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We’re Number Two!

The American middle class is no longer the world’s richest. What a relief! The guilt of belonging to the greediest bunch in the history of the world was starting to get to me. 

How did we let our society get so out of control? How did a free people allow our government to insinuate itself into our lives so thoroughly, mandating a minimum wage, a 40-hour workweek and workplace safety rules? It was painful to watch my boss struggle along on only 360 times my salary so that I could enjoy a comfortable home, two cars, the ability to educate my children, and a decent retirement.

How on earth were we convinced to create a progressive tax code that redistributed wealth from the richest Americans to programs that benefited the rest of us? How were we gulled into funding overreaching government-controlled programs like Social Security and Medicare with our own hard-earned tax dollars? Sure, not being destitute and without health care in our old age might sound good, but at what cost? 

For too long we were persuaded by politicians that taking care of each other was in our own best interests, that the common good was more important than amassing wealth. Thank goodness we no longer believe that nonsense! Fortunately, we’ve come to our senses and stopped electing people who put the so-called well-being of the American public ahead of narrow partisanship and rigid ideology.

That said, there is still much to undo. Yes, we’ve turned our backs on the long-term unemployed, who’ve been allowed to bleed the treasury for way too long. Get a job, people! Congress is finally talking seriously about destroying what remains of the insidious social safety net that has undermined personal initiative and made us so dependent on each other.

Even with the recent decline, our middle class is proving to be so resilient that almost thirty years of relentless assault have only reduced it to number two in the world. We know that Republicans in Congress and their allies in the business world (and a few frightened Democrats) will continue the noble fight to destroy it once and for all, but victory is hardly assured.

We let our president impose government-controlled health care on us, and unless we can repeal it, we’re going to be paying forever for sick people who have no business getting insurance. There’s even a foolhardy attempt to raise the minimum wage once again. You’d think we’d know better than to go down that road by now.

This November, we have another chance to vote against our own narrow self-interest and elect an unprecedented slate of politicians dedicated to rolling back our misguided experiment in prosperity for all.

Let’s not let this historic opportunity pass.

Feb 2

Whodunnit

Frustrated administration officials admitted today that they were no closer to identifying those responsible for recent attacks on Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense.

A spokesman for the Defense Department said, “shadowy organizations calling themselves “Use Your Mandate,” “Americans for a Strong Defense” and “Secure America Now” have launched brazen assaults on Mr. Hagel’s character, but we have no way of knowing who’s really behind them.

"These groups hide out in the wild border regions between Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia, where they often operate with total impunity, given the lack of any real government oversight. Apparently they are extremely well-financed, and they’re careful not to reveal their funding sources. Identifying who’s bankrolling them is a real problem for us.

"We think they’re probably a loose confederation of determined ideologues with their own agendas, but who share a common hatred of the president. They come together briefly to plan an attack, place an ad buy and then disappear back into their clandestine caves on K Street. One day it may be Sheldon Adelson, defense contractors and drug manufacturers, and the next it’s Karl Rove and energy companies."

An administration spokesman added, “we have convincing evidence that they sometimes coordinate their activities with certain members of Congress, but they’re careful not to leave any fingerprints.

"It’s pretty annoying, but we’re doing what we can with what we have to work with. We can wish all we want that America was better able to control its rogue elements and that its political system was more transparent, but when you’re dealing with a country in  which wealthy oligarchs wield enormous power and the where the legislature and the courts don’t really value democratic principles, that’s what you get."

Jan 2

Avoiding the Cliff

In a rare show of bipartisanship, a reluctant House of Representatives yesterday went along with the Senate and passed legislation designed to avert the so-called fiscal cliff of tax increases and budget cuts scheduled to go into effect on January 1. The compromise legislation raises taxes on Americans making more than $400,000, extends unemployment insurance and buys Congress more time to address deep spending cuts.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the No. 2 man in the House, said in a prepared statement, “Today the members of the House of Representatives chose to put the best interests of the nation ahead of our own narrow self-interests. That will never happen again on my watch.”

Angry rank-and-file Republicans, many of whom held their noses and voted to support the bill, passed earlier by the Senate, echoed Mr. Cantor’s sentiments.

Rep. John Campbell of California said, “Today the American people, not the politicians and not the special interests who fund our campaigns, are the real winners. It’s sickening. I don’t know how I’m going to explain this to the wealthy contributors who rightly expect us turn the entire national treasury over to them.”

Mr. Cantor added, “At least we still have the debt ceiling to fight over. We can look forward to bringing the government into default and destroying our credit rating in a few weeks. There’s still ample opportunity to derail this recovery and throw America into recession again if we play our cards right. As soon as the new members are sworn in, we can get down to the business of making the 113th Congress even more lame than the 112th. This isn’t over. Not by a long shot.”