Monday, November 23, 2015

The Reverse New Deal: Taking from children to give to the rich

Above: This photo was taken in 1939, in West Liberty, Kentucky. The description for it reads, "Students enrolled in the Morgan County School System look forward daily to the broadcasts of Educational Programs from a WPA-built transmitter located in the West Liberty High School, also built by WPA." All across the nation, New Deal policymakers and New Deal workers enhanced children's education. Today, the advocates of trickle-down economics seek to reduce children's education. And, amazingly, millions of voters and non-voters are tolerating it. Photo courtesy of the National Archives and the New Deal Network.
It was recently reported that the Republican-led Kansas government will take $9 million from their highly-productive Children's Initiative Fund to help balance their budget - a budget racked by years of Republican tax-cuts-for-the-wealthy. They've also been taking money from the state's highway fund, burning through the state's reserve funds, and raising taxes on the middle-class & poor (for example, higher--and regressive--sales and cigarette taxes), so that they can continue to pamper the wealthy. And, as if that wasn't bad enough, Kansas's tax-cuts-for-the-wealthy have produced less-than-average job growth and less-than-average economic growth. It seems that the holy "JOB CREATORS" haven't been in the mood to return the favors bestowed upon them. ("Kansas plagued by a dismal budget short on dollars and hope," The Kansas City Star, November 20, 2015. Also see, "After Cutting Taxes on the Rich, Kansas Will Raise Taxes on the Poor to Pay For It," ThinkProgress, June 16, 2015.)
It was also reported that, according to a recent poll, Republican Governor of Kansas Sam Brownback, the chief proponent of trickle-down economics, is now the least popular governor in the nation. But let's be honest here; if an election were held in Kansas today, can there be any doubt that he would win again? There are just too many people who continue to place their faith in the holy "JOB CREATORS" and too many people who have zero interest in politics or voting. Democratic and progressive voters would likely be overwhelmed, again, by conservative voters and apathetic voters. Plus, even if a new election became close, all the Republicans would have to say is, "Well, our opponent looked at a naked lady when he was 26 years old so, y'know, he can't be governor" (see, "Candidate's 1998 Strip Club Visit Stirs Kansas Governor's Race," New York Times, September 21, 2014).        

Undeterred by the failure of trickle-down economics in Kansas and other states (for example, Illinois and Wisconsin), many voters and non-voters are willing to allow a Republican to become president and implement the same tax-cuts-for-the-wealthy policy on the entire nation - as if the last 35 years of tax-cuts-for-the-wealthy (think Reagan and Bush Jr.) have not already done enough damage to the national economy & budget. (See "Candidates' Tax Cuts Unequivocally Skew Toward the Wealthy," Citizens for Tax Justice, November 10, 2015.)

New Deal policymakers and New Deal workers had a different philosophy: They built or repaired thousands of schools, offered free classes to millions of children, and published educational books, booklets, and pamphlets for K-12 students (see, e.g., "From the Archives: Children's Science Series," Albert Whitman Blog, August 27, 2010). Among the funding mechanisms they used to do all this, of course, was higher taxes on the wealthy.
 (WPA poster, advertising free art classes for children. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)
After World War II, with New Deal infrastructure & policies firmly in place (roads, bridges, schools, water lines, Social Security, the minimum wage, higher taxes on the wealthy, Glass-Steagall, FDIC, stronger union protections, etc., etc.) America became the economic powerhouse of the world and the middle-class grew like never before or since. On the other hand, after 35 years of trickle-down economics we have out-of-control campaign contributions from the rich, a huge national debt, crumbling infrastructure, stagnant or dropping wages, huge amounts of personal debt, the largest prison-industrial complex in the world, a middle-class that has shrunk everywhere in the country, and a state & local tax system that is "fundamentally unfair, taking a much greater share of income from low- and middle-income families than from wealthy families." And yet, inexplicably, millions of people are opting for more trickle-down economics.
Is that not the most amazing, the most jaw-dropping, the most awesomely insane thing you've ever heard? I!....just, WOW! That's like drinking strychnine and then saying, "Well, to get better, I guess I better drink some more strychnine."
Welcome to the Reverse New Deal: Taking from children to give to the rich.

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