No 606



In the early 1960s, American newspaper editors were becoming very tired of their reporters being kicked out of meetings of elected state, county and city politicians. An example in my home state was the throwing out of reporters when a special legislative committee was meeting on how to buy a big apartment building in Little Rock for senators and legislators to stay there for next to nothing. As a result, a law was passed called the Freedom of Information Act. The bill was signed into law by then-Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller on Feb. 17, 1967.
We now have FOI Acts, under various and sundry names, in every state in the nation, and also a federal FOI statute. This simply means that agencies, committees and boards cannot meet where public money is being spent without the presence of the media. The Arkansas Press Association is the watchman of our state’s FOI, and usually it is able to kill any attempt to change or eliminate the law. Let us hope this continues. Without these laws across the country, secret meetings will again rule the day.
It is within this context that I would like to share some things with you that I think you should know. Of course you may already know everything I am going to share and more, but I believe there are some things that relate to our national security that are not common knowledge among rank-and-file citizens in our country. The information I am going to share is, for the most part, contained in a tremendous book titled “War on the Middle Class” by CNN Anchor Lou Dobbs.
I have just finished reading this book, and I thought I knew a little, but to be honest, I didn’t know the half of it. Lou Dobbs has a tremendous staff at this international news network to do his research that most journalists do not have. One of the questions Lou often poses is this, “Have you ever wondered why it takes two incomes in the family just to get by?” It has not always been this way, because I can remember the time when just one paycheck would pay the bills, with money left over. Of course, our consumer-oriented economy, where we are bombarded with thousands of advertising messages each day, has made a difference in what and how much we buy, especially when we can use a credit card, but a dollar will just not buy what a dollar used to buy.
The end result is that three major factors — the government, big business and special interest groups — have been literally waging war on middle-class Americans. You know, we are those people who built the country, the ones who worked and produced and the ones paying most of the taxes. In a general sense, the “Middle Class” would include those Americans who earn from $50,000 a year to $200,000 a year. That’s just my rough figures, but if you happen to be in the middle class and are getting squeezed, you probably know it.
You just know something is wrong when you hear that over the past 25 years median family income has risen by 18 percent, while the income of the top 1 percent — the very wealthiest families, has gone up by 200 percent. Our government is out of control in its spending practices, with a $9 trillion national debt and growing. The pay of the CEOs of major corporations increased 340 percent from 1992 to 2002, even at times when the corporations were losing money.
Just think about this: The number of lobbyists (people who get paid to lobby Congress and influence legislation) went from 62 in 1968 to more than 34,000 today, and they outnumber our congressmen, senators and their staffs 2 to 1. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
If you really want to know what’s going on and wrong in our country, beg, buy, borrow or steal a copy of Lou Dobbs' “War on the Middle Class.” You will be shocked.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, Ark. 72034. To support literacy, buy his book, “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.”)