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Dan DeWalt

Dan DeWalt is the founder of Patriotic Response to Renegade Government, an organization based on the free association of like minded souls, without the organization part.

October 26th, 2011 12:38 PM

The Revolution is Leaving the Station

The ruling class should be getting worried. They had hoped that the Occupy Wall Street movement would have been ridiculed or ignored into oblivion by now. But the anger fueling this movement has staying power. Long simmering frustrations over America's obscene imbalance of shared wealth have boiled over and the lid is not going back on the pot.

The apologists for the rich and powerful have been quick to tout statistics about the incomes of the top 1 or 10% being taxed at higher rates than middle class rates, but they're missing the crux of the story. The inequality is not expressed by the incomes of the top percentile, as skewed as that is, but by their accumulation of wealth. The multi-million-dollar salaries of even the greediest of CEO's like Entergy Nuclear's Jackie Wayne Leonard are dwarfed by other methods of compensation like stock options that are taxed at a far lower level.

The reality is that in America, wealth accumulates relatively unfettered by taxation or meaningful regulation. Increasingly the richest Americans neither generate products or contribute anything to the nation's betterment. They make their money instead by placing bets on prices, manipulating markets, and dreaming up new ways to categorize and organize debt in order to profit from it. The new billionaires who are doing the trading get paid by the transaction or with a percentage cut of the total. They have no interest in the welfare of the nation. They only want to make the most possible trades with the greatest possible amount of other peoples' money in order to earn their commissions.

Since the early days of the Republic, these powerful few have controlled federal elections: at first through influence buying, and nowadays through – the same thing! And so there have never been vigorous taxes on capital gains or on the various buying and selling instruments or transactions that have been dreamed up by the bankers and speculators. Instead, we speak in hushed tones about real wealth, and tut-tut that if we were to ever upset that fat and happy apple cart, the entire economy would fail and everyone would starve.

Of course a great chunk of the economy might fail; that would be the part that exists only for the benefit of those same richest few. As they have leveraged political influence, inheritances and back-room access to the nation's natural resources into great and growing fortunes, these titans have acted as if their wealth is a magical output of their beloved capitalism. But in reality, the wealth has been squeezed out of the middle and lower working classes of this country, who now work harder with higher productivity than ever with ever shrinking wages to show for their efforts.

The games that the MBAs crafted and played at outfits like Enron, Goldman Sachs or AIG don't merely operate in the ether of their moneyed atmosphere. No, those billions of dollars of wealth they supposedly “created” came at the expense of countless thousands of jobs lost, companies gutted and outsourced, looted pension funds and retirement accounts and dream homes turned into nightmare foreclosures. In short, the rich have enriched themselves in the name of America, while impoverishing the rest of us in the process.

As long as the impoverished can be kept weak from hunger, confused by propaganda or rallied 'round the flag for the nation’s latest war, they can be sufficiently distracted not to realize just how badly they are being used.

But the very greed that has led the rich to abuse the populace in the first place has now overplayed its hand and unleashed a force that will not be quashed. The wake of economic destruction no longer engulfs only the very poor, marginalized or unempowered among us. Now there are hundreds of thousands of ambitious, articulate and educated Americans who are not willing to put up with any more abuse. They understand that there has never been a meaningful chance for the many to ascend to the heights of the few. They realize that this myth has been precisely what has prevented ordinary Americans from rising up in anger and taking back the wealth that has been stolen from them.

On a local level, they are moving their money to Credit Unions and Savings and Loans, institutions that keep money in their communities and they are withdrawing from the commercial banks that drain money away. And they are well aware that when the Egyptians and Tunisians went into the streets this past spring, they did so without a game plan, rule book or a clear vision of what was to come next. But they stayed in the streets and their revolutions are still underway and evolving.

The very rich like to think of America as a fortress that will protect their gains and always serve their interests. They should understand that this nation, precisely because of the enormous gap between the haves and the have-nots, is leaking at the waterline.

The anti-Wall Street Occupiers are merely drawing attention to the cracks. As the economy collapses, we must all be ready to envision and build a new one that is based on fairness and mutual interests. If we wish to sustain ourselves as a Republic, we will have to dismantle the corporate/government/financial industry troika that has determined our fates for so long. Make no mistake, their economic system has failed us.

We can go down with the ship, or we can have the courage to reject our American dream mythology and imagine a new economic system.

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