A recent episode of This American Life was about the Dakota War of 1862. This war resulted in the final expulsion of the Dakota Indians from their ancestral home in Minnesota. It took years of lies, trickery, swindles, war, and finally, the hanging of 38 Dakotas.
Hedrick Smith’s new book Who Stole the American Dream is about the economic war against the 99% by the ONE%. It is a very detailed description of the step by step destruction of the American dream by the plutocrats. The book also provides recommendations for what America and its citizens must do to reverse the large losses they have suffered during recent decades, recommendations that should prove more successful than the failed efforts of the Minnesota Dakota Indian’s stand against those in power in the mid 1800s.
The analogies between the downfall of the Dakota Indians at the hands of the powerful sounds remarkably familiar when heard in the context of the war between the two Americas described by Hedrick Smith. In both cases, the powerful dehumanize, imprison, kill, or let die those who threaten their power.
Then, as now, the ONE% see those without power as expendable. According to Hedrick Smith’s book, a 2005 Citicorp glossy investment brochure called Welcome to the Plutonomy stated, “There is no ‘average consumer’ in a plutonomy …. Economic growth is powered by and largely consumed by the wealthy few.” The Dakotas were part of the expendable indigenous people of the Americas. The poor and middle class are now seen as the expendable “indigenous workers” of the world.
The difference between the Dakota’s abhorrent fate and the unknown fate of today’s 99% comes down to strength in numbers. The Dakotas were slowly outnumbered by the non-indians. They lost all they considered important to their way of life. The losses suffered by today’s 99% are similar and broader in scale. However, the 99% far outnumber the ONE%. The question is, will the 99% stand up and tell the ONE% that their freedom to abuse must end?
According to a 2009 Daily Kos article, the biggest fear of the ONE% is ‘one person – one vote‘ and this fear has escalated after the re-election of President Obama and the election of more women and progressives to our national congress. Voting is critical, but only the beginning to reclaiming the American Dream for the 99%. Mr. Smith and others suggest a “domestic Marshall Plan.”
Below are the 10 steps for this domestic Marshall Plan, which the 99% must require from our elected representatives. The first eight are economic. The last two regain the political center of post WWII America.
- Creating Infrastructure Jobs to Regain Our Ability to Compete in a Global Economy
- Pushing, Led by the Federal Government, for Innovation, Science, and High-tech Research
- Generating a Manufacturing Renaissance for good paying jobs
- Making the Nation’s Personal Tax Code Fairer – reducing the power of the ONE%.
- Making the Corporate Tax Code Favor Job Creation IN America
- Getting China to Live by a Fair Trade Policy
- Reducing Spending on Wars and Weapons
- Supporting Home Owners and Funding Our Citizenship Benefits (SS, Medicare, and Affordable Care Act)
- Rebuilding the Political Center and Ending Partisan Gridlock – The elections of 2006, 2008, and 2012 were a good start.
- Mobilizing the Middle Class to Do More than Vote
It will take time but implementing this plan will protect and empower the middle class and keep the ONE% in check – just as the Greatest Generation did in post WWII America.