Tuesday, October 23, 2012

We Deserve Better Than A Government For Millionairese

There was a quote in my local morning paper that said, "if you want a government of the millionaires, by the millionaires, and for the millionaires, than Ann Wagner and Mitt Romney deserve your vote," Glenn Koenen, Democratic candidate for the U.S,. House District 2 of my home state of Missouri.

I do not disparage wealthy people, heck, I am descended from land owners and people of means. I grew up solidly middle class on a middle class street as one of the only families with children and one of the only black families.  My home had three full bathrooms (in 1972!), 5 bedrooms, deep walk-in closets, high ceilings, full basement, almost a quarter acre of back yard, surround sound, on and on.  A huge home that at one time housed parents, grandparents, children (6), and for one summer, grandsons (5)!  We all had plenty of food, summer vacations (often two), monthly allowance, wonderful Christmases and a playroom.  We had our own TVs and record players and a step-mother who didn't have to work but chose to take on the 11p-7a shift at the hospital.  We were very comfortable growing up.  We had two cars, and ability to engage in the activities we wanted.  There were books everywhere, a strong sense of duty and history, and college was expected.  I do not disparate wealthy people or highly successful people, I grew up in a home that was financially comfortable.

What I do have very little patience for is the vitriol against the poor, against the working classes, against the less wealthy, against the ones who have lost it all during the recession and are struggling to hold onto their gains.  I have very little patience for the 1%, heck the 3%, the 5% that think their wealth means they have no obligations to the society that enabled them to obtain that wealth.  Enjoy your success, you earned it, enjoy the ski vacations and custom made golf clubs, but also, honor your debt to society, for you do have a debt.  Whether you inherited your wealth or earned it, you have a greater burden to help pay for the infrastructure you enjoy - you know, those paved roads, street lights, and police force you seem to love so dearly.  You have a responsibility, that is what makes you American.

The whole scream about taxes is simply overprivileged whining.  The tax rate is lower now than it was during President Clinton's administration - the last magical time in the 1990s when the economy was strong and growing.  Everyone was able to step up, to see themselves achieving what their abilities allowed.  There was a place for private businesses (I worked for one) and a place for strong unions that enabled our public servants to live decently while stepping into often dangerous places.  We had a social contract.

I told some of my students that the recession dated back to the 1980s when then President Ronald Reagan began his dismantling of public service unions (air traffic controllers) and his quest to privatize everything.  Social security vouchers have been a lust for the Republicans every since they figured out they could eck out even more money from the public coffers if they could coerce people to "invest" in the market - the very market that the greed the likes of Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers caused to collapse in 2007. It took a long time for the walls to come crumbling down, chip by chip, until the foundation crashed just before President Obama was elected.  Greed and war were unsustainable through Bush's lust for power (two unnecessary wars that were not funded) and illogical quest to trickle the money back up and by any means necessary, keep it there.

The lid blew off the tops of the uber wealthy and their poorer working class (mostly white) constituents who also lost jobs, houses, and savings but still had hope in the great white dream of American exceptionalism and prosperity if they just pulled themselves up by their bootstraps.  They needed a place to put their anger and what better place than the newly elected black president with the funny name? They had to otherize him in order to distract the Fox News crowd from the sheer oligarchy they were trying to put in place.  The tea party rallies of the 2008-2010 season that brought in the tidal wave of ultra conservative representatives was funded by the Koch Brothers.  The Citizens United brought down the gauntlet on the American democratic process and opened up the floodgates of special interest money in every election from a local judge to the Presidency.  It is about money and power for the uber wealthy, the 1%, and they care nothing about the rest of the country.

Wealthy business owners forced their employees to attend a Romney campaign rally - without pay, they sent memos to their employees threatening their job if Romney was not elected and even forcing them to make donations, they put up billboards of fear in black and latino communities to incite fear of criminal action if they voted, they have obstructed the right to vote, and have done everything just short of trying to steal another election - all in their quest for power.

We are at a crossroads for the very heart and fiber of this country.  It is time to stop allowing the very wealthy to use tactics of fear, religion, and misogyny to foster their insatiable lust for power and money at the expense of the rest of the country, far more than the 47%, who work hard every day - baristas at the coffee shop where I am typing this blog, the physicians assistant at my doctor's office, the cashier at our locally owned grocery store, the teacher's assistant in my daughters' classrooms, the elderly crossing guard at their school, the maintenance man in my townhouse community - all working hard, providing for their families, and not in the top 1%, all decent people who need someone in office who does have their best interest at heart.

There are fundamental differences between Candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama.  President Obama has brought substance to each of his debates while candidate Romney brought lies and complete disdain for the black man, the latino man, women, the poor, and everyone else who is not in his upper echelons.  His lust for power has complete distanced him from the true and present needs of the country - and his GOP handlers know this.  They have been trying to get a puppet in office so they can respond to their master, Grover Norquist, and his mantra against taxes, so they can bring back the Gilded Age (Todd Akin of Missouri wants to completely eliminate the minimum wage) and wants a populace that is desperately poor, uneducated, and enslaved.

We can do better, we have to.  

I have nothing against the wealthy, there are plenty of them in my family and in my circles, the difference, is that they have a heart and a conscious, they understand the privilege they have and the responsibility they carry.  President Obama said "people like you and me" do not need a tax break.  He knows and many of the so-called job creators also know that they are not going to hire anyone new if they get that big tax cut - they are going to send it over to the Caymen Islands like Mitt Romney's private yaugt that was flying a foreign flag.

We, the people of the United States, deserve a government that is for the rest of us, not a government for the millionaires and billionaires that threaten their employees if the "right" candidate is not elected, that destroy any chance for anyone else to achieve their fullest potential.

We can do better.

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