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Small irritations distract us from the big issues

Americans have been sucked into a vortex of delusion, propagated by the so-called elite class of super rich. While we quibble over frivolity like the "Happy Holidays" vs. "Merry Christmas" debate, freedom is being torn from beneath us and our livelihoods whittle away toward subservience. It is time we examine the critical failures in American society so we can attack problems causing real harm and ignore the nonsense that permeates our daily discussion.

For too long now, we have endured increasing drudgery with diminishing dividends. We stand by as corporate giants erode our savings and future security, as they slash our wages and benefits and as they exploit cheaper -- and less regulated -- labor while at the same time blaming the hapless American worker.

Through clever media manipulation, filthy-rich executives implore workers to "do what is necessary" to maintain the competitiveness of the company while with the other hand they encourage the very legislation that damages their viability in our nation. These same executives -- who make hundreds of times as much as their employees -- accept million-dollar bonuses as they enact huge layoffs and massive pay and pension cuts, largely the result of their own ineptitude or unscrupulousness.

Yet we are worried about "Merry Christmas."

Enter our protector, the government. Clearly, it runs on the same fuel, money. Its singular purpose to exist is to look out for the well-being of its people. Despite its own promise, it too takes more and more from us while offering less and less.

Unlike big business, however, our politicians make little effort to disguise their obvious malevolence. Do I sound like I am embellishing just a little? Perhaps you should ask Patricia Van Egmond, the woman who is in danger of losing her Niagara Falls house to New York State by way of eminent domain so that a sovereign country -- the Seneca Nation -- can further expand its empire.

Is this for the greater good of Western New York, to steal a taxpaying resident's home and memories so that a foreign group can reap the rewards of its tax-exempt money machine? Yet, we squabble over "Happy Holidays."

With each passing day, government and corporation become synonymous. Chief executives run for office, and office holders run corporations. Need an example? Look no further than the commander-in-chief and his right-hand man.

All the while the little guy, he and she who toil for pennies and pay most of them back in the form of taxes and fees, slide further and further into slavery as the once respectable middle class is vanquished.

We watched as the very same thing happened in countries like Communist China and the Soviet Union. And we watched as millions of them suffered starvation, servitude and death. Are we to do the same? I suspect both "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays" will exit our vocabulary altogether if our apathy toward these issues continues.

Robert Vanwey is associate editor of the Erie Community College Student Voice.

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