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Cognitive Dissonance

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The primary cause of poverty, worldwide, is the oligarchs in every nation who have a vested interest in keeping as many people in poverty as they can. It is far easier to control and exploit an illiterate, despairing populace that is kept at the edge of starvation and destitution, than a well fed, confident and literate citizenry. Left to their own desires, the oligarchs will give to society only the smallest amount that societal pressure can force them into giving. Left to themselves, they will not give enough of their money for maintenance of infrastructure, whether it is economic, social, or political. They feel anything that is not to their immediate benefit, they should not have to pay for under any circumstance.

This means that we must tax our oligarchs. As several of our leaders including Teddy Roosevelt have stated, those who have the greatest wealth, who have benefited most from the society they live in, and who have the most to lose, should be taxed at higher rates than other citizens.

This is not theft, despite libertarian and conservative opinions to the contrary. Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to Robert Morris on Christmas Day, 1783, wrote of this problem:

"All Property, indeed, except the Savage's temporary Cabin, his Bow, his Matchcoat, and other little Acquisitions, absolutely necessary for his Subsistence, seems to me to be the Creature of public Convention. Hence the Public has the Right of Regulating Descents, and all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the Quantity and the Uses of it. All the Property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it."---(The Writings of Benjamin Franklin. Edited by Albert Henry Smyth; volume 9: p.138; 1905-7. Taken from The Founders' Constitution, Volume 1, Chapter 16, Chapter 12. The University of Chicago Press.)

Human beings cannot own the land. This concept is a quaint conceit going back to the Greeks and Romans. We hold it in sacred trust for succeeding generations. The basis of taxation is the fact that we are borrowing the land from our descendants and from the People as a sovereign whole. We pay rent in the form of property and other taxes to ensure that it is used wisely, and not as if it was a piece of tissue paper that we use and throw away. We must preserve not only the land, but the whole of the Earth for future generations. We must not exhaust all of our natural resources for personal gain, nor should we make the Earth uninhabitable for the sake of adding to our personal wealth.

Thanks to Herbert Spencer and other "social Darwinists" we have spent the last 150 years consuming our resources and devastating the world's sacred natural places, such as the Amazon Rainforest and the Outback of Australia simply to garner an additional dollar for rich men's coffers. We have forgotten the hard-won lessons of Rome and the Middle Ages: that the world is not inexhaustible and even the mightiest Empires eventually fall. When this happens, the only saving grace is cooperation, as the Catholic Church once embodied. As with all human institutions, it eventually fell to human vice and corruption, becoming another chess piece in the human struggle for power. But in its early days it saved human knowledge from the past, preserved the idea of education, and lent a degree of legitimacy to the governments that followed Rome's fall.

"The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn't; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all."--- G.K. Chesterton, "The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare"

As Chesterton pointed out over one hundred years ago, the rich object to being governed at all. Then why do we expect them to be capable of governing wisely and fairly? A leader must be able to accept rules as well as promulgate them. If he cannot do both, he should not be made a leader.

Individuals like Bernie Sanders come along once in a lifetime, if at all. My grandparents had such a man, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who managed to save the United States from the disaster caused by the richest Americans' greed and lust for power, the Great Depression. He had been crippled by poliomyelitis ten years earlier, yet arose from his wheelchair to lead us out of not only the Great Depression but through the Second World War. The Neoliberals of his day, the economic Royalists who hated him, promulgated virtually the same type of economic and political system that today's neoliberals do: welfare for corporations and the wealthy; the worst sort of dog eat dog Capitalism. As Will Rogers wrote in his newspaper column (November 26, 1932), explaining Herbert Hoover's loss to FDR three weeks earlier:

"The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy. Mr. Hoover didn't know that money trickled up. Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night, anyhow. But it will at least have passed through the poor fellow's hands--

Democracy is not a spectator sport. This election is too important, because our economy and the Earth itself cannot survive another four years of Donald Trump, who is the willing puppet of the fossil fuel interests, plus possibly Russia and Saudi Arabia. Nor is the election of a Neoliberal Democrat a viable alternative. All that the election of such an individual does is delay the problem of global climate catastrophe, and dealing with a health care system out of control. We pay ten times as much for insulin as Canada does, because we have no control on health care spending. This must stop"now.

Bernie Sanders is the sole hope for the recovery of the middle class from the downward spiral it has been locked into since Nixon's second term. We must educate the American people that Democratic Socialism is not some form of Stalinism, but an American creation for the vast majority of Americans' benefit. Bernie Sanders made this very clear in his speech in June at George Washington University.

The reality is that going back to the ideas of Thomas Paine, Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt is the only way out of this mess. Democratic Socialism (a concept first proposed by Paine in "The Rights of Man, Pt.2"). "Cooperative Abundance" and building a world-class infrastructure (proposed by Clay in his "American System"). "Labor is the superior of Capital, and comes first," as well as "a Government of the People, by the People, and for the People shall not perish from the Earth." (Lincoln's First Annual Message to Congress, and the Gettysburg Address). Busting the Trusts and otherwise enforcing the antitrust laws, starting with the giant media and financial conglomerates (As TR did against Standard Oil, as well as the Sugar and Tobacco trusts). Finally, adopting the Green New Deal, Free Public Education, and Medicare for All (returning to FDR's--and his successors through LBJ-- policies which built the largest middle class in American History, and fulfilling his promise of a Second Bill of Economic Rights).

The greatest danger that we face in the 2020 election is indifference. An attitude of "anyone but Trump" is not a sinecure. It is rather a formula for accepting a President who will not take care of the most profound problems facing our nation and the world, especially global climate and a shrinking middle class, because they will obey their corporate masters rather than the greater good.

It is now up to us to discover the truth of Senator Sanders' speech, rally around him, and make certain that the only candidate who totally refuses corporate support for his Presidential campaign, both in the Primaries and the General Election, becomes the next President of the United States.

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Richard Girard is a polymath and autodidact whose greatest desire in life is to be his generations' Thomas Paine. He is an FDR Democrat, which probably puts him with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders in the current political spectrum. His answer to (more...)

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