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Monday, August 10, 2015

Game of Groans: How focus on Trump Taunts hides GOP war on Middle Class, Workers



By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –
The condition of late capitalism produces a press discourse strangely devoid of any mention of class. Last Thursday we had 10 rich white males on a debate stage seeking to represent the billionaire class (some 536 individuals in US, who have more wealth than the bottom half of the US population).
US billionaires are getting richer at a time when wages for working and middle class people have not kept pace with increases in productivity.Working and middle class Americans, unlike the stock market (80% of which is owned by the top 20% of the population), have never recovered from the bust of 2008. And no, it was not caused by ordinary people trying to live above their means. It was caused by bankers who were venal and corrupt and stole enormous sums from the public.
So what did the would-be representatives of the super-wealthy want? They wanted to take away health care from tens of millions of Americans. Why would you want to do that? Having to contribute to health care for the US public is an inconvenience to the business classes, many of whom don’t want Obamacare.
They want to take away your medicaid and social security. Again, this step is in the interest of the super-wealthy who don’t want the government to run such large entitlement programs for fear that Washington will end up taxing them for the operation. (In fact, social security would be healthier if the wealthy had to pay into it according to full income; at the moment, there is a cut-off for payments, which saves the billionaires a lot of money.)
So folks this is an amazing tableau. We had 10 persons up there who openly announce that they want to ruin the lives of the majority of Americans. Before social security, the aged were the poorest segment of the population and a lot of old people just died of poverty. Now, the elderly are a well-off demographic on the whole. The 10 dwarves want to take that away from us. (By the way, private pension plans are next to useless for a lot of people, because the companies go bankrupt before they ever have to pay out, and the workers get screwed).
For camouflage purposes, Jeb Bush and John Kasich even bring up the problem of the hardships of the middle class (they won’t say workers), but they do it in a tut-tut sort of way with few practical plans to help. And their actual policies as governors were not good for workers.
One important help that could be given the working poor is to raise the minimum wage, which has fallen way behind inflation.
All ten are against this step. In fact, some of them want to get rid of the $7.25 minimum wage! Because they aren’t there to help workers, they are there to help super-wealthy businessmen.
Groups representing the billionaires, like ALEC, have managed to defund state universities and push their costs off onto the middle class, basically privatizing them because our selfish business class doesn’t want to pay its fair share for education by paying progressive state taxes. This development has led to massive student debt.
The GOP 10 express concern about this problem, but most of them don’t have practicable plans to reverse these trends and return our state colleges and universities to their original mission of affordable education for all.
A lot of them want a flat tax, which hurts the middle class and vastly helps the billionaires. A businessman who owns a fleet of trucks is engaged in tearing up the highways, which have to be repaired every year. The taxes on the trucks only pay for a fraction of this public spending. The truck billionaire should pay more for the use of a public good like highways. The family of four making $20,000 a year who take public transport into work are not tearing up the roads in the same way. They should pay a smaller proportion of their income in taxes. A flat tax would vastly accelerate the concentration of wealth in a few hands, something the US public says it doesn’t want. In fact, the tax system needs to be made more progressive, as it was in the era of President Eisenhower.
Unfortunately for the GOP candidates, you can’t win a US presidential election with 400 votes. So they have to appeal to a wider public. They can’t appeal to that public on a platform of screwing them over for the sake of their donors (or in Donald Trump’s case, for his own sake).
So then they play identity politics. They use a dog whistle to suggest they are the representatives of white people. They go after the 25% of Americans who are evangelicals and the 20% who are Catholics by promising to make the 16,000 women a year impregnated by rapists bear their rapists’ children.
That’s right. The GOP platform supports the fatherly rights of the rapist element in society.
About a fourth of the evangelicals aren’t impressed, and care about social issues, so they vote for the Democratic Party. The Catholics are fairly evenly split. Still, if you can bamboozle tens of millions of believers by promoting the rights of blastocysts over those of raped women, well that’s better than losing right off the bat because only the Koch Brothers like your economic ideas.
It is the Democrats who manage sometimes to bring up a few of the issues harming workers and the Middle Class. But most of them feel they need billionaire campaign money, too, so there are red lines they won’t cross. Bernie Sanders is the major exception here. He is forthright in talking about class inequities. That is why he is largely ignored by the MSM (which is owned by billionaire corporations) and alarms the punditocracy inside the beltway, most of whom are tied to the Establishment.
In the meantime, in the face of all these problems facing working people, we instead get coverage of some billionaire loudmouth who is a good diversion. The dispute between him and Megyn Kelly is between a billionaire and a multi-millionaire. It isn’t about women. Trump is angry at press lord Rupert Murdoch, who owns Fox, for having her go after him. In fact, the real innovation of Trump was to cut out the middle man, and just go straight for an open plutocracy, such that he isn’t beholden to Murdoch and the other 535.
In a society with, like, actual journalism, more time would be devoted on cable television to Sanders’s suggestions for increasing social justice than to food fights among rich people.
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20 comments:

  1. Simply put, a large portion of the population (read: Republican voters) would rather be poor, and feel racially superior, than be rich, and live in an Equal society.

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  2. Hillary Rodham Clinton will announce a $350 billion plan Monday to make college affordable and relieve the burden of student debt for millions of Americans, drawing on popular tenets of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

    Tackling the high cost of college has emerged as a central issue in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Leaders on the left have for months pressed Clinton to advocate "debt free" college, as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, her challengers, have done. Although the former secretary of state has stopped short of that endorsement, she has a comprehensive agenda that encompasses just about everything on the party's wish list.

    At the heart of the plan, dubbed the New College Compact, is an incentive program that would provide money to states that guarantee "no-loan" tuition at four-year public universities and community colleges. States that enroll a high number of low- and middle-income students would receive more money, as would those that work with schools to reduce living expenses. Because Pell grants, a form of federal aid for students from families making less than $60,000, are not included in the no-debt calculation, Clinton anticipates lower income students could use that money to cover books, as well as room and board.

    Although Clinton doesn't mention the word "free" in her proposal, the basic foundation is the same as . . . . .

    Washington Post

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    1. .

      I'm skeptical.

      The idea that there s such a thing as a non-profit college is silly. I would love to see free college for everyone. It won't happen.
      My state offered millions in incentives to the colleges and universities in the state to keep increases below 2%. They were ignored. Some early increases are in the double-digit range.

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  3. When that guy out in California raised the minimum wage for his workers to $70,000.00 (and, took it out of his Own salary) some employees in the "over $70,000.00/yr." cohort actually Quit, rather than see the less skilled get a raise to a level almost equal to their own.

    That tells you more about human nature than all the books that have ever been written on the subject.

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    1. Why did all those poor, white boys fight and die for a system, slavery, which held down their own wages?

      Delete
  4. Obamacare is, primarily, paid for by a tax on the top 1%. So, why do so many median income earners hate it so much?

    (especially, considering that many of them have family members benefitting from the act.)

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    1. .

      You are talking about the lowest income people getting insurance now but what good does it do them if they can't pay the deductibles and prepays? Come 2018, when the 'Cadilac tax' kicks in (if they don't change it) a lot of middle class union members will be hit.. Young people could afford to stay out of the system initially but each year the penalty will be increasing. If insurance rates go up, invariably Obamacare will be blamed. That was off the top of my head. I could probably go on with a little thought.

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  5. The "Lowest Income" people get Medicaid (if their Governors and State Legislators let them have it.)

    The "next lowest" income people can get a Silver Plan which has excellent coverage, and pays all or most of deductibles and co-pays.

    Also, many higher income Self-Employed individuals that have pre-existing conditions can get affordable insurance for he first time.

    Medicare recipients get help with drug costs, and the donut hole.

    Higher Income parents can carry their college student children on their plans up to age 26.

    And, if you look at what is happening in states like Rhode Island, it's obvious that virtually all of the 'younger' adults are signed up, now.

    No, the answer is, actually, very simple. Those white, middle-class republicans hate Obamacare because they feel that it will help a lot of poor, and, probably most important, Black people Period.

    I'm reminded of the movie "Independence Day."

    The President asks the alien, "what do want from us;"

    the alien answers, "Die."

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    Replies
    1. .

      No, the answer is, actually, very simple. Those white, middle-class republicans hate Obamacare because they feel that it will help a lot of poor, and, probably most important, Black people Period.

      I disagree with you.

      .

      Delete
    2. Sorry Rufus, but "black people" don't fill up a thimble of concern in my priorities.

      but you have to chuckle that more are aborted than born in NYC….

      Free abortions for the people of color, complements of the Democratic Party!

      LOL

      Delete
  6. Many countries have Free University Education.

    I'm quite positive that we won't get there with a Republican in the White House.

    I think we might make some progress with a Democrat in power.

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    1. .

      The current situation is outrageous and something needs to be done. Our system is broke. However, I just don't see Hillary's plan passing and if it does it won't help the real problem. Private money going to US colleges go into endowments. Public money goes into paying for administrative salary increases and new buildings not teacher pay or academic services. If this thing does pass, in 10 years we will be back in the same boat. It's the same reason the colleges and universities push for the student loans. If the money is there they will do what it takes to get their hands on it. Right now the money is so big they have no incentive to hold down costs.

      It's true other countries offer some form of free education, a couple in South America (Argentina?) but primarily in the EU mainly in northern European countries. But things operate in the EU a lot different than do in the US. Take executive pay. In Europe, CEO pay is maybe 15 times the median wage of the workforce. In the US, it is 400-500 times the median wage.

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    2. .

      Saw this article the other day.

      College Students Can't Take a Joke

      It makes the point that a number of comedians including Jerry Seinfeld have made, many established comics avoid the college circuit because it is so PC; however, because it is such a big market young comedians are willing to do what it takes to get in and put some food on the table. Beyond the obvious point, the author argues that colleges and universities have become the Club Meds of education system, a place where young people can come and chill out for four years while being continually feted and never having to worry about being offended in any way.

      Years ago, you could go to college and plan on being challenged including your ideals. Today...well, I not sure what students are getting other than a piece of paper and deeper in debt.

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  7. Brian Schatz, Dem Senator from Hawaii, has come out in favor of the Iran Nuclear Deal.

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  8. .

    The dog and pony show continues, 58 US lawmakers will leave for a visit to Israel tomorrow.

    More than 40 lawmakers will travel to Israel next month to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of a critical vote in Congress on the nuclear deal with Iran.

    The two congressional trips — one with Democrats, the other with Republicans — occur every two years and are organized and funded by an educational nonprofit affiliated with the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

    House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said he will take part in the Democratic trip, which kicks off Aug. 3. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will be the highest-ranking member participating in the weeklong GOP visit, which begins Aug. 8.

    A member briefing on the trip was held Tuesday at the Capitol...


    http://thehill.com/homenews/house/249497-lawmakers-to-meet-with-netanyahu-in-israel

    .

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  9. .

    FARMINGTON, N.M. — Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency said Sunday that the Gold King Mine discharged an estimated 3 million gallons of contaminated water, three times the amount previously believed.

    The mine continues to discharge 500 gallons per minute, EPA Region 8 administrator Shaun McGrath said in a teleconference call Sunday afternoon, but the polluted water is being contained and treated in two ponds by the site of the spill near Silverton, Colo.

    According to preliminary testing data the EPA released Sunday, arsenic levels in the Durango area of the Animas River were, at their peak, 300 times the normal level, and lead was 3,500 times the normal level. Officials said those levels have dropped significantly since the plume moved through the area.

    Both metals pose a significant danger to humans at high levels of concentration.

    "Yes, those numbers are high and they seem scary," said Deborah McKean, chief of the Region 8 Toxicology and Human Health and Risk Assessment. "But it's not just a matter of toxicity of the chemicals, it's a matter of exposure."


    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/08/09/navajo-nation-epa-spill/31384515/

    As Joe Biden might say, 'This is a big f-----g deal".

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  10. Hillary's Higher Education proposal is $35 Billion / Yr; that's about 1/4 of what we were spending in Bush's Iraq excursion.

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  11. Just saw a headline on Squawk Box - China Devalues Currency.

    perfect.

    ReplyDelete