Thursday, May 22, 2014

Class Warfare 2

I got two emails about my first post on the need to fight back hard against the class warfare being waged by the Right. One came from a Conservative friend who is by no means a rich man but is very, very concerned about the economy and our national debt and deficit, and believes that if you push the rich too hard they’ll go away, and jobs and the very underpinnings of our economy will disappear. It seemed that all he got from that post was that I was advocating for higher taxes on the rich. The other came from a Liberal friend who said he and his wife had been politically active for decades, often to no avail and frequently suffering harsh and ridiculous response from within the ranks, which is why he’s now a burnt-out recluse and won’t do much anymore.

While I am all for increasing taxes on the rich (not the 80%-90% it was during the Eisenhower years, but a healthy 30% they can’t avoid through tax loopholes, hiding their money offshore, or special privilege), higher taxes on the rich wasn’t all I had in mind. And, I too was more politically active for decades than I am now, and learned that victories are often minimal and your “friends” can be really annoying, short-sighted, easily distracted, rigid and hostile. Trying to organize the Left is like trying to corral a bunch of smart kids suffering from ADD wandering around a large room.

So let me get to the guts of this hopefully more explanatory post by saying this: class warfare – which, ironically, the rich usually accuse the poor of initiating with their commie-inspired protests and other carrying on – is not just about money. It’s about a combination of economic fairness, social justice, how we view each other, and how we view the role and responsibility of government. We, the 97% who are struggling, for the most part see things differently than do the 3% who are very rich. Politically, the 97% isn’t united. What we have in common is that we’re all having a very hard time – a situation created by the 3%. Which is why, God help us, we have to try to get together and push back.

Now nearly every member of Congress and the Senate is a millionaire to one degree or another, and both bodies are largely white and male, all of which makes it difficult for them to understand the plights of ordinary people. Add to this the impact of the demented Tea Party, whose original concerns were economic (like my Conservative friend), but which came to include social issues over time with positions based in Christian Fundamentalism. Their strident ├╝ber conservatism completed the co-opting of the Republican party that began when the sanctified Ronald Reagan said our national problems weren’t about dysfunction in government, the problem was government itself. Then Wall Street collapsed and America elected a Black president who intended to use progressive approaches to financial and social issues and all hell broke loose.

When the people who run government don’t believe in government, government doesn’t run well. When government is run by people with money, privilege and power, government will not make policy that creates/provides economic fairness and social justice. When you throw religious ideas into the mix, which have no place in government to begin with, you end up with wildly unbalanced economics, a huge lack of social justice, and very twisted views of one another and the role and responsibility of government. In other words, you end up where we are now.

The Right is telling us that the rich are job creators and the poor have brought their problems on themselves, neither of which is true. They also tell us that unrestricted free-market capitalism is the best and only way to go, which it isn’t. They say it isn’t government’s responsibility to help us, which it is. And their primary goal is to generate profit from everything and to maintain a massively expensive and totally unexamined system of military defense, which is insane. They say government should be small, when what it should be is efficient, regardless of its size.

They say government should not intrude into people’s personal lives, except when it comes to women having control over their own bodies and people having the right to love and marry who they choose, even if they’re of the same sex. They say racism no longer exists, which is a lie; that science is wrong about everything, which is religion talking; and that government can’t afford to pay for things like healthcare, social services, education, infrastructure repair, or to fight poverty and hunger – all of which is precisely what government should spend its money on.

The Left is speaking out against all this, but not very loudly and not in a unified voice. Which is why government is getting nowhere – or moving in the exactly opposite and wrong direction – when it comes to major reforms in tax policy, immigration, unemployment/job creation, the role of money in electoral politics, voter suppression, gun policy, economic gender inequities, environmental protection, the better understanding and use of new technology, creative and enlightened foreign policy, prison policy, drug policy, and all the other things mentioned in the paragraph above. These are the reasons we’re already engaged in class warfare and why we have to fight back harder and better. Nothing less than our survival – individually, as a people, and as a country – is at stake. I hope I’ve made my argument clearer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As usual, I've been away from the computer for a while and just read this blog. I agree 100% with you. We, the people are not engaged. Our passion, our loyalty, our love of country died on 9/11. We're like dry husks blowing whichever way the wind blows - so when the negative, screaming air bags regurgitate on TV, we nod our heads and eat another potato chip because we don't have to think.

We need voices like yours and we need to be reminded over and over what we were taught in the old days when we were ALL Americans who were lovers of our country, and we believed it was the best in the world. We're disillusioned when we learn that those who run for the office of senator or even congressperson become millionaires very quickly. Isn't that strange? Why/how do we think that happens?

Those who have family, children, old people, or any loved ones need to wake up and find out what is really happening. People such as you are trying to do that and I applaud you and appreciate you. Keep up the good work.