Political Thoughts by Richard Bleil
There seems to be a lot of misperceptions about communism and socialism. My understanding is that Karl Marx, the father of “hard-core” socialism, proposed a hypothesis predicting what would happen, as opposed to suggesting a type of government. He suggested that as capitalism progressed and grew, there would be a point where the wealthy would have so much and become so powerful that they would oppress the very people working for them, the workers. Eventually, this would become such a burden to the workers that they would rise up in a revolt to take over the very companies run by these elite and oppressive wealthy. In essence, Marx was hypothesizing how capitalism would come to an end, naturally.
I’ve been thinking about this lately. Currently, the income of top one percent of the wealthiest people in America exceeds the total income of the bottom 80%. This imbalance of wealth is getting worse; as Americans struggle to keep up with bills and a moderate standard of living, the wealthy are removing more from them. Although Americans have been seeing wage increases, these increases do not keep up with inflation. Meanwhile, the wealthy are enjoying the lowest tax rate in history (lower than the middle-class tax rate in fact) and are cutting benefits to their workers making them pay for their own insurance. The cost of rent is higher than the typical income causing many to predict an impending housing crisis. During this pandemic, while nearly sixteen million Americans have lost their jobs, while Billionaires wealth rose by $10 trillion, in part because of government welfare that was meant to help keep Americans employed.
This sounds very much to me like the oppression of the working class by the elite wealthy predicted by Marx. I’ve written of this imbalance before, and my fear that it cannot be maintained. One way or the other, this social pressure must be relieved, either peacefully, or by revolution which is something I don’t want to see. So, what is the role of government in all of this?
The Republican Party was created from the remnants of the Whig party. President Andrew Jackson was a Democrat who was greatly disliked by John Tyler who believed that the bankers were being unfairly treated. In response, Tyler started the Whig party, a party to represent financial interests of banks. It is no surprise, then, that the Republican party has become the party of choice by the super-wealthy. The money of its members allow for advertising and smear campaigns to convince the general voter that they, too, want the Republican party. This has been highlighted by every Republican president since Reagan (and possibly before) who introduced the “Trickle-Down Theory”. Give money to the super wealthy, and that will trickle down to the wretched masses (not that the Republicans ever used the term “wretched masses” out loud, but I’m sure they are thinking it). The super wealthy did indeed get their money, but it’s been demonstrated time and again that it does not, after all, trickle down.
The question, quite simply, becomes whether or not the government should step in to regulate capitalism. Those who argue “NEVER” (most notably the Republican party) are either refusing to see the regulations already in place or are the driving forces behind them. The math of the current political arena is plain to see. The most recent tax reform gave permanent and massive tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy, while the tax “breaks” for the typical American actually caused their taxes to increase for the most part and are temporary at that. This means that the middle class are paying so the wealthy can keep more money. What’s more, as the wealthy are taxed less, the government has worked hard in these past four years to make up for that loss by taking away things like Meals on Wheels, funding for women’s health from Planned Parenthood, and unemployment insurance. All of these adds up to the middle class picking up these expenses on their own, so the wealthy become wealthier. Now the Republican party is targeting Social Security, including Medicare, money that has been collected on the understanding that it belongs to those of us paying social security, not the government like a normal tax. It has been collected specifically with the promise that it would be returned when needed.
The government needs to step in. We NEED the government to regulate the wealth, and it doesn’t always mean taking from the wealthy and giving to the poor. If there is too much burden on industry, then industry will stagger. Unfortunately, that is NOT the case right now. Money needs to be funneled back to the people, and the imbalance needs to be resolved. Great faults in the geography of our nation yields extremely harmful and deadly earthquakes when the stress between tectonic plates becomes overwhelming, and right now, the disparity between the upper and middle class is reaching that point. The government not only should be a pressure valve to keep things on an even keel, it needs to act as such. Otherwise the explosion will be devastating.