And now a break from your regularly scheduled "I Can't Believe This is the State of Affairs" programming.
A brief note on history: on October 29, 1929, the New York Stock Exchange completely collapsed, leading the United States and the world into the Great Depression. While people generally and correctly associate the Great Depression with widespread economic ruin for most of the populace, it is important to note that those who were already wealthy still lived quite large during the downturn. In fact, some of America's dynastic wealthy families owe their fortune, in part, to the Great Depression.
As you'll recall from your basic level history class, the Great Depression led to a series of social and economic reforms passed by then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt known as the New Deal. In accepting the nomination for President in 1932, FDR stated:
Throughout the nation men and women, forgotten in the political philosophy of the Government, look to us here for guidance and for more equitable opportunity to share in the distribution of national wealth... I pledge myself to a new deal for the American people. This is more than a political campaign. It is a call to arms.
What you may not remember from your basic civics classes is what the hell FDR was talking about. In this quote, FDR is discussing amending the Social Contract, the implicit agreement between the Government and the Citizens that allows organized, civilized society to exist. To FDR, the contract had been broken because those in power, funded primarily by the rich and powerful, had failed to protect the larger class of Laborers. FDR's amendment to the contract was designed to protect those who participated in society by providing their Labor, but who were also exploited by the economic policies leading into the Great Depression, by creating agencies such as Social Security, the Fair Housing Administration, the FDIC, and increasing protection for labor unions.
Essentially, the New Deal sought to protect America's Labor class. Republican Presidents such as Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon left much of the New Deal in place and in some ways, expanded its reach. Liberals, such as John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, used the New Deal as the foothold upon which to continue to further and enhance these protections for Labor.
Until William Jefferson Clinton showed up. When Clinton arrived, so too did a new school of thought: neo-liberalism. With this new ideology, liberals, once the champions of Labor and the working-class, started accepting that sweet corporate cash and submitting to their interests. This merger of right-wing economic policy with left-wing civil rights perspective caused republicans, now more appropriately called neo-conservatives, to adopt their modern-day status as the party advocating for global military might, market deregulation, and corporate subsidies.
Which, as quickly as I can get us here without (hopefully) boring everyone to tears, brings us to the present day. In a nutshell, the people who got screwed in this macro-economic philosophical shift was the class of people called Labor. By this term, I mean any person whose job it is to provide a service or produce a good but who does not own the means of production. Typically, people associate Labor with blue-collar jobs: factory and construction workers, firemen and policemen, mechanics, and coal miners, to name a few.
What is being overlooked is that this class is much larger. Doctors, teachers, lawyers, CPAs, hedge-fund managers, engineers, Uber drivers, marketers, therapists, and anyone who provides a service for a sum of money falls into the class. In point of fact, unless you are a businessperson in charge of an operation that produces some tangible good, or, as we have seen in more modern times, collects massive amounts of data on everyone else that can be exploited for profit, you are Labor.
Which leads to the next question: how is Labor being screwed? First, in an effort to maintain and/or grow corporate profits, jobs once staffed by Americans were outsourced to third-world countries. Then, low-skilled jobs got automated, which has so far only adversely affected those unfortunate enough to lack higher training. But as we know, the robots are getting smarter. In fact, AI is getting smart enough to beat humans at Texas Hold 'em, which is a game of CHANCE.
Which means that in a matter of time, automation will soon displace Laborers in more complicated jobs. The first domino likely to fall? Truck drivers. In fact, it is predicted that 1.7 million people will be unemployed once the trucks are able to drive themselves. Then there's the issue of computers writing their own code and putting computer scientists out of a job. And the reality is that American government is owned and operated by those who own the means of production and its doing nothing to get ahead of the coming Labor crisis.
Don't believe me? Think about the fact that the current President, while a nominee, was viewed positively, albeit inaccurately, for not being beholden to anyone because he was "funding his own campaign," which was also a lie. That, contrasted against Hillary Clinton, who was demonized for being a pawn of Wall Street. Put simply: people in this country were persuaded to trust a known fraud, paranoid, misogynistic, bigot who is known to do nothing other than line his own pockets at the expense of literally everyone else around him over another candidate that lined her own pockets with corporate cash but didn't offend everyone else under the sun along the way.
Your options were Corporate America and Corporate America. The rich are getting richer while the rest of us bicker amongst ourselves over "hot button" issues. Take, for example, the gender wage-gap battle, which has been the subject of widespread misinformation and has had its major logline ("Women make 77 cents to every dollar a Man makes") debunked. Is there an income gap worth complaining about? Absolutely! This is what it looks like:
But the real kicker is that this chart only matters so long as you are working. There is no wage gap to complain about when machines do everything and most (or all) of us are making $0.00.
The real fight for equality are not the fights we're fighting. It's not about sexuality, race, religion, gender, or creed. Those subgroups are designed to separate the commonality amongst us all. The equality fight worth fighting is to reconcile the massive gap between those who Have and those who Have-Not and that starts with insuring that the Labor class of Americans exerts its strength on its government.
Or we can forget the lessons we learned about 100 years ago ...