Monday, August 8, 2011

Contract for the American Dream, or, How to Unscrew America--and Make this Blog Unnecessary

Nothing would give me a greater thrill than to have nothing to write about here.  But to paraphrase the old cigarette commercial, "We've got a long way to go, baby."

There's a new campaign, spearheaded by and Rebuild the Dream (also Rep. Jan Schakowsky, IL) to present a new "Contract for the American Dream."  The contract is explained on this page:
Contract for the American Dream

There's also a handy-dandy download button for those who would like to read it.

The document is totally spot on.  It talks about specific ways to rebuild our economy, pointing out what Michael Moore stated so well months ago, "America is not broke."  It isn't.  We have a huge income disparity in this country, one which makes top incomes of the wealthy obscenely high, while many American workers are lucky to have jobs paying minimum wage.

The American Dream has been hijacked.  It used to be that one could count on working hard and living a comfortable life as a result.  Some people could work hard and get rich if they wanted, and others could simply live a secure, happy life, but somewhere along the way the American Dream was stolen by those who weren't happy paying a fair wage to workers, deciding instead that workers had no rights, corporations were king, and finally, it became wonderfully profitable and rewarding to send American jobs overseas.  Not because "the best and the brightest" would be working at those jobs, but because they could be worked by far lower paid workers, who didn't have the burden of the US minimum wage and matching employer taxes for things like Social Security.  Corporations learned they could cheap out by paying pennies on the dollar to these foreign workers.  The American government responded by giving said corporations tax breaks, to further encourage them.  Never mind the tax breaks...this is encouraged right on American soil, too...foreign workers holding H-1b visas are often tapped for jobs, selling these hapless souls into indentured servitude in exchange for lofty promises, while the livelihood of American workers is handed over to these foreign workers by employers who don't care about--once again--paying a fair living wage.  Saving money is far more important.

American workers can't fight back.

The key to the American Dream isn't outsourcing jobs or selling them to the lowest foreign bidder.  The key is to keep America gainfully employed.  Politicians (particularly Republicans) say they want this, but their actions speak otherwise.  Instead of sending away American jobs to be worked as cheaply as possible, the key is to keep those jobs here in America and to pay a fair living wage to those workers.  Instead, workers who have lost their jobs to outsourcing and haven't been able to replace their income are deemed "lazy."  They're not lazy...they simply want to work, but it's hard to do that when your job is now in India or China, being worked for a couple of dollars each hour, far below the American minimum wage.  Even if the jobs were still here and minimum wage were--as Michele Bachmann would like to do if elected President--totally eradicated, working for $1 an hour or 10 cents a day wouldn't be worth the gas to get to work for most people.  Imagine earning 10 cents a day after the repeal of minimum wage and needing to spend $4 to fill your gas tank with one stinking gallon of the stuff, so you can drive across town to work your 16-hour-a-day job.  It would take more than a month just to pay for your trip.  Let's hear it for American ingenuity, eh?

The problem Congress also refuses to see--particularly Republicans--is that the less income Americans have, the less they can afford to spend.  Yet ironically, companies that manufacture products want Americans to continue to buy them.  But people not earning enough money for basic survival have nothing extra to spend, and so we get caught up in a vicious cycle of companies not willing to hire Americans, shipping jobs overseas, then expecting Americans to spend money they don't have in the first place to buy products.

Simply stated, it doesn't work.  The old saying, "You can't get blood from a stone" comes to mind.  The American people have seen their livelihoods stolen from them, and yet the same companies who do take their jobs away not only want these same Americans to actually buy their products, they then make the statement that they are the "job creators" and all they need is "more money" to create these nebulous jobs.  Which, if they do create them, these jobs are sent overseas anyway.  And if they don't create them?

Take the wife on a vacation.  Buy a yacht.  Have fun.

In typical US fashion, nowhere is there any requirement for these "job creators" to actually create jobs.  They're simply given the money via tax breaks and the money can be funneled anywhere--into a nice vacation, another home in Beverly Hills or up someone's nose.  There's no oversight.  It's just a handout...a taxpayer handout, what amounts to welfare for the wealthiest, and the wealthiest aren't using the money to create jobs for US citizens.

Our politicians don't have to be educated in any way, shape or form.  They don't have to understand the nuts and bolts, the inner workings of the economy.  They can--and do--espouse the craziest views.  There are the Tea Party Randites, for instance, who actually believe that one of the biggest hypocrites of all, the author Ayn Rand, created the perfect model on which to base the US economy.  Um, did I mention Ayn Rand wrote fiction?  She was no economist.

I say Rand was a hypocrite, because she collected both Social Security and Medicare toward the end of her life.  Rand, who decried such programs as part of her fictional economic plan, certainly wasn't averse to actually taking this evil money that should be denied to American citizens.

Wait, so she took money she'd deny to everyone else?  Holy crap!

But the Tea Party, particularly Randites like Paul Ryan and Rand Paul, the ones who think Ayn Rand was the absolute best author, are too willing to force the rest of us to actually live Rand's crazy point of view...except without the reward of the Social Security and Medicare she took for herself.  Under an assumed name so it wouldn't catch up to her, but she still willingly took it...because she deserved it.  Do as I say, not as I do.

Nowhere in Rand's crazy, hypocritical point of view is anything about accountability, the same thing that has been sorely lacking with most of America's politicians.  Which is funny, because one of the things Republicans, especially, are big on, is "PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY."

I remember a time, about a year or so before the 2008 Presidential election, when an alleged "friend" sent a long letter about her favorite candidate du jour, a Republican who espoused many things, and her favorite was, "PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY."

For most Republicans that means you pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, regardless of the fact that you may not even have bootstraps, because those have been shipped overseas along with your damn job.  Well, someone in China or India is now able to buy your bootstraps, because at least they have a job that pays pretty well for their own country's cost of living, which dwarfs ours.

So this Contract for the American Dream is a step forward, a healthy dose of reality that explains exactly what we Americans need.  We need corporations to invest in America, not other countries right now.  We need to keep our jobs here and our people gainfully employed, to forget about fictional economies and economic theories espoused by long-dead hypocrites who wouldn't have known an economy from a piece of chicken liver.  We must use sound economical principles, principles which state that gainfully employed people create the one thing our government can't do without: revenue.  No matter what politicians want to believe, no matter what the wealthy want We the People to believe, the fact is, revenues are the government's source of income. As disenfranchised Americans are sadly discovering, you can't live without income.  No matter how much you may "cut spending," you still need to eat, you still need to pay your rent, your mortgage, your car insurance, you still need to put gas in your car or (if you have it available to you) pay for public transportation.  And without an income, this is completely impossible.  It's also not possible to pull that income out of the pockets of people who need it to put food on the table, particularly if you're going to take away programs that help them do so.  You can't take it from them if they can barely use it to take care of their health, because America is the only industrialized country without any health care plan at all, with the only plan allowing people to be subjected to pure usury by wealthy insurance company CEOs who have plenty.

America can be great again.  And the Contract for the American Dream is a great way to start.  Let's make this a reality...this blog is one job I'd love to be without!