The final blow was the 2008 crash caused by Wall Street's and Big Banks' derivative trading – gambling with mortgage securities. Derivative trading is what caused tens-of-millions of Americans to lose their jobs, bankrupted retirement accounts, and millions of middle class Americans to lose their greatest asset, their homes.
In many citizens’ minds, America is extraordinary, special, and the best place on the planet to live. Among those in the GOP, this perception is based on absolutist ideology and gross lack of knowledge of circumstances in other countries. Yes, there was a time when America was exceptional – over thirty years ago when people had the opportunity to attain the American dream of a middle class income through hard work and perseverance. However, about thirty years ago a b-movie actor ushered in the era of America’s decline when his directors gave him a script to convince ignorant citizens that handing over the nation’s wealth and assets to the rich and their corporations was the key to middle class success.
Trickle down economics is not working. The only thing that has trickled down is hardship. Middle class income has stagnated and even lost ground in many cases. The results have been that America is no longer exceptional and is rapidly deteriorating into an inferior second-rate status compared to the rest of the developed world.
Yes, America is the richest nation on Earth. It is home to the most millionaires and billionaires of any country on the planet. But that is where the exceptionalism ends. In just about every other category, America is very behind the rest of the world. Many Americans are led to believe the country’s “great middle class” is proof positive the nation is exceptional, but according to the “Global Wealth Data Book 2012″ America’s middle class ranks 27th in wealth – behind poorer nations such as Spain, Ireland, France, and Cyprus. And to top it off, due to thirty years of Republican policies, the American middle class is watching what little they have left transferred to the richest one-percent.
The U.S. has fallen behind the rest of the western world in standard of living. The problem is the weak labor laws that give corporations and big business the ability to pay poverty wages with few benefits. In nearly every other industrialized country, every country provides healthcare, every job provides at least a month of guaranteed paid vacation, and as many paid sick days as one needs to recover from illness or injury. Republicans are now busy passing laws making it illegal to provide paid sick leave. The Republican House of Representative just passed legislation eliminating overtime pay. They are also trying to eliminate worker compensation rules for on-the-job injuries and have said that they would like to abolish the minimum wage. America’s inadequate minimum wage is 13th among developed nations. Abolishing the minimum wage would put American labor on par with peasants in third-world countries.
ALEC’s Republican right-to-work states have more poverty-level residents than do other states while their corporations haul in record profits. Yet, these states actually get more federal dollars given to them than they pay into the national coffer.
America has the WORST healthcare system among modern nations because few can afford it, and even if they can, this country’s people have the worst health outcomes of all other industrialized countries on Earth. In the event of a serious health issue or injury, Americans are guaranteed to join the poverty ranks making the Republican drive to destroy the Affordable Care Act all the more Draconian. In many Republican states, at the behest of the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity organization, the GOP is desperate to make senior citizens’ Medicare and Social Security a thing of the past regardless of the fact they paid into it their entire working lives.
In nearly every country on Earth a college education is virtually tuition-free and yet in America, Republicans decry spending on any education and are driving college students into life-long unsustainable debt to enrich the banking industry. In most Republican states, ALEC templates are diverting public school funds to private religious schools to enrich corporations and create the next generation of ignorant Americans claiming the nation is exceptional.
America’s social programs and safety nets are among the worst in the world. Instead of bolstering them to help Americans climb out of poverty, Republicans slash them to provide tax breaks for the rich and corporations. Because of this, nearly a quarter of America’s children are living in poverty with millions of Americans earning insufficient wages to put nutritious food on the table. The idea of ever achieving anything more is being thwarted by Republicans in all areas of government, but particularly in the states. Right to work laws, banning minimum wage, eliminating Medicaid, eliminating Medicare and Social Security, prohibiting paid sick leave, robbing food and housing assistance for seniors and the poor to provide more of the nation’s wealth for the rich and their corporations are all part of the Republicans’ three decade effort to destroy the middle class.
America was once an exceptional nation due to the rise of the great middle class. This rise happened after WWII under Democratic policies. Since Reagan, Republicans’ thirty year effort to destroy the middle class is reaching fruition as we slide into a nation of peasants with a ruling wealthy class.
President Obama said, “…our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing number barely make it. America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.”