America’s new war on poverty

From half-way around the world, it seems obvious what’s going on in America. The rich keep getting richer, in part because they’re getting their way in politics, where money talks louder than ever. With their political handmaidens, they’re declared war on the poor.

Especially in these hard times, gains for the rich come at the expense of the middle class and poor. In fiscal matters, today’s politics mean bailing out the banks and tax cuts for the rich – so the US economy can reprise the jobless growth of the George W Bush years – and then insisting that gaping budget deficits need to be addressed by cutting government services that benefit the non-rich. It’s class warfare of the worst kind, and, following the Karl Rove playbook of accusing your rivals of precisely what you do, class warfare is precisely the term the plutocrats use to decry any attempt to reverse their advantages.

Strangely, there are few voices in America presenting this case intelligently and intelligibly. Fortunately, one of them is Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize winning Princeton economist and New York Times columnist.

Have a look at Krugman on the Wisconsin budget standoff and what it really means. As he so often does, Krugman speaks the plain truth here as few liberals manage these days:

The fiscal crisis in Wisconsin, as in other states, was largely caused by the increasing power of America’s oligarchy. After all, it was superwealthy players, not the general public, who pushed for financial deregulation and thereby set the stage for the economic crisis of 2008-9, a crisis whose aftermath is the main reason for the current budget crunch. And now the political right is trying to exploit that very crisis, using it to remove one of the few remaining checks on oligarchic influence.

Amen.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.

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