In Illinois, there is a Republican Governor. And a Democratic legislature, thank God, That Democratic legislature is strong enough to overturn a gubernatorial veto. And it has. But the governor of Illinois, is not your average guy. He is an investment banker, an extremely wealthy man, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, who has aligned himself with other very wealthy men whom we used to call Reactionaries or Right Wing.
You might be inclined to call our governor, Governor Rauner, of Illinois, a Conservative. And that is what he would like you to call him and it may be true that, at one time, he was a Conservative. But no longer. Conservatives have fought so long and hard for smaller, less service-oriented, less Populist government, that many of them, the richest, have decided merely to buy government.
That is where Conservatism leaves off and propaganda and dogmatic, single-minded, single-party rule begins. And what do we call that kind of rule. Well, it could become monarchy. Or it could be come aristocracy. But in a society where votes elect the rule-makers, it is called Fascism, or a latter-day or “new”–Neo-Fascism.
Neo-Fascism doesn’t put people in concentration camps. It simply creates laws that eliminate certain people from the voting rolls. It doesn’t beat people up in the streets; it simply does not tolerate any opposition or bring any opposing regulation or legislation to a legislature that it controls. It favors the corporations and donors who sponsor the one-party, the Neo-Fascist Party, (100% Republican) that runs that government. It doesn’t say that you can’t have a vote on a Supreme Court Justice. It simply used its total control of Congress to insure that no Supreme Court Nominee can be brought up to Congress for a vote…for an entire year…until a Neo-Fascist Supreme Court Justice can be nominated by an elected Neo-Fascist President.
Fascists created a national party that subordinated its members to the will of the “Leader” (Germans called it “Fuhrer.”) Neo-Fascists create health care legislation that will remove between 20 and 30 million people from access to regular health care. The result would be that, statistically, given the current status of health among Americans, between 200,000 and 250,000 people would die, probably in emergency rooms, over the next five years. Fascists made scapegoats of Socialists and Catholics and Jews. Neo-Fascists make fun of Blacks and Hispanics and the poor and the elderly. And, as recently as 2013, portrayed those thrown out of work by the deliberate Bush/Cheney Stock Market Crash and Great Recession as “lazy,” “worthless,” “unemployable,” or “slackers.”
Neo-Fascists promoted the idea that being over 50 or not having a graduate degree made you “unemployable.” And that, they say, is your fault. They are now a new category: the “unemployables.” The Bush-imagined “job creators” created jobs only in Asia. So they needed someone to blame, for their tax cuts that resulted in no new jobs, as Bush had promised. So we created the “part-time job” job. Statistically, anyone employed for a day is considered employed. That way the Neo-Fascists could blame the problem on the people. “What’s the problem?” they could say. “The unemployment rate is under 5 percent!” So why are people on food stamps but have a job? Because they only work 20 to 30 hours a week so that employers don’t have to pay them benefits. How do these people stay in power with such atrocious economics?
Neo-Fascists are not numerous enough, just as the old Fascists were not, to run things with a legitimate vote or a legitimate set of campaign rules. So in 2010, a group of very wealthy men spent an enormous amount of money to bring a case to the Supreme Court called “Citizens United vs. the FEC” (Federal Election Commision.) They did this because the Supreme Court was finally in the hands, as it is now, of a group of Republican (Neo-Fascist) former corporate attorneys…Justices Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito and Kennedy…without question the most partisan and plutocrat-pandering Supreme Court in the last 100 years. Citizens United asked that the rich be able to spend as much as they wanted to buy legislators, legislatures, and Presidents. The Neo-Fascists won.
The result has been that since January 2010, when 30 Republican governors were elected and immediately began to redistrict every Republican House of Representative seat so that no Democrat could be elected, the House of Representatives has been in the hands of the Neo-Fascists. In 2016, the Senate also fell to the Neo-Fascists and the Presidency, about whom enough has been said. Thus, the entire national government as well as 31 states (which have gradually been bought through huge political contributions and other benefits by ALEC, the Koch Brothers national state-by-state lobbying organization. Also supported by companies you spend a lot of money with but who are working against you like, Coca Cola, Kraft foods, AT&T, Boeing, COMCAST, and many many others.
So, you see, “Conservatives” direct their observations, support and enthusiasms towards a purely economic principle. Their idea is that less government allows the revenues that would be spent on that governmental structure to be spent in a free-market economy which would then create more jobs, more revenues for government. This would create a better society, they feel, because a smaller government would be needed, as good-paying jobs would provide necessities, some luxuries and long-term security, thus reducing the need for government-run health care, retirement programs and other benefits that could be handled better by individual citizens themselves.
Men like the Governor of Illinois distinguish themselves as “Neo-Fascist” by going beyond those ideals. They don’ want merely smaller government. They want to destroy unions, as the old Fascists did. They want to eliminate dissent by threatening to close the schools. They try to insert their own ideas into the university curricula by withholding funds. Like the Governor of Illinois, they try to cripple opposing views by withholding funds resulting in the shutting down of departments or severely curtailing the faculty at institutions of higher learning, where much dissenting thought arises.
And the money flows from the top down, through the unlimited political donations now allowed by the ruling on Citizens’ United by the Neo-Fascist Supreme Court. For example, Governor Rauner of Illinois donated $600,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute, an anti-tax and anti-environment organization started by the Fascist Koch Family Foundation. One of the members of the Illinois Policy Institute (which parades itself as an independent “think tank”) was supported in an effort to found the largely “fake news” Sangamon Sun, a newspaper and on-line blog meant to look like a newspaper, filled with Right-Wing articles favoring the Governor and people like Neo-Fascist House member Peter Roskam. Roskam was one of the leaders in the House in developing the “American Health Care Act” to replace Obamacare, which 84% of Americans surveyed, who knew of the details of the act, called: “unacceptable” (i.e., only 16% thought it acceptable.)
Well, what is the problem really, and how do we solve it?
Here is the answer in a nutshell. In 1981, Ronald Reagan cut taxes to the bone. He cut the top rate–where the money is–from 74% to 28%. What would happen if I cut your pay from $74,000 to $28,000? This was exactly the same thing that happened to government finances. The top income tax payers had their tax rates cut in half. And that’s where the money was…and the deficit tripled. In addition, he quadrupled the Defense Budget (coincidentally, GE was one of the nations biggest military contractors…just a coincidence.)
Reagan was a nice man, sort of, but his wife was the daughter of Dr. Loyal Davis, who had been the most active Right Wing Conservative in the country, and who got Reagan a job–when he needed one badly–from then arch-conservative General Electric Corporation. They all sold Reagan, and Reagan, great salesman that he was, sold an unsuspecting public.
The point is that the top income tax payers never again paid any tax rate higher than 39% and our government has had a national debt of over a trillion dollars ever since, starting with $2.14 trillion after Reagan, through Bush I, through part of Clinton, until he balanced the budget by raising taxes a little and cutting government. Then came more huge deficits because of more tax cuts and wars under Bush II. The result? An aggregate addition of $12 trillion added by Bush and Cheney alone. Added to the $5.6 through the end of the Clinton era that left us about $18 trillion and we are now at or heading towards $20 trillion in debt. All since the tax cuts on the very richest, the ones most able to pay taxes, of the Reagan era.
Naturally, the rich don’t want to pay huge amounts in taxes, even though, if you think of it, paying about 30% of a million dollars would still leave you about $700,000. Could you live on $700,000, or if you made $2 million, could you live on $1,400,000? Would you be OK? What about $1,000,000,000? (one billion.) Could you live…could you get by…on, say, $700,000,000? Until next year?
Yes, it is silly. And, in many ways, it is also tragic. Tragic because of what happens to so many people as a result of not just greed, but an attitude of greed that pervades society and makes greed acceptable. During the 1950s, white people got up from their kitchen tables, got in their cars, and drove to Southern cities to march along side other whites and southern blacks who were being beaten and whipped and worse. They didn’t risk their incomes, but Americans don’t shirk from responsibility nor from a sense of fairness.
Who ever came up with this ridiculous idea that we are being unfair to ask people to pay the amount of taxes we need to run the country? And where does it say in the Constitution that the American people can’t vote in people who will raise taxes on the rich to the point that we can balance our national budget? Wilson did it in 1918. Roosevelt did it in 1943. We had urgent problems and the top rate was 97%! And the Rockefeller great-great grandchildren are still rich, even after John D. Jr bought half the continent and gave it to the American People as glorious places to get away from factories and coal mines.
When things got better, JFK said, let’s cut out these top rates because our post-war economy is better and the rich were invaluable. He cut taxes on the top incomes to 74%. Reagan, 30 years later could have prudently cut them to 50% at the top rate, but the Right Wing had his ear. They must have dropped their false teeth when he agreed. It was the dumbest idea and biggest political mistake for the country of the last half of the 20th and the first half of the 21st Centuries. (No matter what happens from here on.)
Americans are,…statistically, folks…the most generous people, as individuals, in the world. We are a generous people. But the Neo-Fascists want us to believe that our taxes are all too high. In reality, taxes on the rich are too low. When a governor can spend $70 million dollars on his own political campaign, three times more than could be raised by all the donors in all the homes and all the companies on the opposing side–and then wants to cut his taxes and those of other rich people? Why? To have more money to spend on another campaign rather than giving it to the poor, or the homeless, or jobless veterans or the bedded elderly who social services visits were cut totally?
When are we going to come to our senses? Once again, take Illinois as an example of…”what do they do with all their money?” A $5 million television campaign to win the Illinois Comptroller’s office for a Republican was funded by three people. Three (3) individuals! Why? Because as financiers, they would have been in control of the individual (they were supporting) who would control disbursement of funds. In other words, for pure political power, if not to, in fact, enrich themselves further, which also would have been possible.
Is there corruption in other parties where there is complete control of government? Is the Democratic machine in Illinois corrupt? Almost certainly. But the difference is that all those people working in all those jobs, some of them not necessary perhaps, are working. And paying taxes and buying cars and homes and food. We need to expand jobs outside government and cut government jobs to the minimum. We always want to do that. It is prudent.
This year in Illinois, $3 billion was cut from the budget. Having said that, Illinois is something like the third most efficient state government in terms of the ratio of population to state employees. There is a false equivalency between the corruption of the rich trying to buy government and the power of government employees helping out perhaps too many other government employees. That is corruption of a different kind that must also be stopped, period, and there are people whose job it is, including political opposition, to bring it to light. Buying governments is not the same thing. Cronyism is one thing. Neo-Fascism is a different level altogether. It is far more dangerous for the average person, than cronyism.
Yes, there are people who don’t want Reagan tax rates to go away, people like Bruce Rauner, Governor of Illinois, and the Koch Brothers and the CEOs of those corporations working against you in ALEC, creating corporate legislation against the people. They want to spend that money, as the Kochs spent a rumored $500 million of theirs on the 2016 election, to buy legislators who will push hard, as their Republican Freedom Caucus members do, against affordable health care, against Medicare, against Social Security, against the Environmental Protection agency, against gay rights, against civil rights, against roads, bridges, and against the “murder” of 20-week-old fetuses to save a mother’s life and health and future, but are not against killing living Arab children with drones or allowing automatic weapons into the hands of nuts who enter schoolrooms to kill 6-year-olds.
The Neo-Fascists, that is the Rich Right Wing, is almost 100% affiliated with the Republican Party nationally and in every state. 99.9% of all state legislators who take trips or other benefits from ALEC in return for legislative help against the people and for oil companies and chemical and other corporations is Republican. These oligarchs, the ones controlling the politicians at all levels, are no longer satisfied to use the democratic process. They buy politicians with contributions that they no longer have to make public. They have built and entire propaganda network, using national television, syndicated radio, and a host of local print and on line media the sell lies to an unsuspecting public.
We will see if the American people can somehow catch up, begin to think, to analyse, to find the truth amid all the false stories that comprise attacks on those who would seek to give the country more economic equality. Nothing has worked thus far. The Rich Right Wing, the Neo-Fascists control everything.
It is time to either get down to work or it is time to find a place to hide. Because, like Hawks, as Hemingway said, Neo-Fascists do not share. They will have it their way. That means keeping what they have and taking more of what you have, and then telling you in typically Neo-Fascist fashion–while picking your pocket (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security…all of which you paid for) that you are the one picking their pocket (asking them to live on a mere $700,000 a year…and up!)