While President Bush has been adamant about the need to rid the world of despots like Saddam Hussein, he has done very little to address economic tyranny in America.
According to a Census Bureau report released in September 2001, the number of people living in poverty increased for the first time in eight years, and middle class household income fell for the first time since 1991.
Bush was quick to blame the waning years of the Clinton administration for this decline in wealth, even though he has been in office now for 20 months.
Bush remains confident that “the productivity of the American people, low interest rates and low inflation are the ingredients for growth,” according to a Sept. 25 New York Times article.
Bush’s optimism ignores the root cause of poverty in America: greed.
As we saw this year in the wave of corporate scandals, the rich show little regard for those who work under them and worry only about how they can best loot their stock options and get the money into offshore bank accounts before the company tanks.
According to the report, the wealthiest 20 percent of Americans earn half of all household income in the country, while the bottom fifth earns only 3.5 percent of the income.
The only group to see a growth in average income was the top 5 percent of households, up $1,000 to $260,464. While, the median income fell $934 to $42,228.
Since early civilizations began coining money, there has always been a huge gap between the rich and poor.
Here in America, the richest nation on the planet, there are now 32.9 million people living in poverty.
The middle class is struggling to survive, with many hanging on only by accruing crushing debts on their credit cards.
Why does this ongoing nightmare of poverty and injustice go year after year?
Why haven’t we gotten fed up and tried to change the way things are, to struggle for true equality?
There is one reason.
We are all slaves to the American Dream. This dream tells us that we will all be rich someday.
We will all have a big house and an expensive car if we just work hard enough.
This is why people oppose things like the estate tax and support tax cuts for the rich, because it might someday be them.
But this dream is a lie. No matter how hard you work, you will never get rich at $5.15 an hour.
You can’t support your family on $5.15 an hour despite working 50-60 hours a week.
Businesses oppose any increase in the minimum wage, even as they pour stock options, personal jetliners and big bonuses on their CEOs.
The key to all of this is education.
With a good education people would be informed about the way the system works and would be able to mount an effective opposition.
But the urban schools are decaying, leaving the impoverished with no prospects, no future and no hope.
The American Dream may put a few people in BMWs and McMansions, but the road to that dream is littered with the corpses of the hopes and dreams of so many others.
Brian White can be reached at email@example.com