The Linear Canvas
This journal is about the wrongs and rights of the world, as I see them.

The Linear Canvas

America, Land of the Poor, Home of the Rich

September 20th, 2011 . by Alexander Fisher


Over the last few weeks, much has been made of comments and audience reactions during the televised Republican presidential primary debates in the media. These comments made by the participants and the audience member’s reactions, were in response to questions asked about the death penalty, and health care for people who are uninsured. In both cases the audience made it very clear how they stand on these issues. Critics are fair to conclude this group of people showed little compassion for those affected in either case.

My own observation is that these issues are almost entirely affecting the poor, alone.

More recently I read a story in the news that said the number of people in the United States that live in poverty is higher than it’s been in many years. I think there can be many reasons for this, but the influence of politics in world economics can have a great affect on poverty. A loss of a job that was sent overseas or eliminated in a poor economy, can send many to poverty as quickly as they can be shown the door. This can happen to anyone, regardless, as long as they are in the middle class or below. (The rich have their own unique safety net, lots of money) Some of these people cannot find new jobs for any number of reasons. Some don’t look anymore. Some never did.

I believe the audience members at the debate would argue that these people are just lazy. I don’t doubt that some are. But without knowing the individuals involved and their reasons and experiences, I don’t understand the reactions. I’d guess some are just born into poverty and just don’t know how to break the cycle, without help. I’d also guess others are just born pitiless and don’t know how to break that cycle either.

In reality our country has vilified one ethnic or religious group after another, including many white people, since the very beginning. Vilified because they are going to take your job, your benefits, or your place in the world. The commonality between these groups has always been their poverty and their lack of any ability to affect their own place in the world, never mind someone else’s.

Driving a wedge between those that would rise up to challenge the status quo has been the tactic to keep the fire of revolt just smoldering and small enough to control with just minimal force. As long as we hate each other, we haven’t the time to hate those that drove that wedge to begin with.

As I said, the plight of the poor is and has always has been connected to the policies of world economics. The last presidential election was a contest between the political parties no doubt. But the real choice was just between the names and faces only. Both candidates and their staffs were and still are devotees to Milton Friedman’s Chicago School of Economics theories. Basically that is the poor need to suffer while the rich profit from the suffering. I’m sure that’s not how they see it from the top-down. But I bet looking from the bottom-up, it sure appears that way.

The competing economics theory is Keynesian Economics named after John Maynard Keynes, the architect of the New Deal in the 1930’s. Basically he said that corporations need to be regulated and wealth redistributed fairly. It took the stock market crash of 1929 to prove that such a policy was beneficial to the poor, and actually the rich as well.  It has been said a rising tide lifts all boats, meaning when the poor do better, so do the rich, and vice versa. I believe that is true and there is fairly recent evidence to support that.

Our current president, Barack Obama, talked the Keynesian talk to get elected, but has walked the Friedman walk ever since he got there.

Over the years the corporate elite have whittled away at the laws put in place to protect the country and our economy from the boom and bust cycle preferred by those that favor the Friedman economics model. Most importantly to fall was the Glass-Steagall Bank Reform Act of 1933 that was meant to discourage market speculation and prevented commercial and investment banks from merging. On its repeal in 1999 spearheaded by Congressional Republicans and signed by then “Democrat” President Bill Clinton, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) warned that banks would become “too big to fail” and went on to say that Congress would “look back ten years time and say we should not have done this“. (I should have Mr. Dorgan pick me some lottery numbers) Many derided his comments in 1999 and no one celebrates his accuracy now, even Mr. Dorgan.

So what I’m saying is, until there is a choice between a Friedman and a Keynesian presidential candidate, there really is no choice. When the Friedman Economics model is popular, many people go hungry while a few get much more wealthy. Sound familiar?

There is a good book that talks about the effect of these economic policies on the world called “The Shock Doctrine, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” by Naomi Klein. I highly recommend it. What that book taught me was when you hear the phrase “Austerity Measures” from a Friedman economist, run and hide. (see Chile, South Africa, Poland, Russia, etc.) That’s when the “good old days” have finally come to an end, officially.

Our history is intentionally vague on the treatment of the poor. If it was more common knowledge what “they” were doing and have done, many would revolt. A perfect reason to keep those affected groups from uniting and realizing the people that are really the cause of their poverty, are not hungry immigrants crossing an unguarded border, but a stuffed shirt bureaucrat whose sugar daddy (the super-rich) is picking up all the tabs at the country club.

Surely the super-rich have a reason for their manipulations of the world’s economy. I know most is ideological and some is based on religious conviction, but far be it from me to understand their motivations always. After all I can’t believe they need the cash. Between all of them they have nearly all of the money and property that exists already. I suppose they just want it all for themselves. Greed drove some of them to their wealth. Some just fell into it by birth, the very same way the rest of us became middle class or poor.

As the super-rich take more from the world without replenishing the store for those in need, many more will be born poor and without the boot straps the Republican debate audiences think they should be yanking on to pull themselves up out of poverty. More will need some assistance to get by. More will be vilified because of their intent to take over the small spaces left for occupation by the super-rich. And the cycle will repeat until the end of time. Or until compassion finally becomes blind to color, religion, or social status.

One can only hope.




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