In the last 25 years, America has seen 80% of economic growth going to the top 2% of Americans. In the same time period, our national debt has roughly increased 2.5 times.
Now, a significant portion of political might is geared towards reducing taxes on the wealthy under the guise of 'being fair'. They ignore the economic reality that the average American (60% of the population) has not been the net beneficiary of the increasing debt - as witnessed by their shrinking wallets - but rather the rich (and the top 2-5%). These 'fiscal conservatives' talk of the 'burden' borne by rich taxpayers, when the reality is that the rich still pay lower tax rates by % and still gross and net far more in simple dollar terms. By any measure, the rich have gotten richer, and the poor have gotten poorer, but that simple truth has been unaddressed.
Those who speak of another form of 'fairness' - based on addressing economic, environmental, and social inequality - are accused of fomenting 'class warfare'. These 'progressives' are ignored as they state that the rich have not been good stewards of our economic infrastructure in the Rust Belt and elsewhere, have trashed our environment from Alaska to Yellowstone to the Gulf of Mexico, and have fomented social strife by creating a Nixonian approach to governance that confuses and agitates with issues like immigration and abortion.
In perhaps the greatest perversion of reality, the rich have somehow labeled themselves as the job 'creators', when they have in fact worked to offshore middle and lower class jobs over the last 3 decades. And only 3 years ago, it was precisely the richest capitalists that melted down the economy and laid off millions.
These are simple facts, and facts have a way of eventually asserting their weight on everything from lab experiments to public opinion. As the rumors, innuendo, and outright falsehoods are unlikely to escape the gravity of truth, it's likely that the rich's return to the hard ground of political sentiment will be dramatic.
2011 has certainly been a year of great drama around the world. The Arab Spring has surprised the powerful and wealthy of even the most oppressive regimes. In close neighbor Europe, events have lead to a prominent question of 'will America be the next Greece'? However, unlike Egypt, Libya, and Syria, the Greece context has been one of economics, as in, "will America's public finances break down"?
Looking at Greece again, perhaps the greater question is: Will America's public order break down?
What will happen when people at long last acknowledge the reality that they have been duped into increasing productivity year after year, and building the largest, most efficient economy on their backs and brows, only to be less well off then their parents at the same age?
How will the truth be asserted?
Will we have riots? Will we have looting? Will centers of finance find themselves under seige? Will hedge-fund traders be given police escorts from Wall Street?
America has great passion for politics and a significant portion of the population that is not moderate in any of their thoughts or actions. What will happen when these people realize that they're being fleeced of their future, and refuse to once again be led like sheep?
Will America be the Greece of ancient Athens that operated in democratic fashion, or the violent Greece of more recent history? Will the debt vote, or unemployment benefits, or medicare be the catalyst in the next 'government of the people' experiment? What happens if the great majority finally refuse to share a diminishing portion of an expanding pie?