Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Reverse New Deal: The Promotion of Pain & Suffering

(Instead of making workers, the unemployed, and the poor sacrificial lambs so that the super-rich could be safe from any degree of sacrifice--as we are seeing today--New Deal policies & programs were designed to help the common man. WPA poster, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.) 

During the New Deal, there were tremendous efforts to help people in need: Social Security to fight poverty, voluntary work programs to help the unemployed, health clinics for low-income families, funding for new hospitals, distribution of surplus food, free education & training, and much, much more.

Today, things are quite different...

The Republican & Tea Party shutdown, financed by the Koch brothers and big financial institutions like Goldman Sachs (see, e.g., here), is creating havoc and fear across the country. Heating assistance for low-income Americans is in jeopardy, food assistance for children is in jeopardy, children with cancer have fewer treatment options, businesses around national parks are being devastated, and veterans are planning an event at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. because they are afraid of impending financial ruin.

While all this, and more, is happening, here are seven messages we have received from Republican & Tea Party politicians:

1. "We have to make a decision that’s right (in the) long-term for the United States, and what may be distasteful, unpleasant and not appropriate in the short run may be something that has to be done” (Congressman Morgan Griffith, Republican-Va.). This statement seems to imply that, if people have to suffer or die in the "short run," so that things will be more pleasant in the "long-term," so be it. But wasn't that the same philosophical foundation for the "Final Solution." Is that really the type of ethical system we want to adopt for America? Do we really want to go down that road?

("It Can't Happen Here" was a WPA theater production, examining the possibility of a Nazi-like government occurring in America. WPA poster, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.) 

2. "If you are a furloughed government employee, we encourage you to reach out to your financial institution as soon as you worry you may miss a paycheck. Financial institutions often offer short-term loans..." (Congressman Steve Pearce, Republican-N.M.). So, while workers miss their paychecks, due to the actions of Republicans & Tea Partiers, Congressmen Pearce advises them to go into debt. Of course, Pearce doesn't need to take out a loan. Why? Because he's a millionaire.

3. "We're not going to be disrespected, we have to get something out of this. And I don't know what that even is." (Congressman Marlin Stutzman, Republican-IN). So, while children with cancer are told, "Sorry, we can't start your clinical trials," this man is concerned about getting some respect.

  (New Deal politicians and policy-makers did not seek to harm the ill, they sought to help them. WPA poster, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

4. Speaking on the possibility of the United States defaulting on its debt, "I think, personally, it would bring stability to the world markets." (Congressman Ted Yoho, Republican-FL). Nearly all economists agree that a default would cause major problems across the globe.

5. Speaking about government workers, involuntarily furloughed during the Republican & Tea Party shutdown, "If they're not working they shouldn't get paid." (Congressman Ted Yoho, Republican-FL). Easily said, when you're a wealthy congressman collecting government paychecks.

6. When asked if she would forgo her government paycheck during the shutdown, a shutdown that her party created, and a shutdown that has deprived hundreds of thousands of workers of their paychecks, Republican Congresswoman Renee Elmers (NC) replied in the negative, stating: "I need my paycheck. That's the bottom line."

(A WPA worker proudly shows his paycheck. The New Deal sought to provide work & paychecks to Americans. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.)

7. When asked about his government salary during the shutdown--after hundreds of thousands of government workers were furloughed without pay--Republican Congressman Lee Terry (Neb.) said " know what? I've got a nice house and a kid in college, and I'll tell you we cannot handle it. Giving our paycheck away when you still worked and earned it? That's just not going to fly."

Welcome to the Reverse New Deal, where Republican & Tea Party politicians promote pain and suffering--as long as it's not their pain and suffering--to "heal" the nation.

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