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The 1% are due on Maple Street Featured
There is a classic "Twilight Zone" episode that explores the human tendency during times of stress to turn on one another rather than band together to face the true threat. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monsters_Are_Due_on_Maple_Street
I am reminded of this episode often by our current political debate. Much of it involves finger-pointing about who is responsible for the financial crisis and recession, which is encouraged by the mistaken focus on deficit reduction instead of job creation (but that is a subject for another post).
Many will argue that the elderly should shoulder much of the blame due to Social Security and Medicare. Others will rebut that argument, including those who are elderly themselves, by blaming public pensions that provide government employees with the security that has been taken from their private sector counterparts (Ellen Schultz has done great work uncovering the ugly truth about pensions http://www.usatoday.com/money/books/reviews/story/2011-10-14/retirement-heist-book/50795990/1). Then there are "very serious people" who will knowingly state that our public commitment to education is bankrupting us and must be drastically reduced. Of course the entire working class is held accountable by some because they are unwilling to labor for the wages of their third-world counterparts.
The truth is that inequality reached unsustainable levels prior to the financial collapse. In fact, the disparate levels of wealth and the disconnect between productivity and wages both reached levels comparable to the 1920s. While correlation does not prove causation, the parallels between the economic climates that led to the Great Depression and our current situation are unmistakable.
There is only one place to look for culprits. A small percentage of people prospered unjustifiably from the depletion of the pension system, the high-stakes gambling that replaced normal financial practices, and depressed wages for the majority of workers. The very wealthiest citizens realized that by expending a small percentage of their wealth they could buy the loyalty of politicians who would pass laws for their benefit--and to the detriment of the rest of us. Then those same politicians told us that we needed to work harder and sacrifice more. Both the wealthy and their political underlings strive to create discord among the wider population.
As Rod Serling told us 50 years ago, if we continue to blame those who are actually part of our community, we will quickly destroy ourselves.