There's a word we used to use to describe children born out of wedlock. Since this is a G-rated column I won't use the term. Let's substitute "illegitimate" — though of course, with changing mores, we no longer use either of those beastly pejoratives to describe a circumstance that is commonplace and generally accepted.

No. The times they are a-changin', or more accurately, the times they are shortchangin'.

So now we should use the cleaned-up language to describe the many in the financial and corporate world who have brought us to our knees with their corrupt incompetence.

As in "Those greedy illegitimates."

We now tragically know their ruinous carelessness has turned the middle class into a platitudinous fiction.

Maybe the best government approach to rescuing the remnants would be to utilize the Endangered Species Act.

The Obama administration hasn't gone quite that far yet, but it's astonishing to watch the obese cats and their sycophants attack some very tentative steps.

They thunder that the effort to address the absurd economic inequities with minor tax tweaks is "class warfare,” a violation of free market purity.

First of all, the wealthy have been deploying their “class warfare" against everyone else for a long time. Secondly, we've learned that their version of the "free market" isn't free at all. It has cost most of us dearly.

That will not shame them into giving up one cent of their ill-gotten gains without a ferocious struggle. Not only will they toss a few more crumbs at their politicians, they will shower more on a propaganda campaign designed to instill fears of nothing less than a communist takeover.

Do not be surprised when Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTeaching black children to read is an act of social justice Buttigieg draws fresh scrutiny, attacks in sprint to Iowa The shifting impeachment positions of Jonathan Turley MORE is likened to Hugo Chavez for daring the make the wealthy contribute a teeny bit more.

Their lackeys have already been firing the "S" word like noisy blanks, trying to pander to our country's socialism-o-phobes.

We've even heard the cries of "Fascism" bleating from the depths of the conservatives' annual gathering in Washington last week. And "Lenin and Stalin." Who needs Hugo Chavez when you have Lenin and Stalin?

Those tirades, by the way, were heard between the "values" rants from the fine people who would return us to the Dark Ages.

I don't want to engage in hyperbole, so I won't call them "America's Taliban" but they are the foot soldiers who will march in lockstep in the name of mindless, obsolete dogma. They will fight to the death to retain an obsolete status quo where non-traditional families are ostracized, where celibacy is the only birth control we teach.

Their fear of any change makes them handy fodder for the various entrenched oligarchs, including the ones who are gearing up for their battles over our healthcare disgrace.

Already, we're hearing murmurings that meaningful adjustments raise the danger of government bureaucrats dictating medical decisions.

Never mind that insurance-company bureaucrats do the same thing. The only difference is their actions are motivated by a drive to squeeze out every bit of profit they can, by denying desperately needed treatment anytime they can get away with it. Which is usually.

More taxes on the wealthy? Why, that's "Robin Hood" thievery. So they say. Again, the robbing hoods who have bought and paid for the system have engaged in legalized theft. They need to be required to give a little bit of their hoard back.

Already we're hearing the accusatory squeals.

It is time to have a reasoned debate about what kind of society we want, what our values should be, and how we can re-create our nation as a home of fairness and opportunity.

Those of us who welcome the discussion need to be very wary of the demagoguery that we're already seeing and hearing. We need to remember that warning: Never let the, uh, illegitimates wear you down.



Visit Mr. Franken's website at www.bobfranken.tv.