Monday, July 3, 2017

Republican Governor Chris Christie hits the (state closed) beach. Why do so many Americans kneel before this plutocracy?

Above: A perfect image of plutocracy: Republican Governor Chris Christie and his family enjoy a state park beach on Sunday, July 2, 2017. The beach is closed to the public after Christie ordered it closed over a budget fight with the New Jersey legislature. Meanwhile, "essential" government services, like state-run casinos, are still open. When asked if it was fair that he and his family can enjoy a beach vacation while the rest of New Jersey can't, Christie said, "That's just the way it goes." Photo taken by New Jersey Advance Media, used here for educational and non-commercial purposes (more photos available here).

In Kansas, Republican Governor Sam Brownback cut taxes on the rich and raised them on the poor, devastating the state's budget and forcing many cut-backs and closures. In Illinois, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signed legislation giving himself a $750,000 per year tax break, and then he closed the 139-year-old Illinois State Museum (it has since re-opened, but now charges an admission fee). And now we hear that the 143-year-old Southern Illinois University Museum has closed, thanks to the budget dilemma in Illinois - a dilemma caused, in large part, by tax cuts for the rich.

On Sunday, July 2, photos were taken showing Republican Governor Chris Christie enjoying the beach with his family, even though he had closed the beach to the public because of budget problems. Later in the day, he was asked if he had gotten any sun. He said no, and when photos surfaced showing him getting sun, a spokesperson for the governor said, "He did not get any sun. He had a baseball hat on." That spokesperson must have a background in stand-up comedy, because that's an awesome comeback. Chris Christie has been supported by wealthy right-wing donors, for example, billionaire hedge fund manager Steven Cohen. (And see, "Christie tax cut for the richest 4 percent: How do we pay for it," NJ.com, February 16, 2016.)    

These types of things are happening all across the country. The rich and their political marionettes are cutting services while raising taxes, tolls, fees, fines, and utility rates on the middle-class and poor. You see, even though the rich are already enjoying record wealth, they want more. They want more tax cuts to purchase more private jets, more private compounds, and more private islands. They want more tax cuts--especially a repeal of the estate tax--so that they, and also future generations of their family, will never have to work again; they'll just sit back and make the rest of us work for their luxury, through low wages, shrinking benefits, and perpetual debt. It's a caste system they want, and they're just about there - just a little more gutting of the middle-class is all that they need. 

And yet, amazingly, most middle-class and poor Americans keep supporting the rich and their political marionettes - either by voting or by apathy. The Republican Party, which is the party that pampers the rich the most, has been put in charge of the White House, the Congress, the Supreme Court (and soon, more federal courts), and state political offices all across America. In fact, they have so much control, that soon they may be able to call a constitutional convention to re-write our Constitution into a right-wing manifesto that not only requires a balanced budget (which is code for: "permanent tax cuts for the rich"), but also eviscerates or eliminates the general welfare clause, as well as the First Amendment's separation of church and state. Think it can't happen? Well, you might also have thought that a Donald Trump presidency couldn't happen.

Above: The Civilian Conservation Corps created Cheesequake State Park in New Jersey, for the enjoyment of the people. However, shortly before Chris Christie and his family started frolicking on the state park beach he had closed to the public (Island Beach State Park), 25 cub scouts were kicked out of Cheesequake State Park... because of the closures. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

It is very clear that many super-wealthy Americans want to be our gods. They want their taxes lowered or eliminated, even though they're already enjoying record wealth, and they want to bestow favors upon us, as they see fit, for example, through their whimsical philanthropy. In sum, they want ownership of the general welfare, even though the U.S. Constitution, and Supreme Court jurisprudence, gives that authority to Congress, i.e., We the People.

But here's what's less clear: Why do so many Americans kneel before this plutocracy? Yes, there are groups that nobly (and oft-times courageously) march and resist but, by and large, Americans either vote for plutocracy (i.e., Republicans and their super-wealthy donors), or they sit back and let it happen.

Again, why? What possesses someone to vote for a politician who closes state beaches, and then takes his family to vacation on one of those very same beaches? And why do others refuse to vote at all (perhaps because it might get in the way of watching re-runs of Keeping Up With The Kardashians), when such apathy results in paying higher taxes, tolls, fees, fines, and utility rates--and incurring more student loan debt--all to support tax cuts for billionaires? What weird phenomenon explains this?

Is it Stockholm Syndrome? Is it because they live in a Fox News bubble, and never hear negative things about Republicans? Is it because celebrity and tech distractions have made them oblivious to public policy and civic participation? Is it because the Democratic Establishment doesn't offer them a good alternative, and has become a two-faced political entity - babbling about the middle-class & poor while sipping Martinis with Wall Street? Is it because the people have been mesmerized by trickle-down economics, despite the fact that their quality of life has deteriorated over the past several decades, while the rich have gotten richer? 

Is it because they don't know American history, and thus have no point of reference to question plutocracy? Is it because they don't really believe in democracy, and actually prefer that millionaires & billionaires manage and supervise them? Is it a fear that the holy JOB CREATORS will take their jobs away if they protest too much, even though the holy JOB CREATORS are already taking their jobs away? (think outsourcing and automation). Is it because they're willing to pay through the nose, with higher and regressive state & local taxes (thanks to tax cuts for the rich at the federal level), and have their Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid cut, if that's what it takes to stop gay marriage? 

Is it some combination of all of the above?

If we don't find out what the answer is, and address it, we may soon be pledging oaths of loyalty & submission to super-wealthy psychopaths, whose insatiable greed will have us eating out of the local landfill... while they sunbathe on closed beaches, and laugh at how stupid we were to let it all happen.

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