Saturday, September 24, 2011
This Is Not My America
The middle class is diminishing. The "poor class" (ie, those in poverty) is increasing. The poor, the homeless, are starting to look more and more like you and me. What are our safety nets to keep us out of poverty? Unemployment, social security, Medicare/Medicaid, and welfare. What empowers us at all? Things like a minimum wage (which is hardly enough for anyone to live on anymore) and unions, which can at least fight back on behalf of workers. What does the GOP and Tea Party want to get rid of? All of the above. We've watched attacks on all of the above, all of the things that protect us. Our government has been happily chipping away at all of these safety nets since Reagan was President. It's not a coincidence that middle class salaries have remained flat for the past thirty years while the nation's wealthy continue to get richer, continue to get tax breaks despite the debt, and pay more and more into political coffers--and now, because of Citizens United v. FEC, are paying outright for politicians' campaign ads. The wealthy pay less tax now than they have in decades (loopholes, capital gains), yet they're complaining even more loudly that they pay too much. And for me to point this out is somehow my engaging in "class warfare."
Hardly. I just want the system to not be gamed so much in favor of those who don't even need a safety net.
But because we far outnumber (meaning we have more voting power) than the obscenely wealthy, they've got to do something to get us to vote against our own interests. So, you have propaganda networks like Fox News and pundits like Rush Limbaugh (who call people like Elizabeth Warren a "parasite") force-feeding bullshit down our throats. Their agenda is to convince us that they (the ones holding the wealth and power) know what's best for us and that anybody who disagrees is some pinko commie who wants to freeload on your tax dollars. Indeed, their latest tactic is to persuade us that the poor in this country aren't even poor. They have refrigerators! They have microwaves! They have a car. (And how true that is. Next to the poor in Bangladesh, our poor are nowhere near as poor.) Heaven forbid they have a way to chill their food or cook it or drive an old beater car with a dragging muffler so they can get to their minimum wage job at Wal-Mart.
And if they get sick, they don't have health insurance, so... "let them die."
It is so disheartening to me to see American citizens buy into this bullshit and feel this way about a fellow human being. THIS IS NOT MY AMERICA.
We used to pride ourselves on the fact that the promise of this great country was that if you finished school, were willing to work hard, and were a productive member of society, you would do okay. You could afford a house, a car, and live comfortably at the very least. You'd be able to afford a college education for your children and the next generation would be even better off. This has been flipped upside down on its head, and our vast unemployed "next generation" is saddled with six-figure college loan debt and they can't find a job.
Here's another thing to ponder: lately, I hear people joking that hey, maybe I should just commit a crime and go to jail. There, I at least get a roof over my head, clothing, food, and medical care.
When will we wake up? Perhaps it will be the day some corporation says to us: in exchange for $3 an hour, I will house you in an employee barracks and feed you three squares, too. We'll provide the medical care if you get sick. Your clothing and incidentals can be purchased in the company store with the money you make.
Then slavery sounds pretty good to you.
THIS IS NOT MY AMERICA.