Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Reverse New Deal: A real-world dystopia, where unemployment, poverty, and homelessness are celebrated as "fantastic"

(Canadian businessman and investor Kevin O'Leary says "It's fantastic" that "the combined wealth...of the world's 85 richest people is equal to the three and half billion poorest people.") 

Income & wealth inequality has skyrocketed over the last few decades. And, as the fortunes of the 1% keep multiplying, the rest of us are seeing fewer and fewer opportunities. Instead of creating good middle-class jobs, the "job creators" just keep investing in ways that make us poorer and poorer. Globally, about 202 million people are unemployed. In the United States, 4 million long-term unemployed Americans are discriminated against by employers and, to pour salt into the wound, our plutocratic, increasingly right-wing Congress is now cutting off their key lifeline (extended unemployment benefits). Furthermore, over 6 million Americans, ages 16-24, are "are neither in school nor in the workforce," and over 24 million Americans wish they had a full-time job but can't find one (

But wait, there's more. People around the globe, and also our fellow citizens here in America, are killing themselves at an increasing rate. In the United States, between 35,000 and 40,000 people are taking their lives every year. About 100 per day. And the suicide rate for young veterans has "climbed sharply." What causes suicide? Many factors, but among them "Prolonged stress due to adversities such as unemployment...." According to the American Association of Suicidology, "There is a clear and direct relationship between rates of unemployment and suicide."

(O'Leary's praise of extreme income & wealth inequality is quite a bit different from the Apostolic Exhortation, where Pope Francis writes, "...some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and na├»ve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed." O'Leary seems to embody that "globalization of indifference." Photo courtesy of Wikipedia, CCA-SA 2.0 generic license.)  

To people like O'Leary, the fact that unemployment and poverty have increased alongside growing income & wealth inequality is meaningless. In their Ayn Rand Dystopia, morals and data are irrelevant, and compassion for others is weakness. The only thing that matters is getting rich and then frowning, or laughing, at those who don't. It's a frightening reality, especially when we see how the super-wealthy are taking over legislatures with enormous campaign contributions.

This isn't capitalism, as O'Leary claims, it's plutocratic totalitarianism--a control of our finances, our opportunities, and our pursuit of happiness by a small group of people owning most of the resources and controlling our governments through those resources. In America, it's a crossing-out of the preamble and the general welfare clause of the U.S. Constitution, for the purposes of legitimizing extreme wealth and luxury for a few people. In the video, we see O'Leary sneering at wealth redistribution. In his, and others' view, it is better to have mass unemployment and poverty, and have the  masses look up to the rich as gods, than to have a world where democratic governments help a greater number of people attain a better quality of life (in other words, We the People helping We the People).

Welcome to the Reverse New Deal: A real-world dystopia, where unemployment, poverty, and homelessness are celebrated as "fantastic."

(Today, "Tens of millions of young people around the world are unemployed." Many people feel that if we just give another round of massive tax cuts to the super-wealthy, and if people just work a little harder, everything will be a-ok...plutocracy, greed, and white collar crime notwithstanding. But such idiotic notions were not always the case. During the New Deal, policy-makers employed jobless youth directly, in the Civilian Conservation Corps and the National Youth Administration. WPA poster, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

 (Today, about 202 million people across the world are unemployed. Many people feel that if we simply deregulate, and let private businesses pollute the air and water, unhindered by the rule of law, the "job creators" will make everything better for us. But these type of harebrained ideas (exchanging our health for jobs) were not always the leading ideas. During the New Deal, when Congress was more democratic than plutocratic, policy-makers created programs like the Civil Works Administration and the Works Progress Administration to employ millions of jobless workers. Image courtesy of the National Archives.) 

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