The following essay is a slightly edited version of a comment I made in response to this article by Glenn Greenwald that was posted circa August 6th, 2010 on Salon.com.
Americans are indeed too apathetic at this point in time to do anything drastic to protest the ever-dwindling amount of fiscal resources being allocated to the working class majority.
The major problem can be found with American ideology and loyalty to the present system no matter how much the system works against their interests. Too many people in this country, including the bulk of all contemporary progressives, believe it's somehow un-American or "going too far" to suggest a change to an entirely new economic system that is not based on class divisions and predicated upon the archaic use of monetary currency and barter. So they criticize the iniquities of the current system ad nauseum while never offering a solution outside of patchwork reforms. They are too afraid to offend the ruling class who they constantly decry and whose system they recognize as no longer being conducive to the democratic principles they espouse. Thus, how can our progressives be expected to rally the working class into action against the problems mentioned by Glenn in this article when they continue to approve the current system and consider opposing it overly radical?
As for the general public, they have been ingrained from early childhood with the ideology that anyone can become members of the wealthy elite class if they simply work hard enough, save enough money, and are willing to take risks. The vast numbers of poor or otherwise struggling people that this system produces are dismissed as "lazy" or lacking talent/intelligence. The rich are looked up to with awe and reverence, almost as if they were gods on Earth. They are what most of the working class aspires to be, and they feel if they do anything to interfere with wealthy privileges, they will end up undermining themselves in the future since so many of them believe they, too, will be rich in the future as soon as they can find that dream job, save up enough money, and get over their "laziness." They connect the fortunes of the wealthy handful in this country with the virtues and health of the American system, and they feel it's wrong to protest the privileges possessed by "successful" people even if that success comes off the back of the vast majority of people in the country who are "unsuccessful." They believe that the "right" to acquire as much money and power as you can is the most fundamental right of them all, never considering that the concept of economic justice is not served in that fashion. If the American Dream is something that few people can be expected to achieve, then perhaps we should reconsider the viability of that dream.
Until the working class gets over their love affair with the rich, gets over their pipe dreams that the likelihood of themselves being rich in the future is good, and stop seeing alternatives to the current class-divided system as being inimical to democratic and American values, we can expect no great outpouring of protest even as we see all of these people overwhelmed by debt, poverty, urban decay, and an ever-decreasing amount of public services.