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Democracy vs. Oligarchy

by Bernie Sanders, Common Dreams:

In his 1943 painting “Freedom of Speech,” Norman Rockwell illustrated American democracy in action by depicting a man speaking up at a town meeting. A framed poster of Rockwell’s painting hangs proudly on a wall in my Senate office in Burlington, Vt.

Since 1990, when I was first elected to Congress, I have held hundreds of town meetings in almost every community in Vermont. Just this past Sunday I held a town meeting in Middlebury, Vt., with a video connection to meetings in three other towns. At these town meetings I listen to what my constituents have to say, answer questions and give a rundown of what I’m working on and what’s going on in Washington.

This process – an elected official meeting with ordinary citizens – is called “democracy.”

Read More @ CommonDreams.org

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1 comment to Democracy vs. Oligarchy

  • rich

    More Americans see middle class status slipping

    WASHINGTON —

    A sense of belonging to the middle class occupies a cherished place in America. It conjures images of self-sufficient people with stable jobs and pleasant homes working toward prosperity.

    Yet nearly five years after the Great Recession ended, more people are coming to the painful realization that they’re no longer part of it.

    They are former professionals now stocking shelves at grocery stores, retirees struggling with rising costs and people working part-time jobs but desperate for full-time pay. Such setbacks have emerged in economic statistics for several years. Now they’re affecting how Americans think of themselves.

    Since 2008, the number of people who call themselves middle class has fallen by nearly a fifth, according to a survey in January by the Pew Research Center, from 53 percent to 44 percent. Forty percent now identify as either lower-middle or lower class compared with just 25 percent in February 2008.

    According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans who say they’re middle or upper-middle class fell 8 points between 2008 and 2012, to 55 percent.

    And the most recent General Social Survey, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, found that the vast proportion of Americans who call themselves middle or working class, though still high at 88 percent, is the lowest in the survey’s 40-year history. It’s fallen 4 percentage points since the recession began in 2007.

    The trend reflects a widening gap between the richest Americans and everyone else, one that’s emerged gradually over decades and accelerated with the Great Recession. The difference between the income earned by the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans and by a median-income household has risen 24 percent in 30 years, according to the Census Bureau.

    Why do so many no longer regard themselves as middle class? A key reason is that the recession eliminated 8.7 million jobs. A disproportionate number were middle-income positions. Those losses left what economists describe as a “hollowed out” workforce, with more higher- and lower-paying and fewer middle-income jobs.

    http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/ap/top-news/more-americans-see-middle-class-status-slipping/nfQfr/

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