Why so Many Americans Feel so Powerless | BillMoyers.com
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Republicans and Democrats in thrall to corporatists have succeeded in convincing Americans the institutions on which they have depended since the end of World War II are ineffective and too expensive. Tax cuts for the rich shifted the burden of supporting government onto the working class. Contrary to what President Ronald Raegan preached, the cuts did not cause increased government revenues so government services declined. Corporations receive tax benefits for sending jobs overseas. Highways, roads, bridges and dams are is disrepair. Public education has been abandoned.
President Bill Clinton continued the same policies. Clinton finished the destruction of journalism started by President Richard M. Nixon by removing the limits on corporate ownership of newspapers and broadcasting stations. Clinton signed legislation overturning the Fairness Doctrine with respect to broadcasting. Corporations turned what had been news organizations into public relations channels.
President George W. Bush cut taxes, added $4 trillion to the national debt and killed millions in the Middle East based on fabricated intelligence.
Financial bubble after financial bubble burst starting with the savings and loan collapse in the Reagan years. Each time, including during the Great Recession of President Barack Obama’s administration, the government captured by corporations and other moneyed interests used the shock to take more from the middle class and give to the moneyed interests.
The corporatist enterprise has been a success; everything is working out as planned.
Fifty years ago, a third of private-sector workers belonged to labor unions. This gave workers bargaining power to get a significant share of the economy’s gains along with better working conditions – and a voice. Now, fewer than 7 percent of private sector workers are unionized.In the 1960s, a vocal consumer movement demanded safe products, low prices and antitrust actions against monopolies and business collusion. Now, the consumer movement has become muted.Decades ago, political parties had strong local and state roots that gave politically-active citizens a voice in party platforms and nominees. Now, the two major political parties have morphed into giant national fund-raising machines.Our economy and society depend on most people feeling the system is working for them.But a growing sense of powerlessness in all aspects of our lives – as workers, consumers and voters – is convincing most people the system is working only for those at the top.