When my aunt found out I am a liberal, she said, “Isn’t that just disgusting?” To her credit, she is no religion-soaked, right-wing crazy. And her son, my cousin, who shares the day of my birth, grew up normal and has a beautiful, American-style family. Me? Although I’m completely faithful to the woman in my life, I’ve always been the radical in the family, who are like many Americans most of the time. I love my family, even while differing with them over religion and politics.
Since I’m the odd fish in the main stream of my family, I often find myself wondering how I turned out so differently from my conventionally religious, politically conservative clan.
I think it’s because I see things as, for example Jill W. Klausen sees them in her excellent March 18 essay, “5 Words And Phrases Democrats Should Never Say Again.” Where most Americans see creeping socialism in government programs that help the poor and middle class, I see not entitlements but earned benefits.
Where some Americans think it’s OK for most of the wealth in this country to accumulate at the top 1%, I see a reverse redistribution of wealth – kind of a Robin Hood who takes from the poor and gives to the rich.
Where some Americans are outraged that employment-based health insurance plans are now required cover things like contraception for women, I think such employee-earned benefits should cover what the employee wants – it’s no more forcing employers to buy contraception than it is forcing them to buy your groceries or pay your mortgage!
Where some Americans think government spends too much money on public works projects, I see investments in America – investments that make America worth living in and, yes, working and doing business in.
And where some Americans are not bothered at all with the influence wealthy, well-connected corporations have over our political system, I see an unelected corporate government buying our democratic system and subverting the interests and the will of American citizens.
The assault continues: House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, said on Tuesday (3/20/2012) that he wants Congress to overhaul food stamps and other safety net programs, taking the high moral ground that “we don't want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency, that drains them of their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives.”
Here again, I see it a little differently, so let’s turn it around. I say we should stop the “entitlement reform” for the bottom 99% until we institute entitlement reform for the top one percent.
If we can afford to bail out the banks who crashed the American economy with impunity; if we can afford to give the oil industry, which makes enormous profits, over $60 billion in subsidies (while nickel-and-diming alternative energy and telling us it costs too much); if we can afford disastrous and ultimately pointless military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan; if we can afford an anti-drug war that is deadly to not just human lives but to civil liberties and a national security state that makes a mockery of democracy – then why can’t we afford the earned benefits Americans pay for and rely on?
There was a 1931 song in which the lyric, written by “Yip” Harburg, goes in part,
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?
Eighty years later, “Brother, can you spare a dime?” has gained a new currency. If you read, watch and listen to only the Mainstream Media, you might think the Occupy Movement have packed up their tents and gone home. You would be wrong. They are still out there, still protesting, still getting beaten, sprayed and arrested.
The anger in the land, represented by the protests across the country, starting as “Occupy Wall Street,” but known collectively as the “Occupy Movement,” have awakened Americans to 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 cruel joke of a “tinkle-down” economics. Some Americans who go to church can even hear pastors defending the divine right of our corporate kings.
“Isn’t that just disgusting?”
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.
Not One Dime cut from our earned benefits 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 earned benefits until the rest of us get back the country we build with our sweat and paid for with our lives.
Let’s make it a bumper sticker: Not One Dime.
I’m talking not just about freedom and liberty for all, but justice for all, as well. I say Not One Dime cut from social programs until tax-exempt churches and tax-avoiding corporations pay their fair share.
Now… if I can just convince my family!
This was a commentary in an ongoing series of “Reflections” by John Mill. John Mill is the radio persona of Ronald Bruce Meyer and can be heard on “American Heathen.” “The American Heathen” Internet radio broadcast is aired, live, on Saturday nights from 7:00pm-10:00pm Central Time (8-11pm Eastern Time) on ShockNetRadio.com.
Copyright © 2012 Ronald Bruce Meyer. To hear an audio version of this Reflection, click on this link: Not One Dime
"People go to church for the same reasons they go to a tavern: to stupefy themselves, to forget their misery, to imagine themselves, for a few minutes anyway, free and happy."