Those who would attempt to argue that the 99% are being controlled by the other 1%, like Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, are not telling the entire story and for very good reason. When you tell the entire story, your argument becomes less black and white. The 99% vs. the 1% is very clear. This “Us vs. Them” is a rallying cry for the extreme left and the liberal media. However, let’s look at this in a little greater depth.
While it’s true that the billionaires do possess much of the wealth in this country, it was no different than when Americans named, Guggenheim, Rockefeller and Astor were the 1%. In fact, they controlled more of the wealth than today’s class of billionaires because in those days, there was a very small middle class. The Federal Income Tax didn’t become permanent until 1913, allowing the privileged class to amass great wealth. Imagine no federal income tax?! There was essentially rich and poor. And American Royalty, which is what they were, were every bit as rich as todays rich billionaires. Anyone who needs clarity on this point should visit the Marble House in Newport Rhode Island or any of the other Newport “summer cottages”. Few people in the world today could afford to build such summer homes. This concept of a middle class was born from the baby boomer generation following world war II. Neighborhoods like Levittown in Long Island, New York were built to house soldiers and their families when they returned from the war. It afforded them a small house with a backyard and a picket fence. The American Dream of home ownership.
This however is not the important part of their argument. The more important part lies in the fact that it’s the 1% versus the rest of us. But what people like Bernie Sanders fail to point out is that there’s also a 2%, a 5% and a 10%, a 20% and a 30%. Whether these various percentages control as much wealth as the 1% actually means very little. They own homes, 2 or 3 cars, and take their families to Disney Land. As long as individuals and families are living happy and productive lives and are enjoying the fruits of their labor, the amount of wealth in the hands of the 1% has virtually no real meaning. Airports across this country are more crowded than ever with American tourists and plane travel is forecasted to grow year over year, for the forseeable future. These travelers are certainly not 1 percenters but they are spending a lot of money on plane fares and incidentals.
The myth that the middle class is disappearing is nonsensical. I travel all of the United States and in every state I visit, there are always beautiful homes in beautiful neighborhoods. The millions of single family homes that stretch from coast to coast are occupied by American families. Is there poverty as well? Of course. Always was. I recently visited Baltimore and drove through the area of unrest during the recent protests and it’s pretty awful. But that has absolutely nothing to do with the Koch brothers or any of the scapegoat billionaires that people like Bernie Sanders hope to demonize. Baltimore, while it’s made some strides has always been socio-economically challenged. That’s a local issue that needs to be dealt with locally.
What’s hurt the middle class if anything, are poorly written free trade agreements. The Pacific Trade Agreement that President Obama is now considering will do nothing to help Americans despite what he may claim. So let’s not buy into the liberal rhetoric about how Republicans and billionaires are killing the middle class. It simply isn’t factual but is a good talking point if one is trying to build momentum for a long shot Presidential campaign.