Saturday, December 28, 2013

Fewer Good-Paying Jobs, Weaker Government Programs, Less Charity......More Pain & Suffering

(New Deal policy-makers were advocates of good-paying American jobsWPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

Good-Paying Jobs: Over the past 30+ years, wages for average Americans have stagnated. Meanwhile, the super-wealthy (the supposed "job creators") keeping vacuuming up more and more wealth. Trickle-down economics was sold to us as a way to "lift all boats." It was a fraud, a clever marketing gimmick to create massive income & wealth inequality. The fraud worked.

(New Deal policy-makers were advocates of good government programs. After all, why shouldn't We the People help We the People? Image courtesy of Wikipedia.) 

Good Government Programs: Right-wing politicians, pundits, and plutocrats have engaged in a massive war against the U.S. Government, starving it of revenue, shutting it down, and manufacturing one crisis after another. And, over the past few decades, more and more Democrats are standing by idly, either afraid to appear too pro-government or eager to cash in on the political bribes campaign contribution gravy train. During the New Deal however, policy-makers created jobs for the unemployed, protections against old-age poverty, insurance against bank account losses, infrastructure to modernize our country, and much, much more. 

(New Deal policy-makers understood that charity can be a good thing, but they also understood that charity cannot replace good government programs. WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

Less Charity: We are frequently told by the people who want "limited government," and also by the people who don't see massive income & wealth inequality as a bad thing, that charity will pick up the slack. But the habits of many of the super-wealthy point to a different conclusion. The super-wealthy give a smaller percentage of their income & wealth to charity than do other income classes, and they frequently give in ways that do not benefit the less fortunate, for example, giving to elite & private schools.   

(New Deal policy-makers understood that massive income & wealth disparities created a toxic culture, so they set in motion a series of policies to create a more equal society. For example, America's post-World War II economic prosperity occurred along New Deal roads, across New Deal bridges, inside New Deal buildings, and out of New Deal airports. Infrastructure built by programs like the WPA, PWA, and CCC facilitated economic expansion, allowing more Americans to experience the American Dream. Indeed, America's middle-class grew like never before or since. WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)   

More Pain & Suffering: As many super-wealthy Americans engage in tax evasion and tax avoidance, we, as a nation, are cutting off extended unemployment benefits for people who can't find work, reducing cost-of-living pension increases for disabled veterans, scaling back funding for programs that feed low-income senior citizens, and shutting down government, thus preventing children with cancer from starting their clinical trials. As David Simon, creator of The Wire television series, recently wrote: " my country, you're seeing a horror show."

And all the while, of course, we are told to keep our mouths shut, because complaining would be "class warfare." Instead, apparently, we should just "pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps" while Corporate America sends jobs overseas and big financial institutions cooks the books, create fraudulent securities, and dabble in insider trading. Those are the rules of the new plutocratic America. Do you like them?     

We should all make a New Year's resolution to create a more just society, with more opportunities. In other words, a new and stronger New Deal. I fear, however, that we are going to stand by and watch the 1% draw in even more wealth, while their defenders repeat, inanely, "work hard and you'll be successful too!"    

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