I get really irritated when I see “leftists”, “allies”, “friends”, or really anyone using America, in the form of the Federal government, as a punching bag.
Fact is, there are two American governments. The elected one, that changes every 2 to 4 years (making it relatively ineffective) and is (more often than not) under control of “the other government”, and the government that no one talks about, that never makes “the news”, that’s more or less persisted since at least the Reagan Presidency; the wealthy.
Chris Rock tells a joke about the difference between “rich” and “wealthy”. The punchline is “Shaq O’Neill is rich. The guy who writes his checks is wealthy.” There’s another story I’ve heard that compared Michael Jordan’s salary to Bill Gates’ earnings. Bill makes so much money it’s a waste of his time to stop long enough to bend over and pick up a $100 bill.
The point being, as far as I’m concerned, that “you and I” can’t possibly concieve of what it feels like to inherit, say, the wealth of the (WalMart) Waltons. Heck, if I had a million dollars, right now, I’d just retire and never worry about anything again. “They” make millions, even billions every year and they just want more. Some of “them” want it all.
And given the way our constitution is written, and the way we are trained from birth to react to the words “socialism” and “communisim”, “they” are in charge.
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard the phrase (why do you want to) “punish success”, I wouldn’t be close to as wealthy as “them”.
My thoughts in response to that question, BTW, run along the lines of “do you consider inheriting 14 bazillion dollars to be hard-earned success?” Because I don’t.
So, listen, this is a fact; we live in a capitalist country. What this means, among other things, is that we measure “succes” by how much “capital” a person accumulates. This suggests another way to look at the “why punish success” lie that we’ve swallowed so whole-heartedly for years.
“Why do you consider having a lot of inherited money to be ‘success’?”
I’ve personally known homeless people who thought their lives were pretty “successful”. I’ve met a lot of people who didn’t have a proverbial pot to piss in who were “happy”. I’ve been pretty damned broke, and I’ve done well (but not in comparison to the wealthy), and I have to say I’ve met some of the BEST people when I was living paycheck to paycheck. People who would give you the shirt off their back, if you needed it. People who looked a lot more like Christians than, say, Pat Robertson, who’s worth millions.
I don’t know how long I should go on with this particular line of reasoning. Hopefully, I can stop now and you’re still riding along with me. If not, ask. I’ll answer. In a nutshell, I’m trying to tell you why John Edwards’ (that fucking asshole who almost screwed up the POTUS for the Democrats in 2008) message of “two Americas” resonated, with me. Hey, a guy can be a complete screw up when he thinks with his little head, and brilliant when he thinks with the big one. That’s not news.
So, why do I get so irritated when I hear people say the government is (fill in your favorite negative modifier, here)?
Because the Federal government is our ONLY hope in defeating “the shadow government”, which is run by the wealthy (and the fundies, who are mostly wealthy preachers and the idiots who follow them, instead of the holy book of their flavor of monotheistic religion).
Preaching that the Federal government is not on our side to the point where you’re preaching that our government should never be trusted is serving the interests of the other government. The government that buys politicians and our media. The government that funds, through tax-deductible “charitable donations”, schools that teach that socialism is evil. The government that controls what we hear, what we think, and how we vote.
Honest question; have you ever wondered why the Koch brothers would astro-turf the idiot teabaggers? Everything about them is about cutting taxes, doing away with social services (which wingers immediately recognize when you call them “income redistribution”), and in general declaring that the Federal government is incapable of doing anything right.
I keep waiting for our “Marie Antoinette moment”. I thought that possibly the Ryan “gut medicare to give even more tax cuts to the wealthy” might be it, but they wised up and backed off on that, for now.
We need Marie Antoinette. We have Obama. He’s not perfect, but I submit to you that he’s not only better than the alternative, but if we support him when he’s right, he might just set the stage for an even better POTUS the next time. If we gut him (by focussing ONLY on areas where we disagree) and leave him to stand on his own at all times, we’re serving our other masters. If we say “yah”, once in a while, when he does something we wanted him to do, we’re telling not just him, but others, that we have a positive agenda.
OK, I feel like I’m starting to ramble, so I’m going to end this, now. I’ll have more to say on this in the future. I might even pin it on the sidebar, because I definitely think it’s important.
I’ll end it like this; We can control the Federal government. We can’t control the wealthy (or the fundie nutbags). Feel free to demonize whomever you want to, but I choose “them”.
We have an enemy. Their names are “Scaife”, and “Koch”, and…
And right now, “they” are in control.