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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/29/14

Does Wealth Mean No Compassion?

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When you put a price tag like that [tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars for national campaigns] on political office you automatically rule out lots of people and lots of ideas from the competition.

If you have to be able to reach out to the billionaire community and make your case to the billionaire community even before you begin, even before you start running for office, you know, automatically a lot of ideas and a lot of ideas that are very traditional, very American, you know, red, white and blue ideas are automatically off the table. You have to be able to please that class of donors before you even start.

Citizens United is already shaping up to be the most arrogant and ignorant judicial decision of my lifetime. How a supposedly learned and august body of SC Justices could not have foreseen the terrible damage this ruling would inflict--and has--on democracy (at least the one intended for you and me) is mind-boggling. Then again, perhaps the Justices whose votes enabled this obscenity to become the law knew exactly how it might ripple out and influence governing.

Recently, Jay Bookman (who rarely seems to crank out anything other than a terrific article) offered some deservedly pointed criticism of right-wing hypocrisy courtesy of the National Review. Offering helpful advice to their right-wing brethren as they sift about for a "more appealing identity," Rich Lowry and Reihan Salam suggested that the Republican Party "should endeavor to become the party of work."

In view of legislative efforts (I'm being kind) on the part of the Republicans to do anything and everything but be a party of work--at least anything approaching concern for the challenges and hardships by those of us who do not measure bank balances in the millions of dollars--the observation smacks of nothing other than a healthy blend of arrogance and hypocrisy on a scale most of us, thankfully, cannot relate to.

The clever "worklessness" issue Lowry and Salam appeared to be so troubled by--it being "a central challenge of our time" and all--called for a solution that Jay Bookman was nice enough to share, with a suitably snarky "As if you had to ask":

Tax reform, and particularly cuts in taxes on business investment, has great potential as a spur to job creation. In 2006, the economists Kevin A. Hassett and Aparna Mathur found that higher corporate taxes lead to lower wages. The higher wages that would result from lower corporate taxes would go a long way toward making work more attractive.... One important step would be to reduce the minimum wage for long-term-unemployed workers.

As a courtesy to Lowry and Salam, who perhaps ran out out of time before they could complete the thought, Bookman added a helpful addendum:

That's right. The way for the Republican Party to once again become the champion of the working man and woman is to lower taxes on investment income, this at a time when after-tax corporate profits as a share of the economy are already at an all-time high and there is no shortage of available capital. That, and cut the minimum wage for the long-term unemployed (while of course continuing to block extension of unemployment benefits for them). 
Yeah, that's the ticket. 
Meanwhile, Lowry and Salam, our new warriors for the working folk, are oddly silent in their essay about such things as growing income disparities and the fact that labor's share of the national economy has collapsed to a record low.

As our democracy is increasingly influenced--if not actually driven--by the concerns and political needs of the extremely wealthy (and yes, their world and their interests and their needs are vastly different than yours and mine--in no small part because they often don't care much about yours and mine), and as more and more of our middle- and lower-class citizens struggle every waking hour to just get by, the latest means of addressing that problem is to offer up more pie and ice cream for the wealthy. How nice! How noble!

How obscene....

Those who ardently demonstrate their fears and paranoia about "losing their country" might want to give the ideology and priorities driving episodes, beliefs, and policy proposals like this some thought.... 
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Looking Left and Right: Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows I remain a firm believer in late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone's observation that "We all do better when we all do better." That objective might be worth pursuing (more...)

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