Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Economic Crisis for Who?

By Greg Jobin-Leeds and Saulo Colon

There is great disparity in the economic pain that currently exists.

In the last year, most millionaires gained back all the financial losses that they incurred in 2008. While some economists are calling the current period “The Great Recession,” there is no economic crisis for most millionaires.  The brunt of the economic crisis is hitting the poor, the working and middle classes, and our public infrastructure.  Schools in middle class and poor communities are facing huge cuts resulting in class sizes of up to 60 in some communities. 

It has now become clear that a national strategy is underway to make the public-sector bear the burden of the “economic crisis.”  Teachers, unions, and public employees are the No. 1 target.  Education in particular has become the battleground of our democracy.

Since Democrats and Republicans agreed last December not to increase federal income, estate and capital gains taxes, this makes it impossible to increase revenue for state, local and federal budgets. This forces governors, mayors and state legislatures to raise taxes and/or to slash payrolls and social programs.  In addition, media and politicians’ focus on ‘deficits and debts” has eroded taxpayer support for government spending.

The budget crisis is not due to public spending.  It is the result of our war economy and because federal and state budgets are being starved of tax revenue from corporations and the rich – many of who – through their corporate lobbyists, create tax breaks, subsidies, and loop holes in their favor that they can get the government to pass .

Progressive philanthropy does not have enough money to solve the multitude of problems that our government is exacerbating by rolling back social programs.  These programs are part of the bedrock of our country and were a key reason we became a developed nation.  Organizing for equitable education funding for all students is one way to shift this tide of inequality back towards democracy.  It is time to demystify the economic crisis.  The country has enough resources to educate every child to their fullest potential.  It is just a matter of choices and who gets to make the choices.  The domination by the super wealthy and corporations of our current two political parties crushes the participation of the majority in our democracy and economy.

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