As the right wing celebrates their victory over middle class working people in Wisconsin today, they should be cautioned not to enjoy this moment too much. I am reminded of the similar "success" of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor awakening the US, which ultimately ensured their defeat too.
The middle class of this nation has been anesthetized and misled for a generation now. For the past 30 years a cynical, mean spirited and very successful campaign has been systematically employed to all but eliminate the tax burden of corporations and the wealthy minority who own the vast majority of their stocks, while at the same time transferring the tax burden onto the backs of the working class and creating massive national debt. Never before in history, including even the obscene concentration of wealth that culminated in the crash of 1929, has so much wealth been taken from one class and gifted to another. All the while the masses were fed the line that THEY were getting a tax cut too, which was nominally true.
While the average middle class family did see their taxes cut by a few hundred dollars here and there, the top 5% were seeing their taxes cut by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, per year. Pied Pipers like Reagan, Rush, Beck, Armey and the Koch brothers have misled them to the brink of near complete annihilation but overconfidence and bold faced greed have finally caused the masses to stir. Hopefully it is not too late to salvage what made this country great and special, namely the fact that in the not too distant past, it was possible in this country for working people to get a fair shake, a piece of the pie that their hard work and intelligence helped to create. In America, once upon a time, we could all dream of better times and that dream could come true.
Class warfare is only to be spoken of when the working class attempts to fight back and stem the tide of greed and avarice being directed at them from above. What did the middle class lose in exchange for a few hundred dollars? No longer can a family hope to see their children go to a well funded public school or afford decent health care, let alone save for a comfortable retirement. College tuition at State Universities has soared while classes have been cut, so a four year degree now takes five years and the cost of each year has tripled. Our highways, bridges, mass transit systems, water and sewage treatment plants are antiquated and failing. Environmental protection hampers the freedom of the corporations to maximize their profits, so science must be ridiculed, ignored or buried. Our standard of living, for the first time in a century, is in decline.
Republicans, serving their masters dutifully, would like to give you a voucher that would cover a fraction of the cost of an actual high quality education, like the children of the wealthy already get in private schools. While you will not be able to afford the extra money to actually send your children to that wonderful school, the wealthy folks will get the same voucher and use that to help pay for a portion of the tuition they would otherwise have had to pay in full, while the public schools will have that amount drained from their resources, ensuring that your children will get a lower quality education than they would have if the vouchers had never been allowed.
I really love it when Republicans attempt to mislead us by deliberately confusing having the best health care AVAILABLE with having "the best health care SYSTEM in the world!" They will tell you how Kings and world leaders come here to get the best of care. They will tell you how even Canadians come here for health care. They won't tell you that while we have the best technology and doctors here, there is in fact NO "system" that allows the average citizen access to them! Those world class medical services are only available to those who can afford to pay for them.
Even if you have health care insurance you may find that your insurance company will deny you the transplant or operation you need because THEIR "death panel" has determined that the transplant you need is "optional" and therefore they won't pay. Of course it's optional only if you want to live, but hey, why split hairs? I have read that 70% of all Americans who declared bankruptcy were forced to do so because of medical bills that were not covered by their insurance. Some system!
Republicans are so nice to help the wealthiest few at the expense of the majority, let's give them a hand! They've been working overtime these past 30 years and they've done an awesome job. Let's give them more time to enjoy the fruits of their labors by sending them home to enjoy their retirement so that we can begin to pick up the pieces and rebuild a once great middle class of REAL Americans!
2012 is coming sooner than they think. Let's not forget Pearl Harbor, Wisconsin!
Lowell Grant lives in Lakeport, CA. His frequent contributions to the Opinion pages of the local Record Bee newspaper provide fascinating historical perspectives as well as thoughtful insights into American politics today. Below commentaries appear in chronological order.
2009-04-01 The Whole Truth !
2009-04-20 Who Was Ayn Rand?
2009-09-09 Why the Double Standard?
All items are reprinted with permission from Mr. Grant.
April 1, 2009 ~ Letter
to the Editor~ LakeCounty
The WHOLE truth!
I read a letter in this column a
week or so ago in which the writer stated that it cost the government over
$500,000 to create a job under the new stimulus package and that we should
instead turn that money over to private enterprise, since they are so much more
efficient at job creation.
The oath we take in the courtroom
is The truth, the WHOLE truth and nothing but the truth and this is the
perfect example of how a half truth can be misleading.
In this case, the WHOLE truth is
that the writer simply divided the amount of money the stimulus package will
cost by the number of jobs created and came up with that number. He completely
ignored the fact that we, the people, were getting far more than mere jobs for
We will have bridges that are long
past their designed life span replaced with new, safer bridges. Ask the people
in Minnesota how important that is; since they had a major bridge collapse
costing many lives last year. We will have decomposing roads rebuilt. We will
have high speed mass transit connecting major cities. We will have thousands of
new classrooms built. 50,000 teachers will have their jobs saved from budget
cuts that will benefit 1,500,000 students. Communities will get new sewer and
water systems. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
To simply ignore any of the
tangible benefits that we will derive from the stimulus package is cynical at
best, dishonest at worst and completely misleading.
Turn the money over to private
enterprise? No kidding! Enron, Worldcom, Lehman Bros., Merrill Lynch,
Countrywide Mortgage, AIG and Goldman Sachs are all private enterprises. They,
and many others like them, are directly responsible for the pain we are now
suffering worldwide. Millions of good, hard working people have had their life
savings decimated, while the CEOs and highest echelon of the corporations
employees have become wealthy beyond all imagination, at our expense. They have
rewarded each other richly for perpetrating the greatest fraud in history.
CEOs compensation is set by their
Boards of Directors, who have mostly remained anonymous to this point. It is
very common that a CEO from one company sits on the Board of another company
and vice versa. So its like I will vote for astronomical pay for you, then you
do the same for me! The common shareholders rarely have a say and so the
profits, instead of being distributed fairly, are more often divided mainly by
the elite employees of the company while the shareholders get a few cents per
All this is facilitated by having
the government regulatory agencies being stifled by management, appointed by
the administration, whose job it is to shield the industry from the regulations
meant to control it. Instead of watchdogs protecting the people, we have
lapdogs, protecting the industries.
Both parties share blame. The
current system is debauched. It is now a full time job for each Congressman and
Senator to raise funds for re-election. Lobbyists ply the halls of Congress
nonstop in search of votes that can be bought. While the Republicans get the
lions share of this corporate funding, the Democrats get just enough to keep
them on the hook as well. For instance, big oil companies donate about 75% of
their money to Republicans, but give the other 25% to the Democrats, who
apparently can be bought for less. Exxon-Mobil, the worlds most profitable
corporation in history, gets billions in tax breaks every year and pays little
to nothing for the oil and gas pumped from our Federal lands. 20 years after
causing the greatest environmental disaster in history, Exxon has not yet paid
a dime of the billions it owes in judgments against it. Their political money
has been well spent.
So, apologies if I laugh out loud
whenever I hear the argument that we should turn everything over to private
industry because they are so great. Its also true our government has not done
its job well to date but the solution is not to abandon it. The world is far
too complex for us to disembowel our government. Our citizens must be aware of
the WHOLE truth and they must insist on our representatives actually
representing OUR interests, not the corporations. Teddy Roosevelt was a great
Republican who devoted his presidency to not only protecting the environment
but also to Trust busting so that the people would not be savaged by
unregulated greed and avarice of the big corporations. Half truths are
misleading and do not help us move towards a solution.
April 20, 2009 ~ Letter
to the Editor ~ LakeCounty Record Bee
Who was Ayn Rand?
Recently we were asked who a
fictional character was from a book that has had a dramatic effect on all of
our lives, although you may not yet realize this. The non-existent John Galt
was the hero of Atlas Shrugged which was written by Ayn Rand and became a
widely read and influential manifesto for a society that enshrines Darwinian survival of the fittest thinking. I read this book and Ayn Rands earlier
book, The Fountainhead, as well as many other economic books from different
viewpoints. Where I went to school students were exposed to the full range of
economic philosophy, not just one side or the other.
The theme we are constantly
bombarded with these days is that the eastern elite schools only teach
communism, yet Ayn Rand lectured at Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Johns
Hopkins and MIT. I guess if a university teaches anything OTHER than extremist
right wing philosophy they must be evil by that faulty logic!
I have had several of my
conservative friends send me e-mails during the past year with the exact same Who was John Galt heading, all calling him the hero and wailing that all who
would stand in his way of unfettered freedom to realize his goals without any
government interference or regulation are depicted as evil. At one point in the
book Galts character (its important to remember he is not, nor ever was a
real person) stabbed to death a bureaucrat who had the audacity to stand in his
way, declaring after that no one else stood in my way! How inspirational!
To understand who Galts character
was, we need to know who Ayn Rand was. Her real name was Alice Rosenbaum, born
and educated in Russia. Her father, Fronz Rosenbaum was a chemist who lost
everything to the brutal Communist revolution led by Lenin. Knowing that she
was traumatized by witnessing her parents having everything they had worked for
being confiscated by an extremist dictatorship, its easy to understand why she
saw the world in simplistic black and white without any middle ground.
One of her most ardent admirers was
Alan Greenspan, who presided over our economy during the recent orgy of
unregulated excess that has dumped us at depressions doorstep. In recent
testimony before Congress he testified that I was shocked, SHOCKED, that the
bankers could not be trusted to self regulate! No kidding, he actually said
those words. I didnt know whether to feel sorry or angry at his naivete.
As James Madison said, If all men
were angels we would have no need of laws, much less of government. Well, here
in the real world, all men are not angels. If anyone would like to see a
current working example of a country where there is no government interference
with entrepreneurs realizing their dreams, no taxation and no gun control, look
no farther than to see what life is like in Somalia. Its obvious to me that we
must have a government to ensure fairness and to protect those who cant
protect themselves from greed and avarice.
The flip side of this lawlessness
is Communism, which destroys all hope of genius reaching its potential and
smothers any spark of excellence. Everything is owned and operated by the
government and the citizen is reduced to nothing more than a tooth on a gear
going around in circles. One day, or one year, is just like another.
As is true in most things, the
correct place to be is somewhere in the middle. In our society we have come to
understand that some things are too big or too vital to be left to private
entrepreneurs without oversight, but that the individual must at the same time
be allowed to realize their dreams. We enjoy social programs that build
highways, bridges, educate all children equally, help care for the elderly,
etc. While we have many social programs, we also have created more millionaires
and now billionaires than any other country in the world. Many studies have
proven that the happiest people on earth live in countries that call themselves socialist, which is only confused with communist by the ignorant. Socialism
is not a dirty word even though it is used as a smear by those who dont know
September 9, 2009 ~ Letter to the Editor ~LakeCounty Record Bee
Why the double standard?
Football is a graphic war game
and one of America's
most popular sports. The ultimate goal of every man on the field is to simply
destroy his opponent. From the second the ball is snapped each player has his
assignment and regardless of his position, it is to lay his counterpart flat on
his back, or to "pancake" him. The ultimate is of course to knock your opponent
out of the game. I must admit to still relishing the memory of Ronnie Lott, not
only because he was fast and played smart, nearly always being in the right
spot, but mostly because when he got to that spot he delivered a blow that
rattled his man down deep in his bones.
the decision was made that when a deranged fan jumped out onto the field,
either dressed or undressed, the cameras would not reward this bad behavior by
televising it. Instead another shot would be shown, maybe of the players or
coaches looking on with disgust as security corralled and escorted the usually
drunken fan off the field to the cheers of all else. Bear in mind that this
level of decorum is exhibited during one of the most violent sports we watch.
ask where I'm going with this. Well, for the past couple of months we have had
the spectacle of hatriots showing up at town halls and at every other
opportunity, carrying graphic photos of our president in disgraceful
depictions, most of which are completely disconnected from reality. Others have
now taken to showing up wearing pistols and carrying automatic weapons, calling
for nothing less than the assassination of our president proudly and openly.
How has the
media responded? By rewarding their bad behavior with massive airtime of course,
disproportionate to their numbers and ignoring any semblance of fairness or
facts that might bear their hatred out. Do the media outlets bother to mine
down to the facts, asking these people for specific instances that might back
up their demonstrations of seething hatred? They don't even attempt to focus on
the issues, instead they simply provide a worldwide bullhorn for the hatriots.
The next time you hear the tired old saw about the "liberal media bias" please
bear this in mind. Every major news outlet, from cable to broadcast TV, most
newspapers and radio stations are owned and operated by huge corporations. Many
of these are owned by Rupert Murdoch, who is anything but fair and balanced in
his political viewpoints.
is there a debate about the issues taking place but instead we get the
spectacle of nearly rabid outpouring of hatred. Maybe its simply human nature.
Combat between humans has gone on from the earliest times. First between family
groups or tribes with sticks and rocks, then between city states or nations, on
to the Roman Coliseum where spectators enjoyed watching lions devour Christians
as the closing act, graduating to using ever more destructive weapons. Today,
the single biggest industry, especially here in the United States, is producing weapons
designed solely for the purpose of killing other humans. We not only produce
more military hardware than any other nation, we produce more than the next 10
countries combined! We are the only animal that hunts itself. We often go to
war with countries that have never attacked us first.
ever be able to grow beyond our most base instincts to adopt the kindness and
caring for even the most unfortunate that Christ is said to have lived and died
for? Will my granddaughter grow up in a world at peace? I hope so, but with
each baseless snarling hatriot episode being given unlimited airtime and
celebrity, it becomes more doubtful.