A dentist from Naperville, Illinois called a talk show in Chicago.
“I’ve invested $400,000 in starting a dental practice and the government won’t let me do it.”
“What?” says the host, “The government? What do you mean?”
“I’m competing with the government for workers. I’m looking to hire several people at $25 an hour and I can’t find anyone.”
“Why not,” says the gullible host, not even trying to ascertain if this person is legitimately a dentist, as he says he is.
“Because these people are all making $15 an hour on unemployment and the difference is so small, that they would rather keep looking than go to work,” says the one who claims to be a dentist.
“I can only get people from 25 miles away,” says he, not thinking at the time he is trying to bad-mouth unemployment that many of his neighbors travel approximately 29 miles each way, every day of the week if they work in Chicago.
Maybe this guy should be working for one of the many dentists who already have successful practices in Western DuPage County, Illinois rather than complaining about the absence of workers (during the biggest economic downturn since 1930, when there are effectively, in 2011, over 15% of the people out of meaningful work!)
The radio host took this clown seriously. Competing with the government because the government pays the unemployed too much money? This guy sounds like the typical upper-cruster whose mommy and daddy got him into a good pre-school, a good high school or prep school and paid for his college and helped with dental school–after no med school would take him.
This is the kind of guy who thinks that working for someone else is beneath him as are the people he wants to have working for him. The reason is this: he’s a liar. And he lied on the radio for some reason, apparently thinking that he would get sympathy, or some advantage with his Republican pals at the country club. Because, you see, the maximum unemployment benefit one can get in the State of Illinois is $511 per week. And that comes out to merely a slight bit more than $12 an hour, not $15 or $20 an hour.
So if this loser cannot find workers at $25 per hour, he shouldn’t be in business, because there are plenty of people willing to work for $25 an hour. First of all, 44% of the unemployed have been out of work for more than 2 years. That means that their unemployment has run out. It also wants us to believe that someone either with no income–about half the unemployed–or about $25,000 a year, poverty level wages, would not take a job at this level, which is $50,000 a year, the average wage in this country right now.
It defies common sense. People who are out of work and receiving $500 a week…if they are…are receiving the equivalent of a little more than $12 an hour. But if they could move up to $25 an hour they would make about $50,000 a year which is the average income in this country. So the dentist wants us to believe that he will pay an average wage, but people at the poverty level, $25,000 a year would not move up. This is…candidly…pure bull shit.
Why bring this up? Because this dentist is typical of a certain class of American these days. Here is a man who is pretty much middle of the road, intellectually and should be middle of the pack financially. That’s the way it used to be. But today, because of the restriction of seats in medical schools by the American Medical Association, we now import—and have for many years—half of all the doctors we need, just barely enough to staff our hospitals. The AMA has been a monopoly for decades.
Consequently, the universities have been pressured to do the same for other professions, like dentists and even attorneys. Instead of creating more chairs, more seats more opportunities, we make the professions more exclusive and make them more liable to corrupt influences, like the sons of doctors becoming doctors. Even the imported doctors’ sons are becoming doctors.
So we’ve allowed this elitist mentality to creep into our professions, like this dentist. What he really wants is an excuse to hire people making minimum wage, to make more profit by somehow cutting wages down closer to the minimum wage. That’s why he’s complaining that the government is competing with him. He has not intention of paying $25 an hour. He sees his practice as his own little piece of the action and wants to use it to get rich.
What’s wrong with the rich getting richer…people will ask? Well, first, who is asking the other questrion: what’s wrong with the poor getting richer or the middle class getting richer? It isn’t even considered important or necessary in our society, but in Europe the quality of life—which in these United States is almost exclusively a function of income—is considered job number one for government.
So, here we say that government is the problem and in Europe they say not only is government the solution but government’s job is to anticipate the people’s problems and eliminate them before a solution is necessary.
The problem here is easy to identify because the class warfare is being carried out in public. The largest advocates of making the rich richer and the poor poorer (which has statistically been happening…like a spreading contagion…rapidly since 1980) are the Republican Party and the Fox News Channel on cable television and the entire News Corp organization.
Tax breaks favor the rich. Sending jobs to China makes products more profitable. That favors the rich, the owners of the companies that make the products. (The top 1% of income earners own 64% of all corporate stocks.) Wars favor the military industrial complex whose owners are also among the rich. Oil profits go to the rich. The rich own the food corporations which now control farming, fertilizer, retail supermarkets and food producers, including meat and processed packaged goods.
The best health care goes to the rich and the upper classes have the best health insurance while 50 million Americans out of 300 million have no health insurance at all. The rich buy their way into the best universities, under the legacy considerations. If your family has alumni connections with Princeton you are nearly five times more likely than the average applicant—everything else being equal—to be accepted.
So even the schools are biased. The children of the rich go to the best prep schools and get into the best universities and best professional schools at a much higher rate and thus get jobs at a much better rate with much better pay. And it isn’t just schools. Social connections through social clubs and political connections make a great deal of difference. For some, the only advantage is an immediate connection, an apprenticeship, an internship or an entry level job. But that is better than no apprenticeship, internship or entry level job.
Tim Russert was an outstanding person and newscaster. But would Luke Russert, no matter how fine a journalist he may become, be reporting on national television if his name were not Russert. Would Mike Wallace’s son be on a national news program if his name, his voice and his personal appearance did not evoke his father’s image? We can’t know these things. All we know for sure are the facts. Their names are the same as their famous father’s name.
Would Paris Hilton be on television or have been on television at all if she were not the granddaughter of Conrad Hilton? The point is not that it is fair or unfair that Paris Hilton is on television and is paid, presumably millions while having a substantial personal income of her own. The point is that there are natural biases built into our socio-economic system automatically, simply because of the tendency of certain economic classes to be in the same proximity for a variety of reasons—heritage, employment, social clubs, neighborhoods, universities or schools.
The cost of universities without scholarship assistance is becoming a factor in the two-tier society. An average good private university will cost $40,000 to $50,000 per year. A four year private university education will therefore cost $160,000 to $200,000. Most average families can no longer afford these amounts of money.
So, whether the young person can go to a junior college or a less expensive public university, the fact is that the student is at a disadvantage—all else being equal—compared with the student from a wealthy family. Now, with government grants being cut back, and student loans cut back and Pell grants cut back…the student whose parent has the money is at an even greater advantage.
Young people with post-graduate degrees are upwardly mobile. It is the one quick and easy way to go from the lower economic strata to the upper economic class. Get a graduate or a professional degree and your income is much more likely to improve. It is almost guaranteed to improve. One way that those who would like to see the separation of the income groups remain wider can succeed is by maintaining higher costs at universities. The harder it is to get a graduate degree, the easier it will be for the rich to pass on management and control of financial assets to their children.
Which brings up the inheritance tax, the tax that the Republicans like to call the “Death Tax.” There are about 1,800 super-wealthy families in this country who have been fighting to have the inheritance tax, the tax on the estate of a wealthy individual who dies, completely revoked. The Bush tax bills actually did achieve that for one year. In 2010, the inheritance tax came to an end for one year and the next year it was to return to levels prior to the Bush tax cuts, which would mean a pretty substantial hike of about 25% more over the 2009 levels. But the point here is that the Anschutzes and the Waltons and the Nordstroms and the heirs to Campbell soup and William Mellon Scaife and others are all sitting around with their tax attorneys each year…how can we get rid of the inheritance tax.
Meanwhile, since Bush II took over we have lost 3,000,000 jobs in outsourcing to Asia alone. That’s 3,000,000 times an average of $40,000 at least or a total of $120 billion we lose every year and $120 billion we cannot tax. So we lose, just from those jobs, about $24 billion each and every year in tax revenues, and we pay about the same in costs associated with people losing their jobs to foreign competition for those U.S. jobs.
So the jobs Bush encouraged people to send overseas amounts to $48 billion a year in real costs, but it also results in lost jobs for those in the service sector that are out of a job and can’t get one because the loss of those jobs has killed many more in our domestic economy…in the service area…laundries, drug stores, restaurants, clothing…you name it. So who profits when jobs go overseas? The owners of those companies….the rich.
Before Ronald Reagan, the average CEO of a Corporation used to make 30 to 50 times what the average worker made. So a worker would make $25,000 in those days and the CEO would make $1,250,000. Seemed like a lot of money at the time. Today, the average worker makes about…let’s be very generous and round $47,000 out to $50,000. So now the average CEO makes 300 times that amount or $15 million dollars a year….every year. While 50 million people are without health care, the average CEO of a health insurance company makes $14 million a year. Average.
How do we know that there is class warfare? We hear it every day from the talking heads on Fox News. We can be sure that it exists because the talking heads mention it daily, only they lie about the facts. For some unfathomable reason, they blame the poor ( “fifty percent of all Americans pay no taxes.” Of course not. They barely have any income.)
But we also know and know more clearly from what Republicans in Congress have done. They tried to end unemployment payments for those who had been out of a job for two years because of a Recession that they created. In order to restore that vital income to families who often had no other source of funds, the Republicans demanded a tax cut to the richest Americans for two years. In a time when fully 25% of Americans are either unemployed, are being cut back to part-time work, are being foreclosed upon, can’t afford college, and, at the same time, have no health care insurance, The Republicans gave another $120,000 a year to people who make $1,000,000 annually.
Class warfare. That’s how you know: take from the poor; give to the rich. That’s what is happening. The way you stop it is to elect 60 members of the Senate and 220 members of the House from the Democratic Party.
Always remember this. Fascists do not share and they do not compromise. So when the German Fascists took over, people said that, yes, they were brutal bigots, but they would only deprive the Jews of some of their civil rights. So they weren’t too bad. Then they smashed some shop windows and beat up some Jews. Now some Germans were worried, but they were warned not to interfere. So they didn’t. And the next thing they knew the Jews were being carted off in trains and the Germans didn’t want to know because it was too late and to speak out was to sign their own tickets to Auschwitz or Dachau.
If you don’t act now to help Wisconsin and Michigan and Ohio and Florida and New Jersey and any other place that is being oppressed, people being laid off, salaries being cut and benefits taken away, then the Fascists will only do worse things, and then still worse things until you have no paycheck at all.
It’s class warfare already. And whether you like it or not, you are on the front lines of the conflict.