Letter to the editor: Your fellow Americans aren’t responsible for the country’s problems. The system is.

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Protesters in Cedar Rapids marched on July 18, 2020. — Izabela Zaluska/Little Village

By Tiffany DeBow, Marion

I have noticed my social media posts about politics, COVID-19, BLM, etc. have slowed since the storm. It isn’t because I no longer think it is important or that I changed my feelings on if I should be posting them or not. I should. I start to, numerous times a day, and then delete them. We all should feel comfortable respectfully sharing our beliefs and information and be equally comfortable correcting/having corrected the bad information that social media is steeped in these days. I have said before that I think many problems in our society are hinged on the belief we all shouldn’t talk about it and the idea that being wrong is a negative thing so we avoid admitting it.

This picture is a more accurate representation of why. I am tired. What is the point?

Until politicians stop pointing to anything other than rampant, bloated capitalism as the root of the problem, it won’t change. Pointing to the people who are “different” or “below” as the problem we should be focused on — it will all persist because they have done such an amazing job wagging the dog so that regular working people, all of whom are struggling right now, no matter their political affiliation, ideological leanings, etc., are too caught up fighting with each other to realize that we should all be standing on the same side and fighting against the people actually making us suffer.

Life is not this hard because of immigrants taking jobs, brown and Black people having a higher crime rate (due to systemic racism, not inherent violence), non-Christians corrupting, LGTBQ+ people and feminists demanding actual equality, poor people who need help, etc. It is this hard because of our system.

Because several decades ago, some people (most likely rich) with influence convinced (more like “legally bribed”) other people with power to believe that if you let rich people get more rich that money will eventually make its way down to the working and poor people and life will be better for them too. That profit, in all fronts and all markets is the way to a better future. That unions are a bad thing because they will take away those profits and then there will be nothing left to trickle down. That asking those with more to contribute more to their society is unfair. Can we all agree that this experiment of trickle-down economics has failed?

People romanticize the 1950s and 1960s as the greatest. The post-war country was prosperous. You could buy a home and raise a family on one 40-hours-a-week income. People had the time and a bit extra money to enjoy life.

Look at what discord is happening now. It feels like people are fighting each other over a return to the social aspects of that time, when what we all should be doing is fighting together against “the system” for the economic aspects of that time.

Life wasn’t better because back then redlining kept minorities in certain places, women dutifully took their place in the home, people went to church every week, LGTBQ+ people remained closeted and citizens didn’t question their government or criticize their country. (I would imagine we can all agree that these are the major arguments happening in our society: equality (BLM, feminism, LGTBQ+, immigration), if we are or are not a Christian country (LGTBQ+ rights, abortion, birth control coverage) what it means to be patriotic (protesting, gun control, voting rights/process).)

It was because people demanded to be treated like more than work horses (one in three non-agricultural workers were in a union in the mid-1950s, and union membership sharply declined starting the 1980s down to only 6 percent today). People demanded that we all contribute our share in relation to what we have and if you have more, you contribute more (after the Depression the Revenue Act raised the top marginal tax rates from 25 to 63 percent and they continued to climb and held steady in the 1950s and early ’60s at 91 percent, then it dropped to 70 percent through the ’70s. It was slashed to 50 percent in 1982 and continued dropping. Now it is at 37 percent for the highest incomes.) The rate of unions and level of the top marginal tax rates are inversely correlated with the amount of income going to the top 10 percent. As those things went down, the income of the wealthiest people in our country went up.

Maybe if we all didn’t feel like we were constantly treading water just to keep body and soul together and that one strong breeze (nod to the derecho) was going to topple us, we wouldn’t be so open to listening to our “leaders” who point to the others treading water next to us as the problem.

I don’t know. I am not an expert. Just a person thinking and then trying to get information about why. Maybe I am just a tired, stressed working mom who is overwhelmed by 2020 and just trying to figure out how we got here and how we can make it better, because the way things are in this country is not sustainable. At least not without some sort of explosion to reset it all, and sparks are starting to fly towards the powder keg.

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