By Dale Bowling
Many of us witnessed and participated in the creation of Middle-Class America in the 50s, 60s, 70s. It was a society based on wide prosperity.
Taxes were high. They had to be. It was high taxes that kept the Rich from accumulating too much of the Nation's wealth at the expense of everyone else - like they had in every other time in American history. But for all the high taxes, the Rich managed to stay plenty Rich and continued in invest in America.
Unions were strong. Unions protected workers' rights on the job and allowed for them to share in wealth that came from their productivity gains. Organized Labor helped even non-union workers get a fair shake from management. The Labor Movement elevated workers to middle-class status. Workingmen and women became more than just a pair of hands, they became Americans.
And the Social Safety Net was there to catch those who fell through the cracks - the sick, the elderly, the unlucky, and give them another shot at a decent life. For the first time in American history the Vulnerable weren't on their own.
Never before in American history had the average person great a chance to succeed. In the past if you were born to humble circumstances, you died humbly. Access to government educational loans changed that. A lot of people came back from the War and went to college on the GI Bill. And this human capital produced an unprecedented economic boom that roared on for decades.
Today we are witnessing the demise of Middle-Class America. Bit by precious bit, it has been dismantled and relegated to the dustbin of history.
Growing inequality undermines the fabric of a society based on wide prosperity. The deck is increasingly stacked against the less privileged and each generation in America sees its future just a little more stunted as a result.
Everything that built Middle-Class America has been under attack for decades. Everything that could build a middle-class resurgence has been blocked, filibustered, cut, starved, dismantled, deregulated, and sequestered into oblivion.
Middle-Class America rose like a phoenix from the ashes of the Great Depression and World War II, mainly because the Depression and the War showed that America thrives when everyone gets a fair shot and everyone does their fair share. Shared sacrifice built Middle-Class America. Only shared sacrifice can bring it back.