By Harvey Wasserman
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So now Paul Ryan and the Republicans are crying about class warfare.
Give me a break.
They and their super-rich cronies have been waging class warfare mercilessly over the last four decades, and they’ve been taking no prisoners.
During this period, the top 0.1 percent of the countrythose 152,000 people who make more than $5.6 million a yearhave seen their income level jump up an astonishing 385 percent, according to the Washington Post.
But the bottom 90 percent—about 137 million people—have has seen their income fall by 1 percent during this period.
Check out this chart from the Washington Post article.
In the last ten years alone, the median income for working-age households has fallen by more than 10 percent, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
Today, we have a record number of Americans living in poverty: 46 million people. Among these, shamefully, are 22 percent of the kids in this country.
All the while, the top 1 percent and the top 0.1 percent hog more and more of the nation’s income and wealth.
The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nations income every year, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote in Vanity Fair earlier this year.
“In terms of wealth rather income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent….Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent.”
And the top 1 percent have been paying less and less in taxes. The top marginal rate in the 1970s was 70 percent. Now it’s 35 percent.
“The wealthiest in this country have never had it so good,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders at FightingBobFest in Madison, Wisconsin, on Sept. 17. They have limitless greed, he said. “They want more and more and more and more, and they don’t care how many children they step on to get it.”
As Sanders put it, “Class warfare is being waged in America, and the wrong side is winning.”
There’s always been class warfare in the United States. Sometimes, it’s masked. Sometimes, it’s naked.
It’s naked today.
And it’s one-sided. The super-rich are very mobilized and heavily armed. Everyone else, with the exception of folks in Wisconsin, Ohio, and a few other places, is disarmed and very disorganized.
That’s got to change.
Let’s join the battle, nonviolently but militantly, and fight as hard as we can for some semblance of economic justice.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Bonnie Urfer, Jailed Anti-Nuclear Activist, Defiant."
Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter