On June 03, 2004, Bill Moyers gave an excellent keynote speech: This is the Fight of Our Lives at the Inequality Matters Forum hosted by New York University.
“The middle class and working poor are told that what’s happening to them is the consequence of Adam Smith’s ‘Invisible Hand.’ This is a lie. What’s happening to them is the direct consequence of corporate activism, intellectual propaganda, the rise of a religious orthodoxy that in its hunger for government subsidies has made an idol of power, and a string of political decisions favoring the powerful and the privileged who bought the political system right out from under us.”
Moyers goes on to call this lie by its proper name: Class Warfare.
You just can’t make this stuff up. You have to hear it to believe it. This may be the first class war in history where the victims will die laughing.
But what they are doing to middle class and working Americans – and to the workings of American democracy – is no laughing matter. Go online and read the transcripts of Enron traders in the energy crisis four years ago, discussing how they were manipulating the California power market in telephone calls in which they gloat about ripping off “those poor grandmothers.” Read how they talk about political contributions to politicians like “Kenny Boy” Lay’s best friend George W. Bush. Go on line and read how Citigroup has been fined $70 Million for abuses in loans to low-income, high risk borrowers – the largest penalty ever imposed by the Federal Reserve. A few clicks later, you can find the story of how a subsidiary of the corporate computer giant NEC has been fined over $20 million after pleading guilty to corruption in a federal plan to bring Internet access to poor schools and libraries. And this, the story says, is just one piece of a nationwide scheme to rip off the government and the poor.
Let’s face the reality: If ripping off the public trust; if distributing tax breaks to the wealthy at the expense of the poor; if driving the country into deficits deliberately to starve social benefits; if requiring states to balance their budgets on the backs of the poor; if squeezing the wages of workers until the labor force resembles a nation of serfs – if this isn’t class war, what is?
It’s un-American. It’s unpatriotic. And it’s wrong.
Over a year has passed since this speech was given, and video taped, and still the opposition to the Bush regime, Republican, Independent and Democratic has been unable to call the rampant pathology attacking our core values by it proper name: class warfare.
Until we find the courage to unabashedly name the pathology besetting us with its true name, there can be no cure. When will we find the courage to speak the truth to power? How many Katrinas and Iraqs must we endure?
Video, Windows Media Player format, of Moyer’s talk is here. Or here with videos of Barbara Ehrenreich, Robert Franklin, William Greider, David Williams and more.
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