Four decades ago, the typical household’s income rose in tandem with output. But since the late 1970s, as these laws took hold, most Americans’ incomes have flattened. Had the real median household income continued to keep pace with economic growth it would now be almost $92,000 instead of $50,000.
Obviously, wealthy Republicans would rather other members of their coalition not know any of this — including, especially, their role in making it happen. Their nightmare is small-business owners and struggling whites joining with the poor and the rest of the middle class to wrest economic power away. So they’ve created a convenient scapegoat in America’s minority underclass, along with a government that supposedly taxes hardworking whites to support them.
Time after time I have pondered why so many Americans consistently vote against their own self interests; why they elect politicians who serve a tiny numerical minority. Perhaps Reich is correct, but I want to think there is more at work here. Detractors want to cling to the “they must be idiots” meme, but that tack seems too easy to me.
I now live in a community where I am a minority, where Republicans are the norm. I need to get out, to listen and to understand.
Change doesn’t happen until we grasp precisely what we wish to change.