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Let's Sit This One Out

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Arrangement in Black and Grey (Whistler's Mother)
James Whistler (1871) Musee' d'Orsay Paris

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Let's Sit This One Out

By Richard Girard

" Poverty in itself does not make men into a rabble; a rabble is created only when there is joined to poverty a disposition of mind, an inner indignation against the rich, against society, against the government."

Georg Hegel (1770--1831), German philosopher. The Philosophy of Right, "The State," Addition 149 (1821; translated 1942).

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" Two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other's habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets"The rich and the poor."

Benjamin Disraeli (1804--81), English statesman, author. Stephen Morley, in Sybil, book 2, chapter 5 (1845).

Welcome to the Banana Republic of America.

According to a recent AP article, the U.S. Census Bureau stated that 49.1 million Americans live beneath the poverty level; an additional 97.3 million Americans live between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level, and are considered to be "low income." That is a total of 146.4 million, or 48 percent of the American people, who are considered impoverished or low income under the government's new standards for estimating categories of wealth in the United States. This is up from the figure of 104 million that was released in September. This new, and in my opinion far more realistic, means of measuring poverty, "takes into account medical, commuting and other living costs as well as taxes."

Not that 104 million Americans was anything for this nation to be proud of. That is 34 percent of the population who were considered "low-income" by the U.S. Census Bureau's standards. Whether it is one-third or almost one-half of our population, it is an abomination, and cannot be tolerated by a democratic society.

The great lie we have been spoon fed by the One Percent over the last thirty some years is the one publicly expressed by Margaret Thatcher (Woman's Own ; London, October 31, 1987 ), " There is no such thing as society: there are individual men and women, and there are families." This lie justifies the selfishness and ego which has so nearly destroyed the Western Democracies--together with their economies and any semblance of the rule of law--in the last decade-and-a-half. It has undermined our physical and moral infrastructures, including the legal systems, social safety nets and taxes upon which both the United States and the social democracies of Europe stand. It has made the One Percent in Europe, Canada, and the United States richer, while moving us ever closer towards the annihilation of those nation's middle classes.

The bankers in Europe and the United States are now screaming for austerity measures to fix the problem of record deficits in the Western Democracies. But history teaches us--using the examples of Europe and the United States during the Great Depression, as well as Latin America in the 1980's and 90's--that austerity destroys the economies of the nations that it is applied to. Simultaneously, it makes the bankers holding the debt of those nations wealthier than ever, as they become the new owners of the raw materials and means of production that those cash strapped nations require to get out of their economic hole. Wages and benefits are reduced, and the middle class--the historic enemy of the One Percent--is destroyed. (For more on this, see Naomi Klein's 2007 book The Shock Doctrine, and John Perkins's 2004 book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. If you aren't already paranoid, you will be, young Jedi, you will be.)

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To paraphrase from my January 18, 2009 article " The Forty Percent Solution ," "In 1928, the percentage of Americans living in poverty had fallen to an estimated fifty percent, from the estimated fifty-six percent of twenty-eight years previously. (These figures are from the late Steve Kangas 's web site Liberalism Resurgent: Myths About Welfare; "Welfare increases poverty." These are in turn d erived from Internal Revenue Service data cited in Donald Barlett and James Steele, America: Who Really Pays the Taxes; Simon & Schuster, 1994; pp. 66-7.)

" There is nothing new under the Sun."

--Ecclesiastes 3:1

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Richard Girard is an increasingly radical representative of the disabled and disenfranchised members of America's downtrodden, who suffers from bipolar disorder (type II or type III, the professionals do not agree). He has put together a team to (more...)

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