Several years ago I noted how a majority of Americans has been duped by a sustained false consciousness implanted by the elites (including the media and political elite) into believing America is a “classless” society and upward mobility still exists. They keep trying by way of work to "make it" - failing to grasp they never will. Not the way the system is currently structured.
Well, more evidence has since come to the fore, including that the U.S. middle class is no longer the world’s richest. After considering taxes and transfer payments, middle-class incomes in Canada and much of Western Europe are higher than in U.S. The poor in Western Europe earn more than do poor Americans. I can vouch for that, seeing many of these people circulating around the high reach places in Switzerland last September. Money for them was no object. There is also no big secret to this when you ask them how they manage: Their governments impose higher taxes on the wealthy and redistribute more of it to middle and lower income households. Most of their citizens receive essentially free health care and more generous unemployment benefits than do Americans.
Let's continue with the false consciousness aspect. Here in the US of A, there is a strongly held conviction that with hard work, anyone can make it into the middle class. This is mostly horse manure, and a merely consistent observer can show it doesn’t hold up and the majority of American workers either tread water where they are (in terms of net wealth, job security) or they go downscale after losing a long held job - to become burger flippers or Walmart greeters.
But despite the evidence, most Americans remain blinded by the work ethic and the pundits' constant yammering it is "the only route up". To fix ideas, Pew Research recently found that Americans are far more likely than people in other countries to believe that work determines success, as opposed to other factors beyond an individual’s control. Make no mistake that Pollyannish positivity comes with a negative side: a tendency to pathologize those living in poverty. Indeed, 60 percent of Americans (compared with 26 percent of Europeans) say that the poor are lazy, and only 29 percent say those living in poverty are trapped in poverty by factors beyond their control (compared with 60 percent of Europeans).
Note that part of this perception also stems from the innate narcissism inherent in too many Americans which douses out their ability to feel any empathy for others. To identify with their travails and setbacks. Reality then usually doesn't rip away the bullshit veneer unless they also hit bottom - whether through layoffs, health crisis or something else. It seems it takes an external 'hammer' to awaken them!
How do the wealthy get away with sitting pretty while the lower and middle classes pound dirt? Easy! They keep us going at each other's throats, via political divisions ("liberals" vs. "conservatives") or religious divisions - secure that they will prosper so long as the rest of us are too busy fighting with each other. Assisting them in this are stations like FOX which incredibly - according to recent surveys- now sport the largest number of people who say it's the most "trust worthy" news source. This despite having consummate liars like Billo O'Reilly.
SO the hoi polloi remain nicely brainwashed and believing every other factor is responsible for their plight except the elites themselves.
But why don’t Americans get it? Why do they lack the moxie to accept that an Overclass will determine how far they get and nothing else? Several reasons:
1) Americans are obdurate and perennial optimists. Unlike Germans whose native instincts are always to perceive the economic downsides of situations – so they’re more like to detect how they’re being gamed or suckered – Americans typically put the blinkers on. No where is this more evident than in how both sexes approach the stock market. Most American males, raised in hubris and bravado, believe they can beat the market by multiple trades and end up losing most of the time (more than 70%). Women, trained to be more cautious, trade much less and in more conservative outlets and gain more consistently. This same false optimism of most males, especially white, makes them disavow how they’re getting their asses kicked by a gamed economic system. No wonder then, that 63% of white males voted against Obama in 2008. Hell if they were going to buy into a “socialist” equalizer’s “dependency”. But….they bet against their own welfare.
2) Americans are much more poorly educated and informed than their European counterparts. They not only suffer because of deficient secondary (and tertiary) education, but also because of the deficient news offered by the corporate mainstream. This is mainly piffle infused with equal parts PR and propaganda, with little substance. Hence, unless the citizen reads widely he will be susceptible to psychological manipulation and false consciousness.
3) By virtue of (2) Americans more often fall prey to the fundamental attribution error ( which reinforces inequality in society) because of their over-optimism. This error is such that (‘Maxine Baca- Zinn and D. Stanley Eitzen, In Conflict and Order, 1991):
“It tends to credit or blame individuals for their level of failure or success without considering the aspects of the social structure that impel or impede their progress. Thus, it results in praise of the system and condemnation of individuals who are defined as losers.”
Thus, the fundamental attribution error (mostly made by working class whites) works to perfect effect and in favor of the American Overclass because it causes an entire dispossessed electoral segment to screw themselves so the Overclass needn’t fret over their rage. They simply redirect that rage at minorities (immigrants, blacks, or women) while they stick with the political rascals (GOP) that did them in the first time.
This in turn leads to workers who are prepared to tolerate any amount of systematic abuse from a corrupt system, because they lay the blame on their own "lack of ambition" or some other false excuse contrived by the corporate thought controllers to deflect blame from their own greed.
This may well be at the heart and core of why so many of the working and middle classes vote against their own best economic interests.
Meanwhile, the evidence is abundantly around us – for those who have eyes to see- that we are in a society at least three times more unequal than that which existed in the 50s. Back then only one spouse needed to work, bank interest at 4-5% kept passbook savings flush and the middle class had the potential for growth. (Fully supported by Robert Putnam in his new book: 'Our Kids- The American Dream in Crisis')
Now, all of that is inverted: both spouses usually need to work, often at two jobs each, bank passbook interest is near zero percent so people either have next to nothing or chase risky yield in the stock market, and the middle class numbers are crashing as the Gini coefficient and index (the prime measure of inequality) approaches values peculiar to the Philippines and Mexico.
And hold strain because things are about to get a whole lot worse. This will transpire when the secretive “Trans Pacific Partnership” trade deal is unleashed. An outrage on civil society that will show once more that American corporations don’t represent the interests of Americans. They represent the interests of their executives and elite shareholders, who are not only wealthier than most Americans but also reside all over the world.