Editorial: Class matters in America

In his speech to the Take Back America conference in Washington, June 3, Bill Moyers described a November 2003 episode of his PBS show, “Now, With Bill Moyers.” He said he interviewed working people who spoke of their yearning for livable wage jobs and national health care — dreams deferred as the nation’s wealth streams instead into corporate bank accounts. Watching the show was Kenneth Tomlinson, president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and a close ally of George W. Bush.

“It was too much for him,” Moyers said. “He decided right then and there to restore some ‘balance’ to the public TV and radio airwaves.”

His answer was to force PBS to air weekly “The Wall Street Editorial Report.” Some balance!

Yet the story of class in America is hard to suppress. The New York Times has to date run 10 articles in a series titled “Class Matters.” Taken as a whole, the series proves that the U.S. is class-ridden and becoming more so.

Cuts in Pell Grants and student loans that once enabled working-class youth to obtain a college education are one of many Bush measures that have become a roadblock to social mobility, the Times charged.

In a column headlined “The Mobility Myth,” Times commentator Bob Herbert wrote: “The gap between the rich and everybody else in this country is fast becoming an unbridgeable chasm. … The rich are freezing nearly everybody in place and sprinting off with the nation’s bounty.”

We, the people, have only the strength of our numbers to counter the colossal income transfer from the pockets of working people to the coffers of the rich. Just this week, General Motors announced it would increase its bottom line by $2.5 billion by eliminating 25,000 jobs.

Pauperization of the people to satisfy the insatiable greed of the super-rich is built into monopoly capitalism. Socialism, public ownership of the means of production, is the only sure way to end this legalized theft.

Short of that, we need a much bigger organized labor movement, backed by its allies, to win a larger share of wealth for those who created it, the working class.