Wednesday, March 15, 2017
The WPA's 32 million housekeeping visits vs. today's depraved discussion about health care
Above: This photo was taken in New York City in 1937, and shows a WPA-employed housekeeper. The description for the photo reads, "Housekeeper in the home. Usually mother is too ill to take care of home." Photo courtesy of the National Archives.
Between 1935 and 1943, WPA housekeepers made 32 million visits to lower-income Americans who needed help with their homes and children. Sometimes the parents were very ill, perhaps with cancer or pneumonia, sometimes they worked long or odd hours, or, during the war, perhaps they worked in the defense industries. Whatever the case may have been the WPA tried to help and, in the process, WPA workers earned modest paychecks. (Federal Works Agency, Final Report on the WPA Program, 1935-43, 1946, pp. 69, 87, and 134.)
All of this occurred during a time when the government was making a conversion from plutocracy to democracy, to a form of government that embraced the general welfare clause of the United States Constitution, and to a form of government that was truly of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Over the past few decades, we've reverted back into a plutocracy. Like a sick and twisted gravitational pull, the super-wealthy have put us back under their thumb (with the powerful assistance of middle & low-income voters who, for whatever reason, can't stop voting against their own economic interests). This new plutocracy can be seen, for example, with Trump's cabinet and administrative selections--full of billionaires and Goldman Sachs alumni--and it can also be seen by the current and vigorous efforts of congressional Republicans to kick millions of people off Medicaid in order to give massive tax cuts to their sociopathic, bloodthirsty donors - people who would gleefully allow people to die, if that's what it took to increase their wealth from $3.5 billion to $3.6 billion.
Look again at the photo above. That comes from a civilization that most Americans today have never even learned about, and--brainwashed by corporate media, distracted by celebrity-worship, and hypnotized by free-market fantasies--can't even comprehend. And so here we are in the 21st century, with a billionaire reality TV star in the White House (surrounded by Wall Street cronies and white supremacists), and watching our political "leaders" have a depraved discussion about which segment of the American population will be blocked from receiving adequate health care.
Isn't that pitiful?