Yesterday on Fareed Zakira’s CNN program, Harvard Business Historian Niall Ferguson accused Columbia University Economist Jefrey Sachs of demagoguery because of the latter’s endorsement of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Ever the shill for right-wing monied interests, Ferguson bravely came to defense of his ideological patrons and claimed that Sachs was attempting to criminalize the conduct of the 3 million plus “masters of the universe” who now comprise that top %1 of the U.S. wage earning population.
Other than bombast and a kind of condescending “Let them eat cake” hauteur, Ferguson was unable to effectively counter Jeffrey Sachs’s mastery of the economic data. Instead, Ferguson reached in the right-wing grab-bag of boogeymen and disingenuously claimed that teachers unions were somehow the reason for the increasingly limited social mobility of millions of Americans.
Ferguson’s accusation of class warfare parallel those of other right-wing pundits and commentators. For example, also yesterday in a opinion column, Ross Douthat wrote an op ed column in the New York Times in which he, too, claimed that it is the government, including the pubic education system, and not the rapaciousness of the rich that is responsible for the current economic malaise.
The evidence, of course, is to the contrary, as these paid charlatans know well. As early as 2004, a study for the Council of Foreign Relations by Sharon Otterman cited research by a Boston-based consultancy group, Forrester, which estimated that 400,000 service jobs had been lost to offshoring since 2000 and that this trend had then accelerated to between 20,000 and 40,000 a month. The number of jobs lost was over and above the 2 million manufacturing jobs that were estimated to have moved offshore since 1983. By 2015, Forrester predicted, approximately 3.3 million service jobs will have moved offshore, including 1.7 million "back office" jobs such as payroll processing and accounting, and 473,000 jobs in the information and technology industry.
The Internal Revenue Service and the Congressional Budget Office reported last week that the top 1% of the American population continued to receive a disproportionate share of the country’s wealth. In 2009, the 1.4 million who belong to the top 1% made an average of $1 million dollars in 2009. Further, since 1979, the share of U.S. Income enjoyed by the top 1% has increased from 9.18% to 17.9% as of 2009, or more than the entire bottom half of the U.S. population. This data must be viewed within the context of Forbes magazine. It reported in reported that, as of last month, the four hundred richest American s enjoyed a combined worth of $1.53 trillion, which figure had increased from 1.37 trillion over the previous year. Their combined wealth was thus approximately equivalent to the GDP of Canada.
Almost simultaneously, the U.S. Census Bureau announced last month that the real median household income in the United States had declined to $49,995, or 2.3% from 2009 , while the nation's poverty rate had increased to 43.569 million people, or 15.1 of the total population, and the number of people without health care insurance had grown to 49.9 million.
The final coup de grace to the right-wing lies and distortions is provided in study by a German think tank, Bertelsmann Stiftung, entitled “Social Justice In The OECD- How do the Member States Compare?” In a survey of 30 member states that belong to the organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the study found that the United States ranked at number 27, just above Greece, Chile and Mexico in categories that measured from overall social justice, to overall poverty, child poverty, senior citizen poverty, income inequality, pre-primary education and in health care.
The incontrovertible economic evidence from dispassionate observers shows that, since the advent of the Reagan era, the adoption of de-regulation and free-trade has been an unmitigated nightmare for the overwhelming majority of Americans. For that reason, it is easy to understand why the financiers, the hedge-found traders, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and their hired apologists for the status-quo continue to peddle the myth first propagated by Ronald Reagan that government is the problem and not the solution.
In the current political climate, the wealthy, the corporations and their legions of lobbyists, think-tanks, spin-doctors and academic courtesans rightly fear an honest discussion about the current state of the American economy. They know that if the American public finally grasps the implications of the facts and the data, the message of the Occupy Wall Street movement will resonate ever more loudly and that an overwhelming majority will come to understand that the historic movement of America toward a more responsive, inclusive, egalitarian democracy has been hijacked by a cabal of cheaters, thieves, miscreants and malefactors who have turned our government and our economy into playthings for the 1%.
The top 1% have waged an unrelenting class warfare against the rest of this country for the past thirty years. If the promise of America is to be reclaimed, their failed nostrums about de-regulation, laissez-faire, and need for less government must be rejected and replaced be a new narrative which recognizes, in the words of Thomas Hill Green, that government must be viewed as a positive instrument for the public good.