This economic downturn, more than any other in my lifetime, has been used by corporations and wealthy individuals to exploit the middle class and American workers. Academia and history used to teach us that competition is good for a free enterprise system. But those at the top realize that a rigged system is good for business.
The Bush administration, more than any other administration in my lifetime, realized the power of fear. And the administration used it to set in motion a sweeping shift of power from the people to those at the top. Since the administration, there have been drastic changes in Federal labor laws. In some states, low level employees are required to sign non compete contracts that protect employers but also give the "job creators" an incredible array of rights that include pre-employment endeavors.
What is really unnerving about what is going on is the acceptance, and the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" attitude, in regard to what's going on. Many believe that it is socialist and un-American to not do so. Those darn pilgrims were communists, Maggie.
The values, mores, and accepted code of conduct are changing. After all, it requires much less work to extrapolate capital from someone else than it does to create, sell and market a product. Our system is beginning to reward theft more than merit. The best salesmen aren't the best salesmen, they're the most unscrupulous.
Awareness of what's going on, of this cognitive shift, is further clouded by the insanity generated by the Tea Party candidates that perturbates the atmosphere. If you believe that life begins the minute someone fantasizes about an attractive woman, and you expect that individual to raise and educate the resulting triplets, you ought to believe that there should be a civil structure in place that enables him to do so financially. If you don't you have no business conversing on the subject, let alone running for political office.