A new survey conducted by the PEW Research Center found that 66 percent of people in the US believe there is a strong conflict going on between the rich and the poor. This is a 19 percent jump since 2009, and the largest number who believe this since the survey was conducted in 1987. Also, this is the first time people stated that class conflict is the greatest division in society, greater than any division felt between immigrants and native born workers, between whites and blacks, between the young and old, and between men and women.
This is not a surprise – workers everywhere are on the front lines of this conflict, which is nothing more than class warfare. And as workers, regardless of the country we were born in, regardless of our skin color, regardless of our age or our gender, we are all under attack in this class war. And it doesn’t take much for workers to see we have more in common with each other than we do with the rich who are carrying out these attacks.
And as this is an election year, the politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, see in this statistic an opportunity to pretend to appear on the side of workers. In the Republican primary, candidates have recently tried to align themselves against the frontrunner Mitt Romney, by criticizing his role as head of a company called Bain capital. Even President Obama has begun to chime in on this. They call Romney a vulture capitalist, who headed a company that made record profits by buying out companies, laying off workers, and forcing the remaining workers to do more work with less. Doesn’t that sound familiar?
What’s ridiculous about this criticism of Romney is not that any of it is untrue. But that any of these Republican nominees think they can get away with this criticism – or President Obama for that matter. What’s underlying their attacks is just a desperate attempt to appear on the side of workers. What Romney did at Bain Capital wasn’t vulture capitalism – it was just plain capitalism, and the kind of class warfare that comes along with it. They are all vultures, Democrats and Republicans, carrying out policies that feed the rich off the backs of workers.
Under the Obama administration, the largest banks have received over $7.7 trillion dollars in federal loans at nearly zero interest while social programs for the poor have been slashed. The auto industry was bailed out by loans with conditions that forced older workers to retire and all new workers to be hired at 50 percent of the wages. The very next year the major auto companies made record profits. Without hesitation, the rest of the bosses around the country followed suit.
So, the reason more workers think there is a very strong conflict with the rich is because there is. It’s not just Bain Capital, it’s not just the auto industry, it’s not just the bail outs to the banks, and it’s not just policies of Democrats or Republicans – all across the country there is an intense class war going on between the class of bankers and bosses and the class of workers who do the work to make society run.
In this war, the ruling class is carrying out the same strategy everywhere. Wherever they can get away with it, corporations are pushing down wages, cutting health benefits, laying off workers, not replacing workers who retire or are out sick. Overall, workers are doing more and more work and getting paid less to do it. And the politicians see a survey like the recent one by PEW not as a problem but an opportunity to pretend to be on the side of workers.
So it’s not surprising that a record number of workers believe that a class war is going on – because it is going on. What’s surprising is that politicians think they can get us to believe that they are on our side in this war. Think again!