Maryann Tobin

The deeper the divide between the rich and poor, the closer America comes to the formula that lead to the French revolution. History can and will repeat itself, if policies that make the problems worse continue to be put into place.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) admitted today on MSNBC, that the tax cuts the Republican Party supports would add $700 billion to the US federal deficit. The Senate Minority Leader danced around questions from Savannah Guthrie, as to how the party that has been preaching fiscal responsibility could justify the budget-busting tax breaks for the rich. Yet McConnell’s rhetoric was a thinly veiled disguise for hypocrisy.

The Republican Party has vowed to block every piece of legislation the Obama Administration puts forth, even if they have to filibuster to do it. However, they are all in favor of signing off on tax cuts, as long as they apply to just 3% of Americans who earn more than $250,000 a year. The right wing bias toward the rich comes on the heels of new Census data that shows 15% of the US population is now living in poverty, and the scenario unfolding on Capitol Hill is beginning to take the form of the events that lead to the French revolution (1789–1799).

“Adherents of most historical models identify many of the same features of the Ancient Régime as being among the causes of the French Revolution. Economic factors included widespread famine and malnutrition, due to rising bread prices, which increased the likelihood of disease and death and intentional starvation in the most destitute segments of the population in the months immediately before the Revolution.

Another cause may have been France's near bankruptcy as a result of the many wars fought by Louis XV as well as financial strain caused by French participation in the American Revolutionary War. The social burdens caused by war included the huge war debt, made worse by the monarchy's military failures and ineptitude, and the lack of social services for war veterans. The inefficient and antiquated financial system was unable to manage the national debt, something which was both partially caused and exacerbated by the burden of a grossly inequitable and inadequate system of taxation.

Meanwhile the conspicuous consumption of the noble class, especially the court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette at Versailles continued, despite the financial burden on the populace. High unemployment and high bread prices caused more money to be spent on food and less in other areas of the economy.”

Students of history with vision see many parallels between the aristocratic favoritism of 18th century France, and the direction America is taking today.

The right wing of the American government has mounted a rebellion against the ruling party. And as Adolf Hitler used scare tactics to blame the Jews for the woes of the suffering populous, Republicans blame Barack Obama and the Democrats for the country’s problems.

A right wing agenda favoring the elite, while millions continue to slide into poverty, fails to achieve the goals of representative government in a majority rule democracy. It is also a dangerous stance to take with the highest number of Americans in history now living in poverty.

One-in-seven, or 45 million Americans are now poor. However, the true figures may be even higher. The US government’s definition of poverty is based on an annual income level of $22,050 for a family of four.

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