The Super-rich grow richer, while the American middle class is gradually gutted. Meanwhile, the America that was running surpluses in the 1990s staggers under record national debts and deficits and concomitant trade deficits.
But is that the worst of it? The "Greatest Generation" achieved greatness during the Great Depression. Stories that have come down in our families attest to the courage and generosity that marked our parents and grandparents as great.
And from their ranks came great leaders. Coming out of the furnace of World War II, they gave us the golden age of the Fifties and Sixties, when an assembly line worker could enter the middle class with good pay, great benefits and a pension. The blight of racism was tackled. The Warren Court extended civil liberties. CEOs only took home 12 times what the worker on the line took home, after the former paid fair income taxes.
General Motors has covered up defects that have killed innocent drivers. Will the CEO and other top execs go to jail? Don't hold your breath. Remember, except for Bernie Madoff, not a single Wall Street architect of the Great Recession has ever seen the inside of a cell. Instead, they were all right back collecting their bonuses, and becoming major contributors to Obama's reelection in '12.
The Veterans Administration thanks the wounded warriors of the so-called War on Terror by ducking their medical needs until some of them simply die. Meanwhile, how do you think Halliburton's executives, and former execs such as Dick Chaney, are living these days?
And yet, America has the highest incarceration rate in the Western democratic world... five time the average. And who are these hapless "convicts"? Mostly folks who possessed illegal drugs. Are they the ones who ought to be occupying the cells?
But, here's the really bad news, dear readers. Change won't be coming from the top anytime soon. Can we achieve change from the grass roots? Do we still have the moral fiber and the courage of our parents and grandparents? Does any of that former greatness remain?
That's the question of the day... every day.
If the answer is "yes," then those who are angry on the right must find a way to get together with those who are angry on the left. Step one is to heal the rift.
This rift is reminiscent of the gap that Southern politicians and businessmen cultivated and encouraged between black and white sharecroppers. So long as the poor of both races saw one another as the enemy, the rich and powerful prevailed.
Nationally, we are in much the same set of circumstances. And until we find common ground on which to close the gap, whatever moral fiber and intestinal courage we have inherited will be wasted.
(Have a nice day!)