Organizing Help Wanted

We must defend America’s middle class before millionaires and billionaires own the entire country.

Bernie Sanders

On Dec. 2, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) delivered a speech entitled ‘Milton Friedman’s Legacies: On the U.S. Economic Crisis in response to the University of Chicago creating the Milton Friedman Institute for Research in Economics. In case you can’t guess where he stands on the issue, that’s an anti-MFI button on his lapel. (Photo by David Schalliol)

There is a war going on in this country and I am not referring to the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. I am referring to the war waged by the wealthiest people in America on the disappearing and shrinking middle class of our country. The nation’s billionaires are on the warpath. They want more, more, more. Their greed has no end and they are apparently unconcerned for the future of this country if it gets in the way of their accumulation of power and wealth. 

If we act, we can win this fight. If we don't—if they roll over us now—there is no stopping them.

On the floor of the Senate, we discuss a lot of things. But one thing we fail to talk about is who is winning in this economy and who is losing, and what that means for parents struggling to survive while working longer hours with lower wages, and worrying about whether their children will have the same kind of standard of living they have.

Right now, the top 1 percent controls more than 23 percent of all income earned in America. The top 1 percent controls more than the bottom 50 percent. It’s not only that the rich are getting richer. The very, very rich are getting richer. In the last 25 years, we have seen 80 percent of all new income going to the top 1 percent.

On top of all this, while the millionaires get richer and there are more and more billionaires, as a result of the Citizens United decision, what we are beginning to see in elections is unbelievable – a group of billionaires getting together and deciding where they are going to spend their money. Billionaires are going to flood states with all kinds of negative, dishonest ads in an effort to defeat people defending the middle class and to elect people who will stand up for right-wing billionaires.

The Republicans’ goal – and to their credit, they have been pretty honest about it – is to bring this country back to where we were in the 1920s. All of the progressive legislation that started with FDR is on the chopping block. Despite the great successes of Social Security over the last 75 years, despite the fact that Social Security today has a $2.6 trillion surplus, they are targeting Social Security. They are targeting Medicare. In Arizona today, people on Medicaid who need transplants are no longer able to get them – that is a real death panel. 

Right now, according to a number of studies, we are losing about $100 billion every year because corporate America and the very wealthy are stashing their money in tax havens like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. We should be aware that in 2009, ExxonMobil made $19 billion in profits and not only did the company not pay anything in taxes, it got a $106 million refund from the IRS. We should also be aware that since 1997, we have almost tripled funding for the military. So if we are serious about reducing the deficit, those are things we need to look at – not at Social Security, not programs everyday Americans need.

Our job now is to rally Americans to put pressure on a handful of Republicans – to tell them, go into your hearts, talk to your constituents and tell me if it is appropriate to hold hostage the future of this country for an agenda that benefits only the very rich.

If we act, we can win this fight. It is crucial that we do, because if we don’t – if they roll over us now – there is no stopping them. It is time we organize. 

Your help is wanted. 

Help In These Times Celebrate & Have Your Gift Matched!

In These Times is proud to share that we were recently awarded the 16th Annual Izzy Award from the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College. The Izzy Award goes to an independent outlet, journalist or producer for contributions to culture, politics or journalism created outside traditional corporate structures.

Fellow 2024 Izzy awardees include Trina Reynolds-Tyler and Sarah Conway for their joint investigative series “Missing In Chicago," and journalists Mohammed El-Kurd and Lynzy Billing. The Izzy judges also gave special recognition to Democracy Now! for coverage that documented the destruction wreaked in Gaza and raised Palestinian voices to public awareness.

In These Times is proud to stand alongside our fellow awardees in accepting the 2024 Izzy Award. To help us continue producing award-winning journalism a generous donor has pledged to match any donation, dollar-for-dollar, up to $20,000.

Will you help In These Times celebrate and have your gift matched today? Make a tax-deductible contribution to support independent media.

Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving 16 years in the House of Representatives. He is the longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. Elected Mayor of Burlington, Vt., by 10 votes in 1981, he served four terms. Before his 1990 election as Vermont’s at-large member in Congress, Sanders lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Read more at his website.
Democratic Rep. Summer Lee, who at the time was a candidate for the state House, at a demonstration in Pittsburgh for Antwon Rose, who was killed by police, in 2018. Lee recently defeated her 2024 primary challenger.
Get 10 issues for $19.95

Subscribe to the print magazine.