There is one thing I know for sure, and that is the decline in the middle class earning power is a real, possibly the greatest, threat to our democracy. That slow but steady erosion has put the middle class looking for scape goats and it, in a negative way, affects immigration policy, hurts race relations, champions neo-Nazis and changes our politics to create tribalism.
There are numerous reasons Trump is president but at least one small bit was due to Clintons comment about “deplorables.” I was a supporter of hers, but really took offense at that comment. Thank God she walked it back right after she said it.
A few days ago, I read a quote from Senator Chuck Grassley that struck me the same way. He said, “It seems to me there ought to be some incentive and reward for those who work and save and invest in America as opposed to those who just live from day to day.”
Most people live day to day in today’s world because the economy has gone south for them and taken away their ability to make it in today’s world. For him not to get that is embarrassing and cruel. Let’s see if the senator is as honest as Clinton was about her mistake and walks it back.
I have told my story many times, but a bit of it needs repeating here to make my point. After high school I became an apprentice meat cutter. I did that for a few years in Indiana and New Jersey and then went part-time when I started college. That’s how I worked my way through college – as a union butcher and I’m darn proud of it. My last meat-cutting job was when I was in grad school, at Indiana State University in Terra Haute, Indiana. That was in 1972/73 and I made $5.05 per hour. Run that up the CPI in 2017 terms and you get $30.00 per hour, or about $62,000 per year. With a little overtime, that’s 70,000 to $75,000 per year. That is a good living wage, but those guys are not making that today – not even close. Based upon my experience, I get, really get, what is going on with the average to semi-skilled worker with no college.
Yes, I am a registered Democrat and have been one since the late 80’s, but I have also stood in my living room at a couple of Grassley fundraisers I hosted, and introduced the senator by saying, “I am a Democrat and I support Chuck Grassley.”
Very sorry, but no longer is that the case. Like so many of my former Republican friends, he has changed dramatically the last few years. For a long time I felt he changed because he did not want to get primaried. I now wonder if aging has changed his moral compass. Whatever it is, the only thing I know for sure is I could not vote for him again. That is a sad commentary on where American politics is and it seems to be getting worse.
I’m sure the stock market will climb some more once the Republican tax bill is finally passed, but it is a tragedy that the Congress did not work across party lines to get a good and fair piece of legislation passed. I understand fully that the Republicans needed to supply their base of wealthy donors legislation, which they might like. BUT (a big) BUT why are the folks who got Trump elected left behind on this bill?
The hollowed-out middle class, the Pennsylvania iron worker, the West Virginia coal miner, the Michigan and Wisconsin factory worker, all of whom have not seen wages keep up the past few years, elected Trump to “shake things up and drain the swamp” of the power brokers in Washington. The only way those folks are helped by this bill is if one believes in trickle-down economics. History shows that is a true pipe dream. If this bill doesn’t show why we need a change in Washington, nothing will.
by Dick Goodson