The corporate media ignores the rise of oligarchy. The rest of us shouldn’t | Bernie Sanders
We need to hear from struggling Americans whose stories are rarely told in newspapers or television. Until they are, we must tell these stories elsewhere
The rapid rise of oligarchy and wealth and income inequality is the great moral, economic, and political issue of our time. Yet, it gets almost no coverage from the corporate media.
How often do network newscasts report on the 40 million Americans living in poverty, or that we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major nation on earth? How often does the media discuss the reality that our society today is more unequal than at any time since the 1920s with the top 0.1% now owning almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%? How often have you heard the media report the stories of millions of people who today are working longer hours for lower wages than was the case some 40 years ago?
How often has ABC, CBS or NBC discussed the role that the Koch brothers and other billionaires play in creating a political system which allows the rich and the powerful to significantly control elections and the legislative process in Congress?
Sadly, the answer to these questions is: almost never. The corporate media has failed to let the American people fully understand the economic forces shaping their lives and causing many of them to work two or three jobs, while CEOs make hundreds of times more than they do. Instead, day after day, 24/7, were inundated with the relentless dramas of the Trump White House, Stormy Daniels, and the latest piece of political gossip.
We urgently need to discuss the reality of todays economy and political system, and fight to create an economy that works for everyone and not just the one percent.
We need to ask the hard questions that the corporate media fails to ask: who owns America, and who has the political power? Why, in the richest country in the history of the world are so many Americans living in poverty? What are the forces that have caused the American middle class, once the envy of the world, to decline precipitously? What can we learn from countries that have succeeded in reducing income and wealth inequality, creating a strong and vibrant middle class, and providing basic human services to everyone?
We need to hear from struggling Americans whose stories are rarely told in newspapers or television. Unless we understand the reality of life in America for working families, were never going to change that reality.
Until we understand that the rightwing Koch brothers are more politically powerful than the Republican National Committee, and that big banks, pharmaceutical companies, and multinational corporations are spending unlimited sums of money to rig the political process, we wont be able to overturn the disastrous US supreme court decision on Citizens United, move to the public funding of elections and end corporate greed.
Until we understand that the US federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage and that people cannot make it on $9 or $10 an hour, were not going to be able to pass a living wage of at least $15 an hour.
Until we understand that multinational corporations have been writing our trade and tax policies for the past 40 years to allow them to throw American workers out on the street and move to low-wage countries, were not going to be able to enact fair laws ending the race to the bottom and making the wealthy and the powerful pay their fair share.
Until we understand that we live in a highly competitive global economy and that it is counterproductive that millions of our people cannot afford a higher education or leave school deeply in debt, we will not be able to make public colleges and universities tuition free.
Until we understand that we are the only major country on earth not to guarantee healthcare to all and that we spend far more per capita on healthcare than does any other country, were not going to be able to pass a Medicare for all, single-payer program.
Until we understand that the US pays, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs because pharmaceutical companies can charge whatever price they want for life-saving medicine, were not going to be able to lower the outrageous price of these drugs.
Until we understand that climate change is real, caused by humans, and causing devastating problems around the world, especially for poor people, were not going to be able to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel and into sustainable forms of energy.
We need to raise political consciousness in America and help us move forward with a progressive agenda that meets the needs of our working families. Its up to us all to join the conversation its just the beginning.
- Bernie Sanders is hosting a town hall on Inequality in America: The Rise of Oligarchy and Collapse of the Middle Class on Monday 19 March at 7pm before a live audience in the auditorium of the US Capitol. It will be live-streamed by the Guardian