Friday, February 17, 2017

Americans didn't fight for Bernie Sanders... but he's still fighting for them, trying to strengthen and expand Social Security

Above: Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail, at Rutgers University in New Jersey, May 2016. Photo by Paige Bollman, provided courtesy of Wikipedia, and used here under the CCA-2.0 license.

Bernie Sanders drew large crowds during his 2016 run for the presidency; but it wasn't enough to overcome America's addiction to electing super-wealthy Americans into high political office. Instead of fighting for Bernie Sanders--a man who is laser-focused on helping the middle-class & poor--the middle-class & poor ended up supporting two plutocrats with deep ties to the banks that swindled the middle-class & poor just a few years before. This bizarre phenomenon was correctly and crudely summed up by comedian George Carlin years ago: "Good honest hard-working people, white collar, blue collar, doesn't matter what color shirt you have on, good honest hard-working people continue--these are people of modest means--continue to elect these rich c&cksuckers who don't give a f&ck about them. They don't give a f&ck about you... they don't care about you, at all."

It's hard to understand why Americans keep supporting people like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I suppose it's a mixture of apathy, misinformation, and Stockholm Syndrome, as well as a resignation to the idea that we'll always have to chose the lesser of two evils - the idea that says "nobody else can possibly win, so I don't want to throw my vote away."

Whatever the case may be, it's pathetic. To continue supporting and voting for the super-wealthy, as they keep getting richer and we go nowhere (or even lose ground), is the height of cultural insanity. When will Americans break out of their cycle of self-destructive voting behavior? When will they stop being suckers for the rich? 

Above: In the 1950s, Republican President Eisenhower, and the Republican-controlled 83rd Congress, expanded Social Security. But in the modern era, Republicans (and corporate Democrats too) have been trying to cut and privatize Social Security, as a favor to their super-rich donors. This is one of the major differences between the democracy that existed back then and the plutocracy that exists now. Unfortunately, most Americans don't know their own history, and thus have no idea of the changed, perverted approach to Social Security that exists today. And the super-wealthy want to take full advantage of this ignorance - knowing full-well that they can make a lot of money from it (for example, by having Social Security privatized and then running a fraud on the American public). Image from personal collection.

Even though Americans failed to fight for Bernie Sanders the way they should have, he's still fighting for them. He recently introduced legislation to strengthen and expand Social Security so that middle-class & poor Americans can retire with a little peace of mind. Sanders' legislation would remove the cap on taxable income subject to Social Security withholding (currently at $127,200) for "ordinary earnings... as well as to unearned income, like capital gains and dividends..."

Sanders said: "We can expand benefits, we can extend the life of Social Security, if we have the guts to tell the millionaires and billionaires, yes, they are going to have to pay a bit more in taxes" ("Bernie Sanders Unveils Social Security Expansion Bill On The Day Millionaires Stop Paying," Huffington Post, February 16, 2017). Indeed, in this day and age, when the richest 400 Americans are enjoying record wealth, and Social Security needs more funding, and private pensions are going the way of the Dodo bird to sate the greed of super-wealthy sociopaths, it makes no sense for a person making $127,200 to pay the same amount into Social Security as a person making $3 billion.

Interestingly, in contrast to Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton hesitated on expanding Social Security (and her husband Bill wanted to privatize Social Security; and he also set the stage for Social Security benefits to be garnished for student loan debt). President Trump, for his part, and despite his campaign pledge to protect Social Security, has just chosen a man who thinks Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme to be in charge of his budget office.

Most Americans don't want Social Security to be cut. Unfortunately, their voting behavior (or lack thereof) is at direct odds with their wishes. And, as long as that's the case, the super-wealthy will continue to snicker at us - and continue to look for ways to use our ignorance for profit. Because, at the end of the day, they don't care about us... at all.

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