Bob Stannard: We Will Get Fooled Again


"We Won't Get Fooled Again" - The Who
"It's easier to get mad at the dog than the one you're mad at" - Unknown

I grew up in a middleclass household in the `50's and `60's. Mom stayed home and raised three boys while dad worked for his dad as a plumber. We seemed to live fine in the house that cost $7,000 to build. We drove late model cars. Didn't do much but lived OK on dad's $110.00 take home pay. I remember hearing back then discussions on going to a 4-day workweek to provide more leisure time for the American worker. My grandfather's company gave out Christmas bonuses (remember them) and provided a retirement package. That's right, the company paid for your retirement; not some individual 401-k that is at the mercy of some hedge fund operator (see the crash of 2007).

The 4-day workweek never happened. Instead, over the decades we saw the middleclass gutted like a trout. Dad's take-home pay would no longer be enough to support the household and mom could no longer stay home with the kids. She had to find a job. Today with two people working to support a modest household Americans are barely able to make it. The results; people got mad. They were sick and tired of being sick and tired.

It was a slow melt rather like our depleting icecaps. People had a sense that something was awry but they couldn't quite put their finger on it. They were sliding backwards but couldn't see the ice upon which they were standing. As years went by we could see little things happening; like mom going to work or our neighbors living a little less well than they used to.

The Christmas bonus evaporated right along with the company's willingness to provide pensions for its workers. The time came when our working population must've felt like the Mastodon who had placed one foot in the La Brea Tar Pits. Once the other foot was placed in the tar in hopes of being able to pull out the first foot the creature realized it was doomed.

Thanks to lackadaisical government oversight of the housing and banking industry the economy crashed. Many people lost a lot; some lost everything. Instead of getting mad at those responsible for creating the economic disaster (and the various events and circumstances over the previous decades) people got angry at the sitting president; Barack Obama, the guy who tried to fix the mess he inherited.

In 2009 some very smart people could easily see that people were hurting and angry. Right wing radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, referred to the stimulus package as "Porkulus"; a handle that stuck with the newly formed "Tea Party"; a movement founded by Republican conservatives and funded by the Koch brothers. The well-funded organization did a fabulous job of redirecting people's anger away from the Wall St. bankers who created the dire situation to a new, black president who was charged with keeping the global economy from flying over the cliff. The manipulators of the "Tea Party" could see that people were mad and that something had to be done to divert their anger away from those responsible.

It worked so well that in 2016 we saw the rise of Donald Trump. He's not very smart, but he does have instincts good enough to see that people were still mad; mad at the wrong people, but mad nonetheless. He tapped right into that anger with nationalistic pledge of "Making America Great Again" and promising to "drain the swamp".

Of course, he's doing neither. He's brought in Wall St. bankers and is now on the threshold of passing his first piece of legislation; a tax bill that increases our debt by $1.5 TRILLION while giving tax breaks to the nation's wealthiest people.

The workers are right back where they've been since the `80's; fooled again.


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