Thursday, November 3, 2011

Who do you trust? Not your government?

There are polls on Congress, the President, and government in general everywhere, coming out on almost a daily basis.  They reflect a rabid distrust in the system that runs our country and that is not good.  Only a pathetic 9 percent of the voting population thinks Congress is doing a good job.  Only 22 percent of voters strongly approve of Barack Obama’s job.  These are both recent surveys taken by Rasmussen, a conservative leaning research organization.

But the worst, coming from the New York Times/CBS News poll, found Americans’ highest level of distrust ever in their government.  Close to half of the public agree with the Occupy Movement in that it represents the will of the people.  A whopping two-thirds of the public want wealth spread more evenly in the U.S.  (There’s that old Social Democracy rearing its head again)  Seventy percent of Americans think Republicans favor the rich, 66 percent object to corporate tax cuts and want increased income tax on millionaires.

I could stop right here and have illustrated the dismal support Uncle Sam has from his constituents.  But unfortunately, there is much more.  Case in point, income inequality is greater today than it has been since the 1920s.  According to David Leonhardt in the New York Times, this is due to two broad categories: market forces and institutional forces.  The former a result of increased productivity and technology moving some workers up the ladder into better paying jobs.  The latter deregulation, decline of unions and the retardation of the minimum wage.

Another whopping 89 percent of Americans distrust government to do the right thing, and 74 percent think the country is going in the wrong direction.  In the NYT/CBS poll, 84 percent disapprove of Congress, but the President’s approval rating is 46 percent but with an identical disapproval rating.  More than half of the public are concerned over his plan to create jobs; the key complaint out there right now, especially if you are jobless.

If you are out of a job, the income inequity issue is simply not acceptable.  “Nearly 9 in 10 Democrats, two-thirds of independents and just over one-third of all Republicans say that the distribution of wealth in the country should be more equitable…”  (There’s that Social Democracy talk again)  With the disapproval of Congress jumping 22 percent since the first of the year when Republicans took over the House, people are definitely looking for a different, improved style of government.

And one of the primary reasons is that the top one-percent of earners more than doubled their incomes over the last three decades with those at the other end struggling to find jobs, put food on the table and keep their house out of foreclosure.  This report from the Congressional Budget Office also states that “…government policy has become less redistributive since the late 1970s, doing less to reduce the concentration of income.”

Other points in the study:

·       The most affluent fifth of the population received 53 percent of after-tax household income in 2007
·       People in the lowest fifth of the population received about 5 percent of after-tax household income in 2007
·       People in the middle three-fifths of the population saw their shares of after-tax income decline by 2 to 3 percentage points from 1979 to 2007

We are where we are today due to an eight-year run in the White House by George W. Bush and his ultra-conservative policies, followed by a brief period of respite in which Democrats did nothing.  Then, the GOP gains control over the House, with hefty numbers in the Senate that thwarts almost everything President Obama attempts to accomplish…just because it’s him.

But progressives have awakened and they are tuned in to 2012, alongside an American public that is fed up with the present government.  It should be an interesting year.

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