Rich People and the Vanishing Middleclass

Rich people are a true enigma.  I wonder why they are so afraid of having a thriving middle-class group as a part of our social stratum.  Since they are not openly doing anything to encourage and support its revitalization, it seems that they are determined to do their part to totally eradicate it.

Based on research by Emmanuel Saez cited in “Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States,” the middleclass has been slowly losing ground over the past 30 years while the rich have continued to get richer.  He said that the top 1% received 95% of the income gains between 2009-2012.  The report is due to be updated this month, January 2015.  Further, according to an article in The Washington Post by Michael A. Fletcher, those who remain in the middleclass have been steadily losing wealth.

Certainly rich people must know that a thriving middleclass is an intricate element in the foundation of their wealth and, over the long haul, they are sure to be impacted negatively if they persist in their blind march to eradicate them.  Who will buy the products that the rich have an indirect role in producing?  Who will be able to purchase the homes and automobiles that are a part of the prosperous communities that help to fuel a healthy and thriving economy?  These things fuel rich people’s wealth!

Maybe they are not purposely trying to get rid of the middleclass.  I wrote an article a while back that said that these millionaires and billionaires are blinded by their greed.  Could it be that they are so focused on constantly trying to catch up with the rich people ahead of them while trying to prevent those rich folks that they are ahead of from catching up with them that there is simply no more cognitive room available for them to comprehend the magnitude of the damage that they are doing.

It certainly can’t be because they are afraid that too many middle-class folks through determination and hard work will make it into their exclusive ranks and therefore dilute their exclusiveness and privileged life.  Under the circumstances, I am compelled to maintain my view that they are blinded by their greed.

One can only hope that, like the scale-like coverings that fell off of the eyes of the proverbial Saul, these virtual scales of greed obstructing their view will be removed before it is too late to avoid going over the cliff and destroying the middleclass.  After that – because we are a resilient people, even though recovery will be inevitable it will be a very long and hard road to travel.

With the mentioning of ‘going over the cliff’, I cannot help but to be reminded of the potential problem created by the 2014 midterm elections that gave the Republicans control of both houses of congress.  Republicans have always sided with big business and big money and have shown a propensity to take our country over what has become known as ‘the fiscal cliff’ if they are not given their way.

Many of them are threatening to use the ‘power of the purse’ to force President Obama to sign bills into law that are completely unacceptable to Democrats.  If they do this, we could once again be faced with this so called fiscal cliff problem.  If this actually occurs, it would exacerbate the problem that the struggling middleclass is already facing and accelerate their impending demise.

It would be wrong for me to paint all rich people with a broad brush because there are those who have spoken out in support of a more equitable sharing of the wealth.  And the Republican Party deserves a break too, albeit small, because although there are factions in the Party who are demanding a confrontation with the president at all cost, there are those who prefer a more reasonable approach and are working to convince the members in those factions to reconsider their position.

There are many difficult problems that our country is faced with right now that constitute the phenomenon of social and economic trauma choking America.  Many of the components of this phenomenon dovetail with the need to rescue and revitalize the middleclass; components like the loss of wealth by the middleclass while the top 1% have received 95% of the gain since the great recession, the deaths of Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Erick Garner and Trayvon Martin, the ever widening income gap between the rich and the middleclass, the ever widening income gap between white people and people of color, the ever widening high school graduation rate between white people and people of color, the ever widening rate between white people who attend college and people of color who attend college; all of these components need to be addressed if we are to bring about real and lasting change.

It is hard for many Americans to even accept that we have problems in some of these areas let alone take the courageous and bold step to actually address them.  Some of those who refuse to accept this fact are naive.  Some are in total denial and some are fearful of the impact that these changes to make things more fair and equitable for everyone might have on them.

The fact of the matter is that by making the rich pay their fair share, standing up for equal justice under the law, finding a way to fairly distribute the wealth more equally and working to insure that all Americans have an opportunity to receive a quality education would be like a healing ointment.  It would not be a panacea but it would be a giant step in the right direction.

Middle-class Americans are not seeking to supplant the rich; that would be impossible.  They are simply seeking a way to live the American Dream.  To most that simply means a nice home, nice care, the ability to pay the bills and still take a vacation, the ability to send their children to college, and the ability to save for a rainy day.  We can give them a chance to do that by addressing these problems.

There is no doubt that this would be a tough call for many politicians to make but they are elected to make decisions, not just the easy and popular ones, for the betterment of our country and the common good of all of its people.  If they refuse to make them and instead choose to play politics, let’s force them to make them or replace them with someone who will.

Eulus Dennis

Will women pave the way to better governance? More of them deserve a chance to try.

I hope that it doesn’t turn out that women are more reasonable when it comes to governance than are men.  I want us to be just as reasonable as women and I want us to be a steppingstone rather than a stumbling block.  Ok, so maybe I’m a little bit biased in favor of men.  I try not to be but if I am to be honest, that’s the way that it is right now; I’m making progress.

But sometimes I think that as men, we might think with the wrong mix of testosterone versus brain; too much testosterone and too little brain.  We think in terms of things like, you want a piece of us (the United States)?  Bring it!  I heard that ‘bring it’ thing somewhere before; I think it was an extremely high top-level US elected official who said it but I’m not sure.  Anyway, I think that women are somewhat less prone to take that approach.  I don’t have any empirical data that says it is because they use a greater mix of brain than testosterone but it would not surprise me if that is the case.

Anyway, if women can help to get us back on track to more positive governance, whether or not it is related to the testosterone versus brain mix does not matter.  What we need as a country is to find a way to get back to governance instead of partisan politics and gridlock.

I read an article in the Tribune Washington Bureau by Lisa Mascaro titled ‘House abortion bill switch reveals emerging clout of moderate Republicans.’  Although these conservative Republican women bristled and some even fumed at being called moderate, at least they worked to make the Republican anti-abortion bill that the House passed more acceptable.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi felt that the Republicans had an ulterior motive for making this bill more palatable and was not at all impressed by what these women did but that’s okay.  At least it is a start.  Hopefully it is a start in the direction that will lead to meaningful compromise that will allow our country to move forward toward a more perfect union and grow in those areas where we desperately need it most right now; the areas of tolerance and understanding.

Don’t get me wrong, as a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat I am suspect of these seemingly forward-looking Republican women just like Minority Leader Pelosi is but no more so than they would be, especially lately, of a Democrat who acted as if they were interested in compromise and governance rather than partisan politics and gridlock.

To me, what these women did is refreshing and, at least for now, it appears that even though they are committed to holding on to their principles – which deserves our respect, they are still willing to work toward compromise in an effort to find common ground.  With all of the political posturing directed at voters in the name of ‘principle’ in order to justify the current gridlock in Washington that too, is refreshing.

Even if women are not the catalyst that will stimulate a more cerebral approach to governance and willingness to compromise, they still deserve greater representation in what has long appeared to be the good-ole-boy club that is the Senate… and I would even include the House.  Both Parties, especially the Grand Ole Party, could use more women in leadership and non-leadership positions.  I hope that this will happen.  I also hope that, as a result, governance will be infused with a fresh way of thinking and all of us will be better for it.

Eulus Dennis

Are Republicans Desperados Too?

Because of some of the recent executive orders that President Obama has issued the Republicans have labeled him as a lawless president.  While it may be true that he is working in some gray areas because the law is opaque and has not yet clearly and specifically stated that it is within his power to issue these executive orders, neither has it clearly and specifically stated that it is not within his power to issue them.  It is well documented that many presidents have issued executive orders.

But for whatever reason, it seems that President Obama is hated by the Republicans more than any other president in history.  There are many other presidents who have issued executive orders who have not been vilified in the way that this president has.  Why is that?  I will leave the answer to this question up to each reader.  But I still think that it will be interesting to take a closer look at these Republicans who have labeled President Obama as a desperado.

Let’s start with a few quotes from some of the accusers.  According to John Nichols’ blog, ‘House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan , R-Wisconsin, declared, “We have an increasingly lawless presidency where he is actually doing the job of Congress, writing new policies and new laws without going through Congress.  Presidents don’t write laws, Congress does.”

‘Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, announced’, “Of all the troubling aspects of the Obama presidency, none is more dangerous than the president’s persistent pattern of lawlessness, his willingness to disregard the written law and instead enforce his own policies via executive fiat.”

‘House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, accused the president of’ “feeding more distrust about whether he’s committed to the rule of law.”  ‘And Congressman Steve King, R-Iowa, said that when Obama told federal contractors how to treat their employees, the president had acted in an “unconstitutional” manner.’

According to Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, …”Presidents don’t write laws, Congress does.”  Well, let’s take a look at what Speaker John Boehner just did.  Speaker Boehner did not inform the administration ahead of time of his invitation to Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of congress.  According to a CNN article by Dana Bash, Speaker Boehner said “There is a serious threat that exists in the world and the president, last night, kind of papered over it, there needs to be a more serious conversation in America about how serious the threat is from radical Islamic jihadists and the threat posed by Iran.”


Speaker Boehner’s statement about Iran is interesting and maybe even worth debating in congress and writing a bill that encompasses that perspective and sending it to President Obama for his signature.  But congress does not determine foreign policy, the president does.  I wonder how Mr. Paul Ryan feels about what Speaker Boehner has done; I wonder if Speaker Boehner feels that he, himself, is “feeding more distrust about whether he’s committed to the rule of law.”

Since he disagreed with what President Obama is doing with regards to Iran, Speaker Boehner decided that he would go against his own president and pursue his own foreign policy agenda by inviting Mr. Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of congress without informing the White House or House Democrats.  He did this knowing that Mr. Netanyahu and President Obama are diametrically opposed with regards to how Iran should be handled politically.  He went against his own president!  Yet his spokesperson said that they trusted the judgment of Mr. Netanyahu.  Obviously Speaker Boehner does not trust the judgment of President Obama.

When we consider the accusations that Republicans have leveled against President Obama, if we juxtapose them on what Speaker Boehner has just done, with the knowledge of House Republicans, in trying to have congress write foreign policy – those are obviously his intensions in inviting Mr. Netanyahu to address a joint session of congress, does that make Republicans lawless too?  They may not be doing anything wrong but they are certainly operating in gray areas because the president is supposed to determine foreign policy for the United States; not Congress.

With all of the partisan politics that is too often played, sometimes it is very hard to determine if the leadership of our leaders is sincere and in our best interest.  When you look at politics now and see the things that our political leaders are being accused of and those who are being convicted of felonies, it is very discouraging.  It is hard to believe that these are people whom we have selected.  It is even harder to believe that those leaders – whom we have selected, as a conglomerate, continue to select those who have been indicted and/or convicted on felony charges as their leaders!  What is happening to us?

Until more voters decide to take their responsibility to vote more seriously, vote in elections other than presidential elections and hold those whom we elect accountable, the likelihood that things will change is low.  Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or Independent you should decide right now that you will meet the challenge of your responsibility as an American voter.  When you do, things are more likely to get better.

Eulus Dennis

The Supreme Court And Politics


Whether individuals, organizations or otherwise, is there anything powerful anymore that isn’t politically motivated?  What about the United States Supreme Court?  My thoughts are that it is obviously the most powerful court in our land, is in place to assure – without bias of any kind – that our laws are fairly interpreted, there is equal justice for all, and that the spirit and intent of these laws are not abused.

There was a time, before I became an avid student of politics, when I felt confident that no matter how other courts throughout our country might conduct themselves, the Supreme Court would eschew political pressure, all other outside pressures, and always focus only on the law.  After all, it is the ‘Supreme Court’, I thought, and its justices are extra special.  They are chosen because they are the crème de la crème.

Perhaps I was naive.  I would still like to think that way but much of the naiveté has since been ‘ruled’ out of me: especially with rulings like Citizens United and the one that recently gutted the Voting Rights Act.  The new Republican majority that was elected in 2014 is talking about rolling back everything without a conservative label attached to it so we still have to wait to see what will come of that.

Even some of the Supreme Court Justices do not attend the State of the Union speeches because they feel that they are either just a ‘childish spectacle’ or [they] “have become so partisan and it’s very uncomfortable for a judge to sit there, or, [they] have become a “political pep rally.”  Absent from the State of the Union speech this year were Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

It is not just Republican politics that seem to have tainted the Supreme Court; Democrats have their hands in the cookie jar as well.  I don’t want to feel and sound cynical.  I still want to believe that the U.S. Supreme Court will put its integrity first and focus on the ‘law’ and not politics but my head is in a real struggle with my heart to maintain some semblance of what I sincerely hope was not simply naiveté on my part.

I think that we need to find some way to take politics out of the Supreme Court.  But if the challenge is on par with big money and elections in our country it is going to be a real tough job.  What do you think?

Eulus Dennis

Fragile: Handle With Care

Does it seem that everyone, including the media and politicians, is gingerly handling the New York Police Depart (NYPD) and its police officers even though these officers are openly and regularly provoking and defying authority?  Does it seem that they are afraid to criticize the Department and these officers even if they believe that what the officers are doing is wrong?  And if they are, is there a reason why they are treating them with kid gloves?  Or, am I just overreacting and they are simply handling a delicate situation in the way that it should be handled?

Isn’t Mayor de Blasio the person who appoints the NYPD Commissioner?  For the NYPD to feign a show of respect for the commissioner but openly disrespect the mayor in the commissioner’s presence not only shows disrespect for the mayor but it also shows disrespect for the commissioner who is the NYPD Chief’s boss.  In most cities if police officers conducted themselves in this manner and the person who was appointed by the mayor and is at the top of the organization chart did not hold them accountable, wouldn’t that person be replaced?

If the commissioner is treading softly at the behest of the mayor the two of them are doing an outstanding job of keeping it secret.  As I have said before, even if these NYPD officers do not respect the mayor, they should respect the position and office that he represents.  If they have grievances they certainly should be able to air them but the funeral of a fallen police officer is not the time or the place for this and neither should it be done by a public showing of disrespect for the mayor.

I realize that Mayor de Blasio is not the president of the United States or even the governor of New York but it is not hard to imagine what would happen to someone who serves at the pleasure of the President of the United States or the Governor of New York if they witnessed this kind of conduct by subordinates and did not hold them accountable; especially if it happened repeatedly.  For me, it is somewhat disconcerting to watch this scenario play out while these police officers act so boldly and with such an air of impunity.

There are those who say that Mayor de Blasio should apologize to the NYPD and tell them that he made a mistake.  What I would like to know is exactly what it is that he said that he should apologize for.  If he is at fault, does that mean that it is okay for the police to all but stop doing their job?  Is the mayor, who was elected by the people of New York City, looked upon by the NYPD police officers as just a figurehead and that they are the ones who really run the city?

There are many of us who believe that a large majority of NYPD police officers and police officers throughout the country want to be fair and even-handed with all of the people that they police.  They want to stop and question citizens only if they truly have reasonable suspicion to do so.  If they need to use force, they want to use only the required amount of force.  If a situation becomes heated, if possible, they want to deescalate it.  They just want to do their job and not be demonized for it.  If they are appreciated for it then they see that as an added bonus and graciously accept it.

I believe, as probably do many others, that this large majority of police officers know that some of their fellow police officers – who are in the minority – profile citizens, use excessive force and in other ways abuse their authority.  Those officers in the majority may not participate in these activities but they turn their heads away and remain silent because of the so-called ‘blue code.’  Their silence is deafening!

I don’t know if police departments around the country need to provide police officers with more training while paying special attention to what, right now, appear to be problem areas for almost all police departments.  But I do know that it is time for brave police officers in that large majority to step forward and speak up.  It is not the only way to change things and improve police departments so that they will work better and begin to build mutual respect and trust between police and the communities that they serve and protect but it absolutely must be a key part of the solution.

Eulus Dennis

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  Politically speaking, you either got the Christmas gift that you wished for or a lump of coal and either way; you are headed into a brand new year.  As for me, I got a lump of coal.  And I don’t know about you but I don’t think that it’s going to be a happy new year either.

If you love red you got Christmas in November but if you are like me and prefer blue then you got a lump of coal.  If you are a Democrat who voted this past November and still received a lump of coal then you are justified in feeling down and out and disappointed.  If you did not vote then there is no room for you in this boat; you belong in the pity party boat!

It is bad enough to be in the down and out and disappointed boat but although it has sustained damage and is taking on water, at least those on board are working hard to pump out the water and repair the damage.  We have great expectations of repairing the damage and moving forward from November and eventually claiming victory.  Those in the pity party boat, however, only have a slight glimmer of hope and urgently need to dawn their life vests and hurry into the lifeboats.  They have only themselves to blame for their predicament because they did not vote.

Those Republicans who did not vote in November but received the gift of a Republican victory rather than a lump of coal should not feel good or comfortable about accepting their gift.  As a matter of fact, they should feel very uncomfortable about even attending the victory party since they know that they were not a productive member of the team but simply somehow managed to fool Santa.  I am not sure what to call it but they should be in a separate boat from the rest of the Republican revelers just like the pity party Democrats are in a separate boat from the down and out and disappointed Democrats.

Although the damage has already been done I hope that those pity party Democrats are salvageable.  I hope that they can be made to realize that they have a responsibility not only to themselves as American citizens but an overall responsibility to America to stay informed and vote.  I also hope that those non-contributing Republicans who slinked into the Republican victory party unnoticed will come to realize this same responsibility.

Republicans in Washington are once again saying that they have a mandate from the American people to change things since they now have full control of congress.  So if you were not able to afford healthcare coverage for you and your family before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed and want to go back to being without insurance, the Republicans have vowed to continue in their effort to repeal it.  If you are against an increase in the minimum wage, the Republicans will work to assure that there is no increase.  If you are against equal pay for equal work, once again, the Republican Party is the one for you; and the list goes on.

If you are a Republican who wants to keep the healthcare coverage you got via the ACA, happens to need an increase in the minimum wage, have a spouse or significant other who would benefit from equal pay for equal work, or are someone who lives in a state where Republicans are blocking the expansion of Medicaid simply because they want the ACA to fail thereby denying you the opportunity to even purchase healthcare that you could afford under the ACA, then you have got a problem with this new Republican majority.

However, you must accept the probability that this problem is of your own making if you are one of those Republicans who slinked into this Republican victory party.  This does not necessarily mean that you should have held your nose, swallowed hard and voted for a Democrat; although a Democrat would better represent your interest if you fit into the category mentioned above.

What it does mean is that, had you voted, you might have had an impact on electing a different Republican from your state to fill that seat who would have better reflected your best interest and perspective on these issues.  There is no guarantee that the person you voted for would have been elected but at least you would have made your voice heard.

All politicians are already jabbering about the 2016 elections and those who are considering a run to become our next president are continuing to put their political machines into place and fine-tune them.  This likely means that they will focus even more on the big money donors and pay even less attention to the 99-percenters until after the 2016 elections are completed.

Whether or not you voted in the 2014 midterm elections and whether or not you like the direction that the newly elected Republican majority congress takes us in over the next 22 months, we can and should make our voices heard through our votes in November 2015.

For far too long politicians have taken voters for granted because too many of them feel that we are uninformed and can easily be influenced by sound bites during election cycles.  Inundate the airwaves with these sound bites, they reason, and they will be elected; all else will be forgotten.

We must prove them wrong by showing them that we can and will be informed and that it will take more than sound bites to win our votes.  To the greatest extent possible, everyone – whether they are Democrat, Republican or Independent should always vote because this makes our Democracy operate more effectively and smoothly.  And always remember, your vote is the most important one of all…unless you don’t use it!

Eulus Dennis