January 25, 2007

Jim Webb on Wealth Gap: 2007 State of the Union Response

Transcript of the Democratic response to president George Bush's 2007 State of the Union Address. The Democrats selected Jim Webb, freshman senator from Virginia, who has populist sentiments. He shared his views on using the economic system for everyone, not just those who have enough money to make more money. This view is taking hold, now that we have several decades of experience that demonstrate the failures free market fundamentalism. The primary failure is that wealth accumulates among a small minority, and away from the vast majority. Jim Webb addressed the wealth gap head on. Hopefully the Democratic Party understands this and will act on it.

Webb framed the issue as, "... how we see the health of our economy, how we measure it, and how we ensure that its benefits are properly shared among all Americans."

When one looks at the health of our economy it's almost as if we are living in two different countries. Some say things have never been better. The stock market IS at an all time high and so are corporate profits. But these benefits are not being fairly shared.

When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker did. Today, it’s nearly 400 times. In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day.

Wages and salaries of our workers are at an all time low as a percentage of our national wealth even though the productivity of American workers is the highest in the world. Medical costs have skyrocketed, college tuitions are off the charts. Our manufacturing base is being dismantled and sent overseas. Good American jobs are being sent along with them. In short, the middle class of this country, our historic backbone and our best hope for a strong society in the future is loosing its place at the table. Our workers know this through painful experience. Our white collar professionals are beginning to understand it as their jobs are disappearing also. And they expect, rightly, that in this age of globalization, their government has a duty to insist that their concerns be dealt with fairly in the international market place.

In the early days of our republic, president Andrew Jackson established an important principle of American style democracy. That we should measure the health of our society not at its apex but at its base. Not with the numbers that come out of Wall Street, but with the living conditions that exist on Main Street. We must recapture that spirit today.
See E.J. Dionne commentary, "A Reagan Democrat"
I wouldn't put it that way. He's a populist democrat in the tradition of the agrarian revolt of the late 1800s.

1 comment:

JT said...

As a non-American, i was still curious as to what Dubya had to say, and what struck me as peculiar was the actions of his supporters (condi, etc), it appeared that before they would clap or stand and clap they would all look off to the side first as if waiting for some command. funny thing is the camera never panned to who ever it was that they were taking their ques from.

it seemed odd to me as if you supported someone for what they said surely you wouldnt need someone to prompt you when to clap or if a standing ovation is "appropriate".

it all just seemed overly rehearsed.