FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Whatever Happened to the Fierce Urgency of Now?

by NICK EGNATZ

Lincoln defined democracy as government “of the people, by the people and for the people”. We are now faced with a government of the transnational corporate capitalists, by the Democratic and Republican Parties and for the consolidation of wealth in the hands of an elite few. Hardly what Abe had in mind when addressing the loss of America ’s treasure at Gettysburg some seven score and six years ago.

Reagan pushed the deregulation button, told us that government was the enemy of the people and to put our trust in the private sector as he slashed the income tax on the wealthy from 70% to 28%. Bush Sr. went along with the program he had previously labeled “voodoo economics”. Clinton then abandoned traditional democratic principles and led the globalization and outsourcing bandwagon. In addition, he kicked the top tax rate back up to 39.6% from the 31% he inherited and balanced the budget with a surplus. Bush Jr. accelerated privatization, deregulation, tax cuts for the wealthy and made the Reagan deficits look puny.

Not content with a bi-partisan foreign policy that over the years had emphasized supporting death squads around the world from Nicaragua and El Salvador to Chile and the Philippines , Bush declared the entire world his battlefield with his moronic War on Terror. Sitting in a cave in Afghanistan , Osama bin Laden said he could bankrupt the U.S. if he could get us to attack a Muslim country. Bush Jr. one upped him by invading two. The Taliban had offered to turn over bin Laden if we didn’t invade Afghanistan . Now 7 ½ years after invading and bin Laden is still sitting in a cave. Of course from the start the Iraq War and occupation was about control of Iraqi oil for the transnational capitalists and control of the Mideast for the American Empire.

With our country at war, our economy ruined by what can only be described as the financial sector’s criminal activity, abetted by the party politicians; we elected the candidate who promised change.

Obama, smart as a whip and with a clear mandate from the American people, chose to surround himself with recycled hacks of bygone administrations. He agreed to end one of the wars, sort of sometime, and to escalate the other. He does not believe it important to hold our previous administration leaders responsible for wars of aggression and torture. He has sided with the Wall Street banks and financial institutions, instead of nationalizing them and prosecuting their CEOs for fraud. He’s pushing for a national healthcare plan. But insists on keeping the insurance industry involved, even though it will cost the American people 30% more than a single payer government run plan would. He does not seem to grasp the simple economic principle that working people need a livable wage now! That decisive government action to guarantee jobs at a livable wage now to those willing to work will do more for the economy than all the stimulus and bailout plans imaginable.

Increase the top tax rate to the 90% range it was under FDR, Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy or at the very least the 70% range it was under Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter. A wealthy person should be able to make ends meet on say $3 million a year. Have the new top tax rate kick in there so they will be taxed on earnings up to that point like the rest of us. Increase the minimum wage to a livable wage and guarantee government employment. For small business owners who demonstrate that they can’t pay the new livable wage, let the government make up the difference until the business shows that they can support it.

Inequality is anathema to democracy. Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis counseled us on where great disparity in wealth would lead our country “We can have a democracy or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of the few. We cannot have both.”

FDR, who took office in 1933 during The Great Depression, did not push through reforms like Social Security and the Works Project Administration (WPA) until 1935, but he was constantly trying new solutions. Obama is not and if he waits two years before leading us to real social change, he may no longer have the political capital to do so.

Martin Luther King at Riverside Baptist Church in 1967 said “We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.” He was calling for an end to the Vietnam War. If he was with us today, wouldn’t he be calling for an immediate end to both foreign wars? Wouldn’t he be calling for a livable wage for workers instead of billions and trillions to the ‘banksters’? Wouldn’t Dr. King be calling for Obama to listen to the American people?

NICK EGNATZ resides in Munster, Indiana, is a Vietnam vet, member of Veterans For Peace and Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He was named Northwest Indiana Citizen of the Year 2006 for his peace activism by the National Association of Social Workers and has been published extensively online and by Northwest Indiana newspapers on the issues of peace and the economy. He can be reached at: nickatlakehills@sbcglobal.net

Weekend Edition
February 12-14, 2016
Andrew Levine
What Next in the War on Clintonism?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Comedy of Terrors: When in Doubt, Bomb Syria
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh – Anthony A. Gabb
Financial Oligarchy vs. Feudal Aristocracy
Paul Street
When Plan A Meets Plan B: Talking Politics and Revolution with the Green Party’s Jill Stein
Rob Urie
The (Political) Season of Our Discontent
Pepe Escobar
It Takes a Greek to Save Europa
Gerald Sussman
Why Hillary Clinton Spells Democratic Party Defeat
Carol Norris
What Do Hillary’s Women Want? A Psychologist on the Clinton Campaign’s Women’s Club Strategy
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Election: Any Good News for Palestine?
Linda Pentz Gunter
Radioactive Handouts: the Nuclear Subsidies Buried Inside Obama’s “Clean” Energy Budget
Michael Welton
Lenin, Putin and Me
Manuel García, Jr.
Fire in the Hole: Bernie and the Cracks in the Neo-Liberal Lid
Thomas Stephens
The Flint River Lead Poisoning Catastrophe in Historical Perspective
David Rosen
When Trump Confronted a Transgender Beauty
Will Parrish
Cap and Clear-Cut
Victor Grossman
Coming Cutthroats and Parting Pirates
Ben Terrall
Raw Deals: Challenging the Sharing Economy
David Yearsley
Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Formation: Form-Fitting Uniforms of Revolution and Commerce
David Mattson
Divvying Up the Dead: Grizzly Bears in a Post-ESA World
Matthew Stevenson
Confessions of a Primary Insider
Jeff Mackler
Friedrichs v. U.S. Public Employee Unions
Franklin Lamb
Notes From Tehran: Trump, the Iranian Elections and the End of Sanctions
Pete Dolack
More Unemployment and Less Security
Christopher Brauchli
The Cruzifiction of Michael Wayne Haley
Bill Quigley
Law on the Margins: a Profile of Social Justice Lawyer Chaumtoli Huq
Uri Avnery
A Lady With a Smile
Katja Kipping
The Opposite of Transparency: What I Didn’t Read in the TIPP Reading Room
B. R. Gowani
Hellish Woman: ISIS’s Granny Endorses Hillary
Kent Paterson
The Futures of Whales and Humans in Mexico
James Heddle
Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You
Michael Howard
Hollywood’s Grotesque Animal Abuse
Steven Gorelick
Branding Tradition: a Bittersweet Tale of Capitalism at Work
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s UN Victory and Redemption of the West
Patrick Bond
World Bank Punches South Africa’s Poor, by Ignoring the Rich
Mel Gurtov
Is US-Russia Engagement Still Possible?
Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown Receives Cold, Dead Fish Award Four Years In A Row
Wolfgang Lieberknecht
Fighting and Protecting Refugees
Jennifer Matsui
Doglegs, An Unforgettable Film
Soud Sharabani
Israeli Myths: An Interview with Ramzy Baroud
Terry Simons
Bernie? Why Not?
Missy Comley Beattie
When Thoughtful People Think Illogically
Christy Rodgers
Everywhere is War: Luke Mogelson’s These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories
Ron Jacobs
Springsteen: Rockin’ the House in Albany, NY
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“The Martian”: This Heroism is for Chinese Viewers Too
Charles R. Larson
No Brainers: When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail