Another layer of the problem is increased class stratification. I know lots of people personally who came from working class families, both my age and somewhat younger, who went to elite schools and got prestigious jobs. All sorts of data now shows that people who grow up in lower income cohorts are unlikely to leave them. Greater class differences and less class mingling means that there are fewer opportunities for bright, energetic kids from the wrong side of the tracks to learn to master the class markers necessary to move up the social ladder. And that’s before you get to the fact that continuing attacks on public education and teachers, the increased propensity of parents of means to send their children to private schools, and the looting operation known as charter schools (video) have increased the gap between the pre-college educational experience of the upper middle class and affluent and everyone else.The current economic regime in America is all about increasing distance between the 1% and everyone else. "But, but...Hillary Clinton says we're stronger together!" Ah, but they're mere words that don't match the neoliberal agenda dutifully followed by every administration since Reagan. Both parties have abandoned the working classes and instead, have pursued the big bucks of the elites, the 1%, and the professional class.
If you don't believe me, check out this video of Bill Clinton and Paul Ryan talking together at the conservative Peter Peterson Foundation in May of 2011:
Bill Clinton is a Democrat and former president of the United States. Paul Ryan is a Republican, and now speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States. In this video, we see that both of them agree to cut Medicare. Isn't it interesting that a former president could still have so much influence in public policy long after leaving office? The Peter Peterson Foundation is a part of the "Fix the Debt" cabal of very wealthy people who are continually shifting the burden onto the middle class. Fix the Debt is an organization dedicated to balancing the budget, without raising taxes (on the wealthy).
Notice that when politicians talk about tax cuts, they're not talking about anyone but the 1%. When the 1% get those tax cuts what do they do? This is what I said about the Bush tax cuts in 2013:
The tax cuts were not used to spread the prosperity around. They were used instead to build, secure and assert an advantage for the business owners over the rest of us. For example, the trend over the last 30 years has seen business investments move from labor to capital. This means that instead of paying employees to do the work, more automation is in use or, labor has been moved offshore. This resulted in exploding profits for the largest corporations. This is a tremendous advantage.
What will employers do with this advantage? They will use it to buy homes in gated communities, private security services, power generators for their homes, private schooling for their kids. They will seek distance from the middle class, both in economic and social terms to ensure that they no longer have to compete directly with the middle class or even have contact with them.The 1% has very little empathy for the lower classes. As the 1% prevail to cut education funding, health care funding, seek to privatize public lands for exploitation, send our jobs overseas and send our kids off to war, the costs are borne by the lower classes, and the wealthy get their bailouts when it all goes bust. I get the sense that the 1% sincerely believe that they are entitled to punish everyone else for "not getting it".
I have seen firsthand the contempt some wealthy people can have for "lesser humans". We see it in Donald Trump. We have seen it in Hillary Clinton as she wore a $12,000 pantsuit while schooling us about inequality. We've seen it in the DNC and their zeal for getting Hillary nominated despite popular support for Bernie Sanders, something that I will never forget.
The class stratification that we've witnessed over the last 40 years allows the upper classes to isolate from the rest of us. They go to their own private schools, have their own social and business networks and get exclusive access to the halls of power. They exert meaningful influence over Congress and statehouses, something that middle class people can only dream about, as observed by this study, Testing Theories of American Politics:Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens. Though we are all human, the money is what separates us.
Our supersized prison industrial complex is nothing more than modern day slavery. It is punitive in every sense of the word for the inmates and for the guards. The American prison system is not about rehabilitation, for if it were, we'd have a far lower rate of recidivism, and that is by design of the people who have the most influence in public policy. The 1%.
If the 1% are unhappy that they are so reviled by everyone else, perhaps they need only to look in the mirror and consider the following proposition: punishment does not build coping skills.
In every case where punishment is delivered, the recipient only grows more determined to defeat the messenger and the sender. It is as if the elite truly believe that they can overwhelm their opponents with force. We see that attitude in our criminal justice system, our politics and our foreign policy.
I believe that pain is America's biggest export. I know this because for as long as I can remember, terrorists has been the enemy and terrorism has been used perversely to unify Americans. Terrorism is simply a ruse to distract us from a much bigger problem.
Check out this video of a boy as he is pulled out of the rubble in Syria. He has no idea what is going on. All he knows is that he is hurting, covered in blood and dust, and has no idea who did this to him. He is a victim in a war he knows nothing about. Thousands of kids like him may later be indoctrinated to find the source of the bombs and seek retribution. Those people seeking retribution, are probably the same people we call "terrorists". When we sell or send bombs that are used to kill the children of other people, and those other people strike back, we call them "terrorists".
Because we live so far away from them, we can objectify those other people as "terrorists" instead of actually helping them. Hillary Clinton and others like her, helped to sell those weapons. People like Hillary Clinton and President Obama either gave the order to drop the bombs or delegated that authority to someone else to do it. That's the punishment foreign countries receive for "not getting it".
Whether the perspective is global or local, we can easily verify that punishment does not teach coping skills. Punishment only teaches us to cope with punishment, it does not teach us how to solve problems. Punishment distracts us from the natural consequences of our behavior. When a kid does something "wrong" punishment is a manufactured consequence. When a kid makes a mistake, the consequence is not manufactured by the parent. The natural consequence of a mistake is an opportunity to learn how to do something that works. As parents, it is our job to teach our kids the skills they need to cope with life.
In politics and economics, most of what we have been doing in America is manufacturing a consequence for everyone but the 1%. Since the 1% have real influence over the government by virtue of their money, they should be held accountable for their public policy decisions, including their mistakes, but they're not. Everyone else is punished for the mistakes of the 1%. The austerity, the slow economy, the wars, and the prison state, are all manufactured consequences of the rest of us "not getting it".
I have yet to see an example where punishment did not reinforce unwanted behavior. Not as a parent, not as a child and not as a social or political observer. Punishment doesn't make society better. Anyone familiar with our prison systems knows this. One only need to compare recidivism rates between America and Norway. In America, if the problem goes away, it is only because the problem "solved" by punishment goes into hiding. In Sweden, if the problem goes away, it is because inmates are taught the coping skills they need to be a part of society.
It is only through true political discourse, negotiation and a commitment to living peacefully together, that real solutions are created. Take note of some of the deliberations of the Democratic National Committee. As punishment for "trespassing", most of Bernie Sanders' picks for committee appointments were ignored. As punishment for even being present in Nevada, many delegates that supported Bernie Sanders were shut out of the deliberations process. After all that, there were calls for unity. But instead, the DNC got a #demexit that is ongoing and could potentially damage or even decimate the Democratic Party after the elections in November.
Until we make a sincere commitment to live in peace and work together to solve our common problems, little progress will be made. Neither the Democrats or Republicans are truly committed to peace. Both major parties still very much believe in punitive action as part of the solution in the hopes of securing that elite campaign funding goodness.
There are some Berniecrats entering the fray who can help set things right. They believe in the peaceful agenda set by Bernie Sanders. The Green Party is finally starting to get meaningful national recognition with their peaceful agenda as well. With any luck, Jill Stein may appear on the stage with Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Libertarian candidate for president, Gary Johnson. We need greater diversity of political parties in political discourse because the two party system is broke and doesn't work for us anymore.
I would love to see Bernie Sanders on the debate stage, but he has other plans and from what I can tell, he's really busy with Our Revolution. The closest match for my priorities for the remaining candidates for president is Jill Stein. The Green Party represents my values in a way that the Democrats abandoned decades ago. That's why I'm voting for Jill Stein this November. Fortunately, she's on the ballot in this state and the list of states where she will appear is still growing.
It's time to replace the war and punishment agenda of establishment politics with an agenda based on peace and cooperation. It's time to recognize that all the corruption, the crime, war and the punishment are forms of abuse and are not a sign of mental health. We must recognize that all abuse is a sign of past child abuse sustained by the person delivering the abuse. Whenever a politician insists on dropping bombs on a foreign nation, it's a sign of abuse. We must recognize that when a politician insists on depriving someone else of a right, it's a sign of abuse.
Every person who abuses another is telling the story of how they were once abused as a child. We have the right, no, the duty, to change the story we want to tell. Not just for us, but for our kids, and their kids.