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Belated Happy Independence Day, with Liberty & Justice For a Few

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July 5, 2015 by Jan Stone

It’s a gift to celebrate a holiday with family and friends, but hanging an American flag up yesterday is not an inspirational celebration for most Americans of any group. For example:

  • In 2012 incomes of the wealthiest 1% increased nearly 20%, the remaining 99% rose about 1%.
  •  From 2010-2013, the median wealth of white households increased 2.4%, from about $139,000 to $142,000.
    • White women earn on average 23% less than white male counterparts
    • African-Americans earn about 59% of their white neighbor, with household incomes falling 33.7%, from $16,000 to $13,700.
    • Median Hispanic wealth decreased 14.3%, from $16,000 to $13,700.
  • For all but the 1%, median wealth remains less than its pre-recession levels. Rapidly plunging house prices and a stock market crash were immediate contributors to this shellacking, according to the Pew Research Center.

When in doubt, look at politics. Starting around 2000, business groups employed 30 times as many Washington lobbyists as trade unions and 16 times as many lobbyists as labor, consumer and public interest lobbyists combined.

  • From 1998-2012 business interest and trade groups spent $28.6 billion on lobbying, compared with $492 million for labor—nearly a 60-to-1 business advantage.

Economist Joseph Stiglitz says of hyper-inequality and politics:

“Top-earning families, wealthy enough to buy their own education, medical care, personal security, and parks, have little interest in paying for such things for the rest of society, and the political influence to make sure the don’t have to. So, too, the lack of personal or family sacrifice involved in top earners in the military intervention of their country—their children being few and far between in the relatively low-paying all-volunteer military—may mean more willingness by influential wealthy to see its government wage war.”

To my Republican friends voting straight down the GOP line, be assured the issues of gun ownership, freedom of religion, immigration and sexual orientation, to name a few, all are to make sure your eyes are off the real ball. Your right-wing politicians want to take away your unions, access to healthcare and possibly your social security, and will do so all under the umbrellas of Christianity and the American Flag. Think IL Gov. Rauner.

It’s a ruse; you’re being had. Please wake up before we are, in every sense of the word, an oligarchy, i.e., a small group of people having control of a country, organization, or institution. Seriously, don’t you wonder why it’s so hard to earn a living, get interest on money you’re trying to save, and relax about the prospects of an enjoyable retirement?

These are important facts.

These are important facts.

Bear these “Did You Know” facts in mind, too, shared by a very smart nephew who fortunately also is a teacher. Those are very lucky students in his classroom:

And before the haters ascend, let there be no doubt I think America is a great country, but we can be kinder, gentler and far more respectful than what we’ve shown lately.

Knowledge is power.

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