More “Free” Stuff, Please
I am so sick of Republicans constantly bitching about “government handouts,” and people getting free stuff. During the 2008 campaign, GOP nominee Mitt Romney said “If you want more free stuff, then you should vote for the other guy.” It’s part of their core ideology. The mere idea that somewhere, someone is getting something free makes them positively apoplectic. I remember a quote from Newt Gingrich about unemployment insurance: “I don’t believe in giving people money for doing nothing.” If we went by that logic, we’d have to fire nearly every Republican in the House and Senate, as well as the President and his entire staff. We, the American people, have become host to a colony of parasites.
In true Orwellian perversion of the language, they’ve demonized the word ‘entitlement,’ which to them means Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. But if someone has paid for these programs all their working lives through mandatory tax deductions, I’d say they’re damned well entitled to them. They’re not entitlements, they’re earned benefits. They’re always going on about entitlement reform. Let me offer some advice; whenever you hear a Republican use the word reform, run! Reform to them means deform, destroy, or much more likely, privatize.
Here’s some more “free” stuff. If your house catches on fire and you call the fire department, do they charge you? (well, they do if it’s privatized, which it is in some places). If you call the police when a burglar is trying to break into your house, do you have to pay them? No, because you already have paid them; we all have, with our taxes. But Republicans will tell us how 40% of Americans don’t even pay taxes, so why should they get handouts? They neglect to say it’s because those people aren’t even earning enough to have to pay taxes. And even the poorest of us do pay sales and excise taxes on items we buy. Wages have been stagnating since the Reagan years, but that’s another topic. Other “free” stuff includes public education (for now), public libraries, roads, highways, bridges, and parks.
Now the whiny, commie pinko liberals want free college. Why would we want to do that? Well, nearly all the other developed nations do, because they consider educating tomorrow’s leaders an investment in the intellectual infrastructure. After WWII the G.I. Bill sent millions of veterans to school. The economic multiplier effect was that for every dollar spent on that program, it returned $7 into the economy in terms of higher wages for more highly educated workers. But try to get a conservative to differentiate between spending and investment. Okay, then, let’s just start with free tuition.
To the hardcore Right, working people are the “moocher class.” They have this narrative of makers and takers, where workers are taking from the rich (the makers), in the form of wages and hopefully, benefits. Why, the very idea. Let’s look at some real “free stuff.” For 200 years the oligarchs have resisted paying their share of taxes, framing it as the tyranny of the majority. All this time the real moochers have been the industrialists and the wealthy, which FDR called “economic royalists.” Some 40 years ago Ralph Nader coined the term “corporate welfare,” referring to the tax breaks and government subsidies. Every year, for example, the fossil fool industry receives over $500 billion in government subsidies of one kind or another. That’s almost the same as the defense budget, another program for the welfare queens in the defense contracting industry. A vast majority of farm subsidies go to the industrial food giants, like Cargill, Con-Agra, and Archer Daniels Midland. Big Pharma, Monsanto, Dow, Dupont and other giants get their share, too.
Do you know what capital gains taxes are? That’s the tax that people pay not by labor or creating something, but making money with money. The top marginal rate right now for people who actually DO something is 39.4%. But people who sit on their fat asses by the pool waiting for their dividend check, those people only pay 20%. At present that rate is 23.8%, the increase being as a result of Obamacare, and those funds go to pay for the Medicaid expansion. What a bunch of moochers. And right now they’re lobbying Republicans to remove that extra tax “burden.”
How do all these tax breaks and subsidies come to pass, literally? Today there are something like 36,000 registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C. who represent political positions from left to right. But the latter has by far the advantage, because many of the most powerful people in the country send their lobbyists to garner things like tax breaks and subsidies. Add to that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that spending money in politics is a form of free speech, and you can begin to smell the stink of filthy corruption.
All of this was already present before the Trumpino crime family moved in and began dismantling what consumer protections we have. There’s some other free stuff I would like; being free to breathe clean air, to drink clean water without lead in it, and to eat food free from contamination by E-coli, lysteria, and salmonella.
Right now, many cities and states have budgets in the red, especially the red states. They can’t afford to fix potholes in the roads, repair the crumbling bridges, or fund public education. And that’s because they lack the city or state revenues, and that’s because the real moocher class — the wealthy elite and multi-national corporations — aren’t paying their fair share of taxes. These are the people getting all the free stuff. Imagine a business that builds itself into multi million dollar enterprise. Think of all the roads, bridges, rail, phone and internet communications they must have used. To not want to pay for that much usage of our infrastructure is just plain un-American.
The 1950s through the 1970s were probably the most prosperous in our history. The top marginal tax rate was 91%, then LBJ lowered it to 74%, nearly double today’s 39.6%. The rich were doing just fine, thank you, but nearly everyone was. We built an interstate highway system, and thousands of schools and hospitals. That infrastructure isn’t going to get repaired under the current administration, which is more concerned with taking more from the needy to give to the wealthy. So enjoy your “free” stuff while you can, because pretty soon the only people getting (even more( “free stuff” will be the elites.
We have no choice but to resist this monstrosity. I’m not talking about 50,000,000 people in the streets. Lots of people may not be able to take a day off from work, if they can get it, to go protest somewhere. And if they’re arrested they can’t afford a lawyer. There are many ways to resist. Choosing where to spend your money is a political, as is what you eat. If you only resist in your mind, that’s a start. Resistance always works, because it creates friction in the systems that try to oppress. Look at all the public outpouring at members of Congress offices, over a disastrous health care bill. A few more Republicans got worried about losing their seats, and that was enough to sink the bill. So we must resist. As Commander Taggart said in “Galaxy Quest,” “Never give up. Never surrender.” And I might add, try not to lose heart.