Artist Cooperative

The Best and Worst of Times

Mike Morgan, 2011


Mixed media assemblage made from plywood, wood, plastic, fix-it-all, mirrors, paper, shredded U.S. currency and acrylic paint


Size: 38" x 20.5" x 4.5"


Artist's statement:


The Top 1 Percent (fewer than 3 million Americans)


A solitary person sits in a Golden Room. U.S. currency is shredded in piles beneath his table. Money is used to paper his walls. He owns 43 percent of the financial wealth in the U.S.

     "Too much is never enough," he says. "Why? Because I'm worth it. I inherited my wealth and status. I'm on top and I intend to stay here. I control my friends in Congress and the rules you live by. I am insatiable. Now vote to eliminate my inheritance (death) tax."

The Upper Class (the next nine percent)


Two-faced mannequin figures are celebrating at a masquerade party because they own 41 percent of the financial wealth in the U.S.

     "We pulled ourselves up by our government-supported bootstraps," they say. "Our political contributions get us huge tax breaks, government bailouts and generous tax cuts. We control the stock market and the banks. Plus, we get to deduct our race horses. We've never had it so good."


The Middle Class (the middle 50 percent)


A lone half-person sits in an empty room watching his corporate-controlled TV. He lives on credit and Top Ramen and owns 15 percent of the financial wealth in the U.S. Nearly one third of what he earns goes to insurance companies and health care.

     "We have played by the rules, but the rules have changed," the middle class laments. "The man on the TV tells us to be afraid of our government. Government used to be there to level the playing field, but now it uses our tax money to fund wars and help the guys above us. And what do we get? Working two jobs, four-dollar gasoline, underwater homes, and obscene health care costs. We are disappearing."


The Lower Class (the bottom 40 percent)


Minimum wage, part time and unemployed workers line up at a soup kitchen. "Vote for" signs are posted on the walls. They own only 1 percent of the financial wealth in the U.S.

     "We voted for change," say the struggling poor. "We voted for security. We voted for the American dream. And what did we get for our votes? Seven bucks an hour or no job at all. Losing our foreclosed homes and living on the streets. We depend on food banks and the Goodwill. Take a bus to the emergency room or suffer the consequences. We are trapped. We are scared. It is hopeless."

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