The American Experiment, government by commoners, is under siege. Its very existence now hangs in the balance. President Obama has portrayed this election as a vote of two different visions of directions for our country. That is true, but significantly understates, the perilous position of our infant democratic experiment. Future historians may point to the elections of 2012 as the beginning of the irreversible collapse of the American Experiment. Watershed moments are rarely perceived for their significance by those living through them.
Why do these cataclysmic changes occur, and how is it possible that they go unrecognized? Humans primarily evaluate the world on their own life experiences. Those life experiences are impacted by wealth, position, education, and longevity. Human beings are living longer, and educations and subsequent beliefs are guided, to a significant degree, by social circumstance.
The decline in support of unions is a case in point. The forty-hour workweek, paid vacations, hourly wages, and numerous other benefits came into existence as a result of a significant struggle. These were revered, significant accomplishments for those that lived through it. While these noble warriors lived, no one in their right mind would have even considered trying to take these gains away.
Those that fought this struggle eventually died. What was left to the next generation of workers was taken for granted. But worse, based on the life experience of current workers, it was falsely assumed, their benefits came from the benevolence of the wealthy employers. It became easier for the wealthy to demand benefit reductions from those that had not experienced the struggle. This circumstance of gain and give-back, in all spheres, plays out over and over in the worlds’ cultures.
Very wealthy and powerful people now openly support the belief, that the common people no longer have a right to determine their destiny. The effort is being supported by Republicans in the US congress, and those in control at the state level. There is an ironic circumstance being played out in this Shakespearian- like tragedy. These politicians do not realize; that, to the wealthy and powerful, they too are part of the common people, i.e. a manager is asked to fire many of his staff, and once completed; he too is fired.
Jack Welch, retired General Electric CEO was nicknamed, Neutron Jack. The CEO preached, to all in management, that business was conducted in a global economy with global market forces dictating. They had to be more productive, and reduce the manpower to keep products costs viable in a world market.
They believed Jack Welch, and proceeded on a reign of job cutting carnage. Protests were met with Welch’s credo; workers had to wake-up to reality, they were now competing in a world economy! When it ended, hundreds of thousands of factory workers lost their jobs.
The operating management had done its job, but Neutron Jack wasn’t finished; upper level management started decimating the jobs of middle and lower level management. At meetings with the unions, these managers looked like they had returned from a war front, totally shell-shocked. They would attempt to explain their angst. The union officials told them; “Welcome to the global economy!” Congress doesn’t realize it yet, but the powerful donors think their numbers need weaning too, based on the credo; power to the potentates!