President Biden recently traveled abroad to work with other nations to create a world where all of the best efforts of all countries would combine to forstall total climate disaster.He carried with him the power of the administration of the United States, and some power in Congress, if not the total political power of the U.S.
Not, for example, the total political power that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney arrogated to create a meaningless, unnecessary war on people who themselves wanted to be free of a vicious dictator. We did not help them. We ruined a country by aggressively looting both the people of that country and our own people, claiming literally trillions of dollars were necessary for war, when in reality they were only necessary to enrich Texas oilmen and the Vice President of the Unted States.
The people who saw to it that the possibly Fascist Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia insured the election of his duck-hunting pal, Dick Cheney and the stooge President, Bush, were not interested in climate change. They wanted regime change in Iraq so that they could control the oil, and their point man was Dick Cheney, whom another oil man, George H.W. Bush had appointed to be Secretary of Defense to attack and defeat Saddam Hussein in the first place, in another war, this one semi-legitimate, quick and decisive.
Now,in 2021, we elected Joe Biden, (so much an average guy we don’t even refer to him as Joseph) after a catastrophic world-wide pandemic, killing millions, and still killing more. Americans recently and thankfully rid ourselves of Donald Trump, a man with no principles and fewer scruples, who tried to overturn an election, has the morals of an alley cat, the brain of a newt, and the ambition of Ghenghis Khan. The archetypical “ugly American” stupified the rest of the world’s leaders and virtually every citizen of the countries of Western Europe and many in Eastern Europe.
in many European countries where the best and the brightest are actually pushed and shoved with incentives into true, and free, institutions of higher learning (there are no religious colleges, where philosophy comes out of the Bible) the people look to the United States for leadership. Except for the period of Barack Obama, a man beloved throughout the world for his broad understanding of cultural and religious and social differences, the political period from 2000 to 2020 was a huge puzzle to the rest of the advanced societies of the world, including those in Asia and the Pacific.
How could Americans have elected a bumpkin like Bush, (certainly not for comic relief alone) or a clearly venal Vice President like Cheney, or a man like Trump? We now know how. It was done by eliminating two things. First the prohibitions on unlimited money to buy up local politicians and then convert them to national politicians. And second, by eliminating all the restrictions on truth in media that for so many years created a journalistic tradition of truth and honesty and dignity among the nation’s press corps both print and broadcast. The advent of nearly a thousand paid radio propagandists, like the multi-multi-millikonaire Rush Limbaugh, and his successors and contemporaries themselves all worth tens of millions of dollars by spouting lies against those politicians who would create legislation to benefit the Middle Class,like health care and easier voting procedures and broad, advanced education, and meaningful advancement towards citizenship for immigrants.
A handful of billionaires, led by the Koch brothers as early as the mid 1970s, but then followed by others, until there are now perhaps as many as 400 Right Wing billionaires hiding behind secret political PACS, bought up, for example, half the Senate. People like like Senators Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton no longer conceal their bigotry or their Neo-Fascism, and advocate for a full takeover of government by Right Wing authoritarian thugs.
They vote for their patrons, the Billionaires,against negotiating for better drug prices, while citizens in other countries will not tolerate the high prices and their governments, responsible to the People, force prices down. They vote for subsidies in oil and corporate farming and military contracts while top students cannot afford college and the elderly must choose between their prescriptions and food. Poor families in Southern Fascist/Republican states like Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas are kept even from Medicaid by the votes of their billionaire-sponsored, Right Wing Fascist/Republican governors.
In states like Michigan and Wisconsin, state wide offices, elected by the votes of all the people, go to Democrats, because Democrats offer solutions to real problems, and solving those people-problems is what good government does. But in the inter-state elections, that is the local state legislatures, despite the fact that as much as 60% of the vote goes to Democrats, gerrymandering means that control of individual sate districts, and therefore legislators, goes to Fascist/Republicans. In the South it is even worse. In some areas in order to get one more state legislator than the Fascist/Republicans, Democrats would need 70% of the vote. It is simply the way state districts have been gerrymandered. And now, with the annual ten-year point (2020) passed, it will be another ten years before that can be changed. It means cruel outcomes, like the terrible water crisis in Flint, before a new Democratic governor can change the situation. And the further result…courts awarding hundreds of millions of your tax dollars to individuals because whole communities were treated like animals by governors like (the now criminally indicted)Governor Snyder of Michigan.
The American social scene has also been turned upside down with the advent of social media, as uncontrolled as the radio airwaves. The Right Wing billionaires have built their own broadcasting systems on the Internet with names like OAN and Newsmax and Forbes. They send out hundreds of confusing messages each week, denouncing the Democrats. Why? It is very clear to those who understand propaganda. If I can legitimize, at least to a large number of people, my lie, make it sound as though the Democrats are doing something foolish or criminal, then someone on the other side has to come back with a response, even if it is only to say: that is not true. Here is what actually happened. When I have a billion dollars and you have ten thousand, whom do you think the people will eventually believe.
But why do this at all? Why do the Right Wing billionaires attack Democrats and why do they try to divide American citizens? You are going to be surprised. It is almost 90% about taxes. Half of all billionaires inherited their money. About half of the other half made money through ventures which, once started, grew on their own, with workers of course, and couldn’t be stopped. For example, Facebook, Google and Twitter. (Not that their founders and top executives are necessarily Right Wing. I use their companies as examples of companies that can build huge fortunes quickly.) We can barely control Facebook right now, or Google. Just like the telephone or the combustion engine in their day, progress demands that we take advantage of new technology. But someone gets rich. And then they die, and someone who often knows only that a huge pile of money has fallen on them takes over. And they don’t like suddenly having their huge fortunes encumbered by huge (though small in percentage to the total) taxes.
So billionaires like Ken Griffin of Illinois are happy to give away money, millions…which for you or me is a lot…to their personal charities or schools or hospitals or museums. But if you want him to pay more taxes because society is becoming more complex, and his tax cuts over the last 40 years mean that he now can buy a fifth or sixth or ninth home for $52 million (four stories in a downtown Chicago skyscraper) or spend $56 million to defeat a tax increase that would have cost him about $3 million, or another $3 million to elect his own personal state Controller, or another $50 million to elect his own personal governor (as he did with Bruce Rauner of Illinois, who cut taxes for him.)
We all like money. We all dislike paying taxes. But a few almost sinister Right Wing billionaires have founded organizations like the Cato Institute, FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, the Hoover Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, the Council for National Policy and others to create division among average American families. By dividing the country into two groups, they can create just enough misinformation about each one to keep legislation from happening. When legislation does not happen, they can accomplish two things. First, they can keep money from being spent, which saves them money by reducing the need for taxes. After all, even ten percent of a hundred million dollars is more than most people will earn in a lifetime, while they pay ten percent, they keep 90 percent, every single year. Second, by hiring their own legislators and lobbyists full time, they can slip through those bills that they want the government to pay for, like military bases in parts of the world where they may have commercial interests, or ships to protect their fleets of oil tankers.
So, how does this all look to the advanced countries of Europe, where people have health care automatically, and vacations, and can retire comfortably? How do our politicians look to the many in varied areas of Europe where they still debate how many refugees they can comfortably aggregate before causing real hardship to society? In the meantime our foreign policy, abruptly signind a losing deal with the Taliban, created hundreds of thousands more refugees. And in the only stable large country near Haiti, we have our own problems, even before we handle our flooded, burned-out citizens in the coastal Southeast and people in forested areas of Calfornia.
We have no real problems in this country that 85% of the people could not agree on if they were told the truth. If you know that poor working families are being withheld medical care, (unless their family income is less than roughly $8000 a year) you will vote to add Medicaid to your state. Why wouldn’t you? The federal government pays for it. Unless you are unusually cruel, or hate Blacks and feel that they will benefit most from poverty programs like Medicaid….why would you vote for someone who would prevent poor, sick people from getting health care to keep them alive?
Europeans cannot understand this kind of logic…that an individual citizen would rather see a neighbor die rather than spend a penny or two on health care for everyone. In Europe, health care is as plentiful as air or water. And naturally they don’t understand how a Governor of a major state, like Rick Snyder of Michigan, would poison the water of a city just to re-route water to one of his campaign supporters. They would consider this cruelty of an unimaginable kind. And so they look at us and shake their heads, and wonder what came over people who once were Europeans but now, having become a couple of generations American, no longer have the morals to vote out evil people, no longer have the common sense to love their neighbors, fellow citizens, rather than the rich and powerful. Perhaps we have all become the Ugly Americans. Certainly those who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021 seemed to be that ugliest of American, ignorant, racist, loud, aggressive, reckless and damaging to anyone or any property that somehow drew their ire.
Asians also, Indians, Japanese, Chinese, Korean…they do not understand this kind of hooliganism. It is particular and specific to a certain kind of boorish, brutish American with no morals and no rationality. Unfortunately, as other nations look at us, they see only the worst among us. The media report on the worst of the worst, doing damage, causing an uproar–news has become a shooting or a demonstration leading to fires and looting and reckless behavior. These people, Democrat or Republican, though mostly affiliated with either the worst of disorganized Black groups or the highly organized Fascist/Republicans through the former Republican Party, now the Trump Party have created an image of a country primarily occupied by thugs and degenerates.
Biden can change things somewhat. He must continue to speak out for creating common efforts to improve affordable housing, good wages, health care for all, training and education of the non-college community and attention to real child care and understanding of how children must be treated. This is the United States of America. Whether you were brought here on a boat or arrived here on your own, whether you are a common skin color or a common religious persuasion–you belong, as a citizen or one becoming a citizen, with that group we look to as neighbors and friends. That is how our society was founded. Not on the reality of the moment, colonialism and slavery, but on the future as it can be today, a country made up of hundreds of different nationalities, races, religions, skills, and ambitions. To be what the world thought we could be, to be something other than a disappointment to the rest of the world, we must ignore the propaganda and talk to our neighbors. We must learn to find projects that we can do together. Only working together can we give this country the kind of unity and purpose we found during World War II, when Texans and New Yorkers, arm in arm,
worked for a common purpose. Don’t let a handful of evil billionaires ruin the legacy of hundreds of thousands of men, and women, who died to keep us free and happy and true friends.