July 4th - Celebrations Cannot Hide Damaged Democracy
Given the stark desperation stalking so many communities around an America oozing from miseries embedded in the stagnant economy, it’s almost an inane exercise to contemplate the state-of-democracy in this nation on July 4th -– Independence Day.
All of the flag waving, fireworks and fun of this national holiday can’t mask the disturbing fact that democracy in America is under unprecedented onslaught from forces intent on engaging in economic exploitation comparable to the colonial crown domination that compelled Americans to rebel against England over two hundred years ago.
Examples of this onslaught abound with one of the most pronounced being federal and state level elected officials – overwhelming Republican – bludgeoning and eliminating benefits that have aided the middle class and the poor, in the name of budget balancing austerity, while simultaneously battling to protect the profits and assets of the wealthy.
A “long train of abuses” by the King of England is what triggered America’s then leaders to adopt the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia.
Today those usurping what the Declaration defined as “unalienable rights” are not a despotic king and his royal court but corporate titans and the conservative elected officials dutifully serving the interests of wealth.
In 2011 public sector employees have faced unprecedented assaults against rights like their right to collective bargaining by Republicans in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states (and by Democrats in Massachusetts). These assaults cripple the capacity of public employees to attain what the Declaration called the desired “pursuit of happiness.”
A few days before July 4th 2011 New Jersey’s bombastic Republican Governor Chris Christie vetoed a proposal to generate $600-million for the revenue-starved Garden State through imposing a measly 1.78 percent increase in the tax paid by millionaires…a tax that would expire in two-years.
Christie, who is often touted as a GOP presidential prospect, defended his tax break-bestowing veto as a case of stopping what he feared might be an exodus of 16,000 millionaires, all chaffing at that 1.78 percent (temporary) tax increase.
Days before his veto helping millionaires, Christie rammed through legislation raising pension and health care contributions by all public employees in New Jersey.
That increase in contributions by public employees amounts to a pay cut of nearly $4,000 per year per employee – a burden more onerous than the proposed tax increase on millionaires.
Christie’s salary cut for public employees is “going to withdraw purchasing power from the New Jersey economy – an economy already dead last in creating jobs,” observed Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations Professor Jeffery Keefe.
While shielding millionaires from his duplicitous demands for "shared-sacrifice," Gov. Christie exhibited his brand of imposing the “absolute Despotism” referenced in the Declaration of Independence.