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Economic Crisis Reveals Hypocrisy of Conservative Dogma

By       Message Gwen Richardson     Permalink
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Since the advent of the Reagan years, fiscal conservatives have constantly railed against any government assistance whatsoever for the middle-class, labeling the practice "wealth redistribution."  But the national financial crises over the past three decades, including the current proposal by the U.S. government to bail out high-level Wall Street conglomerates, reveal the hypocrisy of their argument.  Conservatives are only against wealth redistribution when the funds are directed from them to the middle-class and poor. But they wholeheartedly support wealth that is transferred from the poor and middle-class to their coffers.

Whenever Congress proposes a new program targeting the middle-class and the poor, such as health care, educational aid, or infrastructure revitalization, conservatives have blocked, filibustered and vetoed these measures.  The only proposals they have ever advocated to address these issues have been either tax cuts or tax credits, or--their signature recipe--let the free market handle it.  This phrase is a code for keeping all of the power in the hands of the wealthy.  In the warped minds of these free market champions, wealthy people are much smarter and motivated by an altruistic spirit, so if we Americans just let them amass enough money, everything will be alright for the rest of us.

The fatal flaw in this trickle-down philosophy has manifested time and time again, most recently with last week's collapse of the stock market and the need to bail out Fannie Mae, Freddie Mae, AIG and other large financial institutions.  In reality, the more money the wealthy are given, the more their sense of greed and entitlement increases. They buy more yachts, more houses, more jewelry, more vacations on the French Riviera, and amass even more wealth. They think little about the rest of us and adopt a "Marie Antoinette" attitude:  Let them eat cake, even though the impoverished citizens can afford to buy neither the cake nor its ingredients.

Conservatives develop all kinds of creative ways to transfer billions to their bank accounts:  an unnecessary war in Iraq where well-heeled defense contractors can overcharge the U.S. government for everyday items, like hammers, nails and toilet seats; a sinister plot to woo lower middle-class families into their first homes with mortgages that will result in foreclosure within two to three years; a bogus energy crisis to raise gas prices by 50 percent, knowing that nearly every American family has to use an automobile to sustain a living.  They favor this type of wealth redistribution, but any system where they have to pay their fair share of taxes is quickly labeled liberalism, socialism, Marxism or some other "ism."  If it's not capitalism, where they receive the lion's share of the capital, conservatives crusade against it. And they have the means to get their message out repeatedly since, after all, no media are owned by the poor or middle class.

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 Although they champion "individual responsibility" for everyone else, they see no inconsistency in receiving a trillion-dollar government handout as a result of their latest shenanigans.  The American public is held hostage by this welfare-for-the-wealthy with the threat that our economy will collapse if we don't meet their demands.  What I'd like to see is all of these corporate heads rounded up and taken to a real prison--not the country club type--where they can suffer the consequences of their deeds.  Instead they get to retain their wealth and positions of authority, or in a few cases, get booted out, but with a golden parachute of millions of dollars to soften the fall.

Conservatives are able to keep the masses ignorant of their wealth redistribution schemes by using distractions and deception.  During political campaigns--and this one is no exception--they simply demonize the candidate who promotes some sort of relief for the middle class by defining him or her as an unacceptable alternative.  They question his patriotism, his authenticity, his values, his identity, his religion, his associations--anything that will distract the voters long enough until the election is over and right-wingers can keep their chicanery in place.

Conservatives may have been tripped up by the timing of their latest financial crisis, as these catastrophes usually do not occur this close to a national election.  Enough of the American public may be awakened now, fed up with bailing out the rich so they can continue to buy more yachts and vacation homes while giving the rest of us the proverbial middle finger.  We'll see on November 4th.
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Gwen Richardson is an entrepreneur and author based in Houston. Her commentaries have appeared in USA Today, Detroit Free Press, Houston Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer and Atlanta Constitution. She is the co-founder of Cushcity.com, the (more...)
 

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Economic Crisis Reveals Hypocrisy of Conservative Dogma