NOTE: This is a commentary about the 1950s, corporations, the glorious South, taxes, labor unions and the GOP --- and why Republican workers constantly vote against their own best interests. This commentary is not be taken as fact or fiction, but is only my opinion based solely on my own personal observations and experiences.
In the 1950's people could afford single family dwellings and suburbia was born. A small suburban community called Levittown was built, where in 1951 Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly and his family had lived. American public education underwent dramatic and world shattering changes in those days.
While although O'Reilly had attended a Catholic school, Bill had wanted to attend W. Tresper Clarke High School, the public school most of his closest friends would attend. During his high school years, O'Reilly is said to have met future pop-singer icon Billy Joel, whom O'Reilly had described as a "hoodlum." (As an aside: In high school, I too was considered to be a hoodlum, choosing to hang out with "rockers" instead "jocks", when instead, I should have hung out with the "nerds" --- and maybe today I might have been working at Google -sigh-)
Back in the 1950's, clothing was conservative. Men wore gray flannel suits and women wore dresses with pinched waists. French fashion designers such as Dior, Chanel and Givenchy were popular and copied in America. We had fashion successes like Bill Blass and his blue jeans (although, Levis's were always in style since 1873, but as of the 1990's, Levi Strauss & Co now offshores most of its production to places like the Northern Mariana Islands and Costa Rica.)
During the "Fabulous Fifties" families worked together, played together and vacationed together at family themed entertainment areas like Yellowstone Park and the new Disneyland. Drive-in movies became popular for families and teens. Cars were seen as an indicator of prosperity and cool-ness. Highways were built to take people quickly from one place to another, by-passing small towns and helping to create shopping plazas and malls. The Interstate Highway System is officially known as the "Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways". (But now more than one in nine bridges in the USA — at least 66,405, or 11 percent of the total — are structurally deficient; and to the dismay and chagrin of American steelworkers, we're using inferior Chinese steel to fix them.)
We liked watching and dancing to Dick Clark's American Bandstand. When the 1950s are mentioned, the first type of music to come to most people's minds is rock 'n roll. Popular artists such as Bill Haley, Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis were on the radio. There was Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens --- the influence of these early rockers had been felt in popular music worldwide. But music in the fifties was more than just rock 'n roll. Crooners like Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como and Dinah Shore were all popular too. Many of these singers were the idols of the rockers who developed the new sounds. They did gigs at the casinos that were blossoming in old Las Vegas.
TV shows were born: The Honeymooners, Lassie, Leave It to Beaver, Father Knows Best, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, I Love Lucy, The Ed Sullivan Show and the Johnny Carson Show; and daytime soap operas like Guiding Light.
All-American sports such as baseball and football gave opportunities for the rise of stars like Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Hank Aaron, Jim Brown, and Frank Gifford. As television became more popular and available, other sports found a growing numbers of fans. College football was widely followed. Professional golf became very popular with stars like Arnold Palmer, who helped to create the idea that to succeed in business, men needed to play golf. People watched the Olympics 1952 and 1956, and in part due to the Cold War, because the rivalry between countries became very fierce. Sports like tennis, basketball and boxing were also popular in the fifties. We had Wilt Chamberlain, Sugar Ray Robinson and Rocky Marciano.
In 1954 almost 35% of the U.S. workforce belonged to a labor union. And almost every major corporation we know today had their roots from over 100 years ago (excluding the newer ones such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft) --- and they all grew and flourished during this time in American history. Back in the 1950's we used to tax the rich at 91% as a top marginal rate on their income, and we used to tax corporations and banks 52% on their profits. Ask anybody in the Tea Party today, if when the Republican, Dwight D. Eisenhower, had been our President in the 1950s, were all Americans considered to be Socialists back then?
Senator John Boehner was a kid during the 1950s, just like myself. He and most members in Congress are well aware of that golden era in American history. And just like me, they saw this country prosper and thrive as they were growing up --- despite the higher tax rates --- when in those days, our great middle-class had first been born and thrived. (Taxes later got us to the moon in 1969. But now, because of declining tax revenues as a percent of GDP, we're struggling to feed our working poor and unemployed.)
But today the Tea Party Republicans (who are usually Southern Dixiecrats) are demonizing government and taxes; not because government and taxes are bad for common working people, but mostly because government and taxes are something the major corporations don't want --- or anything else for that matter that positively affects and influences the greater good and the living standards of regular working Americans.
The GOP knows very well that right now in 2013, we have a revenue problem, not just a spending problem. And wealth inequality is at a record high. They claim there's waste in government spending (and that it's "out of control"), but ever since taxes were first collected by the U.S. bureaucracy, there has always been some waste, fraud and abuse --- just as businesses calculate employee theft when doing their annual tax planning --- both are the result of human factors that can never be completely eradicated, but only better controlled. (And then there's the $436 hammer and the $640 toilet seat, that may or may not have been government waste at all, but rather an accounting means for which to funnel revenues to fund our "black budget" and to finance covert ops.)
Why does the GOP keep denying that we have a revenue problem, but only a spending problem? Simple: First, they never believed in such things as Social Security, etc. (see: Starve the Beast). Second, The Republicans work for the big corporations, and that's why they are so against labor unions, worker's rights, worker and consumer safety laws, regulatory and environmental laws, raising the minimum wage (let alone, paying a REAL living wage), and keeping their political base, especially in the rural areas, "dumbed down" --- to keep them voting against their own best interests. (And it generally goes without saying, the GOP also protects the ultra-wealthy as well, who it seems, never wants to pay any taxes, no matter how much money they earn.)
In the 1960s, while my father was serving in Vietnam, my family lived in the Orange County suburb of Garden Grove, California --- which then had a population of about 85,000. In neighboring Anaheim was Disneyland. During that time the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival (a charitable event, benefiting local organizations hosted at the Bolsa Grande High School) became the largest municipal event in California. Among other things, it featured parades, rodeos and concerts. The California State Battle of the Bands was held there in 1968. That year the band "The Noble Five" (Ronnie Van Zant's band, who later founded Lynyrd Skynyrd) won the local Battle of the Bands contest. As a young teenager, I was there, and distinctly remembering hearing the band "The Chamber Brothers" performing their only major hit song "Time has Come Today" --- which was first recorded in 1966 and first released in 1967 --- and today is considered one of the landmark rock songs of the psychedelic era.
During that time in my life, I had visited relatives living in the South
(most were living there at the time). My Southern cousins had called me a
"big city slicker", because I hailed from a town of 85,000. Their
nearest neighbors (often family members) lived over a mile away, and their
nearest "big city" was 20 miles away with a population of 5,000. By
contrast, at that time the population of Los Angeles was 2.5 million and
New York City was over 7 million. But I can understand why my Southern
relatives might have thought I was a "big city slicker". I actually
took it as a compliment, as though somehow, it meant I was worldly and
cosmopolitan. Just as some people say they feel complimented when being called
a "redneck" (despite whether or
not any negative connotation was implied.)
In the mountain and rural areas of the country, Americans are more isolated, and don't have the same diverse inter-mingling of people and ideas that are experienced and more pronounced in large population centers --- and the same can be said for military families, who live all over the country and sometimes are stationed abroad. Their children ("military brats") don't attend one school, but many schools while they're growing up, and are exposed to many different types of people and cultures. That might help account for the liberal Democratic political leanings in larger cities and the more conservative Republican leanings in the more remote areas of America --- the separation from, or the closeness to, others.
That, and the way the more rural inhabitants get their "outside news". Local newspapers and radio stations (often conservative in many regions in the South) usually dominate the local markets, other than cable TV (if it's available). I'm only guessing but, I imagine that Fox News most likely does very well with the demographics in the Southern and Mountain States.
And the more remote among us might also rely somewhat on how Hollywood depicts American life in their movies, or how NYC and LA producers present how average families are living in their soap operas and sitcoms. For example, most American families didn't own homes as nice as was depicted on the Bill Cosby Show. The house that they used for the show was actually in Greenwich Village, but people like Newt Gingrich probably told white people in Georgia that welfare got those black folks that nice home. Meanwhile, the Koch bothers have been attempting corner the media market in many big cities too, according to their recent bids for major media outlets, such as the LA Times (Oh yes, LA, home of the Hollywood elite, and the new bastion for conservative views).
It's also a cultural thing for Southern and mountain folks, such as their opinions on faith, abortion, birth control, gun laws, gay rights and the like. That may be why President Obama made the unfortunate comment about them "clinging to their religion and guns". Obama is also a "big city slicker", and just like people in rural areas who don't understand us, too often we don't understand them either.
In the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, people in the more remote areas of America were more self-sufficient --- living off the land with a life-time of honed survival skills --- as well as ranchers, herders and farmers --- who for generations, hunted and husbanded animals and grew their own food supplies, as well as building their own homes. As for religion, the Bible Belt is the South --- and there are also plenty of wide open places to shoot a gun too (without the risk of blowing out your neighbor's window or having a bullet fall on top of your head from a mile high in the sky.) But in remote towns like Tombstone, Arizona in 1881, gun laws were much stricter than they are today.
Whereas, with "big-city" living in the much larger and denser population centers, people relied more on employers to give them jobs (such as in offices, hotels, restaurants, banks, retail stores, factories and mills.) to purchase their food and pay rents (In the 1800's and early 1900's there were remote company towns where the employees were paid with company tokens, shopped at company stores, and lived in company housing). But in a big city, if a gun is even accidentally discharged, odds are good that someone might get hurt. And many different religions and races exist in the larger cities, and aren't so concentrated like they are in the more rural pockets of American communities (although, many cities do have communities within the city that are more prone to the congregation of people due to national heritage, such as Chinatown or Little Italy).
This cultural, economic and political divide has grown over the last few decades. The media has taken sides, and aren't as neutral as they once were. The problem is, the rights of some are trampling the rights of others, and vice versa. Supposedly, in a democracy, the greater good for all is supposed to benefit a majority while also protecting the minority. But the majorities in the cities are being obstructed by the majorities in the rural areas, and visa versa --- two diabolically opposing views and beliefs are colliding head-on with one another. It's no wonder some people have discussed ceding from the union (no, it's usually only the rich that actually renounces their U.S. citizenships to avoid paying taxes).
But it just isn't a North/South divide, or a Democrat/Republican divide, or a religious/moral divide. It's also a rich/poor divide (income disparity) that has exasperated all the other foregoing divides. When mere survival becomes the issue, then you'll have a lot of very unhappy and dissatisfied people. After all, it's difficult to debate wedge issues when your primary concern is for food and shelter.
Since the Powell memo in 1971, we've had major corporate propaganda, declining union membership, more monopolies (mergers and acquisitions) and the offshoring of jobs, which has driven down wages, cut taxes on corporations, and closed factories. Just between 2000 and 2010 alone, America has lost over 56,000 factories. Sometimes this has decimated entire towns, and also escalated both urban and suburban decay --- and created many new ghost towns.
- Economy In Crisis: Ghost Town: USA (a disturbing video)
- Urban Ghost Media: 6 Ghost Towns and Abandoned Cities of North America
- Woman's Day: 12 American Ghost Towns
- Cracked: The 6 Most Mind-Blowing Modern Ghost Towns
- Big Think: Detroit: The Next American Ghost Town
- Daily Finance: The Human Toll of America's New Ghost Towns
- The Fiscal Times: 9 Worst Recession Ghost Towns in America
- USA Today: New Ghost Towns: Industrial Communities Teeter on the Edge
- Yahoo: American Ghost Towns of the 21st Century
- The Atlantic: The New American Ghost Towns
These major U.S. companies have also pitted Americans against each other economically, such as jobs for non-union workers in Southern States versus union jobs paying decent wages everywhere else. Corporations have manipulated the economic depression in rural areas, pointing to union government workers as the enemy (because their wages have, for the most part, kept up with inflation) --- and corporations have demonized labor unions over-all as another reason for jobs going overseas (using the same tired and false excuse that "they need to be more globally competitive" --- while American CEOs make far more than their foreign counter-parts --- so their wages need not be "globally competitive", just their employee's.
Divide and conqueror --- The corporations (via the GOP) has successfully used "wedge issues" such as abortion, gay rights and gun control to further drive the divide between Americans ("Those damn commie liberals want birth control AND they want unions too...and we all know how bad birth control is, so those unions must be bad as well.")
Republican voters, mostly in rural areas, are saturated and mostly dominated with conservative politicking, who have, over generations, literally indoctrinated many Americans into believing the corporate propaganda --- and have, for decades, consistently convinced many people to vote against their own best interests.
And if they live in rural communities with nothing but a coat hanger for a TV antenna, and no access to the internet, they're even more limited as to what information they're able to gain access to, and must rely on the local newspaper and/or a talk radio host. (Or in a worst-case scenario, depend on a passing trucker on a CB radio for the latest news.) The idea is, to deliberately control the flow of information, and to strategically use any and all information to their best advantage, employing propaganda-like tactics (using outsight lies) to persuade voters to believe what is in someone else's best interests, and not their own.
The 1950's: When Democrats were once sacrificing little
children to monsters.
These corporate think tanks, lobbyists and business groups actually have a whole lot of regular "mom and pop and apple pie" Americans believing that, 1) Obama is not a U.S. citizen, but is an evil Socialist (when everybody can see that he is clearly a crony capitalist), 2) that all Democrats, liberals and progressives are Communists (when most believe in the same values that the Republican President Theodore Roosevelt had advocated for from 1901 to 1909), and that 3) union leaders are like sinister casino bosses with ties to Jimmy Hoffa and the mafia --- and call them "thugs". Major U.S. businesses have used the Republicans to help propagate the GOP's scare tactics for several decades (just to gain power) to create wealth inequality and wage disparity that this country hasn't experienced in over100 years --- not since the Gilded Age.
Corporations (via the GOP) have convinced many (otherwise) traditional conservatives and an uninformed work force that labor unions are the "enemy of the state"; but these major U.S. corporations have been the enemy of American workers going back centuries --- going all the way to our Founding Fathers, slavery and the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in 1911. That's why we always need checks and balances between business and labor (with a fair moderator in the government); but the pendulum has swung far too much to the side of businesses during these past 40 years --- when corporate plutocracy has been dominating real democracy in our government.
Since 2009 the publication "National Affairs" has published a public-policy quarterly. The organization had previously published both "The National Interest" and "The Public Interest". The organization was run by Irving Kristol, who was dubbed the "godfather of neo-conservatism". Daniel Disalvo wrote a critical piece for National Affairs titled: The Trouble with Public Sector Unions where he says:
shift has produced a noticeable change in the demographic profile of
union members; gone is the image of a union man as a beefy laborer
in a hard hat and steel-toed boots. In 1952, about 80% of union
members were blue-collar workers, while 20% were white-collar
workers; by the mid-1990s, those classified as white-collar workers
gained majority status.
Nor do men dominate unions any longer: In the 1950s, more than 80% of union members were men, but today there is near gender parity.
Union members also have much more schooling than they once did. In 1960, more than 35% of union members had not finished high school and barely 2% had college degrees. Today, almost every union member has completed high school, and more than 25% have college degrees.
The typical union member no longer lives in a major city center close to the factory; by the 1990s, union members were more likely to live in suburban than urban areas. Unions have also become multi-racial: Nearly a quarter of union members are now non-white. Unions today represent a vastly different slice of America than they did at the height of the country's manufacturing prowess.
Thom Hartmann (a progressive talk radio show host and a New York Times best-selling author) debates Daniel DiSalvo in the video below: "Who is Killing America, Wall Street or Unions?" Thom Hartmann confronts Professor Daniel DiSalvo on his articles "The Trouble with Public Sector Unions" and "Government Unions and the Bankrupting of America".
Today, unionized workers are more likely to be teachers, librarians, trash collectors, policemen, or firefighters than they are to be carpenters, electricians, plumbers, auto workers or coal miners. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the total number of union members fell to 14.3 million (11.3 percent of the work force). That brought unionization to its lowest level since 1916, when it was 11.2 percent, according to a study by two Rutgers economists, Leo Troy and Neil Sheflin.
There were 7.3 million public employees in unions, compared with 7 million private sector workers. Due to offshoring, manufacturing has been in decline since 1979. William Spriggs, the AFL-CIO’s chief economist, acknowledged that unions were doing poorly in manufacturing, retail (Walmart) and elsewhere in the private sector --- such as fast-food (McDonalds) and the rest of the restaurant and hospitality industry.
The percentage of workers belonging to a union (or "density") in the United States peaked in 1954 at almost 35% and the total number of union members peaked in 1979 at an estimated 21.0 million (the same year that manufacturing peaked and offshoring jobs escalated). After 1960, public sector unions grew rapidly and secured good wages and high pensions for their members --- while at the same time, the rate of growth for new members in manufacturing and farming steadily declined.
Paul Krugman writes, "Consider the differences between the iconic
companies of two different eras: General Motors in the 1950s and Apple today.
G.M.'s value came largely from its productive capacity: it owned hundreds of
factories and employed around 1.0 % percent of the total non-farm work force.
Apple, by contrast, is either the highest-valued or the second-highest-valued
company in America, but it employs less than 0.05 % of our workers. To some
extent, that’s because it has outsourced almost all its
State and local government employment rose from 4 million workers in 1950 (2.6% of the population when the U.S. population was 152 million) --- to 12 million in 1976 (5.5% of the population when the U.S. population was 218 million) --- to 17 million in 2009 (5.5% of the population when the U.S. population was 305 million).
But even Daniel Disalvo notes, "In today's public sector, good pay, generous benefits, and job security make possible a stable middle-class existence for nearly everyone from janitors to jailors." While union membership declined in the public sector due to corporate union busting and "right-to-work" laws, so did the State and local memberships decline with cuts in government spending --- and so did average American's wages also decline when accounting for inflation and the real cost-of-living.
“Our labor laws do not favor unions organizing,” William Spriggs said. “It would be one thing to say we’re bellyaching, but the Republican Party is really being vindictive against unions, and employers campaign very hard against workers unionizing.”
Workers should be looking to unions because of job insecurity and stagnant wages, but they’re not, and often vote against their best interests when electing political candidates. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that among full-time workers, union members had median weekly earnings of $943 last year (about $49,000 annually), compared with $742 (about $38,600 annually) for comparable nonunion workers. Even if someone didn't belong a union, competing union wages drives up wages for all workers. Now we're in a race to the bottom with foreign countries, competing for the lowest wages. (Meanwhile, all the record profits have been flowing to the very top.)
The peak unionization rate was 35 percent during the mid-1950s. One of the largest umbrella organizations, the AFL-CIO, was originally created in 1955 --- the year I was born in San Francisco while by mom and dad were both in the U.S. Navy during the Fabulous Fifties. After my mom left the Navy to raise me (and later, my sister), my dad paid the mortgage and car payments with his military salary. Today, most households need two incomes to maintain that same standard of living today.
Competition from China and other low-wage rivals, coupled with fallout from the 2007-'09 financial crisis, has put American wages under such unprecedented strain that they have shifted into reverse — not merely stagnating, but falling. And this isn't happening just in the U.S. --- In its latest Global Wage Report, the ILO warned that wage competition between nations could trigger a "race to the bottom," with nations desperate to undercut each other with cheap labor only to end up shrinking their own economies.
But most Republican voters seem to think that, somehow, this must all be related in some way to the Democrats, "big government" and the labor unions, and not because of corporate greed and their theory of "globalization". And it's very difficult and frustrating to try and convince them otherwise, so steadfast and stubborn in their resolve to resist any type of change --- or to adopt to any critical and newly discovered information (hence the term "conservative", to conserve a bygone era of Americana). Many Republican voters seem to think that if a "big city slicker" like myself favors labor unions, I must be either a Socialist, an anti-American anarchist, or a drooling Obama-lover (or all three). But one would think that some of these voters would have to eventually wake up and realize that they are being used by corporate America (via the GOP) to divide us. I was once a Republican sympathizer, since the days of Ronald Reagan, but I eventually saw the light in 2010. Hopefully, one day, many Republican voters will too (But don't get me wrong, it will still require keeping the Democrats' feet to the fire as well. They tend to get complacent while wielding power --- or siding too much with corporate interests.)
While I understand that the nefarious practice of gerrymandering has been in play for quite some time now (depriving millions of Americans of fair representation, both on the a State level and in Congress), the last two presidential elections clearly shows what the majority of American people want in their government. It's just too bad that with so many Tea Party members in Congress and in State governments (elected in gerrymandered districts by people voting against their own best interests), that nothing can ever seem to get done --- and we end up with our current political gridlock.
In a recent Supreme Court ruling (Knox
v. SEIU) the union's Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina said he was
concerned that the court’s ruling might give momentum to what he sees as an
anti-labor agenda being pursued in several states. "It's gonna give the
Scott Walkers of the world and the John Kasichs of the world an implicit green
light to continue with attacks on working people. It's going to create more
litigation, it's going to create more fights in the states, because these
governors in these states are interested in prosecuting an ideological war
The ruling appears to be the first significant limit on union political spending since the high court opened the floodgates with its 2010 Citizens United decision, allowing for unlimited electoral spending by unions and corporations.
Back in 1953 Dwight D. Eisenhower tapped GM’s CEO Charles “Engine Charlie” Wilson to be the Secretary of Defense (that was 8 years before Eisenhower warned us of the military-industrial complex). One of the great urban myths of American business history is that the head of GM once said, “What’s good for General Motors is good for America.” It sounded good at the time, and it may have invoked pride in the typical American worker, especially when things were once mostly "Made in America". Back then, even if those words were never muttered, it still could have been true --- but not so today.
I too once foolishly thought that what was ever good for my boss, just had to be good for me too because, after all, if the company did well, and I worked hard, and I was loyal to the company, besides just keeping my job, maybe (just maybe) I might also get a fair raise --- without having to either fight or beg for it. That was, until I learned that these companies offshored jobs --- which was only good for the company's CEO and the other shareholders, but was not good at all for the workers.
Today, many major U.S. companies like to refer to their employees as "team members" or "associates" (as if the workers were part of some kind of family) --- as though by giving them some type of trivial title would be less demeaning than calling them "peons" --- and that this gesture would also help them foster more loyalty from their employees (while also keeping employee theft down and keeping the employees' demands to a minimal for better wages and benefits). Then I also later learned, while all that time they expected their employees to be loyal to the company (which I always was), they rarely, if ever, had any loyalty to their employees --- they were all expendable. Foolish, foolish, me. And after sending your job to China or India, they would always say, "Sorry about that, it's nothing personal, it's just business."
Although I'm quite sure that many of the people they laid off (to pay someone else lower wages in China and India), after losing everything they had, and after being subjected to drug-testing for unemployment benefits, and/or being denied Social Security disability benefits, and being called "lazy" by the Republicans and accused of "gaming the system", while facing the horror of homelessness and hunger (especially if they were also suffering with health related issues without insurance), I'll bet they took it very personal...just before putting a gun to their head and blowing their brains out. It doesn't get any more personal than that.
40 years ago in 1973, as a high school drop out, I was earning $7.50 an hour as an unskilled union worker (a welder's helper) in a Massachusetts sheet metal factory. Indexed for inflation, today that would be $39.22 an hour --- but according the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a welder's median wage today is only $17.04 an hour. And in 2013, the minimum wage is still less than what I earned 40 years ago. (Of course, a union worker would earn more. An aspiring master in a trade would have to pass through the career chain from apprentice to journeyman, before they could be elected to become a master craftsman.)
Today Garden Grove has a population of about 171,000 and has the second largest Vietnamese-American population in the U.S. with a per capita income of $16,209. About 13.9% of the population were below the poverty line. But they are faring much better than if they had still been living in Vietnam, because otherwise, they might be working for $1.65 a day with no benefits at all in a Nike factory...because in Vietnam, they don't have labor unions, child labor laws, worker's rights or minimum wage laws like we do here in the good ole U.S.A. (and no thanks to the GOP).
The Tea Party Republicans (who are a part of our "big government") have been more concerned with abortion issues and repealing ObamaCare --- and creating more discourse over issues such as the IRS scandal, Fast and Furious, Benghazi, NSA (PRISM), Verizon phone records, and AP journalists --- rather than focusing more time on immediately more urgent issues, such as job creation --- or offshore tax havens, equal pay for women, dummy corporations, the offshoring of jobs, H-1B quotas in the immigration bill, Mitt Romney's and Apple's tax "avoidance" and tax reform. (The Democrats have also been somewhat guilty of not focusing enough on these issues, but with the radical government-hating Tea Party in the House, I can understand the Democrats' frustration).
According to the Social Security Administration, half of all U.S. wage earners (who filed a W-4 with an employer and paid FICA taxes) earned $26,965.43 a year or LESS after taxes. Rather than Republican and Tea Party voters being so overly concerned about wedge issues, and being so fanatically fearful (and hateful) about President Obama, maybe they should be much more concerned about everybody earning a real living wage in this country --- because as an aide to JFK once said (and no, it wasn't Ronald Reagan who first said it), "A rising tide lifts all boats." --- Southern ones and Northern ones, Western ones and Eastern ones.
It's odd that I would title this commentary "Big Government versus Big Business" when for years, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, big government has been very accommodating to big business (especially in both taxation and free trade agreements --- that, and in their no-bid government contracts for the defense department --- whose contractors outsource the work, and in return, receive defective and bogus parts --- which is also partly why they call it "corny capitalism".
But instead of just worrying about "Big Government", maybe the Republican voters should be much more worried about "Big Business" --- those to which the GOP gives so much free rein.
Full Disclosure: My great-grandfather immigrated to the U.S. as a stowaway from Germany after the Civil War to be a farmer in the South. He helped build the local church, its cemetery, his final resting place (half the tombstones bears our family name). My father was also raised on a farm during the Great Depression before joining the military, and is also buried there. I miss the country air, the wide open spaces, and the home-cooked meals --- but I wouldn't want to live there...after all, I'm a "big city slicker". Most of my relatives today had ancestors who originated from farming communities in the South --- and I love them all, even if they did vote against their own (and mine) best interests and voted for a Republican ;)