American Dream—or Nightmare?

It’s Time For Pitchforks

Ed Raymond

I have been told my French ancestors lived in Normandy in the last half of the 18th Century and some of them used pitchforks for a living. I often wonder if any of them took part in the storming of the Bastille in Paris on July 14, 1789, an act which started the French Revolution. The Bastille was a medieval stone fortress turned into a prison by the French monarchy to hold political opponents and assorted criminals. The fortress represented royal power and authority in a country of 26 million, the most populated country in Europe. Louis XVI had a bad habit of spending piles of money on himself and getting into wars with neighbors.

He also supported Americans against the British in the American Revolution. France was bankrupt from wars. King Louis decided to raise regressive taxes on the 99 Percent. Many peasants in the 99 Percent were landowners and wanted more. A large population demanded more food and consumer goods. Feudalism had just about ended. 17th Century philosophers and historians had sparked thoughts about freedom and social reforms among the pissants and peasants. Louis the XVI decided to raise taxes on the 99 Percent and leave the One Percent alone. Sounds quite a bit like 2019 in the U.S., doesn’t it? To make a long story short, the tax increases blew the top off the smoldering cauldron of outraged French citizens.

The Bastille was attacked. A total of 98 pitchforkers were killed by the garrison soldiers and only one defender died. But after the attack, two heads were on pikes outside of the walls that were formerly 0n the torsos of the governor and commanding officer of the Bastille. This was the start of the French Revolution, resulting in the removal of many heads of the One Percent by the guillotine, known as the Great French Razor. Queen Marie Antoinette’s head bounced into the head basket allegedly because she repeated infamous words used by Louis’s former wives: “Let them eat cake!” The pissants and peasants had no bread to eat. This is probably why my ancestors came to Quebec, moved to Manitoba for good farmland, and later decided to move to Wisconsin and then Minnesota. It’s quite a migration over several generations.  

The Same Conditions That Existed In 18th Century France Exist Here Today  

The modern rape and pillage of middle classes in England and the United States started in the 1980’s with Margaret Thatcher in England and Ronald Reagan in the United States. Both the English Conservatives and the American corporations wanted cheap labor. American corporations sent labor contractors called “coyotes” into Latin America to recruit labor to fill meat, chicken, and seafood packing plants. Cheap labor came by the millions, decimating unions and their negotiated benefits. It is against the law to hire undocumented workers in the U.S.   Gee, government officials owned by the One Percent could never find a single employer who had broken that law!

The Waltons, the richest family in the world, made billions off undocumented workers. So now we have a polarized country, torn by these factors: economic inequality, divisive immigration policies, racial discrimination, voter suppression, a national debt of $23 trillion, island tax havens, billionaires who pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries, butlers, and maids, mega-monopolies such as Amazon and Walmart bankrupting millions of small business owners and turning them into greeter “associates” or fast food workers, 55 million Americans with inadequate or no health insurance, the only wealthy country in the world with three years of declining longevity, a society decimated by lax gun laws that kill and wound 140,000 citizens a year, a huge drug problem brought on by greedy pharmaceutical companies, 500,000 adults, 70,000 veterans, and 100,000 children homeless every night while billionaires build $100 million to $500 million homes. Trumpers keep talking about a “great” economy. That’s BS. The Federal Reserve reports that over 40% of American families can’t come up with $400 for family emergencies!  

Here are 15 Questions For Our Do-Nothing Congress  

1. Why do we have a Secretary of Education who has never attended a public school or college in her life—and whose family owns nine yachts?

2. Why have farm bankruptcies gone up 24% in 2019? Would it be because of Trump administration trade policies, cuts in food stamps and other food programs, and climate change which has resulted in floods, fires, and extreme storms?

3. Why have 2,000 coal miners lost their jobs this year? Why do we employ more workers in both wind and solar programs than in coal? Do we have retraining programs for coal miners?

4. Why have 60 major corporations paid no federal taxes in 2018? Just six Silicon Valley giant companies—Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Netflex—have collectively dodged over $100 billion taxes by using tax havens, loopholes, and laws passed by rented and bought politicians. Amazon under CEO Jeff Bezos, which treats its distribution center employees like robots, has the reputation of having the poorest tax conduct among corporations. Is that how Bezos got to be the richest man in the world?

5. Why are 50% of personal bankruptcies caused by high medical costs and inadequate insurance?

6. Why do Americans pay twice as much as other wealthy countries for healthcare while ranking 36th in quality of care among World Health Organization (WHO) countries? Why does the drug Humira cost $1,300 for a treatment in England by the National Health Service—and $8,200 for a treatment in the “free market” U.S.?

7. Why do black babies in the U.S. die at twice the rate of white babies? Of all babies born in the U.S., black babies account for 33% of the births but 75% of the deaths.

8. Why does every wealthy country in Europe pay for K-12 school lunches why the U.S. uses “shaming policies” and collection agencies to harass poor parents?

9. Why is the Trump administration trying to cut $4.2 billion from the food stamp program which would affect 3,7 million people who suffer from “food insecurity?”

10. Why is the federal minimum wage at $7.25? In only one state, West Virginia, could a person on minimum wage rent a one-bedroom apartment---if he worked 58 hours a week!

11. Why do 38.6% of eligible voters in the U.S. fail to vote? We have 246 million adults eligible to vote.

12. Shouldn’t we be doing more to eliminate discrimination among the races when in ten years whites will be a minority? Almost 70% of seniors are now white. But only 29% of young adults are white and Christian.

13. Why are you sitting on your ass doing nothing about robocalls?

14. Why does the richest country in the world have 44 million Americans of all ages owing $1.6 trillion in college student debt? Why aren’t states assuming their responsibility of educating their young?

15. On climate change, 97% of the world’s scientists working in the field believe we only have 12 years to make the earth livable for our grandchildren. Why don’t you believe them?  

I And Millions Of Other Americans Are Pissed And Are Sharpening Tines   The income of wealthy Americans has exponentially increased since the 1980s while the income of the bottom 90% has stagnated and stunk. Being poor in America for decades during another Gilded Age is particularly difficult because, unlike European and Scandinavian countries, we don’t have the safety nets they do. They take care of their old poor people while we hope they die young. America’s poor work longer hours than poor in other developed countries—while their children have less opportunity to move out of the bottom quartile than if they lived in Europe or Scandinavia.  

The American Dream has turned into the American Nightmare.  

We didn’t have to reach pitchfork time, but the white Republican Party, realizing that whites will soon be a minority in the country, have created a monster in the “chosen one” Donald J. Trump who has garnered the support of the American Taliban in the guise of white evangelicals, the Protestant Christian Identity and Dominionism denominations, white nationalists, the remnants of the Ku Klux Klan, and neo-Nazis yelling “blood and sand” and “you will not replace us” to Jews. We are at where Hitler was in the 1930’s and South Africa was before racial Reconciliation.

Many evangelicals believe that Armageddon and the Rapture are going to occur in 2050 with Jesus Christ coming down to lead the earth to a 1,000 years of chaos. That’s why they’re not interested in climate change. They will all be in Heaven. It was interesting to watch two roll call votes during a Judiciary Committee hearing. As the camera panned each representative as they voted, the Republican side looked like a hearing during Jim Crow days. Fifteen white men with dark suits, red ties, and Chinese-made flags in their lapels—and two white women. On the Democratic side it looked like a hearing in 2019.Twelve men and 12 women---composed of 18 whites, two blacks, two Mexicans, one Chinese, and one Muslim. Sometimes a picture is really worth a thousand words.  

Who Will Win The 2020 Vote?  

In 2016 Trump received 62,984,828 votes and Hillary 65,853,314 for a total of 128,838,142. What will happen in 2020 will depend on how many votes the Democratic nominee can get from the 117 million adult Americans who did not vote in 2016. Trump might not gain many votes out of those millions, but his cult members who are religious zombies, pro-gun, pro-life, anti-LBGTQ++, anti-tax, white supremacists, and followers of Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell,Jr. will vote for “the chosen one” and the amoral charmer who claims he is a genius and knows more than his generals and admirals. They would vote for him even if he would grab 25 women by the pussy and cheat at golf. I see 43% of the Republican cult think Trump is a better prez than Abraham Lincoln. I’m not surprised. After all, Lincoln tried to take their black slaves away.

The Democrats started out with about 20 candidates who have now been winnowed down somewhat. The big question is: which democratic candidate can excite, educate, and inspire millions of non-voters from the 2016 election? Joe Biden is a very old 77 who often speaks hundreds of words before he thinks. He has never been the brightest bulb and it seems to be dimming now. On the other hand, Bernie Sanders is a very young 78 who excites, educates, and inspires people a half century younger than he is. Elizabeth Warren takes on billionaires and Wall Street and doesn’t blink. Maybe Bernie and she can make a deal. First, Bernie for four. Next, Elizabeth for four. We desperately need both of them. I would also like to see Mayor Pete Buttigieg as their chief of staff. As both a Harvard and Rhodes Scholar, a Navy intelligence officer in Afghanistan, an international consultant for McKinsey & Company, and a roads scholar as mayor, He is the brightest bulb I have seen on the national stage — ever.