C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001… Perhaps the most astounding statistic is this: From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.
— Nicholas Kristof, Nov. 6 New York Times
Conservative bloggers and talk-radio hosts (Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and so on) and tea party darling Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) claim that [President Obama’s trip to India] is costing taxpayers a staggering $200 million a day… It’s sad that someone even has to debunk these ridiculous claims. Any reasonable person who heard the $200 million a day number should realize that it’s off by at least an order of magnitude.
— Gulliver, Nov. 6 in The Economist
Indulge me for a minute. Picture America as a big family rather than a pack of beaten-down dogs. The father is a benevolent dictator who pays the kids well to do their fair share of the chores. But then the old man dies and the mother — she’s turned into a timid, apple pie-baking nonentity — marries an ogre who doubles the kids’ chores and slashes their pay to chump change. They get skinnier every month. “I have no choice,” the ogre says. “Your mother spoiled you and you’re wasteful.”
The kids are angry and demand fair treatment, but reality kicks in and they realize the ogre owns everything. It’s his way or the highway, so they blame their ineffectual Mom and each other for their situation and work longer and harder for less and less. Meanwhile, the ogre sits on his fat ass and stashes away their earning in his private account.
That’s America today. Many people don’t want to think about what their corporate step-dad is doing to them, which is why the facts rattled off by Kristof — four-fifths of the total increase in incomes went to the richest 1 percent — were unknown or ignored by most voters on Election Day. The need to not think is why so many Americans apparently like Limbaugh, Beck and other media frauds. Better to get mad at Mama Obama than admit their resources have been stolen by their step-dad and are unrecoverable under the current political system.
Eventually, their modest savings will run out and they will have to look the ogre in the eye and say, “We want back what you stole.” Even then, I’ll bet they (we) find someone else to blame.