stephanie jones

“Class Warfare” or finally paying attention to class?

In American Dream, classism, corporations, economics and economies, social class on September 20, 2011 at 12:44 am

Wareen Buffett started it all with his persistent attempts to get millionaires and billionaires taxed at the same rate as middle-class folks. So now Obama is proposing the “Buffett Rule,” drawing on Buffett’s call and using a billionaire’s voice to buttress the proposal.

Some politicians are calling this “class warfare,” as if we haven’t endured class warfare for the past thirty years.

Some evidence of class warfare in the past several years:

“Welfare Reform” – a war against the poor to “reform” welfare to ensure limited access, limited funding, and often humiliating requirements for receiving even small amounts of money.

1 in 100 of our citizens are in jail or prison with millions more tied up in the complicated web of court-involvement – again, a war against the poor. Nearly 90% of all people arrested are living below the poverty level at the time of their arrest. Profiling? Of course it is – but we don’t hear anyone calling that “class warfare.”

Attacks on workers’ rights to collective bargaining (hmmm….I wonder who that benefits?)

Minimum wage workers not even pulling in enough income to live above the poverty level (hmmmm…can anyone say class warfare?)

Tax credits for private school “donations” (read: tuition). Again – who benefits here?

Tax credits for mortgage interest payments – so anyone owning a home gets to write off more and more from their tax bills. And folks yell about “entitlements”?

Tax exemptions for corporations moving into towns or cities – is it “fair” that they can come into a town or city, hire minimum-wage workers who won’t be able to provide for their families even with a full-time job, then not even pay taxes that could support local and state public initiatives?

Lowest rate of union membership in decades – hmmm…I wonder how that happened. Can you say “business-friendly” policies that work against workers?

Foreclosures by the millions – mostly resulting from creative loan “products” sold to folks who couldn’t afford them but didn’t know it because the terms weren’t carefully explained to them by their loan officers…who took the commission and ran.

The war against the middle-class, working-class, and poor in our country has been waged overtly, covertly, and consistently since the 1970s. But we haven’t called it “class warfare” because to talk about class at all was assumed to divide our country (as if it wasn’t already divided). Therefore it has been more like a “Cold Class War” – the war that isn’t really a war, the unspoken war, the anti-acknowledgement war…

But suddenly when millionaires and billionaires are asked to pay their share it’s “Class Warfare” – the coldness heated up immediately and with great intensity.

So what if it’s class warfare? We’ve been suffering through it for decades…Bring it on.


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