I listened to Bruce Judson on NPR yesterday discussing his new book, It Could Happen Here: America on the Brink .
Unfortunately, Bruce has a poor speaking voice - you can hear him at his blog (and also get a quick overview of what the book is about). Don't let his voice interfere with what he has to say - it's important.
You can also read this Huffington Post column for background.
My more right leaning readers won't like what he has to say - but you haven't liked what I've said about this either, so that's nothing new. It's that horrible "socialism" again, stealing money from hard working folks who earned it by the sweat of their brow, you can't punish the wealthy, yadda, yadda.
OK, fine, we hear you. But both history and modern game theory teaches that if you get too greedy, you are likely to lose it all. Right now, the rich are far too greedy: close to 25% of all income is concentrated in the top 1% of U.S. taxpayers.
Perhaps even worse, overall wealth is concentrated even more: more than half of it is held by 5% of our population.
Let's forget about the suffering of the poor, the vanishing middle class. We are unimportant, voiceless, powerless. Let's accept the right's insistence that concentration of wealth is good and just. Forget morality, let's just talk about those all important rich people who do matter: if they keep greedily grabbing every crumb, their world will crash around them.
Bruce Judson's book posits a revolution of the left, rising up to demand higher taxes for the rich, more social programs and free health care. That could happen, though I think it's more likely to come from the right, the "tea party" people, who will want the Constitution re-written with "Christian" guidance. In the NPR interview, Bruce agreed that it could go that way just as easily.
The point is that people WILL reach a breaking point and all hell WILL break loose. Maybe not now, maybe not until we're squeezed a lot harder, but it will happen. I don't know how bad unemployment has to get or how many families need to be forced out of their homes, but at some point, people will stop being civil, stop hoping that politicians will act, and will tear down the system with their bare hands.
None of us wants that. Not the poor, not the struggling middle class, but most of all the wealthy should fear this the most. They have the most to lose and the farthest to fall. It's one thing to move from a rat infested apartment to a refrigerator box under a bridge - it's quite another to move from a mansion.
I'm almost 62 years old. My retirement funds have been hurt badly and my income has gone down almost 40%. I'm still surviving, and actually living pretty high on the hog, all things considered. But it wouldn't take an awful lot more damage to push me into desperate straits. A serious medical condition, another stock market crash - it could happen, and my reserves are now too weak to survive it. Could I become a guerilla revolutionary? Yeah, honestly, it could happen. It's not likely, but it's not inconceivable,
If I, living in relative luxury, feel like that, what do you think the guy who has been out of work for a year is feeling? What about my daughter's friend whose wife just died after a long cancer fight and the medical bills that exceeded his insurance cap have forced him and his children to lose their home? What's he feeling?
So keep on saying it's "socialist" to raise taxes. Keep on saying we can't break up these giant corporations. Keep on saying we can't afford universal health insurance, can't afford welfare programs, can't afford this, can't afford that. Keep on saying it until it all blows up.
And then what have you got?
If you found something useful today, please consider a small donation.
Got something to add? Send me email.
More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2010-04-23 Anthony Lawrence
Any inaccuracies in this index may be explained by the fact that it has been sorted with the help of a computer. (Donald Knuth)