Give vs. Take


Over the course of history, the wealthy have always demonized the poor, which is ironic because in most cases the greed of those who controlled the wealth created the poor.

The French Revolution stands out as a shining example of the poor being oppressed to the point of utter revolt. I once heard a literary scholar comment on Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, saying that when so much is taken from a nation of people, a point is reached where they feel there is nothing more to lose. In that moment, nothing becomes more volatile than a mass of people with no fear of death.

I’m sure the ghost of Marie Antoinette could testify to the result. Sadly, her famed words and subsequent attitude of “let them eat cake” is far too prominent among the top 10% of our population.

The divide between Democrat and Republican ideals in America has never been farther apart, and the gulf has reached a frightening level. In the past, the conservative goals of  Republicans made a measure of sense. They believed in fiscal responsibility and keeping the role of government small so that private business was allowed to grow. In the post-WWII era, those ideas had merit as those with wealth invested in expanding business, creating jobs which in turn grew the economy.

One doesn’t have to read deep into the history of those times to see those same wealthy barons of power needed laws for the sake of humanity. Things like child labor laws, limits on work hours and conditions, along with measures for worker safety. Despite these interventions by government, these investors still became quite wealthy and the taxes generated built an impressive infrastructure of roads and other programs that were of great benefit to the nation as a whole.

Ever since the Reagan era, it seems a shift took place that was aimed at turning Wall Street loose and painting government as a demon to be shackled, hated, and feared.

The questionable choice of de-regulating Wall Street still stands as a major debacle, given those safeguards were put in place to prevent another Great Depression. As we’ve already seen, Wall Street is far too willing to run the ship aground for the sake of short-term profit, after which they shamelessly expect the government they denounce to bail them out.

America is a democracy in that we elect those who hold public office, but we are a republic in that those elected officials make the laws that rule us. This concept is not flawed in its pure form where elected officials actually speak for those who sent them to Washington. But today, it’s all about who gets bought, and who can get enough contributors to their “war chest” to be re-elected.

The insane amount of money spent on a campaigns is staggering, and yet those very same contributors rant endlessly about high taxes and shiftless poor people mooching off the system. Their own budget aimed at throwing mud could feed and educate millions.

I saw a yard sign today that read, “Anything a government GIVES away is something it TAKES from someone else.”

 As usual, the conservative tilt is one driven by a selfish mentality. The kind where hating the “waste of the poor and sick” or as they like to say “entitlement programs” carries more weight than the health of a nation. I often wonder when they clamor over “One Nation, under God” how they manage to exclude those at or below the poverty line, or those who may not practice the same religious beliefs, despite our Constitution. But then freedom of religion has never been as important to the GOP as the wake of the Second Amendment.

I find it staggering how anyone in this country could think that educating children and keeping people healthier overall is a bad thing. Yet the GOP presses onward with crying foul over the high cost of such ideas, all the while saying nothing about the insane costs being rammed down our throats by way of insurance companies or benefits being robbed by employers.

No one likes high taxes, but no one wants to see public programs go down the toilet either. Personally, I think public schools should be like cathedrals and police and firefighters should be some of the best paying jobs around. The real irony is that taxes don’t need to be as high as they are, but for some reason the wealthy believe that the more they make, they less they should have to pay. They cry over “redistribution of wealth” yet they’ve had no qualms about “redistributing funds from our accounts to theirs.”

The medical industry should be non-profit, plain and simple. Anyone who thinks the sickness of health of people belongs in the realm of supply and demand for the sake of profit is a heartless excuse for a human being. I also find it strange that the very same conservatives who bemoan taxes and evil government don’t hesitate a second when it comes time to collect Social Security or Medicare. Yes, they paid into those programs all their lives (I’ll assume) but we all know the strength of the programs is in its numbers, not its personal accounts.

How have so many other free countries realized a strong, healthy, well educated population makes a better nation for everyone, and we still can’t get the message? Because no one is selling that message, and if anyone tries, the wealthy make sure to fund the hell out of the opponents in order to brand them as evil communists.

The truth is the wealthy don’t want an educated population, because they would quickly realize the idiotic mind games in play. Then elected officials might just rule against unlimited campaign finance, lobbyists, or passing laws they don’t have to live by.

And Oh My Heavens, they just might have to start paying their percentage just like everyone else. They just might have to pay employees as opposed to themselves and stockholders.

Every time I discuss such subject matter someone tells me if I don’t like it in this country I should leave. To that I respond- if the wealthy think their money belongs in the Cayman Islands or elsewhere, they should move there – permanently. But they won’t, because nowhere else in the world can they get away with what they do here.

I only hope I live long enough to see the day when, like the French Aristocracy, they will get to eat the cake of their own making. Then the “taking” and the “giving” will have a whole new meaning.