The Great American Swindle:

How Americans are getting Robbed of Prosperity

By: Solomon Comissiong

The late great Azanian/South African Human Rights Champion, Steve Biko, once said, “The most dangerous weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed”. Those are some of the most powerful and cogent words ever spoken, especially when the critical mind places them in context with modern day life in America. Most people, who were born, raised or have spent much of their formative years within the US (including the author) have been systematically programmed to truly believe that this country is the gold standard when it comes to prosperity. The misleading propaganda runs rampant throughout the imperialist empire. However, the notion of the US being the “gold” standard (in comparison to many other nations), could not be further from the truth—-unless you are member of the elite class that creates and helps promote that fallacious program.

For generations those who control every major apparatus within American society (government, education, media, and economy) have duped masses of the US Hoi Polloi into believing in a system that has systematically “pimped” them. And that is one of the great ironies of American society—many of its most oppressed have been trained to have blind and unwavering faith in a bloodthirsty capitalist system that has no regard for their wellbeing or overall prosperity.

The American capitalist system caters only to the elite class that operates its one dimensional gearshift. The rest are merely role-players needed to toil, day in and day out, chasing the elusive and rapidly declining dollar. They do this all the while unconsciously subjecting themselves to myriad unfriendly labor conditions and with virtually no socially conducive “safety nets”. The ruling class does whatever it can to retain as much capital as they possibly can, even at the expense of people—especially at the expense of the people. The ruling class and their pet monster (unfettered capitalism) eagerly strive to gorge their financial coffers. They generally care very little for the working class, so long as that class can continue to work for minimum wages instead of livable wages. The working class is to be continually “pimped” all the while receiving little to no security for themselves or their families. This is a vicious cycle that has metastasized itself throughout much of American society. The notion of rugged individualism is inculcated into the hearts and minds of many Americans regardless of their socioeconomic background. We are all to believe that if we simply work hard enough we can achieve the mythological American Dream. However, for most, they are unable to see that the American Dream they are chasing is simply that—-a myth. They are not supposed to see, or understand, the sick and twisted reality of why they live check-to-check never to get ahead. A recent survey has indicated that a whopping 77 percent of working Americans are living check-to-check.

The economic system that dominates American society is not built to sustain all or even most of its populous in prosperity. It is truly a system that is catered for the extremely wealthy and their families. While many Americans work multiple jobs only to make ends meet, the elite class enjoys capital gains tax benefits at almost half the rate of the working class. The gross contrast in tax rates should make most working class folk sick to their empty stomachs. They work day in and day out, pay 30 plus percent in taxes, get very little in return socially—meanwhile the elites pay 15 percent in taxes on things like capital gains and hefty inheritances (if anything at all), for exerting any labor at all. Why—because the elite class has the money to even influence the writing of tax laws that benefit their interests. It is not a government for the people; it is profits before the people.

I am far from the elite class however I, personally, would have no problem paying relatively high taxes so long as they primarily benefit the masses of the population. Unfortunately, in the US that is increasingly not becoming the case. In the US, we get the least “bang” for our buck, in comparison to many other industrialized countries. The tragedy is that few Americans even know this, thus they allow their energy and time to be directed towards trivial debates that often work against their own interests rather than demanding more from their plutocratic government. True, a portion of US citizens’ tax dollars go towards things like firemen and public works, however few know that over 53 percent of our tax dollars go towards an already over inflated military budget. Yes, over 53 percent.  That is an astronomical number considering the seldom discussed fact that the US controls and maintains over 750 military bases worldwide! No other country even comes close. The US spends over a trillion dollars a year for military purposes when one factors in, military budget, wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan), and nuclear armament. I wonder how many people, half of that amount, could insure, provide head start programs for children in low income communities, or revamping a vastly underfunded public school system (and no, charter schools are not the answer)? Check out the National Priorities Project to find out what kinds of things your tax dollars could go towards if there was a reasonable trade-off.

Little discussion as to how Americans are getting “pimped”, ripped off, and hoodwinked by their imperialistic government seldom, if ever, reaches the mainstream airwaves of the corporate media. The corporate media deliberately omits this type of information from their airwaves because they are as much a part of the elite class as the corporate democrats and republicans who have built their careers on misleading their constituents. And thus the tragic tale of oblivious Americans goes on. Far too many Americans are oblivious to the fact that their blind support of the US capitalistic system is partly responsible for their stagnant economic existence without fundamental human rights like: free quality healthcare, a livable wage, and access to a quality education from head start through college. These things that almost seem like utopian ideals to most Americans are actual realities in many other countries.

I recently had the privilege to travel to Norway to deliver a lecture on Hip Hop, Corporate Media and Social Justice. Had it not been for this opportunity I may never have traveled to that Scandinavian nation. While in Norway I was able to witness a populous whose government places the value of its people before profits. That, in and of itself, is antithetical to the social climate in America. Due to the fact that Norway does not spend 53 percent of its budget on illegal wars of aggression, they have the monetary resources to finance a top notch public school system, free college education for its children, universal healthcare for all, and a livable wage of more than 14 US dollars an hour. Norway even has a prison system that is based on reforming its inmates. Compare that to the US model that prides itself on dehumanizing inmates and places hundreds of prisons on the stock market under corporate supervision/ownership. The Norwegian government does this all with far, far less than the US’s gigantic overall government expenditure.

Few complain in Norway about their high taxes because they are able to tangibly benefit from what they get in return for them. Americans complain about their taxes for all the wrong reasons. Misinformed supporters of the Republican Party complain about high taxes all the while asking for tax cuts that will primarily accommodate their corporate puppet masters on Capitol Hill. They have been programmed like faulty robots to believe that tax cuts for the elite benefit them in some shape, form or fashion. Ironically many of these androids parrot their disdain for high taxes while having insufficient health insurance and virtually no way out of their economic purgatory. It does not matter to them that they get very little in return for their taxes (especially in comparison to other countries), or that their government uses their taxes for destroying lives in ill-fated wars (meanwhile 40,000 Americans die a year due to lack of health insurance); all that matters in their narrowly manufactured worlds is that they follow the socially engineered pack.

Unfortunately so long as the corporate media creates the agendas by which most Americans decide to fight for, their overall prosperity is doomed. The corporate media’s interest will always reside with that of their corporate and governmental clients. America is, without a reasonable doubt, a fascist state. The merger between the state and the corporation has been a reality for generations. Today’s America would be Mussolini’s “wet dream”. Until the masses of working class American’s stop allowing themselves to be systematically used by elitist politicians (and the corporate media), the vast majority this country’s wealth will continue to be concentrated in the slimy hands of the ruling class. Sadly far too many working class Americans have been trained to suffer peacefully, all the while supporting the corrupt system that treads upon their hopes and dreams. With unemployment, poverty and home foreclosures at rising and unacceptable numbers the American Dream has become the American Nightmare. It is time we all woke up, organized ourselves, created sustainable coalitions and demand (not request) that our tax dollars go towards our prosperity (jobs, justice, equality, education, peace, and healthcare)!

Solomon Comissiong is an educator, community activist, author, public speaker and the host of the Your World News media collective ( Solomon is the author of A Hip Hop Activist Speaks Out on Social Issues He can be reached at: