The country is divided. North, South, East, West…we argue about everything. And why? Because we now have a system that allows organizations, newscasters, politicians, even ministers to lie in public and get away with it. That results in large moneyed interests using politicians and anyone whose loyalty they can buy for a few pieces of silver to spread false information. That false information is delivered to the average person by someone they trust, someone who has the responsibility to take care of them, watch out for their welfare…like priests, ministers, politicians…and, yes, reporters and editors.
But that lack of truth is not the problem. The problem is what results from it. People today very often vote, and in 2010 did in fact elect, Congressmen and women, Senators and governors who are not only using their power to make themselves wealthy but also to remove services from government–which means in effect, from the People. This is a Populist medium. We write about and promote issues from the standpoint of the People. That is why, when we see governors setting teachers against police or firemen against nurses by telling the voters that they make too much money or lie about how much they receive in pensions…which has always been part of their wage negotiations…we get angry.
And we also get mad because we know why they are doing it. They receive their campaign contributions from wealthy Right Wing Neoconservatives, and by the way, not “also” the Tea Party but “especially” the Tea Party. The Tea Party candidate tells you that he or she wants to cut back on bloated government. Rand Paul is not a Populist. He is the multi-millionaire son of a multi-millionaire father who wants to do away with your Social Security and Medicare because it costs him too much in taxes…which, by the way, are a fraction of what the Rockefellers pay. By the way, if the Tea Party were truly concerned about the average family in this country, wouldn’t they align themselves with the Party that represents workers? They would work with the Party that represents workers, not Wall Street, and average Americans, not the old Dixiecrats, the bigots and segregationists of the Strom Thurmond Party.
The Rockefeller family is a good example of what the American Capitalist system can become. John D. Rockefeller became the richest man in the world. His son spent his life not only giving away huge amounts of money, but also teaching his sons and grandsons that there is nothing wrong with great wealth unless you fail to live up to Christian principles and good citizenship. Nelson Rockefeller built a great state in New York. Other Rockefeller brothers created great medical institutions and went to states like Arkansas and eventually to West Virginia and to places like Puerto Rico…and everywhere they went things became better than they were before they arrived. Taxes haven’t stopped the Rockefellers. They are among those who want fair taxes.
The Rockefellers have not exactly fallen on hard times in the 100 years since John D. Rockefeller became the first of the truly super-rich. Through it all they get richer every day…and are richer by far than the Pauls…hey pay huge taxes that dwarf what some of the cheesy Republican millionaires pay. They don’t complain (at least publicly) while in addition giving Americans such things as Grand Teton National Park, Acadia National Park, and the entire restoration of the Colonial capitol of Williamsburg, Virginia. If you live or enjoy visiting New York City, you can thank the Rockefeller family tradition of giving and supporting culture and the arts for the People for Lincoln Center and the Cloisters. When asked to give a penny, they gave a dime, when asked to give a dime they gave a dollar. That is the example of what a good benevolent Capitalist system can provide.
America was built by people like the Rockefellers and other families who turned their fortunes to good works for the People, paid their taxes, often reluctantly (after all it’s a LOT of money) but most importantly made themselves a part of American society, of the American community…rich, poor, middle class…serving in war…building in peace. A large segment of our current billionaires have lost that Patriotism. They don’t sent their sons to war as President Roosevelt did, or go themselves as Teddy Roosevelt did (they were both very rich men.) They spend all their time, like the Waltons, (not the founders of WalMart, by the way, but the inheritors of WalMart) buying up Republican Senators to try to get out of paying taxes, not now, but that their children–who did not build WalMart or even work at WalMart–will only pay after they are dead.
There are more greedy billionaires today than ever before, call them the anti-Rockefellers. They are behind the Neoconservative Republicans who are taking away public pensions for teachers and proposing that you and those who make less than you pay more taxes while cutting taxes for the rich. At the same time, they have transferred jobs to China…about 5 million jobs in the last ten years…and they are still doing it daily…200 jobs in Illinois as this is written…and yet want those whose jobs are gone and now work for minimum wage at Walmart, with no health insurance–to pay more in taxes.
Let’s be clear, however. For every Koch family, there is a Warren Buffett. In other words, for every billionaire who wants to keep all his money and only give it to those who will do his bidding, there is a man, like Buffett, who doesn’t like paying all those taxes either, but realizes that we have to form an efficient government and fund it often, especially in times of need like this, with the wealthiest doing a big share of it…because they have the ability to do so with the least personal discomfort.
Before we get to the larger–and real–issues, we all have to accept the fact that two very serious problems exist in this country, and people must know the truth about them.
First, in 1987, a seemingly routine piece of legislation was passed under President Reagan. It said essentially that it was no longer necessary for a radio station or television channel, when airing a political opinion, to offer a countervailing opinion from the opposite party or opposite point of view.
At about this same time, a junior-college dropout and radio vagabond named Rush Limbaugh was still flailing about looking for at least some kind of minimal job. He was a brainless radio disk jockey, totally nationally unknown. As soon as the restraints were removed and he no longer had to prove anything he said or offer the truth as an alternative to his idiotic statements, his career took off. He became the great radio loudmouth, making a living by challenging the establishment and doing that by simply making up reality and broadcasting it over the airwaves.
While Limbaugh was making a name for himself as a clown or a hero–depending upon whether you had a college degree or dropped out of high school, a company was formed in Texas called Clear Channel communications. They began buying up radio stations but they were limited in the number they could own. In 1996, in perhaps his worst decision (after the repeal of Glass-Steagal in 1998, deregulating the banks,) President Clinton took the wraps off radio networks, allowing them to own as many stations as possible. The Right Wing owners of Clear Channel saw a perfect opportunity to spread their racist and anti-government messages. The spokesman they hired to do it, for–as it turned out–$200 million, was Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh’s anti-woman, anti-Democrat, anti-government, pro-war, pro-gun, pro-racist, pro-Republican message was enhanced by the fact that, in most areas, especially rural areas, he had no competition.
In the late 1990s and throughout the early 2000s, and even to this day in parts of the country, you cannot drive past a cornfield or a hog farm, or now even though an average small city without hearing the bigoted, anti-Middle Class garbage that passes for radio commentary by Limbaugh. But Limbaugh was only the beginning. Today, after Limbaugh’s success in finding every gun-toting, woman-hating, racist in the countryside, amassing large audience numbers–not hard when your backers want your message of hate to go to as many citizens as possible–other similar hate-mongers came along, like Sean Hannity and Hugh Hewitt and Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham.
The problem is this: despite the fact that it seems unbelievable that it could happen, or that those who have profited most from the abundance of opportunity in this country would do so–some of the largest corporations in the United States, indeed, in the world…have set out deliberately to pick the pockets of American citizens. They have set out to deliberately pollute rivers and streams and lakes in order to save money for their stockholders…who are primarily hugely wealthy investors. And these are companies who owe their very existence to people like you…Coca Cola, Home Depot, EXXON/MObil and Kraft Foods.
There are literally hundreds of others…the very people you support with your dollars are members of ALEC, a group that has literally purchased the services of legislators all over the country, and those legislators are working with their fellow Republican state legislators to put into place legislation that will allow these corporations to pollute your air and water with their plants, to disregard federal legislation in that state, to lower their already low taxes and to encourage reduced voting rolls so that you will not have enough votes to defeat them. (Go to ALECEXPOSED.org if you have not already. It will open your eyes to a secret organization that has been undermining you and your neighbors’ rights for years…in secret.
You must understand how Fascists work. They tell lie after lie after lie. They do so in order to confuse the public, stop any progressive activity and remove any obstacles from their political ends. In the 1930s they simply wanted control to achieve certain ends that had to do with race and political domination….reaching out and taking over more territory. They put people in camps when they tried to resist, or even when they might be people who would resist. Some of them starved to death. Others were worked to death. And yet others were gassed and their bodies cremated. Today the motives are racist again, but also pure greed.
But we are not like that. Is that what you think? Think again. The same people who set up ALEC are the ones who are restricting your vote, the same ones who are behind the Tea Party, a neo-Fascist organization masquerading as “populists.” Why would populists take money from these corporations who are daily running their stooges in with more anti-populist legislation? The same huge corporations who pay no taxes are the ones funding Mitt Romney’s campaign. His tax proposal will cut taxes again for the rich and add taxes to the Middle Class. He’s not hiding it. He will tell you that too many people among the lower income segments of society do not pay taxes and that the rich, like him, pay too much. He’s never been without a fortune and so he actually believes that.
But these corporate executives grew up middle class. Now they have become rich by outsourcing jobs, or laying off large numbers of workers. They kill 500 jobs in Massachusetts or Illinois or North Carolina. And they send the jobs abroad and lower their manufacturing costs by 15%. Does the public see a price reduction on those products? Never. What you do see, in addition to cheap, often toxic products that last 6 months and you have to replace it, is higher bonuses for top executives. You hear about the multi-million-dollar bonuses for CEOs. What you don’t hear about are the six-figure bonuses for the top tier of executives all across the country. And how do they get those bonuses? Certainly not by recommending that excess profits be channeled into lower prices or better products for consumers.
In the last election, a scoundrel by the name of Scott Walker was elected to the Governorship of Wisconsin. Despite the fact that he said on television that he intended to “divide and conquer” to make Wisconsin a “Right to Work” state, he was re-elected after a recall petition of over one million people demanded it. Walker would tell private industry workers that public sector workers, who have characteristically been paid less, but with security, including pension security, are making too much. That way he could continue his goal of destroying the bargaining power of unions for the teachers, firemen and other state employees, who…without unions…have almost no leverage. Now the public workers in Wisconsin will continue to get lower wages than comparable private industry workers, but they will now lose the benefits that were the reason so many of them went into occupations that are common in the public sector.
What is a right-to-work state? What it means to Scott Walker and his billionaire financial supporters is that they can avoid any workers gathering together to organize for better wages. Most of the private unions have been defeated by the Right Wing radio, making unions out to be thugs or tools of the Democratic Party. But then, wouldn’t workers who are fair come out and complain against unions. They would, but they don’t because unions are the only thing between them and big loss of income. And that is why ALEC and Scott Walker want to do away with public unions. They want power over the workers.
So what does not being able to hold workers together in unions, but giving them the “right-to-work” without being union members do for the worker? Well, Rhode Island is a collective bargaining state. The average household income in Rhode Island in 2009, after the crash, was $54,119. In Mississippi, a right-to-work state, it was $36,646. In Maryland, a collective bargaining state, it was $69,272. In Arkansas, a right-to-work state it was $37,823. In Illinois, a collective bargaining state, it was $53,966. In Alabama, a right-to-work state, it was $40,489. The right-to-work states have lower costs of living and slightly lower unemployment in some cases. But their education and quality of life start at the bottom…50, 49, 48, 47 and so on….and work up from there.
You don’t motivate educated and skilled workers by promising them lower wages and a lowered quality of life for their families. On the other hand, if you are a governor like Rick Perry of Texas or now Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, that is how you do motivate cheap employers, ones who do not want to pay good workers and executives and give them good lives. Cheap chiseling companies who import crap from China not to make a profit, but to make a profit from cheap labor so that they can make more money. Or corporations who seek mindless robotic workers whose only motivation is fast food and television reality programs.
These same people, if they continue will do more than create more right-to-work states. They will lobby, as many of the Right Wing, like Michele Bachmann, are doing right now, for the minimum wage. They say that if employers could pay whatever they wanted to, they could create more jobs. That’s probably true. But let’s say that someone offers you a job at $3/hr. Can you survive? If your spouse also has a $3/hr. job could you survive together? We are just talking about survival here…living under the bridge. The only people who would be able to work for these rates would be children (one Republican Missouri state representative wants to repeal child labor laws) basically bums, illegal immigrants, the retired and those who are already affluent enough that they simply want to work at the golf course or in a certain kind of retail shop.
Representative Michele Bachmann who unbelievably has a law degree…who knows how she got it….is stupid. If you remove the minimum wage all together, what will happen? Wages will go down. It will instantly be a race to the bottom. If an employer has the option of paying $3 instead of $7.25 or whatever the current minimum is, then they will do it. And to compete, other businesses will drop their wages. Who will benefit? The owners will literally profit from it at the expense of the worker.
This is just one more example of how we let people with no intelligence and absolutely no vision into our government in our flawed system. We have a Constitution created as a reaction to Kings and Emperors. It is as out of date as a horse and buggy or a whale oil lamp. The world is in the post-modern, post-digital age and the Right Wing is still living as if we did not know that everything on earth, animals, plants, soil, rock, air and water…everything natural and everything created by man…are made up of the same particles that exist throughout the universe.
We are not living in the 18th Century, and no, it would not be better if we were. The reason it feels more unsettling in 2012 is that a.) life has advanced and some people have not kept up and it scares them and, b.) people from that same group have decided to make money from the ones who have not kept up by lying to them and saying that the world is actually worse because it is so complicated and some (sinister) people are trying to “run your lives and take away your freedom.”
Really? What freedoms have you lost recently? The freedom to pay for Bush’s wars and the two tax cuts he gave to billionaires? The freedom to have your country attack another country without any provocation? The freedom for fifty million Americans to be able to purchase affordable health care by 2014? Have you lost the freedom to have an abortion if it is absolutely necessary? Have you lost the freedom to own a gun with 100 rounds so that you can kill your entire neighborhood if you decide to? Of course not. No one has lost any freedom since Barack Obama became President. It is a lie, but just one of thousands of lies the Republicans tell so that they can stay in power. Let’s face it. Would anyone vote for a Party whose supporters and benefactors were the richest 400 people in the country, with the exception of a few truly patriotic super-wealthy people like the Buffetts, the Gates, the Rockefellers, the Kennedys and the Soroses…but there are many more.
Things are changing and it is impossible to stop it. And we should not want to stop it. Medicine is more advanced. Work is more complex and interesting. Media keeps us abreast of the entire world in an instant. Travel is better. And, yes, government, with now 311 million people in this country, works better because of recent improvements in management technology. Life is better. Cars are better. Dentistry is amazing. We are zooming around on Mars.
We have debt and the rich who benefited when the economy collapsed…for which many of them were responsible…must now help us get out of debt. We need jobs but we can create them with a mere fraction of the revenue from letting the Bush Tax cuts expire. We need to restructure much of what we do, but we know how to do it. We have great opportunities but as long as half the government, the Republican half, is working as hard to stop progress as the other half is to advance science, technology, culture and civilization….we will be stymied. We cannot survive as a country if the Republicans block everything as they have since 2009 with over 257 filibusters…basically a Senate procedure that allows…but does not encourage the minority in the Senate (now Republicans) to block any or all legislation.