Thursday, October 18, 2012

Poor Mitt, Poor Ann

Average Income and Change In Share of Income

I don't get it. My friends on Facebook...single women who are limping along financially....seem ready to fight to the death for Mitt Romney. They quote things like, "you can't help the poor by destroying the rich," - that was one I saw just today. But destroying the rich certainly hasn't been what America has been doing for decades now. The difference between what a CEO makes compared to a laborer on the factory floor is now 300 times. (Consider that Henry Ford thought 7 times was the right ratio, and Henry was no bleeding heart!) Wall Street honchos are making higher salaries than ever. Oil companies are making record profits.

We have done  nothing but make the rich richer under both Republicans and Democrats. The rich benefited under Bill Clinton and benefited even more under George W (who told us they are the job creators as his rationale for pumping even more of our aggregate income to them - sound familiar?). They've continued to benefit under Barack Obama. So, it's not like the Democrats actually put any kind of hurt on the rich but simply close the disparity gap by the merest bit.

If the rich had actually taken the tax bonuses Bush gave them (and that the Republican Congress maintained for them) and passed along some of it to the rest of us in the form of jobs as we were told they would, we probably wouldn't even be having this discussion. I don't think the working class is greedy. They want to go to work every day. They want to buy a house and a car. They want to send their kids to school. They want to take an occasional vacation. Give them that and you can get as rich as you want and they won't complain.

But is this what happened? No. The rich took their money and ran....ran to China, ran to India, ran to Mexico. Because, hell, why should they waste their dollars paying American workers big money (!) and benefits when they can get virtual slave labor in other parts of the world? Why should they build factories in America where there are expensive environmental and worker safety regulations in place when they can pollute at will in poor countries? Why should they pay taxes to support America when they can incorporate in the Caymans?

And, truly, I understand that. Greed is part of human nature. Getting and keeping as much as you can is the American Dream. I understand it from their point of view, I really do.

What I don't understand is our side. Where is our greed to at least reclaim at least some small part of the pie for ourselves? Why are we so submissive, so worshipful of the rich? I thought that was one of America's claims to fame? I thought the remarkable declaration that all men were equal was part of what we stood for in the family of nations. No more royalty for us. No king or duke or earl is any better than any of the rest of us.

In fact, we seem well on the way to turning America into an aristocracy. We can't wait to get in that voting booth and cast our vote for King Mitt and his cohort of court followers. We can't wait to tug our forelocks when the royal carriage passes by.

Talk to my friends about the Blunt Amendment and the Personhood Amendment and transvaginal ultrasounds and another right-wing justice on the Supreme Court and forcible rape and they put their hands over their ears. "Nyah, nyah, nyah, we don't want to hear it."

That's because they are over in the corner obsessing about some little welfare mother who collects $239 a month from Temporary Aid to Needy Families and who just might smoke or have a cell phone or get her nails done. They worry incessantly that guy on Medicaid who is probably faking it because he looks fine to them. They turn their burning resentment toward people who are the smallest blip on the radar screen of Americans who can hurt them while letting the extortionists off scot-free.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is the David Copperfield of politicians, the master illusionist. He distracts our attention by making a plane disappear with one hand while he's making our money disappear with the other. He changes his position to whatever he thinks we want to hear. He convinces us that we're one of him. He pats us on the back, "you're not part of the deadbeat 47 percent, you're like us. Come on down to Boca Raton and pull up a seat at the table." And I guess we want to believe it but the fact is, most of us are one hell of a lot closer to the welfare Mom than we are Mitt and the Capital Bain boys. In fact, they are the main reason so many of us are standing in the unemployment and the food stamp lines.

We gave them the pay-off up-front but they welshed on their share of the deal. Now Mitt wants to do it again. And many of my friends seem happily willing to take the same leap of faith that has never worked in the past. George W Bush once famously said, "fool me once, can't be fooled again."  

But, evidently, we fooled again...and again....and again.