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The New American Dream

Written By: - Date published: 7:37 am, April 2nd, 2011 - 14 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war - Tags: , ,

Truthout is one of my favourite sources of political commentary in America. Visit, read, donate, discuss! Here’s a beautiful rant from one of the editors. The Truthout page is missing at time of writing, but the piece is reproduced in full here. As America leads, so shall we dutifully follow…

The New American Dream
by William Rivers Pitt

If you are wealthy, you are living in the Golden Age of your American Dream, and it’s a damned fine time to be alive. The two major political parties are working hammer and tong to bless you and keep you. The laws are being re-written – often by fiat, and in defiance of court orders – to strengthen the walls separating you and your wealth from the motley masses. Your stock portfolio, mostly made by and for oil and war, continues to swell. Your banks and Wall Street shops destroyed the economy for everyone except you, and not only did they get away with it, but were handed a vast dollop of taxpayer cash as a bonus prize.

The little people probably crack you up when you bother to think about them. Their version of the American Dream is a ragged blanket too short to cover them, but they still buy into it, and that’s the secret of your strength in the end. So many of them walk into the voting booths and solemnly vote against their own best interests, and for yours, because the American Dream makes them think they, too, will be rich someday. They won’t – you’ve made sure of that – but so long as they keep believing it, your money will continue to roll in.

The Citizens United Supreme Court decision swept away the last tattered shreds of the façade of fairness in politics and electioneering, and now you own the whole store. You can use your vast financial resources to lie on a national level now, lie with your bare face hanging out, because it works. You’re not the bad guy in America. Teachers, cops, firefighters, union members and public-sector employees are the bad guys, the reason for all our economic woes. NPR and Planned Parenthood are the bad guys. You did that, and when governors like Scott Walker rampage through worker’s rights on your dime, you chuckle into your sleeve and enjoy your interest rate.

We’re firing teachers and missiles simultaneously, to poach a line from Jon Stewart, and the inherent disconnect fails to sink in among those serving as dray horses for your greed and ambition. They’re in the traces, bellowing about what you want them to focus on thanks to your total control of the “mainstream” news media, and they plow your fields with the power of their incoherent, misdirected rage.

They pay their taxes. Isn’t that a hoot? They pay their taxes dutifully and annually, and that money gets shunted right to you and your friends, thanks to the politicians who love you and the laws that favor you, not to mention the wars that sustain you. They pay their taxes when they should just pay you, right? Talk about getting rid of government waste. They should just pay you directly and cut out the middle man, because it all goes to the same place in the end. You.

You are General Electric, and you paid no taxes in 2010. You made $14.2 billion in worldwide profits, $5.1 billion of which was made in America, and you’re tax burden amounted to a big fat zero. In fact, you claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion, thanks to your anti-tax lobbying efforts in Washington and your use of offshore tax havens that protect and defend your profit margin.

You are ExxonMobil, and you paid no taxes in 2009. In fact, you got a $156 million return.

You are Bank of America, and despite receiving a massive chunk of the taxpayer-funded bailout, despite recording a profit of $4.4 billion, you paid no taxes and received a $1.9 billion rebate.

You are Chevron, and you made $10 billion in 2009. You paid no taxes, and got a $19 million refund.

You are Citigroup, and you paid no taxes despite earning more than $4 billion, and despite getting a sizeable chunk of the taxpayer-funded bailout.

Your favorite part of it all?

The part that makes you laugh out loud?

It’s when you hear the politicians you own talk about “shared sacrifices” and “fiscal responsibility.” Man, that’s a hoot. You watch them rave and froth on Capitol Hill about shutting down the government because the country doesn’t have enough money to fund “entitlement programs” the little people have been paying into for decades. The very term – “entitlement” – cracks you up; how is it an entitlement if people paid for it? Nobody asks that question, of course. Nobody asks about cutting the bloated defense budget. Nobody asks where the billions diverted to Iraq and Afghanistan actually went, or where the money for Libya is going. For damned sure, nobody demands that you pony up and pay your fair share. You made sure of that, and the show goes on.

The United States of America has undergone a powerful transformation over the course of a single generation, and you are right up there in the catbird seat, watching it all unfold. For you, the New American Dream is “I got mine, kiss my ass, work and die (if you can find work, sucker), and pay me.” For everyone else, the New American Dream is about simple survival, about running as fast as they can while going inexorably backwards.

Maybe you can even see the cancer eating away at the country that has treated you so royally, but you don’t really care. You are safe and comfortable behind your gilded walls.

For now, anyway.

This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

WILLIAM RIVERS PITT

William Rivers Pitt is a Truthout editor and columnist. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: “War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn’t Want You to Know” and “The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.” His newest book, “House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America’s Ravaged Reputation,” is now available from PoliPointPress.

14 comments on “The New American Dream ”

  1. higherstandard 1

    same old same old.

    • felix 1.1

      Yeah, it’s sad how for some people it’s a matter of pride – patriotic even – to be shat on and fucked over from birth to death.

      There’s no-one behind the curtain. Drink your beer and get back to work.

  2. ianmac 2

    Echoes in NZ. Especially the call for “shared sacrifices”. Tax cuts for the rich? State Asset sales for the rich?

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Well written and factually precise. Very striking.

    • RedLogix 3.1

      Yeah.. I first spotted William Rivers Pitt back in 2001. He’s a great writer, both intellectually and emotionally satisfying.

      From what I recall back then, he really is just a guy whose eyes are open… and has the talent, perhaps curse…. of not being able to refrain from telling the rest of us what he is seeing.

  4. johnm 4

    The film “Wall Street Money never sleeps” clearly shows the pinnacle of the criminal Neo-Liberal ideology of the strong screw the weak (In economic terms). Gecko has just got out of Prison for illegal market manipulations and is apparently broke and destitute! But no! Like a more mundane Bank Robber he’s managed to hide a pile of money from the authorities not in a triple reinforced plastic bags in a hole in a field but Yes! You guessed it! In a Swiss Bank Account! and it’s a sizable pile too a $100 million in loot no less (We are now in the time period where ordinary American suckers are heading for: 44 million on food stamps and well over a million about to be foreclosed on and chucked out of their homes, and if ill without medical insurance they can go off and die!). Gecko gets his daughter to go to Switzerland to get the money but through sleight of technique he gets it into his own bank account,despite promising to get on her right side again to donate it to a energy fusion project in her boyfriend’s name! Our hero Gecko delivers while controlling the funds the great god market which screws ordinary Americans rewards him and he’s smoking cigars again in his London Office lording it over a table of admirers?! He’s turned the $100 million into a $1,000,000,000 WOW! He hasn’t produced anything of worth or even really worked. He now comes right and makes the donation of $100 million to the project winning back the respect of his daughter!
    JKeyll is our very own Gecko he’s made 10s of millions manipulating the currency markets and we’re like those sucker Americans we think he’s great! All the while he’s selling us off to his rich mates by wrecking the Public Commonwealth with rash tax cuts and selling off our assets making us the Public ( A concept ACTnat simply don’t recognise in their total ignorance-It’s Socialism!) poorer until we will have eventually huge income inequalities as does banana republic has been America!

  5. Pascal's bookie 5

    Moar

    http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2011/04/wringing-out-excesses.html

    At a time most employees can barely remember their last substantial raise, median CEO pay jumped 27% in 2010 as the executives’ compensation started working its way back to prerecession levels, a USA TODAY analysis of data from GovernanceMetrics International found. …

    …Median CEO pay is 9 million dollars a year….

    …It’s very hard to see how this is sustained if the rest of the country isn’t sharing in the wealth. On the other hand, the unemployment rate dropped again this month to a mere 8.8% (which reminds me of the Japanese earthquake — they are regularly having 6.9 aftershocks right now, which normally would be considered huge, but because they are compared to the Big One, seem like nothing.)

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      …Median CEO pay is 9 million dollars a year….

      …It’s very hard to see how this is sustained if the rest of the country isn’t sharing in the wealth.

      The journo hasn’t figured out that the CEOs get rewarded with that level of pay because they don’t share the wealth with the rest of the country. It’s in the job description.

  6. Jum 6

    Which one do I choose? Mike’s Recovery up, Living Standards Down or Rob’s The New American Dream? I know – I’ll copy it to both. It affects both threads only not in America or Britain but in New Zealand.

    Just when I thought the property investors federation were about to attack the vulnerable, I read this:

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1104/S00024/house-prices-not-main-cause-of-poor-productivity.htm

  7. r0b 7

    Crikey – something must be stirring up ‘merkin lefties this week. From the mainstream Yahoo/Reuters news pages:

    Cost of US ‘free’ trade: collapse of two centuries of broadly shared prosperity

    Future jobs won’t support decent living standard: Report

    • Jum 7.1

      ‘We threw our markets open to the world’ not sure I agree with that bit from

      Cost of US ‘free’ trade: collapse of two centuries of broadly shared prosperity

      I also wish they weren’t ‘sharing’ now with the TPPA.

      Good that people are getting stirred up. This inequity is happening globally and we know because we have the international networks and the people who disperse them for societal good informing us.

      The internet network needs to watch its back however; the people that like their riches and their power and want to keep them will do whatever it takes to close down what offends them – our freedoms.

  8. Hilary 8

    That former NZer Merrill Lynch woman on Q and A this morning talked about how Cameron’s austerity measures are necessary, Of course Paul didn’t ask her how come disabled people have to give up their benefits but no reciprocity is expected from the bailed out banks.

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