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January 13, 2012

Coming Revolution

Roy Meachum

Conservatives scoff at the Occupy Wall Street protesters; others have difficulty dismissing them, and the various signs of discontent in this republic. In fact, the disparity between the highest incomes and the average earners has never in our history been wider.


Notice: I didn’t say America is a democracy.


The Supreme Court guaranteed the observed reality by ruling corporations have all the rights and perks of individuals. As a direct consequence, companies and wealthy individuals are pouring in millions to 2012 political campaigns. So far, the selection of a Republican presidential candidate has generated all the heat.


Since Republicans belong to the party because of ideological principles, it’s easier for entities, corporate and people, to put their money where their mouths are to the disadvantage of citizens. What applies to politics is more manifest in economic arenas. A computer network offered $45 billion – that was refused – to a potential chairman who instead started his own company.


In a very fresh example: Having eliminated eight athletic programs because of money, the University of Maryland is determined to raze and replace the College Park presidential mansion at a cost of $7.2 million. The new house will present 14,000 square feet.


The sum is being raised by a special fund; we are told it has nothing to do with operating expenses, like sports. Furthermore, present President Wallace Loh might never live there. Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak wrote: “The same kind of thinking was at work in 2009 when Maryland built the $50 million Tysonr Tower, an edifice to luxury sports-watching where the elusive 1 percent would allegedly buy suites and lavish money upon the campus as they watched football.”


And my alma mater – class of 1955 – is a public institution!


In the private sector, things are even worse. News stories of hundred million-dollars bonuses are to be expected. We live in an age when Marie Antoinette’s phrase used to justify the French Revolution applies equally, although there are no cakes in jobless food lines. Price increases further restrict spending. We are told the hikes are necessary to create new jobs. “Bushwa” is a word learned during my New Orleans childhood. Most proposed solutions for the economic crisis sound like voodoo magic to me.


Meanwhile, real human beings are forced to exist on unemployment money, draw from their savings, and charities – or do without. While the executives and workers not on a payroll fluctuate in a downward fashion from the once standard 9.6 average, Americans hold the two main political parties to blame. As I wrote before, the main onus lies on Congress, particularly the House of Representatives where money bills must be generated, according to the Constitution.


Several years ago when the deepest recession since the Great Depression was demonstrably underway, I observed to my son that we might be headed for a revolution. Sharing a family passion for history, he replied: “But, dad, revolutions are always started by the middle class.”


That was before thousands of foreclosures and corporations laid off millions, hurting most of all the middle class. Friends who are lawyers and other white-collar types have suffered from the lack of fees and trade. Woodsboro’s Dorsey’s Meats quietly closed the doors and filed for bankruptcy, after five generations and over 150 years in business. They will be missing from next autumn’s Great Frederick Fair where they consistently were celebrated and praised.


What a pity!


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