineer, great-granddaughter of a lawyer, I should have been firmly middle class.

    As possessor of a bachelor’s degree from a highly selective college and wife of someone with a cum-laude bachelor’s in education and mathematics from the same institution, I should not have to fight to keep taxpayers from paying full price for my home because it is in the mortgage company’s interest to give me wrong numbers and incorrect information rather than re-negotiating to allow us to keep paying them through a work crisis in which we rely on one income from McDonald’s, which is JUST enough to disqualify us for assistance programs based on poverty guidelines that have not been updated since the 1970′s.

  • Conservative libertarian

    We have been sold out by ‘both’ parties, for a long time. Apart from campaign finance reform, we also need open primaries where anyone can vote in a primary. It will force both parties to put up more moderate candidates.

  • Carl

    2 Comments:

    For the last 10 yrs I have been asking older friends who remember the civil unrest in the 60′s what was different then that brought people to the streets (I am 39 yrs old), why are we so complacent? As long as there is basic cable and $9 large pizza’s the masses will be kept happy.

    The caller who brought up illegal immigrants and did not understand why “poor” people support the GOP. The answer was in his comment – we have allowed ourselves to get sucked into the immigration debate which is just victimizing poor people. We allow THEM to focus our frustration on “the enemy” which should be wall street. THEY are great at making us turn our focus on the boggie man. In the mean time the working class keeps giving $6 to large banks to cash their payroll check.

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    Nancy writes:

    “When is Liberal Media going to understand they need to put their petty opinions/differences aside and SUPPORT the President 100%!”

    First, what liberal media? Most of the media is owned by conservative corporations. Actual liberals in the media, where they can be found, are not in the business of sucking up to power, especially when that power is itself sucking up to power. It should not be up to the media to ever support any president 100%; that job is for conservative propagandists calling those who disagreed with Bush unAmerican. Cheerleading is for conservatives; real debate is for liberals.

    Second, opinions and differences are not necessarily petty. They can be, but all too often they have a good deal of substance. Of course, when liberal policies and ideas don’t even get a chance at consideration by this administration (see Health Care debate minus Single Payer and the Public Option), then differences are certainly petty, because they are entirely excluded.

    I voted for Obama, and as disappointed as I am in what he has proven to be, I will certainly vote for him again. He is not FDR, but he is not Grover Norquist either, trying to shrink the government down to a size where it can be drowned in a bathtub. The right screams about a socialist takeover when all Obama is trying to do is restore government to its classic role as defined by Democrats.

    The right is delusional, but the left is disillusioned, and correctly so, for we need an FDR, not another Clinton.

  • Dominique

    I am only 30 y.o. with a family of four. My husband and I both went to college and are from middle class families. It is plain to us, that we are and will be less “better off” than our parents. We have a 75,000/yr income and a mortage but struggle with oil( we live in the north) for heat, food on the table, and even only can afford one family car. We struggle to maintain this life. We hoped to give our children better, but find that we need to cash in retirement funds for a new roof repair. We do not live equal or better than our parents did at this point in their lives.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Huffington’s website should include some info on the make-or-break approach of apartment housing built since about 1960 and the Affordable Housing law. Such housing does not pay regular property taxes. It’s a tax break for the developers. But the tenants are sort of second-class citizens. And the leases require you to pay 25% for rent. Tenants say they are “paying for the landlord’s mortgage,” forgetting that the landlord can sell the asset, is not selling it. Tenants pay for services, taxes, and heat. The result is essentially a 25% tax on earnings; someone in such housing pays a quarter of each $1,000 to the landlord. Up to about $42,000 where you are paying full freight — i.e., each unit is about $10,000 a year. And the city really does not want anybody living in efficiency units and saving up to buy a home outright.
    The same approach is used for health insurance. Under $18,000 you get free health care. Over that, you pay more, essentially more money per each $1,000 you earn. It pays to stay under $42,000, at which point you pay full freight.
    People see you struggling, and say, if you could just earn another $3,000 LESS, we could be your benefactor and you’d see how great Government are.

  • http://www.lowenfoundation.com/ Flowen

    Right On Arianna! More people are beginning to see through the [American] dream.

    Our government is a government of the corporations, for the corporations and by the corporations. Corporations and their government partners view the population as a resource to be exploited, as they do with everything.

    The Tea Party is mis-guided in tearing down the government, as they are only doing the work of the corporations to enable the fantasy “private market” to enhance their “free market:” no laws no regulations make their activities legal only because criminals are making the laws. The “free market” is an abstract myth; the only thing free about our market is what the politicians and their corporate partners take for themselves by laws and edicts.

    The population is so confused, they tear down the possibility of change in fear of changing the Status Quo. We can only await further break-down before something positive appears.

    People get the best government they deserve, and the worst they will tolerate.

  • http://www.gambitgroup.com joan perkins

    One basic question I have been asking for a long time now. As I look at this train wreck with the enormous bowing to shareholders and C-Suite officers and the very wealthy, I ask how HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? – salary, profits, ignorance of our social justice obligations, etc.

    We jhave definitely derailed the country I grew up in and it’s soooo unnecessary!

    Thanks

  • Ellen O’Brien

    I wanted to ask you about what I think is one of the major challenges we have–and that is the way that so many politicians have been able to present themselves as representatives of the middle class, of the American Dram, when in fact their policies are more representaive of this American Fantasy, or the ultra rich.

    I’m thinking of Scott Brown. This idea that he was from a town that celebrates middle class values and oh yes, he drives a truck. And it turns out the and his wife are, by many standards, wealthy, and have otupaced the traditional middle class. But his pitch, his appeal, was that he understood the notion of having ot to do the bills every month and wondering if there would be enough, when in fact, that is not the case at his house.

    Part of the problem here is that being ‘middle-class’ is not something people aspire to anymore. People want to get far away from it as possible. Being middle class means, to some people, lousy public schools, rising real estate taxes and their kids working at the Gap after college. I’m not sure how we are going to make the middle class look more appealing to people.

  • Walter Sallenger

    Neal Stephenson summed it up in “Snow Crash”:
    “…once the Invisible Hand has taken all those historical inequities and smeared them out into a broad global layer of what a Pakistani brickmaker would consider to be prosperity…”

    He also had people living in what used to be storage units. Science fiction?

  • Brandstad

    Lets look at 3rd world governemts and compare them to the direction of ours.

    in the 3rd world,

    1) Government dictatorship or otherwise not representative of the people
    2) Goverment control of the economy is greater than the free world

    - We just passed several bills that that overwelmingly negative pubilc support. The government has taken over several major companies and is trying to control Media, energy, manufactuing with the CAP & TAX bill.

    - The government made it illegal for a private company to give a college student a student loan- thiis is unamarican

    - Judges seem to have control – They now make law, not interpret and invalidate law like they were supposed to do.

  • gary

    What kind of production (aggregate demand) cannot be imported? The global market will seek low cost in any country, thus low wages not in America. What production is restricted to US? Infrastructer projects cannot be imported. Need infrastructure that will improve our competive position in the goblal market.

  • William Maher

    So Arianna, I’m absolutely shocked. The government(read: worthless career hacks) has grown massively over the decades but we’re heading towards becoming a Third World country? Really, how can that be? You mean, the Marxists(I’ll be kind and call them progressives since political correctness is now the lifeblood of academia) running our universities were leading us down the wrong path? Arianna’s answer is to re-arrange the ever-rotting socialist deck chairs. I’m very happy to see the socialist utopia falling apart at the seems as it duly should. My favorite socialist hoax is the Ponzi scheme known as social security. Or how about our wonderful socialist experiment called public schools. Have you ever witnessed the intellectually insulting graduate programs designed for aspiring teachers? How are these people qualified to teach anything? Have you seen the outrageous pensions of public workers and their crippling financial impact on states like New York, California. But the money is going towards the children, right?

  • Jan Roczniak

    I agree with all what is presented, with one remark.
    Situation is more difficult to fix, because only real economy engine left in USA is Wall Street.

  • Dave

    We need to cut the government in half. We have plenty of regulations – way too many really. When you have a few trillion pages of law, and the problems only grows, maybe that is a sign of where the problems are coming from.

    The new deal got us into this mess slowly over time. Unfortunetly, a thing which grows slowly, grows strongly. This is great when you are making things better, but when you are gradually taking on more debt over decades and bringing the country down, it takes even more time to fix. Had we cut the government as we did in 1920, we would already know where we stand. We would have fallen sharply, and moved out as quickly as we fell. What we need to do is have a strategic plan to cut the government out of our lives over the next 50 years. There is a benefit to knowing where you stand, and the free market is more of a science that can be understood and business owners are a little more. Business owners are more confident about decision making within a free market. When the government interferes in the market it makes it even more uncertain, and based in political whims. We need to move away from the government in a large scale way.

    Government exists to prevent government. Government is the use of force over others – as it killing, stealing, trespassing, and so on. Now the government is used to steal money from one group and give it to the other. It is no different bailing out large companies, or irresponsible individuals. The government needs to be brought back to its appropriate size, and we will know when it is there because our president can move around without a lot of security (meaning he has the right amount of power over you.) Ariana does not understand what America is about, she thinks she understands, but does not. America is not about taking things from one person to give to another, it is about maintaining freedom so that people can interact with each other as freely as possible. You are not born with the right to others’ work. I’m fine with having groups get together to help one another, but when you use the government, you are forcing people to do something – that is not the American way. Using the government for these sorts of purposes is why we have so much corruption in the first place.

    The Amish people in my neighborhood here in KY do not have problems with debt, or 35% interest rates on the credit cards, because they are responsible enough to say no.

  • dean brown

    I lived fifteen years in Germany and saw that the standard of living there exceeds our own. The gap is probably widening. The reason is that our socalled leaders enforce policies that benefit a narrow group of people rather than the country as a whole. The core of this problem is the government’s support of the defense industry and the wars it perpetrates. We must shift our resources back to domestic programs rather than wasting them on futile efforts abroad.

  • mary elizabeth

    The caller speaking about the strengthening role of unions is right. Look to Germany, whose embrace of unions and the worker protection they offer, is coming around. No willy nilly layoffs, therefore less outsourcing, quality products desired by the rest 0f the world. Near universal health care. Solid education in the trades, appealing, because such work will ensure a decent living.

  • Brandstad

    gary,

    Infrastructure itself can not make the US more competitive. unless we can build more power plants that can in effect reduce the cost of electricity, but I doubt it. Roads, bridges, internet don’t effect the price of goods.

  • Gloria from Vermont

    To all of you here who are suffering under the current economic policies of this country, if the Tea Party can gather their troops to support Palin, Beck, O’Reilly and Gingrich, why don’t we do the same. Perhaps we thinking folks can encourage them to come over to our side, the side of the diminishing middle class, Jamie who phoned in was correct to say “This is our country too!” Ms. Huffington, a wealthy woman, has the courage to speak out for us, how many times have we had this done for us in the past 40 years? Reading Joshua’s post should make our eyes wet with tears. My son, a college grad from a working class family makes 10 bucks an hour, works 40 to 50 hours per week and also feels that there is no longer a dream to be more than he is right now. The ones he sees from his town are all the children whose families are millionaires, which causes more isolation between the classes. We are in a new Gilded Age led by Conservative Talk Radio, Fox News, wealthy Politicians, Democrat and Republican alike, Wall Street, big business, outsourcing. I see evil when I see what is going on, there is no other explanation. But, I do believe sooner, rather than later, we will rise up and take our shares that have been stolen from us. Remember, they need us more than we need them,after all, we are how they rose to the top of the heap. I encourage all of us here to go to Ms. Huffington’s site and leave our stories and comments, she has offered herself as a vessel.

  • TJ

    During the past administration Arriana stayed silent – she gave every reason why it was so hard to win the wars etc. Never once coming out against them or on the balloning budget (on Left, Right, and Center).

    Now she is making money off of the middle class woes.

    Wake up people! Your friend is your enemy… She hasn’t been on the side of the middle class until now -she can do more damage by being inside the group than opposing it.

    I love NPR!

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    Walter,

    I appreciate the Stephenson quote. He’s one of my favorite authors.

  • http://weku otter

    “The poor”… Why is this designation EVER challenged or even defined? The quickest route to being “poor,” as far as I can see, is to sit at home and not work; if you don’t earn money, you won’t have any and hence will be “poor.” Poor by necessity or poor by choice? The left has a serious blind spot here, not to say they’re in total denial that many — and increasing number — of “the poor” are simply working the system. More and more members or the middle class are catching on that it’s easier, more fun, and more lucrative to NOT work than to work, and the *anger* is coming from those of us working hard just to hand over more and more of our paychecks to support those who — not CAN’T work — but WON’T work… Become “poor,” and your every need is supplied: housing, food, medical care. I see very few NOT talking on cell phones and smoking cigarettes and driving around all day, besides. I can’t tell you how many I personally know who are working “unemployment” and “disability” (often with unprovable “disorders”) for every cent they can get out of it. Have more kids out of wedlock, and that’s more money every month. Who has to be “poor”? There’s free education, free job training; there are jobs out there, or else Mexicans wouldn’t be flooding our borders to take them. Wake up!

  • Paul Trotta

    If we have any hope of changing our dire situation we must do it by public financing of all federal and state elections. Without this reform the corporations will continue to amass more power and control more of government.

    With campaign reform we can look at reining in the currently unfettered powers of corporations, protect the working and middle class and stop the degradation of the environment.

  • Brandstad

    mary elizabeth,

    In order to do so we would have to impose drastic immegration reform making it harder for low skilled workers from comign to the US like Germany does. We would also have to drastically reduce the quality and availability of healthcare and reduce the wages of those in the healthcare industry. if you think I am crazy, think again, one of my friends dad’s is doctor in Germany, general practice, and I have discussed his views of the German Healthcare system greatly.

  • Valkyrie607

    Free education? Where? Nobody told me? Cough it up, Otter. Where is this free education you’re talking about? I was on unemployment benefits and food stamps for 5 months while I was unemployed–all your needs are NOT taken care of; it’s a struggle. Still it’s nice to know that at least you can eat and pay maybe 2/3 of your rent.

    What a failure of empathy Otter represents. Also facts–illegal immigration is down, what, 60% in the last couple years? Ever since the recession hit, many fewer people are coming here and many are also going home. If there are so many damn jobs then why is this the case?

  • Brandstad

    Arriana,

    Charity is something for people and their churches not government.

    Governemnt can not be charitable becasue they must steel money from one to be “chairitable” to another.

  • Ellen Dibble

    There is quite a push to get struggling middle classers to sink to dependence. It’s much easier to register as beaten down. It is clinically diagnosable. I agree. It seems to benefit politicians who know how to get their vote. Would that be the progressive lefties? Not exactly.
    And I think the masses who might be marching are actually working unconscionable hours. Network TV had a piece on this: the faster I run, the behinder I get. They don’t WANT to be part of the safety net. Homeless shelters as widespread as Dickensian London, is that in our future? It allowed England to become Rule Britannia, an empire.
    We have to depend on Huffington. I understand why she wasn’t so loud under Bush. I wasn’t either.

  • http://nmransoms@msn.com E. Ransom

    Your comment about the, “Simpson’s lifestyle, with a nice house, all those kids, and the wife not working. Do you know anyone who can do that?” Yes! Many. We choose to live a less comfortable lifestyle in order to give our children our best energy. We teach our children work, respect, and cooperation with love and patience, (not indulgence) and make them and their training priority one in our lives. We sacrifice many of our own interests for the next generation. This is our priority, we find a way. I’m sorry that you don’t know anyone who chooses to do that, that doesn’t mean we’re not out here.

  • Nancy Rabinowitz

    I said a few years ago that the US was going to be the next third world country and we are, as Arianna says, in danger of just that. A few thoughts:
    Now that “the world is flat” business now threatens, or uses blackmail (as I like to refer to it), to take their jobs elsewhere when they don’t get what they want.

    The entitlement problem in this country is now at the upper end of the income scale: people for whom there will never be enough feel entitled to more at whatever cost to this country, to society.

    The moral breakdown comes from a business mentality that puts profit above everything and can rationalize the most immoral behavior by saying it’s business.

    On Americans: there is no free ride. Who was it who ays “taxes are the price we pay for civilization”. Roads, bridges, schools aren’t free nor is their maintenance.

    Are there problems with our Government? Yes. But many of them stem from the entitled class, the elites who through lobbying and campaign contributions have, as always, shaped policy to protect their own interests at the expense of the interests of the middle class. Our lives are worth less than theirs.

    It’s a shame.

  • jeffe

    George Carlin sums it up: The “Owners” of this country do not want the middle classes to succeed, period.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acLW1vFO-2Q&feature=related

    People in poverty are now stuck there and they will never be able to pull themselves out of it. The middle classes are now falling into poverty and they will remain there.

    It seems to me that this country is now not about growth and economic mobility for the majority. My grandparents came up from poverty as immigrants from Eastern Europe and surviving the Depression. My parents became upper middle class rising up from middle class in their lifetime. My mother has now fallen back from the economic perch she had, and my sister and I are now losing economic ground. I’m underemployed and while she’s employed her husbands business is underwater for the first time in 25 years. We are worse off than our parents. At the age we are (50′s) my parents had a ascended into the upper middle class and they had been there for the better part of a decade. They lived the “American Dream” we seem to be living the “American Nightmare”.

    People are no longer able to rise up out of poverty.

  • CHRIS M

    Geez, the speling(sic)of some on here is atrocious.

    correction: steal-government-because-charitable

  • Jim in Omaha

    I constantly hear people talk of the “American dream” of becoming a member of the wealthiest segment of our society, but I don’t think that was my parents’ generation’s (I’m 57) dream at all. They hoped for 40-hour-a-week job that was secure, a rate of pay that allowed them to buy a modest house and raise their family in a safe community that they felt a part of, and a chance to retire in their mid-60′s with enough money to enjoy their old age. When did the so-called dream change to such an unrealistic and immature goal?

  • Nancy

    I don’t know where Otter lives, but he is totally out of touch with reality. The “poor” don’t want to work??? The “poor” are living off of “hard working folks” like himself???? I have worked all of my life, often two jobs. My husband has always worked and our children started working in their teens. It is people like you who shew the problems that currently exist! What I see from “conservatives” is a lot of loud abusive noise. When anyone doesn’t agree with you, you call them names or make accusations. We need to RAISE TAXES ON THE WEALTHY. We were told for 8 years that if the wealthy got tax breaks they would use the savings to create jobs. So, where are they???????

  • Lynne

    Oh, this gets so tired. Once again, a Democrat acting in a way that looks to the very thing they hate – the politics of fear (“If you vote Republican the sky will fall!”) Ms. Huffington gave the exact lines the President gives – “they are just the party of ‘no’” they think tax breaks will take care of everything” yet addresses none of her own party’s shortcomings such as giving money to large voter blocks to secure votes, name-calling to de-legitimize opponents, spending other peoples money, government expansion that does and will employ more and more people, a public sector that makes more than the private sector with benefits we in the private sector can only dream of.
    As a liberal who has taken a right turn, the rhetoric of Ms. Huffington is more of the same and really, just a mouth piece for Democrats and not at all the “straight-shooter” she would like to see herself as. While certainly both parties can be faulted for bad apples, the Republican agenda, at least, stands for the will of people rather than the will of government.

  • gary

    Brandstad
    Yes electrical generation great. Infrastructure can improve commerce and compete for demand on foreign oil. Producing anything within our boarders is the answer. Less government command the better, but free market is not capable of long range projections to justify investment. Ground work must be laid.

    gary

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    Ah, the American Dream.

    The American Dream in the 1800s: work a hardscrabble life on the plains, in the mountains, in a factory, from the age of ten and up, for 12 hours a day … and get rich.

    In the 1930s: migrate from place to place, do odd jobs, beg borrow and steal, maybe help bust up a union … and get rich.

    In the 1950s: work a forty hour week, get a car, a house in the burbs, conform to the social norms of society … and get rich.

    In the 2000s: join the military, work at Walmart for slave wages, go into credit card debt … and get rich.

    Always and ever, get rich somehow. And if you’re not rich, you must be awake.

  • jeffe

    the Republican agenda, at least, stands for the will of people rather than the will of government.

    Not this person. I beg to differ and recent history of this party shows shows it not to be the party of the people but of corporate interest. The Democrats are not much better in my view, but they are not as right wing or extremist.

  • http://users.rcn.com/cdevans Dana Evans

    Hello Arianna

    I graduated with an MFA in Studio Art Teaching from Boston University in 2008. The following year was very difficult. This is a second career for me as well. I am trying to adapt as best I can. However, my future is still what I make it. So I’m educating myself about possibilities.

    I think the media is responsible in some way for luring Americans onto the couch and keeping them there. A common phrase among lawyers is “keep the masses on their asses.” Think about it. I do keep in touch with my Senator’s office.

    If we could just bring ourselves to shop in our own closets, and visit the thrift store, or pick the trash in the good neighborhoods — we would keep our sanity in this recession. Bartering for services, helping our neighbors… We can beat this recession and remain in the middle class.

  • http://www.venturacommenter.org F. William Bracy
    “Our government is a government of the corporations, for the corporations and by the corporations.” [Posted by Flowen, on September 13th, 2010 at 10:44 AM.]

    Congratulations! You’ve just described fascism.

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    Lynne: democrat shortcomings?

    “giving money to large voter blocks to secure votes, name-calling to de-legitimize opponents, spending other peoples money, government expansion that does and will employ more and more people, a public sector that makes more than the private sector with benefits we in the private sector can only dream of.”

    I’m not sure that the first claim is legitimate, but if it is, how is it worse than taking corporate money to secure votes?

    Name-calling is rampant on both sides, but the conservatives have a louder media voice.

    Spending other people’s money is the only way to support infrastructure and social safety nets. Such things are necessary but not profitable, so the private sector isn’t interested in them. After all, are you planning on buying an interstate highway anytime soon?

    I only wish the government would hire more people than it already does.

    How is the destruction of pensions by a grossly profitable private sector somehow the fault of the public sector maintaining its pensions? If pensions you “can only dream of” are your problem in the private sector, by all means get a government job.

    And by the way, if the Republican agenda stands for the will of the people rather than the will of the government, why should Republicans bother to run for office at all? If it takes a government to destroy a government, isn’t that using the dread public sector to do the work the private sector should be doing?

    A liberal who took a right turn. I won’t call it tragic or unfortunate. I’ll just call it American.

  • CHRIS M

    the Republican agenda, at least, stands for the will of people rather than the will of government.
    Posted by Lynne

    Really? Seems to me the Republican Party stands for wealthy elite and corporate interests, and pretend to stand for the common people in this country in order to get their support. Maybe some people choose to delude themsleves into believing this, but actions speak louder than words.
    While the Democrats don’t seem to be running far behind on this issue, I think on many levels, they stand more inclusion rather than exclusion. I don’t fit into the standard mold and don’t think I should be forced into one-way of thinking. No lock-step conservative facism for me.

  • BHA

    “the Republican agenda, at least, stands for the will of people rather than the will of government.”
    Posted by Lynne

    Not THIS ‘people’. The Republicans offer nothing to me. Like others, I am middle class and slipping. While I am LUCKY to still have a job and even got a small raise this year, the net of that raise doesn’t even cover the increase in my contribution to the company medical plan (which I am also LUCKY to have) and the deductible before coverage starts jumped a couple of hundred per family member. So I got a raise and still have less to spend than I did last year.

    Republicans – if you claim to ‘stand’ for ME, listen to ME: *I* WANT single payer health care. It would be CHEAPER to NOT pay all the insurance company profits. CHEAPER to NOT have every health care plan negotiate the ‘best deal’ with health care providers and pharmacies. CHEAPER to not have every doctor’s office employing more people to deal with all the insurance plans than they employ to get and keep people HEALTHY. And NO ONE would have to decide between food and a visit to the doctor. The businesses that do provide health care plans would be more competitive with businesses in countries that have health care for all. And NO, the government would not decide which doctor you can see or how long Grandma gets to live.

    Show me the Republican plan. Reagan’s Trickle Down Economics was a scam. Bush the elder and Bush the younger followed the same financial plan. Nothing trickles down (well, something does, it starts with S, not a $). The rich got richer, the non-rich got a whole lot poorer. Less tax on the rich means more money spent buying stocks from other rich people. The company that originally issued the stock gets ZIP and creates NO jobs based on those transactions. Give $1,000 to a lower class person and they will buy food and clothes. Give it to a rich person and it will never see the inside of a cash register.

  • Nick

    I only started listening to this morning’s show @ 10:45, so I obviously missed alot.

    Nonetheless, I wanted to share my comment(s):

    When was the last time Ariana Huffington was “middle class”??? Frankly, having her publish a book focusing on the US middle class plight is comical + smacks of noblesse oblige! Cake, anyone?!?

    I do wish the Democrat Party would push back hard against the Republicans: the Republicans are aggressively targetting disaffected adults who lack a comprehensive understanding of political, social, economic + right wing history. The Tea Party is emblamatic of mob rule + 1920s + 30s European facism.

  • http://www.venturacommenter.org F. William Bracy
    “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power” [Benito Mussolini (1883 – 1945) Fascist Dictator of Italy]

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Jim, in Omaha, Nebraska: You are exactly correct that it is impossible for everyone to become wealthy in a pyramid scheme as we have today. Please email me at beretco.op@hotmail.com to be in my documentary about a few level-headed Boomers with good analytical insight (like you). In a healthy nation 90% of the families would be comfortable and have good prospects for their children. There would always be 5% who needed help (not always the same families) and 5% who had enough extra that it was noticeable, for whatever reason, luck or rare skills. Every time we orbit the musical chairs a few more opportunities are taken away. Some sit above the game on thrones. No personal perfection or constant effort can save us when we are no longer needed.

    An employer hires you because he can profit from your labor. The more he hires the more he makes. He is not doing the employees any favor. trouble is today the upper class can make so much more from scams than from hiring. Jump in Jim. I’m hiring (sorta).

  • Steve

    The vast majority of Americans (not to mention those around the globe that have imitated us) have made consumerism/capitalism there god.

    Regardless of what your belief system is, idolatry has now born the fruit that was predictable.

    From where do most Americans derive the value of there lives? Do they even pose the question to themselves?

  • Steve

    …”their god”…
    …”their lives”….
    …”borne”…

  • John

    Arianna is rewriting history,
    Yes, King made Johnson get Civil Rights legislation passed, but that was after Johnson told King to provide the basis to accomplish the goal.

    The AIG bail out was a Bush deal, not Obama.
    She is a republican in democratic grag.

    She is an opportunist and should just be ignored and not given any recognition.

    Tom, stop looking at her cleavage.

  • Ann

    “I think it is unfortunate that people do not remember the changes that took place during the beginning of the 20th century regarding workers rights, labor laws, and the rise of unions. Unions get such a bad rap now, but were the driving force behind forcing coporate interests to accept better wages, hours, & working conditions for workers and drove the increase in a stable middle-class America. We seem to be regressing in this respect with Corporate interest regaining their power over the American worker to the middle-classes detriment.” — from Chris, Sept. 13, 8:35 a.m.

    Chris, two things. First, you may already be familiar with Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States”, which tells that tale, taking it back into the 19th century. He shows the heroic struggle as well as the ensuing and frequent violence brought on mainly when politicians brought in the militias against people demonstrating for their rights. For others who may not know this book, it is amazing!

    My second thought is that, knowing history, the corporate interests and their political henchmen figured out HOW TO THWART A REVIVAL of that earlier, radical labor activity that included demands, demonstrations, organizing, and other techniques. MY PERSONAL reading of the “Tea Party” is that IT is a movement created by embedded Corporate Types, Republicans, and Financial Types, and Corporate For-Profit Media Types & their Corporate Advertisers who are purposefully leading the Tea Partyers AWAY from their (the T.P.s’) own best interests.

    FOX News is a GIGANTIC corporate entity; yet, Tea Partyers salivate in front of it while its “newsmen” entertainers tell the Tea Partyers that government is their problem. Government is supposed to be US! If either entity is going to help the average man, it is government, not corporations, even IF that help comes in the form of something other than money, like regulation of our personal safety, or of the safety of our water supply due industrial activities!

    By law, the corporations only owe something to their share holders, and that is entrenched even farther by being a fiduciary responsibility! THIS is how the unions that DO exist get COMPROMISED… the pensions are invested in corporations where the UNION is owed the fiduciary responsibility by the corporation. HOW can a union fight for jobs for its people IF it wants the best return on its investment for its pensioners??!! The BEST MINDS MUST WORK ON THIS PROBLEM, because it is A major reason for the impasse we’ve been seeing, yet I hear no one talk about it, and I’m just an artist type. I can SEE it, but why aren’t those in the real KNOW discussing HOW to solve this situation because it is — besides the actual final outcome of ALL Capitalism going towards the cheapest labor — HUGE!!!!!

    The U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed corporations the status of individuals has TRULY screwed us to the wall for a long time. And that more recent SC decision about corporate campaign speech only made things worse (some history for me to check out: were the justices who ruled in favor of those decisions usually on the side of business rather than of government? Were they appointed because of that favoritism, altho we are TOLD, incorrectly, that judicial activism only started with the more recent avatar of Democrats). And, I have NO idea HOW those decisions could be reversed (I just don’t know. I would welcome information on that from anyone who might know.). But, otherwise, the government, even WITH the disgusting influence of campaign financing and lobbyists, is still US!!!

    The BRILLIANCE of those BEHIND the Tea Party movement (&, without ever being a conspiracy theorist, I DO believe that the T.P. is FED misinformation from powerful places within the Corporate Oligarchy and/or within that oligarchy’s Republican strategists!!!!) is that they have turned the very people who would have been the 19-20th century pro-union demonstrators into one big Snake Eating Its Own Tail — i.e., the Tea Party is ALL of those who could currently be waging the struggle that you talk about, Chris, except that the Behind-the-Scenes Oligarchs have gotten concerned citizens demonstrating on behalf of things that are NOT in their own best interest! They’ve gotten the regular folks to be standing up for the Corporate Bullies Who Are Sending the Jobs to China While Living Behind Gated Communities At the Shore and Sending THEIR Children to the Best Schools! The Oligarchs have peppered all of this with getting SOME Tea Partyers to revive racist organizing principles, AS IF it is the poor, especially the poor of color, who are draining the jobs from the United States!!! THAT, in my opinion, is the EVIL genius of that phrase, that simple phrase…”Obama”! With it, the Oligarchs have TIED TOGETHER their two Threads of Hate they have FED the Tea Partyers: government AND people of color. THAT is even scarier!

  • http://www.venturacommenter.org F. William Bracy

    Posters have called what we have in the U.S. today both “pyramid” and “Ponzi’s” schemes, and both are correct. The neocapitalist scheme we have as a government is based on the pyramid, no question about it. Social Security is now a Ponzi’s scheme, but of course it didn’t start out that way. The corporatist-fascists in Congress looted that “bank” decades ago.

    Social Security was, you may remember, “securitized” at inception with bonds — remember those? There were filing cabinets in Washington D.C. that were filled with securitized notes of all sorts, ensuring that the “capitalist system” would come through for average Americans when they would need it most. What Social Security did come through for, instead, were the rich and greedy, who saw to it that their “pork” would always be there for them through the campaign contribution bribery of their favorite legislator. Congress people wanted to be reelected, of course, but their problem was always the money … where’s the money going to come from in order to build that next “bridge to nowhere?”

    The answer — you. Your future, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer. ["What Social Security?" chided the Republicans (and even some Democrats.]

    “Let those who are working pay for those who retire.” — the classic Ponzi’s scheme. In fact, all insurance programs work on this principle. It’s as old as the hills. So-o-o . . .

    “If you get sick (or old), Mr. and Mrs. America,please die quickly.”

  • Isernia

    So, Arianna used to be a conservative…smart people can change their political stances as economic and political situations alter. It is only the unthinking thick-heads who follow a political ideology without nuance or qualification.
    I for one have started doing what Huffington discusses we should all do to help the situation. Though not personally affected by the downturn, loss of job, or foreclosed home, I think it is my civic and religious duty to focus people’s attention on the declining middle class. I have sponsoring a discussion group at my church with a focus on the moral and ethical implications of economic inequality in America.

  • Mark

    The Amish people in my neighborhood here in KY do not have problems with debt, or 35% interest rates on the credit cards, because they are responsible enough to say no.

    Posted by Dave, on September 13th, 2010 at 10:48 AM

    Dave, I don’t want to ride in a horse and buggy and churn my own butter, but, although I work 50 hours per week, am college educated, given macro-economics in the U.S. today, I’m finding it exceedingly difficult to save for my children’s college.

    I’ll take 1/2 government with double the union presence.

  • Mark

    Governemnt can not be charitable becasue they must steel money from one to be “chairitable” to another.

    Posted by Brandstad, on September 13th, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    Kind of like corporations being able to steAl (notice the spelling) money from us. See heir Brandstad, you are for re-distribution of wealth, you just don’t realize that the folks at the top are stealing from you ($200 DOD hammers, $50 bullets, the telecom scam, collusion, etc.). Unless you live in cave and survive on your own urine, you’re being syphoned from brother.

  • John B

    Tea Party Myth #1
    Getting rid of government will make you free.
    Answer; There will be a power vacuum
    which will be filled with crime or big business
    corporate interests, or both.

  • http://tombstone001.blogspot.com MOHAMMED N. RAZAVI

    Having grown up in a third world country the trend has been obvious for many years. While the average people have been living high on borrowed money, the rich have invaded the government to the point it reminds me of Pakistan itself, where the poor have no money, the rich don’t pay to run the country and the country is broke.
    What is next? The corruption of the police and city county governments, abuse of power by the persons in authority, the politicians kissing butt of the rich and the powerful. Use of government to protect the wealth of the haves. Oh, sorry, it is already happening.
    I have had a blog on this since 2006

  • cory

    Joshua,

    When Dennis Miller was on SNL in the 90′s, he was a big time lefty. He said he had a change of heart after 9/11 and has been a righty ever since.

  • CHRIS M

    It appears Mr. Miller had a change of wallet rather than heart.

  • jeffe

    According to Plitifact.com the totals for jobs by both parties is pretty interesting. If you exclude Obama, Democrats averaged 3.03 percent annual job growth, compared to 1.07 percent for Republicans — a nearly 3-to-1 advantage.

    If you include Obama, the Democrats still held a significant edge. With Obama included, the Democrats averaged 2.03 annual job growth, compared to the same 1.07 for Republicans — about twice as high as the GOP.

    Harry S. Truman (Democrat): increase of 2.95 percent a year
    Dwight D. Eisenhower (Republican): increase of 0.50 percent a year
    John F. Kennedy (Democrat): increase of 2.03 percent a year
    Lyndon B. Johnson (Democrat): increase of 3.88 percent a year
    Richard M. Nixon (Republican): increase of 2.16 percent a year
    Gerald R. Ford (Republican): increase of 0.86 percent a year
    Jimmy Carter (Democrat): increase of 3.45 percent a year
    Ronald Reagan (Republican): increase of 2.46 percent a year
    George H.W. Bush (Republican): increase of 0.40 percent a year
    Bill Clinton (Democrat): increase of 2.86 percent a year
    George W. Bush (Republican): increase of 0.01 percent a year
    Barack Obama (Democrat): decrease of 3.0 percent a year

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2010/jan/25/carolyn-maloney/congresswoman-says-democratic-presidents-create-mo/

  • twenty-niner

    “The American Dream is a dead idea for 80% of us already. We are already well down the road of decline. In a globalized world, their is NO way back to the post WWII boom days.”

    Yes, when the pool of labor expands to the rest of the globe, labor rates regress to the global mean, which hasn’t been good for US workers. I constantly read posters pointing to the high post WWII marginal tax rates as the fuel to the post WWII boom, but I disagree with this assessment. After WWII, we were the only industrialized economy left standing; which was very good for business. Also, wars, in general, accelerate the pace of innovation.

    WWII, in particular, spawned an unprecedented number of inventions that led to a myriad of derivative products, creating huge markets out of thin air: radar, gas turbines, nuclear power, rocketry, computing (computers were needed to calculate projectile trajectories), etc.

    Innovation is ultimately what drives economies forward, not printing money, bridges to nowhere, nor handing out un-payable home loans. If it weren’t for invention, the world economy would still consist of gathering berries and trading skins. The problem is that most of the low-hanging fruit has already been plucked, and invention is increasingly becoming the domain of PhDs (or equivalent) working in very specific areas.

    Further, a good portion if innovation involves automating tasks that eventually displace workers; so wages are being depressed by competition from two sources: cheap overseas labor and even cheaper robot labor.

  • jeffe

    The stats are there, Democrat’s create more jobs than Republican’s at least when they are in the White House.
    This is obviously a post WW2 stat.

    Obama is turning out to have a real problem here.
    If you look at it it seems the last 15 years or so have made such a mess of our economy that we now have the worse post-war job situation and it’s really closer to the Great Depression. People say that Obama and his administration are not being given enough time, well they have had almost two years and it’s quite obvious to me that they underestimated the problem. That said the Republicans have absolutely nothing to add to this but more misery.

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    cory,

    Thanks for clearing up my Dennis Miller confusion. I was never aware that he was a lefty to begin with.

    It’s funny to me how 9/11 changed so many liberals to conservatives–Dennis Miller and Christopher Hitchens are good examples. As for me, 9/11 served to reinforce my liberalism and my atheism.

  • twenty-niner

    “MY PERSONAL reading of the “Tea Party” is that IT is a movement created by embedded Corporate Types, Republicans, and Financial Types, and Corporate For-Profit Media Types & their Corporate Advertisers who are purposefully leading the Tea Partyers AWAY from their (the T.P.s’) own best interests.”

    Disagree. I personally know a few Tea Partiers, and I sympathize with some of their positions. My take is that without a banker bailout, there would be no Tea Party as it is. The Tea Party actually started forming during the Bush years, mostly by fiscal conservatives growing weary of Bush’s spending. The Paulson/Bernanke/Geithner bailouts of Wall Street is really what fomented the movement.

  • cory

    29er,

    Good post, and I agree with much of it. Don’t forget though that after WWII we were essentially the only undamaged industrial base in the world. Europe’s was in ashes, USSR’s was hobbled, and Asia’s did not yet exist. This gave us one heck of a head start. That goes a long way toward explaining why factory workers in America could enjoy a solid middle class existence from 1945-1980 or so.

  • jeffe

    Ann you have hit it out to the park. The oligarchy is in charge. I have heard this discussed on Bill Moyers and George Carlin, who seemed to me to be a libertarian, made great social satire out the subject.

    Mitch McConnell smells blood, and is calling for the Senate to make the Bush tax cuts into law. He knows he has the Democrats by the cojones.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/us/politics/14cong.html?_r=1&hp

    Ann the only way to over turn the Supreme Court on the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, No. 08-205 is for both houses to make a law overriding the ruling.

    I need to renew my passport.

  • Jim in Omaha

    To cory, twenty-niner: So therefore the question isn’t: “How will we return our economy to that of our post-war years during which the middle class was created?”, something you correctly point out can probably not be done, but: “Now that we know that globalism prevents us from returning our economy to its post-war status, what are we going to do to preserve a middle class and the widespread benefits that flow from it?” I personally don’t think letting U.S.-located business profit by using low-cost foreign labor, material and resources while living here and enjoying the protections we the people provide those businesses and those who profit from them, without paying their fair share of the costs (taxes is one way to do that) is the answer. Do you have another proposal?

  • Rob L

    One thing the country could do to reverse the decline into the third world is… stop importing millions of people from the third world. With less people competing for jobs, the wages for each job would go up.

    Another thing is to balance the trade deficit, by whatever means it takes. As long as China buys one dollar from us for every five we buy from them, there will be a net loss of jobs.

    Just those two would probably raise low to middle income wages by 100% in a few years.

  • twenty-niner

    “Do you have another proposal?”

    Jim in Omaha,

    I would immediately abandon the idea of trying to exist as a service-based economy with 70% GDP coming from driving to the mall and buying Chinese junk. I would take Clinton’s and Bush’s free trade agreements and use them to build a giant bonfire on the National Mall.

    I understand the problem with Smoot–Hawley, and I would maintain free and open trade with other Western democracies that value labor laws and rights, (including the importance of a living wage), have sane environmental policies, and allows its currency to float on a free exchange. But I would no longer extend that same privilege to China nor any other nation that doesn’t follow these tenets.

    I would also launch our generation’s version of a Moon Shot by building out the electrical grid such that solar power generated in the Desert South West could power cities here on the East Coast. I would also stipulate that at least 80% of the infrastructure, machinery, and tools to build this grid be American Made.

  • Barb

    1. People are expecting a short cut fix to the economy. The greatest economic crisis since the Depression isn’t going to happen in two years. There is a good chance the housing crisis hasn’t even topped out. Recovery will take years and at that we can’t go back to the blind quest for ownership we had just a few years ago.
    2. No solution will be a matter of changing one variable. There needs to be a period of adjusting many variables in:
    a. the economy, b. the way Americans look at “success” and property ownership (volume, quality, ‘things’ vs. ‘community’),
    3. health & education.
    We will not give up on our free market economy model but it is a ruthless and unstable “spoiled child” system if no checks are put on it. “Self correcting” – LOL

  • http://www.homegrowngreens.com Clifton Middleton

    A New Economic Foundation,
    Renewable Energy and the Social Contract

    We have an opportunity to create a new economic foundation based on renewable natural resources, yielding thousands of green jobs, producing a sustainable replacement for oil and the restoration of social consent and confidence in the body politic. All of that and more made manifest by a stroke of the pen, simply by properly classifying hemp as the medicine and beneficial resource that over 100,000,000 Americans already know it is. Hemp, cannabis is good.

    The social benefit of a rational hemp policy would be to restore social consent and confidence in the body politic. Currently, over 100,000,000 Americans have used marijuana and have decided that it is a good thing, not dangerous and should be free, not used to ruin peoples lives by arrest, confiscation and disenfranchisement. Thinking people do their own research and many times conclude that the laws against marijuana are arbitrary, unjust, wrong and that the only people who support them are either uninformed or their jobs depend upon the mandatory acceptance of marijuana prohibition. This is the true silent majority, citizens who think that the marijuana laws are irrational and are afraid of persecution and discrimination if they express their opinions publicly.

    Industrial hemp production could provide a domestic and renewable source of fuel, fiber and jobs. Hemp can be grown, produced and processed all across the land by thousands of urban farmers using land, lots, parks and public lands lying fallow and unused. These green jobs are about the growing, harvesting and processing of locally grown organics for food and fuel and could constitute the bedrock of a truly independent economy, intrinsically secure, renewable and stable, sustainable and most importantly doable.

    The benefits of a rational hemp policy are financial, social and moral.
    The economic impact of is three fold; first is the creation of Jobs based on a sustainable, clean source of fuel, fiber and medicine, estimated at over One Trillion dollars. Good jobs that produce energy and tax revenue that is
    The second is the savings to taxpayers by eliminating the money spent on law enforcement, the courts and prisons, estimated at over 8 billion a year. The third is the cost to individuals and families who are criminalized by a system that encourages law enforcement to arrest people, fine them, confiscate their property, and disenfranchise them from the vote, healthcare, professional licenses and credit. This cost is measured in the billions of dollars. All totaled the war on marijuana and the lost opportunities to develop hemp; combined with the needless suffering of those persecuted is over 2 Trillion dollars a year.
    The moral benefit is simple; the truth will set us free.

    We need to decriminalize marijuana and repel the effects of the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act to restore the production, development and use of the most sustainable, renewable natural resource recorded in history. Hemp production can replace the use of oil as a fuel quickly, efficiently and at low cost. Hemp is a renewable crop that can be grown on land not used for food, improving the land and providing a carbon neutral source of fuel. Hemp production and processing will create jobs all across the land while providing a local and domestic source of energy.
    The use of marijuana for medical purposes is the oldest and most universally documented use of any substance in medical history. 13 states have decided that marijuana is a beneficial plant and it is time allow and encourage the use and investigation of medical marijuana and industrial hemp.

    Hemp production was the economic foundation of colonial America because it was readily grown and used for over 25,000 different purposes; Hemp was grown for sails, rope, oil for lamps, clothing and high quality paper. The Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper by Thomas Jefferson, an advocate of hemp for commerce, medicine and recreation. George Washington was one of the largest hemp growers in the colonies and the renewable income produced by this plant sustained our first president and his family before, during and after the revolution. It is fair to say that the spirit to be free and independent was made possible by the ability of our fore fathers to be economically independent and free. Hemp production was the backbone of liberty, freedom and economic independence for colonial America and could once again be the keystone of a renewable, sustainable and yes, Independent economy.

  • frederica

    If Ms. Huffington is so concerned about the middle class why does she continually take financial advantage of writers for the HPost? Ask her about her goal to take HP public on the backs of underpaid writer providing content.

  • Nick

    In response to Rob L. @ 6:35pm:

    you state that the US stop “importing millions from the third world.” Last I reviewed immigration, the US attracts people from around the globe, because the average standard of living is far better/greater than in Africa, South + Central America, South-East Asia, China, pretty much everywhere except Europe + Australia/NZ. The Colombian, Brazilian, Peruvian, Mexican, + Haitian people I have encountered working in the food industry, work FAR, FAR HARDER for much less $$$/hourly, than most white Americans.

    Open your mind, if you can.

    Do you know what Xenophobia means?

  • Eric

    If we’re throwing everything against the wall why not take a serious look into a Resource Based Economy? The antiquated monetary system is the root of most problems. And causes a corruption that has inflicted every level of society and environment. Middle class jobs will continue to be lost to slave labor and automation because companies need to compete and profit is the bottom line. However, with no purchase power how will the people pay for anything that is produced? Because of this eventually this system has to collapse. We have to look beyond short term fixes. Video google “The Money Masters” documentary on how money is made. or “Oh Canada, Our Bought and Sold Out Land” or “Zeitgeist, Addendum” And for solutions look at “The Venus Project” If we’re gonna throw everything against the wall. I don’t see why this shouldn’t be an option.

  • cory

    Jim from Omaha,

    I’m less hopeful than twenty-niner.

    1. I think we are in a sort of plutocracy, and the wealthy really have the rest of us by the short hairs. In fact, we are about to see a landslide returning their preferred party back to power (or closer to it). This means political change is unlikely to be favorable to the middle class.

    2. I’m bearish on the Green Job solution. I just haven’t seen anything that tells me a revolution of this technology is iminent. Besides, nations with cheap labor will still be the ones to produce this technology.

    3. What does this leave us? I’m embracing fugality. I’m learning to live with less and be as self reliant as I can. I was raised as a fat, lazy American, so this is and will continue to be a struggle. I’m finishing up my 6th season as a home gardener, and will continue to expand next year.

    4. My final hope is a rebirth of organized labor in America. Average folks have an inherrent power just by virtue of our numbers. We CAN take our lives back from these rich bastards if we work together.

  • One of the working poor

    In the 19th Century, the wealthy had moral obligations to society. If you could afford to have a maid, you had an obligation to hire one. The moral business owners felt a paternal responsibility to their employees. Men had the opportunity to earn enough to support their family and have a stable employment situation.

    The successful capitalists built libraries, cathedrals, museums, colleges and supported other arts and social welfare programs.

    All my life I have been hearing about Keynesian trickle down economics. The government’s economic policy gives tax breaks to the wealthy hoping the wealthy will create jobs but they aren’t creating jobs. They aren’t putting any money back into the economy.

    If the wealthy won’t create jobs, why won’t the government tax the wealthy and create jobs instead?

    Or, we could let the working poor keep the money they earn. They will spend it to improve their situations. The wealthy can learn to provide goods and services to earn consumer dollars.

  • Ellen Dibble

    If Huffington wants a lot of free writing on her site, she can link to this one. Suckers… Anyway, she may seem like a chameleon to some, an opportunist of sorts, but I think she discovered her true colors after finding out just exactly what the Republican platform was. She has sat right on it, I would say, so maybe knows best where its weaker planks are.

  • cory

    Nick,

    Are you saying that unless I am willing to outwork and outperform the poorest people from around the world, I deserve to have my status/job/country pulled out from under me? It goes without saying that I don’t like your standard. I’m also not certain that I agree with your definition of xenophobia. I have no problem with a Mexican man or woman, but I don’t prefer 30 million of them depressing wages and draining benefits in my country. I find this a clear and important distinction.

  • david

    George Soros name pops up again!

    Money will cause a person to say this “I have become radicalized,” Arianna Huffington, Shadow Conventions 2000.
    “Time magazine did a piece on Ms. Huffington’s newfound love for liberal politics which hinted at Soros’s shadow influence…”
    “In 2006, one year after Arianna launched HuffPo, she was the beneficiary of millions in venture capital from Softbank Corporation, one of whose most prominent directors had a long history with George Soros.”
    http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/03/soros_another_golden_match_for_1.html

    This George Soros fellow gets around, I wonder why???

  • joshua

    The united States is too big. it must divide. As a person from the northeast i fell i have nothing in common with people people of the south and nothing in common with people of the southwest. Environmentally, ecologically, we all have different situations. We have different philosophies. Its time we broke up the union, put a date on it with political philosophies and constitutions presented, and helped people move to the regions they feel they share an affinity with, and then divide. It would be far more sustainable and uplifting. Local economies. Hopefully green. Alaska and texas will destroy itself with oil greed–and start to look like nigeria or equador or the congo or sudan. They need to hit rock bottom to realize the truth. they will come begging the north for bailouts when after our socialist policies we have heaps of wealth.

  • Jack

    Classical economic models need to be revisted – The Kenseysian model has so many inherent ridiculous assumptions – it would be like assuming away gravity for engineering purposes.

    As far as the potential third world fate of the US – Ms Huffington shows she has a solid grasp of the obvious.

    Job creation needs to be driven via investment. Why isn’t this happening? Ever think that the world is under capitalized

    Given the new European bank regulations (i.e. higher capital standards and the need to raise capital) would lead one to think the financial crisis is not close to over. Banks can’t expand their Balance Sheets (lend) because they still have a lot of assets that have not been accurately reflected (eg. more write off – hits to capital to come). Therefore they need to build capital before they can expand their respective Balance sheets. TARP just bought them some time.

    The other factor is corporate lack of innovation. The Titans are gone – think about the group that led the Niagra power movement versus todays corporate leaders. CEOs are either unable or unwilling to develop new innovation and create a new American economy.

    Want to enact change – For starters look at a complete revision of the US Tax Code, Bring credibility and tranparency back to Wall Street (make fair access to Capital a priority)and actually demand change in the Federal, State and Local lobbyist community.

  • bill

    It’s commonly understood that sometimes before something gets better it’s normal for things to get worse–i.e., a fever will “run its course”–a writer in the field of religion even refers to sin “running its course.” If real change in which millions can truly believe in is to come to pass it will likely be necessary for things to get worse before they get better. The reason is simple: the numbers of people necessary to make change happen won’t likely occur until numbers of people are motivated in sufficient numbers to successfully reverse the policies of the powerful interests who have successfully resisted changes that have been needed for a long time and have resulted in making things they way they are today. So if the right wing and ultra-right-wing politicians come out ahead in the upcoming elections it may ultimately result in real change occurring–although not in the way these interested intend–because the policies of these interests will continue to do what they have done for years–virtually guarantee a deterioration in the lives of millions. The culprits thus have the ability to unwittingly act as an effective catalyst in improving things when the effect of having taken their crazy medicine has ‘run its course’.

  • Andrea

    It seems that health care or lack of it one of the areas that we are becoming more divided and in which the middle class is declining. I have always felt that healthcare was a big indicator of the differences between prosperous countries and third world countries. How is this playing out in health care reform?

  • iefan

    I was listening to this show earlier today. I forget whether or not it was Tom or a listener who was wondering why the populace if not demonstrating about the fact that they have been eliminated from the middle class. The thought occurred to me is that those who were are formerly of the middle class are too busy trying to survive in their reduced circumstances to stage any demonstrations. I point this out to draw attention to the difference between people who had been middle class and students of the 60s and 70s (who had not yet achieved that kind of socio-economic standing) and so had much less to loose.

    My point are that:
    - currently middle class individuals/families have no time to demonstrate on their own behalf: they are trying to maintain their socio-economic position.
    - formerly middle class individual/families are simply trying to survive.
    - College students have no hope of ever becoming middle class what with oppressive tuition debts and poorly paying jobs for graduates.

  • Sam Gerardi

    Arianna is almost correct. It is American Corporations, not government that have abandoned the middle class by sending all our jobs out of the country. Large corporations make nothing here! Jobs were sent out of the country because American corporations want to make more and more profit without meeting the basic criteria to achieve that profit. Corporations work under a false capitalistic premise that their business should continue to grow and increase profit each year. An increase of profit can only be achieved by selling more product, but the paradigm has been changed by business leaders to allow profit increase without selling more product. First they remove the quality, then they reduce the quantity and so on, but they are never happy with a sustainable steady profit as they should be. Government cannot create jobs, this is the role of corporations. Government has failed by not placing barriers such as tariffs and higher taxes on corporations that build their products outside of America while also allowing those corporations to enjoy the American free market maintained by our government (Solders). It’s not Obama Care or any other democratic issue. Corporations are holding American jobs hostage till they get their tax cuts. We should increase their taxes till they realize how good they have it here. In other countries those corporations would be owned by the government or taxed at much higher rates. The pressure need to be put on corporations to create jobs here or lose their place in this country. Government needs to stop taking bribes and apply tariffs and other measures that make it less profitable for corporations to hire foreign labor.

  • Tom Dell

    Well must say excellent show today mainly for the fact that I too don’t trust political converts.That being said with all the good points being made in this show I feel the main point is we should be in the streets not pulling back and trusting politicians and corporate media. We can make the change help one another and do not forget that us working as neighbors,cities, counties,states and as a nation is how to fix this not with the snake oil divisive salesmen and the lies of politicians .Stand together no matter your leanings.And ask yourself how you can help the whole not yourself.

  • Warren Dewey

    Ms Huffington is on the right track, and she is right about American ingenuity being an advantage– however her example of the wonderful American ipad included he footnote: “Yes, well, it is made in China but…”

    So– Yes, well, there have been many American innovators, but we are not all Henry Fords, George Eastmans, Bill Gateses, or Steve Jobses. We just work for them! Or we used to, until they found a better deal elsewhere.

    The guilty truth is that the better deal is made possible by a repressive, unelected government. The Chinese Communist Party does most of the dirty work for us, ensuring massive numbers of workers at slave wages, so Americans can buy $5 dress shirts and feel prosperous.

    Of course, big business, our own financial industry, and government are doing their part too. They gave us the illusion of buying power: easy credit, so we could borrow enough to buy houses we couldn’t afford and feel prosperous. But like many illusions, it could not sustain itself forever.

    I think that the logical course of events, Tom and Arianna, points to Chinese labor as eventually becoming too expensive; they are beginning to make noises about wanting ipads of their own. The government there may whip up a new round of repression to keep people in line. If not, who is next? Plan A is probably to turn to Africa as the new slave labor source, but that’s iffy. I think maybe in 20 years our own beaten-down, impoverished masses, our own lower 95% may be Plan B. Third World indeed…

  • chuck bonar

    Ask about the Trilateral Commission and the Council of Foreign Relations. The plan is all countries cost of living be made equal to China and other 3rd world countries. It is in the world plan.

  • Zeno

    To answer the job question as per manufacturing in America you have to go through a REALISTIC and HONEST thought process and evaluate the encumbrances.

    Suppose you have the desire to compete with China head to head with actual pricing of your product. Lets say flat panel TV sets…

    - You will have to pay your employees very low wages to compete (Even if your employees are currently satisfied with low wages as preferable to unemployment).
    - All of your suppliers will have to agree to the wage levels as well or just give you deep discounts for some reason.
    - You will have to be deregulated to the point that you can dump your toxic waste in the local street and rivers.
    - You cannot have unions harping about benefits and wages for a “middle class” lifestyle.
    - You should be prepared to fire the injured or slow, in favor of young an healthy…no severance or unemployment insurance.
    - You as CEO will have a wage that is little more than 5% over the lowest employee.

    If you can run a company like this in America, then you can compete with China.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Then you have David Letterman talking with Bill McKibben, apparently in a re-run, last night, laying it on the table that even if everyone on the planet stopped using oil, coal, various CO2-emitters, and all used bicycles and so on, the planet will continue for 60 YEARS on its heating. There are chain reactions and so on, it seems, that have to play themselves out. And, Letterman pointed out, it has been 129 degrees Fahrenheit in Pakistan this week (I’m wondering which week that was).
    At a certain point where the walls and the furniture are too hot to touch for days at a time, a certain turning will come. But Letterman says that it will be harder to stop the oil and gas and coal lobbyists to stop offering dollars and “advice” to legislators around the planet. McKibben says that pointing out the end of a habitable planet has no effect, but trying to threaten an end to the jobs of the legislators might have an effect. He thinks conserving gas at this point is fruitless. Make a big symbolic statement. Get out there on 350 PPB day and — I don’t know — burn a gas tank? How does one be really provocative and get attention in Congress?
    Meanwhile we keep trying to drive the GDP up, as represented by our ability to “consume,” which currently inevitably involves more plastic, more and bigger homes and autos, “goods.” Why not call them “bads”?
    In 170 years we may not be here to tell the story, just the cockroaches. Oh, lots of good science can turn the Titanic. Are the money-bags of the planet greeting this anti-oil future with open arms? Did IBM greet Bill Gates? We’ve got work to do, my friends.

  • Zeno

    @ Ellen – “Get out there on 350 PPB day and — I don’t know — burn a gas tank? How does one be really provocative and get attention in Congress?”

    I would guess you would have to throw the bible, Koran, and various flags into a pool of burning oil?

  • sam

    3rd world america by a. huffington I HEARD THIS STUFF AT A 2006 LEARNING ANNEX EXPO specifically from

    Rich Dad Poor Dad is a book by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter. It advocates financial independence through investing, real estate, owning businesses, and the use of finance protection tactics.

  • http://cyberfumes.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    I didn’t listen to this show, but something tells me it’s not worth my time. I would love to see Jesse Ventura come on the show.

  • TJ

    Arianna is an opportunist at best. If you listen to her speak she contradicts herself at every point. If she is for the middle class why does she oppose the president’s middle class solutions? Talk is cheap – in her case – IT PAYS….

    People are so easily fooled…

    *Republican* during the Bill Clinton year’s (she did not support his policies)
    *Republican/Independent* during Bush year’s (in which she supported his policies)
    *Progressive* during President Obama’s administration (in which she does not support his polices for the middle class)…

  • Todd Blair

    America a Third World country? Impossible, by definition.

    The concept of “Third World” was born out of the nonaligned movement, and refers to States rejecting both the Western (the “First World”) and the Eastern (“Second World”) models of development.

    To suggest that the USA is/will reject the Western model of development is ludicrous.

    Besides, the USA is already a developed country. To chose a new path to development, they would first need to un-develope, and then try to re-develope by different means.

  • Ellen Dibble

    There is a word lurking in develope which is “elope,” and that is done through the window, in the dark, and it does seem that our sturdy 20th century way of life is being absconded with by policies that make it difficult to (a) find a job, (b) get education relevant to the next 20-years’ needs, (c) keep afloat in any way whatsoever. Who eloped with my mainstay, my fount of wisdom, my pillar of strength?

  • Jon Allen

    No matter how you spell the word develop, advancements in societies have always had a price attached to them. Todays wide-open world markets by definition lead to the exporting of many types of jobs. Technological and societal evolution also necessitate an evolution in education. As to keeping afloat as an individual, we have the same problems that we had in the 1930′s: what comes up, must come down, and trying to minimize the pain of such inevitable cycles is bound to be inequitable. We like to think that human nature is more advanced an egalitarian in our mighty nation than in the poorest nations where most aid gets intercepted by the well – armed few, but in the end there is very little difference in the outcome of any and all attempts at mercy. Greed prevails everywhere to varying degrees, especially in nations like ours, where corporations can often ignore or override the rights of individuals.

  • bill

    Speaking of “quick fixes”, etc., and/or advocacy of a specific solution or multiple solutions to what’s going on re our country’s economy: The best “fix” is to address the needed structural change through transfer of power (however “speedy” the results)away from corporations through greatly reining in their present powers in order to stop the ridiculously abuses that have placed us and kept us in a race to the bottom. Some key reforms to transfer power to people: limiting the charters of corporations to a fixed number of years, e.g., with renewal dependent upon what the corporation has done and will likely do (as in early historical practices re corporations), requiring worker committees in production facilities with real power over corporate decisions (as in present-day Germany) and requiring worker representation on boards of directors. Professor Richard Wolff has an excellent understanding of how to end this race to the bottom and to place economic power where it belongs. Nothing less than structural changes are going to reverse the present economic course of the country and I recommend a visit to Professor Wolff’s website to shed some light on what can really address needed structural change.

  • David L. Miller

    I believe the inheritance tax plays a large part in the concentration of wealth. Consider the owner of a successful jewelry store. Anticipating death, the heirs will be responsible for 45% of the value of the store upon the owner’s death. Since such a large amount of the store’s value is in inventory, the heir may not be able to pay the tax. To alleviate the heir’s burden, the owner may sell the business. The only people able to purchase the business are those with even more wealth looking for a place to put their money. The end result is that now people with greater wealth are receiving the income that would previously be generated by people more closely related to the middle class. This would suggest that wealth will

  • John

    Tea Party anger is misdirected; Our Government is not really the problem it’s the corporations behind the government that really run the show; politicians are just puppets! The American government has become the best political system money can buy! From regulatory capture to inadequately regulated corporate lobbying and campaign finance, we have lost control of our country!

  • An American worker

    Great show, Tom and Arianna! There is no question in my mind the middle class has been left behind and sold out by corporate America to lowest foreign bidders and with
    the help of their protectors in the Republican led Congreess who claimed they couldn’t do no wrong for the lst decade and government was the problem infringing on the free market and restrining their growth and profits…

    What fools we have been to accept their twisted and self serving logic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    In the process, they have allowed the US economy to be transformed from a producer economy to a consumers
    /service based economy and now we are left with the
    task of turning this around and save the middle class.

    Obama is right to accuse them of running our economy into a ditch and there is no way they should be allowed to have the keys again…Indeed, I feel many of them
    should be serving time in jail rather than serving time in office.

    Now, I hope the democrats will stand up to them as Ted Kennedy used to urge them to do so and help move re-build a greener and a more stable middle class economy, once again.

    An American worker

    P. S. I wish you and Tom could invite the person from
    Northeastern University who studied the unnecessary laying off of workers during the downturn by companies
    still bringing in hugh profits.

    Bob Herbert from the New York Times called this Sin and Shame in a column this summer..Those Firms showed no conscience casting people aside like commodities…
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/31/opinion/31herbert.html

  • Ryan

    This is not really news. It’s something that’s been known for a long time. I remember hearing that my generation was going to be first in American history to not do as well as our parent’s generation… and this was back in 1984 when I was in first grade! Technology, globalization (international free trade agreements), access to cheap credit… those are the reasons for this. Too bad the Democratic Party is just as owned by Wall St and the Military Industrial Complex as the Republican Party is.

  • Ishmael

    The US is indeed rather like the USSR or China: simply too big to be a coherent entity. No unity, too much division.

    Clear message from this excellent discussion: if you are negative and are in thrall to fear — fear — and demagoguery, GOP/teabagging is the way to go. Wouldn’t be the first time.

    Obama isn’t a savior but he presents possibility, not pie-in-sky.

    The current crop of “libertarians” (Ventura et al) are totally vacuous/nihilistic, unfortunately.

    Perhaps the American Dream is finally being replaced with the American Reality.

  • No time for jibe

    I think the middle (and lower) class still has a chance at prosperity if it would emulate the upper class. Many in that group are some of the biggest tightwads alive. There is all this talk about the masses holding onto money these days, but the truth is that the lower classes should have been holding onto their money all along and saving/investing it like the wealthy. Arianna warns us to be wary of mortgage and credit company motives? I hear her; but, I don’t believe that she has our best interests at hand either!

    Arianna is here to sell books, books filled with “stories” that many of us are already intimately familiar with. When we stop trying to keep up with the Jones’ (who are probably trying to figure out how to catch up to us); and stop allowing corporations and the media to rule our lives with every new wind of doctrine, must-have gadget, wrinkle-cream, etc, we will become the collective group of leaders that America has always been known for. People who define their OWN destiny, pursue, and achieve it. No one is coming to save us; we each have to start right where we are and take one step at a time.

    Oh, and to all of these baby boomers who want to know what happened to the activism of the 60s? I bet you’d be closer to an answer if you stood in a mirror and asked one more time. Hint-hint: If you’re still alive, you haven’t arrived! Get off your laurels and show us (who weren’t alive then, and who many of you have spoiled rotten :-) how it’s done.

  • http://challenginglachesis.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    Alright, after hearing some other folks talk about her interest in localizing markets, I listened to this, and have to say, I agree with pretty much every idea she is promoting. I guess you shouldn’t judge a book by their previous party affiliations… especially when both parties’s have gone to the dogs now that it seems their chess game has come to a stalemate.

    I probably wouldn’t follow her into battle, but I will say she at least talks a good line. It is up to all of us to do our parts. It isn’t democracy that has failed, just the representatives.

  • CG

    Ellen,

    Not sure how Kariachi’s temperature figures into this discussion — but the 42 C temperature in Kariachi isn’t unheard of (in fact it was that high 12 years ago).

    Also, it would make sense that the urban heat island effect would make it hotter more often — cities tend to be up to 11 C hotter than surrounding countryside. I imagine in a place like Kariachi where I doubt urban planning is even up to U.S. standards it would be worse. Here in the U.S. we have parks and areas with trees that are several degrees cooler than the surrounding concrete canyons — but those “cool islands” must have some effect on surrounding city temps.

  • http://Yahoo.com Victoria

    I think this lady’s hyped ambition is to sell her book. It is all about MONEY, folks. Everyone is doing it! If their names cannot sell, they will use Obama’s name or implicate him because they believe that his name sells!! Shame on you, Arianna!

  • john shaw

    What Killed the Most Robust Economy on the Worlds History

    Is Everyone Missing the 800 lbs Tax Guerilla in the Room?

    It Was The Bush Tax Cuts Stupid

    Sometimes problems can seem so complex yet the answer is staring us right in the face. Such is the case of the Great Recession and now this slow moving recovery.

    When GW took over the reigns as Commander in Chief, the economy that he inherited was said to be so strong and self regulating that recessions were supposed to be a thing of the past. Yet due to his genius he managed to screw it up.

    Why blame Bush? Well let’s see. By pandering to corporate America he borrowed money during a time of war and lowered taxes so low that it also stalled the economy. But wait you say, Republicans following W’s genius say that extremely lower taxes spur the economy, right?

    Well let’s go back to the only thing that Bush actually did to affect the economy and we will find ourselves at the Bush tax cuts.

    Why did this so hurt the US economy?

    1) At a time of war when revenues needed to increase to keep from borrowing more and more money, W, in his genius gave the US a HUGE tax cut. Kind of like telling your employer that you want a HUGE pay cut right after you buy the most expensive home you can.

    2)The tax cuts accomplished more than plummeting the US into huge unsustainable debt.

    3)The W tax cuts also completely stalled the huge US economy. Wait a minute, how could cutting taxes stall this huge economy? The W tax cuts created a disincentive for the small business man from hiring and investing in his own company. In the 90s when tax rates were higher, small businesses would look for ways to hire new employees or buy that next piece of equipment they were putting off buying when their taxable income got close to the next incrementally higher tax rate. Incrementally higher tax rates actually motivates every business of every size to hire employees and purchase equipment they would normally put off just to keep themselves under the next incrementally higher tax rate.

    After the Bush tax cuts took affect, a new business gauge became popular. Its called the “Business Efficiency Rating. This is a rating that shows how businesses are doing more with less. Less investment and fewer employees. This is due to the lack of tax incentives that disappeared after the W tax cuts. This was great for Wall Street as it made company profits rise and bad for Main St. Do you see a Republican pattern here?

    If 2M small businesses are moved to hire just 2 employees per year to stay under the next incrementally higher tax rate, then that would add 4M new jobs a year or an additional 340,000 jobs per month. At current rates of 150,000 jobs per month, this would add close to 500K jobs per month, that would be enough jobs to bring us out of this jobs recession

    John Shaw is a financial strategist, author, mortgage broker & Realtor. He has served in the mortgage, real estate and service sector for more than 25 years and has owned and managed his own companies during that time.. Reach him at (336) 345-9306

  • john shaw

    Localism is part of the economic fix. Having free trade with China and other developing nations is a mistake as we cannot affoed to raise the world’s standard of living on the back of our citizens.

    I do think there are times when free trade is an exceptable way forward. This would be in the case of Mexico. Mexico is our closest neighbor and is very unstable at the moment. Think of the good conditions that would exist if we limited our free trade agreements to Mexico and perhaps a few other countries for our own national security. It could end up solving the imigration problem as well

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