Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class—And What We Can Do about It
a book by Thom Hartmann
(our site's book review)
Thom Hartmann is the author of a number of books which have been translated to various languages and sold in four continents. In addition, he’s also an entrepreneur and a widely popular speaker on culture and communications. He is also the former director of a residential treatment facility for children and one of the people behind the establishment of several hospitals, schools, relief programs, and homes for orphaned children.
Hartmann wishes to put an end to this screwing of the little guy—and the middle class
Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class—And What We Can Do about It says that for democracy to work there cannot be an oligarchy of a small number of superrich and a mass of serfs. Instead, we need there to be relativly equal opportunity and less disparity of income. He says we must oppose every effort to create such an aristocratic, divided society in favor of greater equality of opportunity. Our current situation is degenerating into the middle class being taught that their function is to work hard to keep the oligarchs oozing in luxury, power, and status. We seem to remember that rebelling against King George for doing this same thing is how this country evolved in the first place!
We seem to remember that rebelling against King George for doing the rich versus serf thing is how this country evolved in the first place
"Under the guise of "freeing" the market, conservatives have enriched themselves and their fat-cat cronies and screwed everyone else. By exposing the machinations of those whose greed and irresponsibility is destroying the middle class, Screwed empowers readers to stand up, speak out, and return America to the principles envisioned by its founders."—Publishers Weekly
The gap between the incomes of rich and poor is expected but the gap is huge between the rich and the middle class as well
Is the European past the same as the American future?
Hartmann, in this excellent book, tells us that Robber Barons plundered the nation in the later part of the nineteenth century, and then later corporate greed created the Great Depression, and now the modern Corporatocracy is pressing for the dismantling of the social safety net in the pursuit of greed as a positive good. (One wonders if they'll believe it's a positive good when robbers rob their homes in pursuit of greed as a positive good? So we see that it is only THEIR greed that is good. Our greed is bad. Hmmmmmm . . .) Hartmann's closing lines are a call to arms to fight this Corporatocracy at every turn: "We are fighting a war in America for the very heart and soul of our country. But it's a war we can do something about. Don't let yourself be screwed, speak up, fight back, and never, never yield."
One wonders if the rich will believe it's a positive good when robbers rob their homes in pursuit of greed as a positive good?
'Don't let yourself be screwed, speak up, fight back, and never, never yield,' says Hartmann in a call to arms
The author shows how our U.S. middle class that was so carefully constructed by our country’s founders has been systematically and cynically dismantled over the past 25 years, and under the guise of freeing the market, replaced by a system designed to line the pockets of the super-rich and corporations. And he traces where the concept of corporations as persons came from and the implications (a better source for that subject is Supercapitalism, by Robert Reich).
He discusses American fascism. See Understanding the F-Word: American Fascism and the Politics of Illusion. There is a name for government of, by, and for corporations. It’s called fascism.
The Founders created the strong middle class to prevent the moneyed and powerful from controlling government. It worked pretty well until the shadow government took over the government. See The Shadow Government and Shadow Elite: How the World's New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market.
Our nation's actions are making the Founders turn over in their graves
The author tracks the last four presidential administrations and the decisions that ultimately led to the corporatocracy we suffer from now. Corporatocracy's power is monopolistic at heart. When corporatocracy reigns, democracy takes it on the chin, since those in power are circumventing democratic processes and structures as they rule from the golden thrones of the shadow government. See When Corporations Rule the World, where David Korten treats us to a devastating critique of the tyranny of the global economy, globalism, the multinational corporatocracy, and greed of a few dictating the misery of the many and the utter failure of democracy as a system of governance—since it is the oligarchs of the corporatocracy that rule these days, deftly side-stepping democratic concerns. They're burying democracy 6 feet under.
The greed of a few are dictating the misery of the many and the utter failure of democracy as a system of governance—the elites are burying democracy 6 feet under
When corporatocracy reigns, democracy takes it on the chin
Republicans went crazy, Democrats became useless, and the Middle Class got shafted (or is it Trumped?)—this drunken party of greed gone mad is NOT the plan our founders envisioned!
FDR implemented the two necessary economic ingredients—a classical economic model and a government-spending stimulus—thereby almost single-handedly creating the modern middle class. He, Jefferson and Washington are the three greatest leaders we've had. The Bushes and Truman and Obama are the worst, although Hartmann is probably too liberal to agree with this latter assessment.
Why would these oligarchs choose to dishonor our Founders and our country and our democratic heritage this way? Three words: greed, power, and control. From their point of view, letting a bunch of ignorant sheep (the citizens) have a real say in national decisions is foolish, dangerous, and unnecessary. Why not actually have a few of the elites in the shadow government pull the real levers of power to keep things less messy but especially more profitable to the elites? If these puppet masters had run things for the good of the people instead of to line their own pockets, the world would be a far different place. Our democracy is now nothing but a delusion. See Democracy—an American Delusion
Limitless greed led the shadow government's puppet masters to run things to line their own pockets—citizens be damned
In the U.S., the 1% people get 99% and the 99% people (us) get 1%. Is it fair we get leftover scraps and they pig out?
But then along came a well-meaning guy named Ronald Reagan who didn't understand the meaning of U.S. history but did know the meaning of how to be a great communicator. This turned out to be a deadly combination: ignorance multiplied by a very gifted ability to spread it. Reagan slashed regulations left and right, with Big Business looking on lovingly as their champion knocked out decades of social progress and democratic progress with an actor's flair for drama. And the huge law firms and PR firms and advertising firms that backed his efforts comprised the most sophisticated misinformation campaign ever foisted on the American public. Most people who were part of these campaigns didn't even realize that it was misinformation—including Reagan, who didn't realize he was being used as a pawn of the shadow government efforts to consolidate global corporate rule.
Ronald Reagan, the 'great communicator,' was an unwitting corporatocracy tool; this turned out to be a deadly combination: ignorance multiplied by a very gifted ability to spread it
"Hartmann is a knowledgeable and astute observer and critic of US history and more recent policies gone awry under 25 years of this kind of government, beginning with the Reagan presidency. It's been corrupted by the notion that what serves the interests of business elites in corporate boardrooms benefit ordinary people as well. It never has, never will, and, despite the slick rhetoric, isn't intended to. . . . A measure of how inequality has widened since Ronald Reagan was elected is in the ratio of CEO pay to the average working person.
It rose from 42 times in 1980 to 85 times in 1990 and 431 times in 2004. . . .
Benjamin Franklin studied the Iroquois Confederacy (native Americans) and was so impressed with it he got the Founders to model much of our Constitution after their system of governance. They did it on the basis of government of, for and by the people based on the notion that everyone has the right to 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.'"(Source: Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class—And What We Can Do about It)
Our Founders' wonderful dream at conception
James Madison said “Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.” So this is the underlying context of Dubya's illegal, genocidal war on Iraq using U.S. security and democratization of Iraq as cover stories—which the Iraqis were much too smart to buy. They knew he was there for oil. Dubya thought of Iraq as an extension of Texas!
Dubya's illegal, genocidal war on Iraq used U.S. security and democratization of Iraq as cover stories—his real motive was oil; Dubya thought of Iraq as an extension of Texas!
Bush's war in Iraq was a huge success for corporate America—it redistributed wealth from American taxpayers to multinational corporations
"Bush's war in Iraq was a huge success for corporate America. It redistributed wealth from American taxpayers to multinational corporations at an astonishing pace while leaving the Iraqi people literally in the dark," says Hartmann. Hartman is encyclopedic in his knowledge of US history and what turned our government from its moral path of peaceful capitalist entrepreneurialism to a corrupt neocon-controlled Empire-building warmongering corporatocracy. Strong democracy and a strong middle class are symbiotic, empowering one another.
For a very insightful critique on the Bush AND Obama presidencies, we consult the current Liar-in-Chief: "'We’ve spent trillions of dollars overseas, while allowing our own infrastructure to fall into total disrepair and decay,' Trump told CPAC [Conservative Political Action Conference ]. 'And by the way, the Middle East is in — I mean, it’s not even close, it’s in much worse shape than it was 15 years ago. If our presidents would have gone to the beach for 15 years, we would be in much better shape than we are right now, that I can tell you.'" (Source: George W. Bush Not Thrilled by Behavior of Monster He Helped Create)
Trump is right, if our presidents would have gone to the beach for 15 years, we would be in much better shape than we are right now (but they wouldn't)
Hartmann exposes the truthiness con game the talk show pundits are playing: “'smaller government' doesn’t mean fewer taxes for you and me—or fewer politicians. It means government of, by, and for the corporations and inherited wealth rather than of, by, and for We the People." And when the G.O.P. con artists say smaller government, they're meaning fewer regulations to bother their big business buddies. The G.O.P. con artists are "replacing democracy with corporate rule, a feudal state controlled exclusively by the largest of the corporations. They are calling for nothing less than the destruction of the middle class—and thus democracy—in the United States of America." When the Founders signed the Declaration of Independence, they were voting for democracy instead of oligarchy—the opposite of what the Republicans do.
The US is an oligarchy, study concludes
Hartmann does offers solutions to some of the problems that he cites in this book. The biggest solution is citizen involvement, particularly in local party politics. Other solutions include progressive taxation, regulation of large predatory corporations, stop letting corporations have the rights of people, and protecting domestic industry by imposing tariffs on cheap labor imports. Hartmann's Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class—And What We Can Do about It is an intelligent critique of the contemporary plight of the middle class.