Thursday, April 14, 2011

Shameless and Relentless

The Republican budget proposals rob the poor to pay the rich. There is no program they support that benefits working people. Yet there’s no treat for the rich that Republicans are not fighting for. And they never stop. When the economy’s booming, they say we can afford tax cuts for the wealthy and that we should bet Social Security on the stock market. When the economy’s tanking, they say that only tax cuts for the wealthy can stimulate the economy and that we can’t afford Social Security at all. They never stop trying to suck wealth out of the public to pay the rich. They never stop hunting any organization that seeks to equalize (democratize) power.

Two thought experiments will help illustrate these points. First, imagine the most cartoonish greedy CEO you can. Now think of the political and social policies he would support. Odds are these would place him somewhat to the right of the average Republican politician. But I think this CEO would still be welcome, if not celebrated, in today’s Republican party. Now imagine the cartoonish CEO gets a dose of pragmatism. He realizes he can’t get everything he wants right away. He sees he has to work incrementally. So he wraps up his true goals in arguments about “free markets,” “big government,” “rugged individualism,” and so on. After this change in tactics, our CEO is just a regular old Republican. You could picture this guy standing next to John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Paul Ryan, telling us why the rich need tax cuts and the average workers need pay cuts.

The second thought experiment is more of a challenge: Try to think of a single institution--whether it’s a government program, an organization, or a policy—that builds power or quality of life for ordinary or disadvantaged people and is not reviled by Republican politicians and conservative pundits. Hmm, what’s something really basic and humane? How about an organization that registers poor people to vote and advocates for affordable housing for the poor? That organization was called ACORN and was successfully destroyed by a right wing smear campaign. How about just the ability to sit down in a green space and enjoy a beautiful day? Green space? You mean the city park, maintained with tax dollars, where Republican donors want to build a casino? When are you doing this sitting? On the weekend after your 40-hour work week, which was created by the labor movement in the face of violent resistance from big business? Is the air your breathing clean or polluted? You get the picture. Give it a shot.

They never stop gobbling up our money and never stop hunting down resistance. It’s Ebenezer Scrooge meets Gestapo.


Camp Papa said...

I hope that people wii see that the repugs have over played their hand this time, with their proposal to gut Medicare.

Jenni said...

The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle get squeezed. This is the American Dream?

Elizabeth said...

The place where I work is one of those organizations that's doing great work among the poor and disadvantaged and that is highly supported by Republicans (most of our donors are big Rs).

I think this is still relatively common among faith-based non-profits. Leadership, policies and staff are more left-leaning, major donors are more right-leaning.

Just a little case study. :)

Dave said...

Liz, faith-based non-profits may be an exception to my theorem. It's great that y'all have Republicans who are big donors, and I know that lots of Repub individuals support orgs like yours. But I wonder if "Republican politicians and conservative pundits" would feel differently than those donors. Would Boehner, Beck, Cantor, and Limbaugh support your organization? I tend to think anything that addresses the root causes of inequality eventually becomes an enemy of the right.

Elizabeth said...

It's interesting...we've had quite a lot of support from Republican politicians (Kirk is coming to a talk this week that we're hosting). My guess is that's because less than 18% of our funding is from the govt (and most of that is city and state).

But here's where I think you're spot on...Republican politicians (can't speak for pundits) don't think it's the role of the *government* to care for the poor. Coburn, Demint and these guys will rail against govt. spending on these programs (major part of their ideologies), and yet are also well known for their support of faith-based institutions. Even the Heritage Foundation has a new website devoted to "serving the poor." Now, that might all be smoke and mirrors (because it's a popular topic right now) and their "fixes" only address a bit of the problem, not the root. But I don't think that Republican politicians (at least not all of them) are systematically against "care for the poor." It partly depends on who is doing the "caring."

Now you and I might say, "Hey, if you really care about something that much, shouldn't it affect the policies you want to create?" And maybe that's where, when push comes to shove, tax cuts, corporate friends and goodies mean more. I think it's a complicated topic.