Sunday, May 14, 2017

After destroying our livelihoods and retirements, and after constant attacks on unions and the social safety net, the super-wealthy want us to pee into cups, so they can determine what’s "wrong" with us

"Don’t blame Wall Street. Don’t blame the big banks. If you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself."

--Herman Cain, Republican candidate for President, 2011 ("Hermanomics: Let them eat Pizza," Washington Post, October 15, 2011.

Above: New Dealers didn't think poverty shaming or assumptions of drug abuse were the best way to deal with unemployment. Instead, they thought useful public jobs could preserve skills and restore dignity. For example, the WPA workers you see above are renovating the historic Pontalba Buildings in New Orleans, 1936. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

For decades now, super-wealthy Americans have sent millions of jobs overseas; have cut job benefits and resisted wage increases; have demonized unions; have committed wide-scale financial fraud; and, through their network of think tanks, advocacy groups, media outlets, and political puppets in federal and state governments, they have engaged in perpetual attacks on the social safety net - unemployment insurance, food stamps, Medicaid, Social Security, etc. (see, e.g., "Peter Peterson Spent Nearly Half A Billion In Washington Targeting Social Security, Medicare," Huffington Post, May 15, 2012).

All of these activities have killed the American Dream. Our wages have stagnated; job security has gone the way of the Dodo Bird; our retirements have been put in jeopardy; student loan debt is over $1.4 trillion and growing; you're much less likely to earn more than your parents; "Fifty-seven percent of Americans don’t have enough cash to cover a $500 unexpected expense"; and the list of damage done by the 1% goes on and on.

Meanwhile, the super-wealthy are enjoying record wealth, and their citizen-marionettes gleefully declare that we can't afford to fund any domestic programs. If it isn't military spending or tax-breaks-for-the-rich, then conservatives cry out like banshees, "We can't afford it!!" And Republicans like Herman Cain (see the quote at the top of this blog post) feel that no matter how much fraud is perpetrated on the American public, it's still the individual's fault. Apparently, personal responsibility only applies if you're middle-class or poor.

Above: In this WPA Workers Education class in Calumet, Minnesota, ca. 1935-1943, issues facing unions are discussed. New Dealers understood the value of unions, and took many steps to strengthen them. Republicans, before they were completely commandeered by super-wealthy Americans, also promoted and understood the value of unions (see, e.g., the Republican Party Platform of 1956). Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

As if their destruction of the American Dream was not bad enough, the super-wealthy--through their political puppets across the nation--are feverishly trying to get us to pee into cups, to determine what the heck is "wrong" with us - after they've taken our jobs away and we need unemployment benefits - or when we are so poor (thanks to their greed) that we need cash assistance, food stamps, or Medicaid. Consider just a few examples:

"House GOP Reopens Push to Drug Test the Unemployed," U.S. News & World Report, February 14, 2017.

"Republicans are allowing states to drug test people applying for unemployment benefits," Salon, May 11, 2017.

"Wisconsin seeks to mandate drug tests for Medicaid recipients," Boston Globe, April 25, 2017.

"Food Stamp Drug Testing Could Become A Thing: A senior Republican says it’s the compassionate thing to do," Huffington Post, February 12, 2016.

As you can see, the rich are desperate for our pee. They think--since we're not rich like them--there MUST be something wrong with us. We MUST be on drugs. So, they send orders to their political puppets: "Test them!"

Above: President Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act into law on August 14, 1935. New Dealers did more for the retirement security of Americans than any other policymakers in American history. In addition to Social Security, they strengthened labor unions - unions which, in turn, fought for and obtained better fixed-pensions. They also created FDIC, which protects savings accounts. In modern times, the rich have launched assaults against both fixed-pensions and Social Security (in the future, they'll probably try to dismantle FDIC). As a result, America is facing a retirement crisis. In his Second Bill of Rights speech, Roosevelt advocated for "The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age" (State of the Union Message to Congress, January 11, 1944). Unfortunately, the American people forgot about Roosevelt, the New Deal, and the Second Bill of Rights. Instead, they've been vacillating between neoliberalism and fascism for decades now, unaware of other alternatives. And now they're paying the price for that New Deal amnesia. Photo courtesy of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum.

Here's the funny thing about drug testing and public benefits: The rich use illegal drugs too. See, for example, "Heroin use rising among women and wealthy" (CBS News, July 7, 2015). And, like everyone else, the rich receive public benefits, for example, preferential tax treatment at the state level, and also for capital gains (i.e., rich people income); free money for the banks they own; oil subsidies; a generous mortgage interest tax deduction for up to two homes; preferential treatment in the criminal justice system; a military whose primary purpose is to protect (and enhance) their worldwide assets and dividend income; and so on. These enormous benefits save them loads of money - money which they can then use to purchase cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, and other illegal drugs. So... shouldn't they be drug-tested too, since they're receiving public benefits? Why should the federal and state governments subsidize their illegal drug use?

This hypocrisy, of course, is an abomination - promulgated by the rich, and excused by tens of millions of voters who have mindlessly put their faith in the rich to manage and supervise their lives via campaign donations, lobbying, fraud, captured regulatory agencies, and the revolving door between Wall Street and government. These millions of voters, no doubt, also see no problem with peeing for the wealthy. Can't you just hear them now? "I don't mind, I've got nothing to hide! Do you??" - privacy, fairness, and constitutional protections be damned.

What a debacle. What a scam. What a hideous outcome of crony capitalism. The super-wealthy crush people's lives, in order to enrich themselves, and then try to order the people they've crushed to pee into cups to determine what's "wrong" with them. Wow!

To restore the American Dream, and basic justice, it's clear we need New Deal II.

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