HAIKU (MAUI), HAWAII AMERICAN/GLOBAL AFFAIRS
16-year update to Plutocrats of the New World Order"-Washington Times 1997 column
Dumbing Down of America
College tuitions soar while wages languish; plutocracy is blossoming in a nation once free; widening gap between "have's" and "have not's" wiping out the middle class; why are our students mum?
HAIKU, Maui, March 9, 2013 - "I think I need to do another story before we leave Maui," I told Elizabeth yesterday afternoon after a conversation with a neighbor. It was to be an update on an old topic: "Dumbing Down of America." What I did not realize until I started writing it was that it was exactly 16 years ago to the day (!) that my column "Plutocrats of the New World Order" was published in the Washington Times (WT). My working title for this Mar 9, 1997 OpEd piece was "Dumbing Down of America." The same as the 2013 version of the story.
Synchronicity... part of Divine guidance. Here's how that March 1997 column started:
Ironically, nearly a quarter century after the fall of Berlin Wall, the above East Berlin truism fits America like a hand in glove. It is here, in this country that once called itself "the land of the free" (and still does in its anthem) - the self-professed "leader of the free world" - that the border runs between top and bottom. The gap between the rich and the poor has widened even more since it alarmed me enough 16 years ago to write that Washington Times column. America has become a classic example of plutocracy - the rule of few over many. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and the middle class is being wiped out.
Just yesterday, Elizabeth and I were sitting on our lanai and talking to a neighbor. The conversation was innocuous enough. Until it got serious.
They have three children. One has graduated from college but is currently unemployed. Another is attending college part-time while serving in the U.S. military as a reservist. The third one is about to graduate from high school. She is a bright and ambitious young woman. Yet there is not much of a chance that she will be able to attend a college in the mainland. Because her parents can't afford it. Even the tuitions for a state university here in Hawaii have more than doubled since the time this neighbor's first child went off to college. College education is evidently becoming a luxury, an elusive goal for many Americans.
This is no coincidence. This is a result of deliberate long-term policies of the so-called "elite." In my 1990s columns, I used to call these plutocrats "New World Order." Now I realize that was giving them a compliment they do not deserve. Because they have usurped the political power in this country purely for their personal gain. They are seeking no new order. Our politicians are running the country for the benefit of their corporate and banking sponsors. A "government of the people, for the people, by the people" is no more. R.I.P. Washington has become a "from the people to the rich"-collection agency that runs on cheapest, dirtiest fuel there is - Greed and Corruption. If in doubt, check out "US Income Gap Rose" (New York Times, Oct 2012).
You can also see from Paul Krugman's chart (right) when the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and the median family income began to diverge. It was in the early 1970s (see "Things We Are Supposed to Be Quiet About," New York Times, 1-14-12). The process of robbing the middle class to line the pockets of the rich accelerated in the last two decades. The 2011 median family income was about the same as that in 1990-1991. In fact, the average wages have declined 8% since 2007 (left chart). But not for all...
Meanwhile, the top 0.01% of the American population have seen their income rise 199% since 1980; the top 1% by 63%. By 2007, the top 1% accounted for 24% of total nation's income (left chart). Which means the top 1% made as much money as 79 million other Americans.
Of course, income is only a part of the story. Our cost of living has increased substantially since the early 1970s, especially the energy costs. Which means that an average American family is being squeezed between flat or declining income and rising cost. Sharply rising costs in many cases.
In 1969, for example, gasoline was only $0.35 a gallon. By 1976, it had risen to $0.60 per gallon following the formation of the OPEC oil cartel. And by 1981, we were shocked to see the gas prices above $1.00 for the first time. What bargain a buck per gallon price would be today, right? That's nearly a five-fold increase.
College Tuitions Soar Even More Than Gas Prices
But there is one part of an average American middle class family's budget that has risen even steeper than gas. Even more than the housing costs. And much more than the total cost of living. What is it?
It is the cost of college education (left chart, click here for detailed table).
Shocked? You should be. I was. For, even the OPEC oil cartel has not managed to raise the prices by as much as have the deans of American college campuses.
In the last 30 years, college tuition fees have risen six-fold (up 496% since 1980-81 - right chart). An average American family used to spend 24% of its income on college tuitions per child 30 years ago. Now, that share of the family budget has soared to 43% per student. Which puts the college education beyond the reach of most families.
Which is the idea. "Dumbing Down America" is a part of the deliberate policies devised by the so-called "elite." That's also what my Washington Times column "DANCING 'ROUND THE GOLDEN CALF" talked about in Aug 1997. Here's an excerpt:
And "they" are succeeding. Just look around at what kinds of things attract our children - the games, the movies, the music... It's just like the waning days of the Roman Empire. That's when "panem et circenses" ("bread and games") was a way the ruling class tried to distract the population from reality, offering them food, amusement and entertainment in order to stave off the inevitable - decline.
Meanwhile, back to America, this writer's heart goes out to those parents who have two or three or more children of college age. Like our neighbors. It seems the only way these kids may be able to get to college is by serving in the military, or by taking out college loans. Either way, both the children and their parents get more enslaved, more indebted to the "elite."
So much for the once "land of the free." We have become a living and breathing example of plutocracy - the rule of few over many.
History Repeating Itself
Sadly, "there is nothing new under the sun," as King Solomon noted 3,000 years ago. All this has happened before. Many times. I've already mentioned ancient Rome. Here's another excerpt from my Mar 9, 1997 Washington Times column:
America Becoming a "Third World" Country
Well, some may still find solace in the fact that there are worse places on earth than America in which to live. Latin American countries come to mind, places like Honduras, Guatemala, Paraguay, Bolivia, Colombia... At least that's what the mainstream media want the average American to think. Well, think again...
Would it surprise you to learn that even the places like Nicaragua, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, El Salvador, Argentina, Venezuela or Uruguay have a more equitable income distribution system than the United Stated of America? Meaning - their governments treat their people better, more fairly than ours. In fact, the U.S. ranks only 11th among its Latin American neighbors in terms of income distribution and inequality (see chart and U.S. Income Inequality Worse Than Many Latin American Countries, Huffington Post, 1-27-13).
Similarly, on a global scene, the U.S. earned about the same score in income inequality as Nigeria or Uganda (click on Mapping the Divide for an interactive world map at the Global Post web site).
So those Americans who cannot afford to travel abroad to see some of these "third world countries" needn't worry. They can just take a look at some of the urban neighborhoods in their back yard. That's what the "third world" looks like. Yet those are some of the Americans who were born free and were once full of hope. Now many find hope in dope. Or perish, either through drug-related violence or by wilting away as addicts.
Urban slums and America Heartland's wasteland (small towns - ghost towns) are also legacies of the plutocracy the American "elite." They are the "Dumbing Down of America" self-enrichment and usury mementos. How much more abuse will it take before the people rise up and say, "enough is enough?"
Over two years ago and again last November, tends of thousands of students took to the streets of London, virtually shutting down the West End (downtown) of the British capital where the Parliament Buildings are located (see UK Student Protests, 2010 and London Protests 2012). "Make Banks Pay," some their banners read. Even the perennially well-behaved Brits have had enough and are showing their government that.
Contrast that with virtual silence here in the U.S. despite the even more egregious examples of young people's abuse by the powers that be. Why are our students putting up with it silently like neutered animals? Could it be because "Dumbing Down of America" is working? And what does that tell us about the "land of the (once) free and the home of the brave?"
As providence would have it, the Spirit realm answered these questions for me. Here's what the Light Beings said in their Mar 7, 2013 message, channeled through Earl Backman (The Ravenheart Center):
I had no idea the Light Beings were going to comment about the same topic when I had started writing this story. Yet it now feels as if they wrote the punch line for me: "It is imperative that we work toward and support... a more equal society."
Synchronicity.... part of Divine guidance.
Bob Altzar Djurdjevic is a writer, musician, video maker, thrice-ordained Inca-shaman and business consultant based in Maui, Hawaii (altzar.org, djurdjevic.com, gaiasteward.org, and yinyangbob.com). He is also a former war correspondent and geopolitical commentator whose columns have been published by major media in the U.S. and around the world.
For more on this topic, also see...
Plutocrats of the New World Order (Mar 1997); Bilking Main Street to finance Wall St.'s greed (May 1997), DANCING 'ROUND THE GOLDEN CALF (Aug 1997), WIPING OUT THE MIDDLE CLASS (May 1998), Toward a Nation of Morons (Washington Times, Jan 2006, click here for the TiM version), WASHINGTON'S CRISIS FACTORY etc.
Click on COLUMNS to read more.