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The Godfather

 

A definition of Vulture Capitalism:

A thinly-regulated predominantly Western economic system that generates great amounts of revenue / wealth by preying on an ill-informed / under-educated proletariat via "aggressive" banking schemes and corporate raids that ultimately devours individual life-savings, while simultaneously enslaving a befuddled working-class to a lifetime of "banking servitude".

Prelude to a grieving Lady Liberty

In the beginning of Frances Ford Coppolla's classic movie, "The Godfather", a successful Italian immigrant living in early 20th century America, is despondent. Clearly broken-hearted from a personal tragedy that involves his first-generation American daughter, he petitions Don Vito Corleone for mob-style revenge to be waged against a man that has physically and emotionally injured his daughter.

With a heavy heart, the Italian-born business man (whose own personal journey as an American citizen most likely began at New York's Ellis Island in the late 19th century), tearfully begins his request for Sicilian retribution with this emphatic and impassioned statement: "I believe in America, America has made my fortune".

Now, take a second to absorb this statement made by a successful (fictional) immigrant and allow it to fully digest in your mind.

The statement "I believe in America, America has made my fortune" is the "mojo" (voodoo spell) that motivated poor and not-so-poor people who lived thousands of miles away to completely abandon all hope of ever reconciling their differences / disappointments with their native country and without trepidation, sell all that they owned and book steerage aboard a steamer heading west to a "magical land" called, “America”. Each immigrant believed in their heart that America was a special country where grit, hard work and self-sacrifice could transform any ordinary “peasant” into a successful and respected citizen.

Over a century later the great grandchildren of U.S. immigrants whose grandparents openly wept with joy at the sight of New York’s Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty are also weeping.

But the tears that are being shed in 2015 are not tears of joy and happiness, but rather they’re tears of frustration and disappointment. Each passing day the near-poor (the new middle-class) are becoming more in debt to the banks without any hope of future emancipation.

Unless you are the one in 50 million that will hit the mega-buck lotto or can be become a winning star contestant on "The Voice" or be born with some phenomenal athletic ability, most working Americans will live their entire life trying not to drown in debt that they've obtained from buying into an economic / banking system that glamorizes using credit cards as a vehicle to fulfill American materialistic fantasies.

Today the descendants of 19th and 20th century immigrants from Europe are more at threat of being homeless than their great grandmother and great grandfather.

Once upon a time in America, there were an abundant amount of factories and textile plants that manufactured goods that were sold around the world. Steel was once made in America, while products that proudly bore the words "Made in the U.S.A.", created millions of jobs for tens of millions of men and women who wanted to work.

Immigrants aspiring to be business owners brought entrepreneurial skills learned in their native land to cities like Boston, Milwaukee, Brooklyn, Chicago and Trenton, and amazingly they flourished.

Less than five generations ago there existed a common belief among poor European immigrants cramped inside the steerage and third class compartments of passenger steamships heading to New York's Ellis Island, that the United States was a country full of endless opportunities.

They earnestly believed that hard work, sacrifice, loyalty to America through military service, including their total immersion / assimilation into America's unique culture, would forever protect them from the poverty they once knew as peasants in their native land. In their mind hard work always equated to success and they were confident America was not a country ruled by barons and noblemen. Were they wrong?

The Reality

No matter how you slice it, when it comes to income and wealth in America the rich has become richer and the poor and rapidly evaporating middle class has become poorer.

Income inequality is more severe in the U.S. than it is in nearly all of West Africa, North Africa, Europe, and Asia. The United States is on par (in terms of income disparity) with some of the world's most troubled countries, and our income gap is getting worse.

Bank lobbyists via political campaign contributions are continuously fighting federal legislation that prohibits banks from embedding hidden debit card fees in hard to read contracts that "milk" unsuspecting U.S. consumers on a daily basis.

Corporate raiders are buying marginal profiting businesses, firing tens of thousands of workers and moving operations abroad each year.

To make matters even more confusing, Americans who call U.S. corporate customer service representatives are regularly being connected to a customer service representative who lives in a foreign country; leaving the frustrated American who is in dire need of help to contend with a banking rep in Manila about the Chevy truck they bought in Detroit.

So who owns most of America’s wealth?

Current economic studies indicate that America's ultra -rich 1% owns nearly 44 percent of the wealth in the United States.

Does anyone really understand why employers demand more and more of their workers but are unwilling to pay them more money? Could it be that they know that know that their employees are economically “against the ropes” and have no other choice? 

Meanwhile, corporate vultures that resemble Edgar Allen Poe's "Raven" are circling high in the skies over both urban and rural America; looking for opportunities to outsource manufacturing and human resources jobs to foreign countries that will guarantee the company maximum profit while Americans stand dejectedly in unemployment lines.

In closing, while 2016 U.S. presidential hopefuls from both the Republican and Democratic Parties “duke it out” for your vote, the life blood of America’s middle-class will continue to hemorrhage and go into shock.

Sadly it would appear that New York's Ellis Island’s "Lady Liberty", the ageless American iconic symbol of "hope and prosperity" is also weeping. It’s up to all of us to demand the very best from our elected officials and from the politicians who claim to “understand” our economic pain, because if we don’t hold their feet to the fire, the next house we’ll be settling in won’t be our “dream home” but rather the “poor house”.   

 

Gregory Boyce

Gregory Boyce

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