There was a 1931 song in which the lyric, written by “Yip” Harburg, goes in part,
They used to tell me I was building a dream, and so I followed the mob,
When there was earth to plow, or guns to bear, I was always there right on the job.
They used to tell me I was building a dream, with peace and glory ahead,
Why should I be standing in line, just waiting for bread?
Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time.
Once I built a railroad; now it’s done. Brother, can you spare a dime?
Once I built a tower, up to the sun, brick, and rivet, and lime;
Once I built a tower, now it’s done. Brother, can you spare a dime?
Eighty years later, “Brother, can you spare a dime?” has gained new currency, if you’ll excuse the pun. The anger in the land, represented by the protests across the country known collectively as “Occupy Wall Street” – named after the root of the trouble – have reified the broken political and financial system in the United States. It is demonstrably a system that does not work… except for a privileged few. The rest of us wait on the false promise of a “tinkle-down” economics that has led the upper 1% to
Take our houses through an illegal foreclosure process. Take bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give executives exorbitant bonuses. Perpetuate divisions among the populace based on age, skin color, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation. Poison the food supply through negligence, and undermine the farming system through monopolization. Profit off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices. Seek to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions. Hold students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right. Outsource labor and use that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay. Influence the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility. Spend millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of health insurance contracts. Sell our privacy as a commodity. Use the military and police force to prevent freedom of speech. Decline to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit. Determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce. Donate large sums of money to politicians who are responsible for regulating them. Block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil. Block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit. Cover up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit. Keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media. Accept private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt. Perpetuate colonialism at home and abroad. Participate in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas. Continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.
If this sounds familiar, it should, if you have been paying attention to what the OWSers want in their nationwide protests. If you haven’t been paying attention, then listen to this: the anti-democratic Congressional Budget “Stupid-Committee,” which unsurprisingly failed to reach agreement on budget cuts, are putting the weal of the people of the United States on auto-pilot. The trillion-dollar automatic cuts that now must occur, unless the Republicans renege, would come (theoretically, that is) half from defense and half from social programs on which the poorest Americans depend.
The very idea that these two “sacred cows” are comparable is risible. One of them saves lives and thereby saves the nation. The other is corporate welfare, imperialism and human rights abuse at its most obscene. And over half the nation are on to this scam. Would that more were aware.
Here is what I suggest. Here is my modest proposal. And it’s so simple even viewers of Fox News, who are less informed than the uninformed, will understand it:
Not One Dime.
You can make it a bumper sticker: Not One Dime.
Not One Dime cut from social programs until all corporate welfare ends. Not One Dime cut from social programs until the power of the 99% becomes proportionate to the numbers of the 99%. Not One Dime cut from social programs until the rest of us get our country back.
I’m talking about freedom and justice for all, not only for the richest or the well connected or the powerful. Not One Dime cut from social programs until we get our country back.
Not One Dime. Then we’ll see.