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A New Kind Of Wealth

By Richard Brodsky

From the time of the profound battles between the People's Champion, Thomas Jefferson, and the Champion of Wealth, Alexander Hamilton, America has fought about the effect of money on society and government.  It is the great lasting divide between Right and Left, and the outcomes and victories have has swung back and forth for two centuries.

Now, a permanent change is upon us.  For the first time in our history we have created vast new wealth, and left it in the hands of a tiny minority of Americans.  They possess unimaginable wealth, huge sums of money, while the American middle-class dwindles and struggles to make ends meet: Billions and billions in the possession of less than one per cent of our fellow citizens while college tuition, health care, teacher salaries, and mass transit costs are starving the average citizen, and Social Security and the safety net are under attack.

The new super-rich aren't inherently bad people.  They've taken advantage of a system created by the national and state governments we elected.  But the consequences for society and for law and for democratic values are unimaginably bad.  No society can survive vast gaps between the few who own all, and the many who own little.  Corporations, not the people, wield the ultimate power in this Brave New World, and we will see and feel the consequences forever.

The struggle to protect public employees is at its' heart a struggle to preserve the American ideal of a successful and comfortable middle class, just like the attack on them is an attempt to centralize more power and more money in the hands of a few.  This is a fight worthy of our time and energy, and worthy of the Founder's who risked so much to create a democracy, a representative democracy, not an aristocracy of wealth and power. Only the people can keep the flame burning, and only if we together fight to keep the American middle-class at the heart of American politics.

Richard Brodsky is a former 14 term NYS Assemblyman from Westchester and Senior Fellow at Demos, a non-partisan public policy research and advocacy organization founded in 2000.  

To view the May 12 report exposing the Big Bank subsidies and corporate welfare, click here.