Republicans Discover Poor People

By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

libertyStung by the historic defeat in last year’s presidential election, the GOP has embarked upon a relaunch of its ideology. RNC chair Reince Priebus has approved a strategy paper (click to read)  composed by Republican bigwigs Henry Barbour (Haley’s nephew) and Ari Fleischer that makes a remarkable discovery:

The Republican Party must be the champion of those who seek to climb the economic ladder of life. Low-income Americans are hard-working people who want to become hard-working middle-income Americans. Middle-income Americans want to become upper-middle-income, and so on. We need to help everyone make it in America.

Yep, the party who deifies the man who made lots of political hay denigrating mythical “welfare queens,” and whose successors famously referred to President Obama as the “Food Stamp President” has figured out that in this democracy votes still trump principles — even long-held despicable ones. Republicans, it seems, can read a demographic map and, due in large part to the anti-poverty positions they have rammed through Congress (sometimes with the help of Democratic presidents), the Nation is mostly poorer. In 2010, 15.1 percent of all persons lived in poverty. The poverty rate in 2010 was the highest poverty rate since 1993. That’s about 46 million Americans living below the poverty line.

Poverty in America charts remarkably close to the party in power — at least for some population groups. In the 1950s, overall poverty was an astonishing 22.4%. A steady decline through the 1960s was fostered by the much maligned, but factually effective, “War On Poverty” of the Kennedy, Johnson (and yes), the Nixon Administrations. Poverty bottomed out in 1973 with the rate standing at roughly 11%. During the ensuing decade, poverty remained more or less constant at between 11.1 to 12.6%. Then came the right-wing Reagan Revolution in 1980 where being poor was somehow seen as akin to being criminal. Reagan made that connection explicit for any GOP dolt too dull to spew the bile on their own, and the “War To Resume Poverty” was on. During the 80s, the US poverty rate climbed steadily back to 15.2% representing about 35 million Americans. Reagan was an unrelenting slasher of programs such as Aid To Families With Dependent Children (AFDC), and subsidized housing. But, Reagan was careful not to hurt programs for the elderly who formed a core of the Republicans’ voting base. In fact, the poverty rate for US citizens over 65-years-old actually steadily declined  from its high point in the 1960s.

Came the 90s and the Clinton Administration. Poverty again made a sea change and began declining. Such factors as the growing economy had its effect, but Clinton was a proponent of Reagan’s policy of “workfare” and his historic reform of welfare undoubtedly hindered that process despite the overall poverty rate decline to 11.3% in 2000. Predictably  the poverty rate has increased under succeeding Republican administrations to its 2010 level.

The effects of poverty haven’t hit across the board as many know. Here’s how the National Poverty Center explains the level of poverty for various socio-economic groups:

The poverty rate for all persons masks considerable variation between racial/ethnic subgroups. Poverty rates for blacks and Hispanics greatly exceed the national average. In 2010, 27.4 percent of blacks and 26.6 percent of Hispanics were poor, compared to 9.9 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 12.1 percent of Asians.

Poverty rates are highest for families headed by single women, particularly if they are black or Hispanic. In 2010, 31.6 percent of households headed by single women were poor, while 15.8 percent of households headed by single men and 6.2 percent of married-couple households lived in poverty.

There are also differences between native-born and foreign-born residents. In 2010, 19.9 percent of foreign-born residents lived in poverty, compared to 14.4 percent of residents born in the United States. Foreign-born, non-citizens had an even higher incidence of poverty, at a rate of 26.7 percent.

What the Republicans have discovered  — with a cold slap across the face in 2012 election — is that these populations vote. As they become larger segments of the voting class, their impact is made known. How else to explain the plethora of GOP backed voter fraud laws requiring picture id? Republicans know full-well the group least likely to own a car and hence possess a readily obtainable picture id are the poor.

Predictably, the Republicans paint a rosy picture of this sad demographic in the strategy paper:

The nation’s demographic changes add to the urgency of recognizing how precarious [Republicans’] position has become. America is changing demographically, and unless Republicans are able to grow our appeal … the changes tilt the playing field even more in the Democratic direction.

Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson takes the issue head-on: “One of the biggest brand challenges for the GOP is to credibly demonstrate they are a party for everyone, not just the rich.”  Take that Gov. Romney and your 47% quip. Here’ s the exiting polling from the 2012 election by income level. Note the disparity:

Exit-polls-of-2012-presidential-election-by-annual-income1

The old GOP canard about low-income folks not voting has finally been exposed for what it was. One of the reasons the Republicans were so astonished at their loss at the polls was their belief the American people would punish Obama for the bad economy.  Central to that tenet was that low-income groups were most affected by the bank-driven recession and would throw the bums out. That political calculation was turned on its head as poor whites joined poor ethnic voters to elect Obama.

Thus the GOP stands at a cross-road between their extreme right-wing, every-man-for-himself  ideology and recognizing political reality.  Wrought by policies they espoused, the poor have roared back to take away what the Right deems most important of all — an unfettered, perpetual deed to the White House.  Some in the GOP haven’t gotten the message yet, like firebrand Paul Ryan. Ryan recently announced his plan to slash $1.4 Million from Medicaid. A paltry amount by Washington standards but hugely important from a symbolic point of view. To add some insult, the staunchly religious Ryan (who claims the budget is closely in line with his Catholic upbringing) proposed 3.3 trillion dollars in budget cuts over a ten-year span with a full 66% of that amount coming from programs specifically designed to aid the poor, all the while reducing taxes on the wealthiest Americans. In addition his plan –passed by the House this week but rejected by the Senate — would severely limit eligibility for most other programs. You can read about the specifics of the plan in the Huff Post article here.

All in all, the GOP has quite the conundrum. Accede to the most radical elements of its party and watch its political power ebb, or embrace the view of more moderate elements and accept a “Big Tent” strategy.  The decision hinges mightily on the feelings of the poor — a circumstance that could not be more irritating for the party who helped create them.

Source: Salon; Huff Post; National Poverty Center, and throughout

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

104 thoughts on “Republicans Discover Poor People

  1. The republiclowns are like any bully. It’s always easier to attack the poor and the defenseless, the least able to fight back (e.g. Gingrich calling it “failure of citizenship” rather than a failure of schools). And just like any bully, they’re shocked when someone stands up to them. They have only changed their tune because they lost.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if – had the republiclowns won – they cut off all welfare without discussion and offered bus tickets to Canada and Mexico. In the 1990s, the rightwing premier of Alberta (a Canadian province, in case anyone is geographically challenged) did exactly that. He cut the poor off welfare and gave them bus tickets, shipping them off to other provinces as a way to “solve the problem” of poverty, rather than investing in any job training programs.

    Give me your hungry, your tired your poor I’ll piss on ’em
    That’s what the Statue of Bigotry says
    Your poor huddled masses, let’s club ’em to death
    And get it over with and just dump ’em on the boulevard
    – Lou Reed, “Dirty Boulevard”

  2. According to the current architect of the Republican economic policy he looks to a Russian immigrant:

    In a 2005 speech to a group of Rand devotees called the Atlas Society, Ryan said that Rand was required reading for his office staff and interns. “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” he told the group.

    (New Yorker, emphasis added). Ayn Rand from a well to do family was an immigrant from Russia who settled in Hollywood.

    The Romney campaign probably does not remember that Romney’s father, who became a governor, had been on welfare:

  3. G.O.P.: Grungy Old Pharts. And this aint no fartin dog talkin. Notice how we dogs drop the letter “g” in our written speech if the “g” falls on the end. No room for the g spot. Nothing Grand about being a RepubliCon. Con maybe. Ex Con, often. Take Dickhead Cheney who wears a cowboy hat but cant ride a horse or rope a cow. Phoney, phoney, Western baloney. New Guy down in the sunshine state has a poor recollection of when the parents had to “flee” Castro and come to Miami. The year 1956 was a bit early so he had to fudge it up a little. The opthamologist from Kentucky who can talk on the floor of the Senate for 13 hours without peeing on it is all the news that is fit to print. Newty is too fruity and too old. Maybe another rising star will emerge– some senile actor from California maybe.

  4. Good post, Mark. I don’t think the Texas republicans are getting the message. They are being particularly cruel to poor women and medicaid recipients during this legislative session.

  5. Ike: Lame with no brain. Nixon: smart but quick with the fart and first with the crime. Southern Strategy adopted. Ford: Who? Ronnie Raygun: senile when he went in and senile when he went out. Southern Strategy perfected. Bush from KennyBunkFort: scion of a Prescott who held Nazi money in the Var. Bushine from Midland: second generation of scion who held Nazi money in the Var and third generation legacy sonny boy Floyd of the Yalee. Southern Strategy personified. Mittster Romney: gypsie and scion of car thief. Rubio: voice of the future– as in days of future past. Ayn Rand Paul: pee holder personified.

  6. In days of old when Knights were bold..
    And rubbers werent invented…
    They tied a sock around the …….
    And RepubliCons were prevented.

  7. They actually have 3 choices, change the message (lie), disenfranchise enough voters in key states to change the outcome of elections, or change their policy positions. From what I’v seen and read about their plans choices 1 and 2 would be what I would bet on, #3 not so much.

    The statement quoted from Haley Barbour and Ari Fleischer doesn’t indicate a change of method or philosophy about how assist the poor, working poor or non-poor working class, it is just a statement that people want better and more opportunities for jobs and advancement.

    I followed the link and read the entire doc. I’m not impressed since the recommendations are all essentially rhetorical except for urging comprehensive immigration reform. The document points up specific problems like the alienation of young voters due to different attitudes regarding social issues (gay rights) and advocates outreach to foster more inclusiveness but then concludes with a statement that just because one disagrees on 20% of policy questions that shouldn’t preclude support for the other 80%. That does not say ‘change the policy to attract voters’. It doesn’t touch on women’s health/privacy issues at all.

    The overwhelming portion of the document is how to build a greater voter pool and run better campaigns. In that regard it’s way more specific than on any people oriented policy questions. Their recommendations can be summed up (IMO) with #’s 7 and 8 which boil down to for #7, talking with no mention of regulation for corporate wrongdoing or harm to working people and for #8, talking to potential voters to explain why their policies are better. Doesn’t say anything about changing policies, just message better.

    7. We have to blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.

    8. If we believe our policies are the best ones to improve the lives of the American people,all the American people, our candidates and office holders need to do a better job talking in normal, people-oriented terms and we need to go to communities where Republicans do not normally go to listen and make our case. We need to campaign among Hispanic, Black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate that we care about them, too.

    I do get the impression that the new brand name will be GOP = the “Growth and Opportunity Party”. I’d put money on that, it’s repeated several times.

    I’m torn between “So?” and “Meh” as a response to it.

  8. BTW, Excellent posting Mark. I got all twitchy reading the DOC and though I intended to, I forgot to include that in my comment.

  9. I appreciate this Mark…. I was listening to NPR the other day…. There was something similar …. They were going state by states and he margins lost and how much or little in some cases the vote that would be needed to pick up that state…. Rebranding the image….. Maybe they are figuring out that by can do it like Obama… Tell the people what they want to hear and still do it the way they want….. Without all of the rhetorical flame throwing,…

  10. Some RepubliCons have new concepts and new ideas. Promise that Hispanic voter a pie in the sky and a tax break during lunch break. Promise that poor white trash guy living out in the stix a better life with a charter school without forced busing. Promise that gay guy he can divorce his wife and marry his gay guy. Promises, promises,…… a party reborn. The Party of Lincoln. Yeah, the Lincoln Continental with wire wheels and whitewalls.

  11. lottakatz 1, March 24, 2013 at 10:08 am

    They actually have 3 choices, change the message (lie), disenfranchise enough voters in key states to change the outcome of elections, or change their policy positions. From what I’v seen and read about their plans choices 1 and 2 would be what I would bet on, #3 not so much.

    I do get the impression that the new brand name will be GOP = the “Growth and Opportunity Party”. I’d put money on that, it’s repeated several times.

    I’m torn between “So?” and “Meh” as a response to it.
    ===========================================
    The House Budget Committee, chaired by Paul Ryan, the Ayn Rand aficionado, will operate under the same guise as before, hoping that the public does not notice:

    Her psychopathic ideas made billionaires feel like victims and turned millions of followers into their doormats …

    It has a fair claim to be the ugliest philosophy the postwar world has produced. Selfishness, it contends, is good, altruism evil, empathy and compassion are irrational and destructive. The poor deserve to die; the rich deserve unmediated power. It has already been tested, and has failed spectacularly and catastrophically. Yet the belief system constructed by Ayn Rand, who died 30 years ago today, has never been more popular or influential.

    Rand was a Russian from a prosperous family who emigrated to the United States. Through her novels (such as Atlas Shrugged) and her nonfiction (such as The Virtue of Selfishness) she explained a philosophy she called Objectivism. This holds that the only moral course is pure self-interest. We owe nothing, she insists, to anyone, even to members of our own families. She described the poor and weak as “refuse” and “parasites”, and excoriated anyone seeking to assist them. Apart from the police, the courts and the armed forces, there should be no role for government: no social security, no public health or education, no public infrastructure or transport, no fire service, no regulations, no income tax.

    Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, depicts a United States crippled by government intervention in which heroic millionaires struggle against a nation of spongers. The millionaires, whom she portrays as Atlas holding the world aloft, withdraw their labour, with the result that the nation collapses. It is rescued, through unregulated greed and selfishness, by one of the heroic plutocrats, John Galt.

    That Ayn Rand ideology is mixed with a certain evangelical doctrine of theology:

    Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel or the health and wealth gospel) is a Christian religious doctrine which claims the Bible teaches that financial blessing is the will of God for Christians.

    The doctrine teaches that faith, positive speech, and donations to Christian ministries will always increase one’s material wealth.

    Its proponents teach that the doctrine is an aspect of the path to Christian dominion over society, arguing that God’s promise of dominion to Israel applies to Christians today.

    The doctrine emphasizes the importance of personal empowerment, proposing that it is God’s will for his people to be happy. The atonement (reconciliation with God) is interpreted to include the alleviation of sickness and poverty, which are viewed as curses to be broken by faith.

    (Ayn Rand: Patron Saint of The Plutocracy). The plutocrats who have this philosophy also happen to have the economic power over this nation.

    They haven’t found an effective way to use it because most of the people are against them.

    I do not expect them to cave in.

  12. Dredd, Actually it has been tried to a good extent and long and often enough that it can be seen not to work but be seen to be greatly destructive. But that’s not good enough for the true believers, it hasn’t been tried in its purest form, if only we could do that… True believers never let reality get in the way of their faith. That’s just the congregation though; the pastor and the guest pastor and the functionaries that get a cut know it’s a scam, and sit in the back room after the service dividing up the love offerings and making jokes about the faithful.

    (Didja’ ever see the movie “Marjo”)

  13. Let the Republican strategists say what they want, Fox rallies the troops.

    While decrying the poor because they “don’t pay taxes” the rank and file Republican will continue trying to “starve the beast” by slashing government spending (i.e., money the government spends in the economy) and slashing taxes (for the wealthy).

    So the people who don’t want to pay taxes and think we need to starve the beast denigrate the poor for not paying taxes, as though paying income tax is the only way to contribute to society.

    This is an irrational hatred of the poor that is a cultural issue. It’s a bias propagated by the urban, financial interest that is as old as the country itself.

    Article IV of the Articles of Confederation begins:

    “The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different states in this union, the free inhabitants of each of these states, paupers, vagabonds and fugitives from Justice excepted, shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several states.”

    Note, “paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice” are “excepted” from the “privileges and immunities of free citizens.”

    Not only to blacks and women not count, but hippies and the poor are classed with criminals.

  14. lottakatz 1, March 24, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Dredd, Actually it has been tried to a good extent and long and often enough that it can be seen not to work but be seen to be greatly destructive. But that’s not good enough for the true believers, it hasn’t been tried in its purest form, if only we could do that… True believers never let reality get in the way of their faith. That’s just the congregation though; the pastor and the guest pastor and the functionaries that get a cut know it’s a scam, and sit in the back room after the service dividing up the love offerings and making jokes about the faithful.

    (Didja’ ever see the movie “Marjo”)
    =========================================
    No, haven’t seen Marjo … is it on Netflicks?

    Will try to see it soon.

  15. Poverty has continued to climb under Democratic administration according to this post.

    If people can stop being party line political puppets, and use their God given brain (yes I still use the word God) to think, it all cannot be blamed on the Republicans.

    Democrats have been the majority in congress and the President was also a democrat for the last five years, during which poverty has increased significantly , and the National debt phenomenally. Nothing got better.

    I raised 17 children (all adopted) and I have an Idea how to budget. You can not use credit to get further and further in debt, expecting your children to clean up the financial mess you made.

    You must pick priorities and eliminate unnecessary expenditures.
    I always drove used cars I could afford, ( no Cadillacs or Lincolns ), Wheels are for transportation, not for profiling.

    Some of my kids attended college by working their way through. The taxpayers didn’t pay for it.

    These kids were mine, even though I didn’t father them, I worked 2 and sometimes 3 jobs to support them while I paid taxes that helped to support families whose fathers created “welfare queens” and left them to make more kids with another woman. I never bailed out on my kids so the government ( or should I say the taxpayers ) could support them.
    They all grew up to be productive citizens, not live on welfare. Maybe they learned from the example I set.

    “Welfare Queens” do exist. I personally knew several who by by pure desire to do so, kept having kids to live off the public dole. One actually told she had no desire to get a job. When she needed more money, she would have another kid. She was happy not working for a living. (five different fathers, 6 kids and counting. None of the fathers were supporting their offspring). This is is one huge reason there is so much poverty.

    I believe poverty is not all being caused by the politicians, but some by the poor themselves and the ease with which some work the system in some cases.

    The National Debt, which our children will be paying is a totally different thing. It has climbed by one third in the last 5 years blamed. That cannot be blamed on the Republicans.

  16. January 10, 2006
    Curing Poverty or Using Poverty?
    By Thomas Sowell

    “China is lifting a million people a month out of poverty.”
    It is just one statement in an interesting new book titled “The Undercover Economist” by Tim Harford. But it has huge implications.

    I haven’t checked out the statistics but they sound reasonable. If so, this is something worth everyone’s attention.

    People on the political left make a lot of noise about poverty and advocate all sorts of programs and policies to reduce it but they show incredibly little interest in how poverty has actually been reduced, whether in China or anywhere else.

    You can bet the rent money that the left will show little or no interest in how Chinese by the millions are rising out of poverty every year. The left showed far more interest in China back when it was run by Mao in far left fashion — and when millions of Chinese were starving.

    Those of us who are not on the left ought to take a closer look at today’s Chinese rising out of poverty.

    First of all, what does it even mean to say that “China is lifting a million people a month out of poverty”? Where would the Chinese government get the money to do that?

    The only people the Chinese government can tax are mainly the people in China. A country can’t lift itself up by its own bootstraps that way. Nor has there ever been enough foreign aid to lift a million people a month out of poverty.

    If the Chinese government hasn’t done it, then who has? The Chinese people. They did not rise out of poverty by receiving largess from anybody.

    The only thing that can cure poverty is wealth. The Chinese acquired wealth the old-fashioned way: They created it.

    After the death of Mao, government controls over the market began to be relaxed — first tentatively, in selected places and for selected industries. Then, as those places and those industries began to prosper dramatically, similar relaxations of government control took place elsewhere, with similar results.

    Even foreigners were allowed to come in and invest in China and sell their goods in China. But this was not just a transfer of wealth.

    Foreigners did not come in to help the Chinese but to help themselves. The only way they could benefit, and the Chinese benefit at the same time, was if more total wealth was created. That is what happened but the political left has virtually no interest in the creation of wealth, in China or anywhere else, despite all of their proclaimed concern for “the poor.”

    Since wealth is the only thing that can cure poverty, you might think that the left would be as obsessed with the creation of wealth as they are with the redistribution of wealth. But you would be wrong.

    When it comes to lifting people out of poverty, redistribution of income and wealth has a much poorer and more spotty track record than the creation of wealth. In some places, such as Zimbabwe today, attempts at a redistribution of wealth have turned out to be a redistribution of poverty.

    While the creation of wealth may be more effective for enabling millions of people to rise out of poverty, it provides no special role for the political left, no puffed up importance, no moral superiority, no power for them to wield over others. Redistribution is clearly better for the left.

    Leftist emphasis on “the poor” proceeds as if the poor were some separate group. But, in most Western countries, at least, millions of people who are “poor” at one period of their lives are “rich” at another period of their lives — as these terms are conventionally defined.

    How can that be? People tend to become more productive — create more wealth — over time, with more experience and an accumulation of skills and training.

    That is reflected in incomes that are two or three times higher in later years than at the beginning of a career. But that too is of little or no interest to the political left.

    Things that work for millions of people offer little to the left, and ultimately the left is about the left, not about the people they claim to want to lift out of poverty.

  17. By THOMAS SOWELL
    Last Updated: 12:30 AM, August 2, 2011
    Posted: 12:16 AM, August 2, 2011

    Thomas Sowell

    ‘Poverty” should be a leading contender for the title of Most Misleading Word Used in Politics.

    Each of us may have his own idea of what poverty means — especially those of us who grew up in poverty. But the whole future of the welfare state depends on how poverty is defined. “The poor” are the human shields behind whom advocates of ever bigger spending for ever bigger government advance.

    If poverty meant what most people think of as poverty — people “ill-clad, ill-housed, and ill-nourished,” in Franklin Roosevelt’s phrase — there would not be nearly enough people in poverty today to justify the vastly expanded powers and runaway spending of the federal government.

    Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation has for years examined what “the poor” actually have. Nearly three-quarters of households in poverty own a motor vehicle, and nearly one-third own more than one motor vehicle. And the average poor American has more living space than the general population of London, Paris and other cities in Europe.

    The real triumph of words over reality, however, is in expensive government programs for “the elderly,” including Medicare. The image often invoked is the person who is both ill and elderly, and who has to choose between food and medications.

    But the most fundamental reality is that the average wealth of the elderly is some multiple of the average wealth owned by people in the other age brackets. Why should the average taxpayer be subsidizing people who have much more wealth than they do?

    Yes, the elderly are more likely to have more medical problems and larger medical expenses. But old age is not some unforeseeable misfortune. It is inevitable for those who don’t die young.

    It’s one thing to keep people from suffering from unforeseeable things beyond their control. But it’s something else to subsidize their necessities so that they can spend their money on other things.

    People who say they want a government program because “I don’t want to be a burden to my children” apparently think it is all right to be a burden to other people’s children.

    Among the runaway spending behind our current national debt problems is the extravagant luxury of buying political rhetoric.

    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/our_runaway_rhetoric_ui4tKNGimMzHWU1foyI7VP

  18. walter e. williams/2012/10/17/poverty_nonsense

    Here’s a recent statement frequently suggested by leftist academics, think tank researchers and policymakers: “People were not just struggling because of their personal deficiencies. There were structural factors at play. People weren’t poor because they made bad decisions. They were poor because our society creates poverty.” Who made that statement and where it was made is not important at all, but its corrosive effects on the minds of black people, particularly black youths, are devastating.

    There’s nothing intellectually challenging or unusual about poverty. For most of mankind’s existence, his most optimistic scenario was to be able to eke out enough to subsist for another day. Poverty has been mankind’s standard fare and remains so for most of mankind. What is unusual and challenging to explain is affluence — namely, how a tiny percentage of people, mostly in the West, for only a tiny part of mankind’s existence, managed to escape the fate that befell their fellow men.

    To say that “our society creates poverty” is breathtakingly ignorant. In 1776, the U.S. was among the world’s poorest nations. In less than two centuries, we became the world’s richest nation by a long shot. Americans who today are deemed poor by Census Bureau definitions have more material goods than middle-class people as recently as 60 years ago. Dr. Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield give us insights in “Understanding Poverty in the United States: Surprising Facts About America’s Poor” (9/13/2011). Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. Nearly three-fourths have a car or truck, and 31 percent have two or more. Two-thirds have cable or satellite TV. Half have one or more computers. Forty-two percent own their homes. The average poor American has more living space than the typical non-poor person in Sweden, France or the U.K. Ninety-six percent of poor parents stated that their children were never hungry during the year because they couldn’t afford food. How do these facts square with the statement that “our society creates poverty”? To the contrary, our society has done the best with poverty.

    http://townhall.com/columnists/walterewilliams/2012/10/17/poverty_nonsense/page/full/

  19. Pat 1, March 24, 2013 at 11:12 am

    … it all cannot be blamed on the Republicans.

    Democrats have been the majority in congress and the President was also a democrat for the last five years …
    ========================================
    True it can’t all be blamed on the Republicans, but this post is about their ideology.

    Paul Ryan, who is chair of the House Budget Committee, which is charged by the U.S. Constitution with preparing the budget, is a follower of Ayn Rand (In his own words I quoted up-thread).

    The House has been Republican for two election cycles now, and they are in charge of starting the budget:

    The primary responsibility of the Budget Committee is the drafting and preparation of the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget, commonly referred to as the “budget resolution.” This resolution sets the aggregate levels of spending and revenue that is expected to occur in a given fiscal year. Hence each session of Congress, a budget resolution by law must be enacted by April 15.

    (Wikipedia). Either the House, the Senate, or the President can shoot down budget legislation, since it is a bicameral congress, and the president can veto.

    It has turned into an infantile game of chicken since the Republicans have threatened to shut down government for years, and so far the Democrats have not called their bluff sufficiently.

    The gerrymandering of House Districts by Republican State legislatures following the 2010 census can only keep the Republicans in for so long.

    Because there is a census redistricting only every ten years, but an election every two, they are continuing to damage their prospects for holding the House in 2014.

  20. Dredd, Yes, Netflix has “Marjoe” (I left the “e” off up thread- sorry). It won the 1972 Oscar for best documentary. Not much has changed in the business model. Look it up on IMDB or Wikipedia if you’re not familiar with it. True believers and the business of fleecing them revealed by one of their own.

  21. “Any economist who suggests he has a complete
    answer to the causes of affluence should be viewed
    with suspicion.We do not know fully what makes some
    societies richer than others. However, we can make
    guesses based on correlations. Start out by rankingcountries according to their economic systems. Conceptually
    we could arrange them from more capitalistic
    (having a larger free-market sector) to more communistic
    (with extensive State intervention and planning).
    Then consult Amnesty International’s ranking of countries
    according to human-rights abuses.Then get World
    Bank income statistics and rank countries from highest
    to lowest per capita income.
    Compiling the three lists, one would observe a very
    strong, though imperfect, correlation: Those countries
    with greater economic liberty tend also to have
    stronger protections of human rights.And their people
    are wealthier.That finding is not a coincidence, so let us
    speculate on the relationship.”

    Poverty Is Easy to Explain
    B Y WA LT E R E . WI L L I AMS

    http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/wew/articles/fee/May11.pdf

  22. Good post, Mespo. The hypocrisy of this Republican pitch tops the paternalistic way Dems treat the poor and people of color.

  23. Bron 1, March 24, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    “Any economist who suggests he has a complete answer to the causes of affluence should be viewed with suspicion.We do not know fully what makes some societies richer than others.
    ==================================
    Oh contrare.

    Say the word “plunder” when explaining what has happened to the American middle class.

    (and see this).

  24. Republicans are going to ignore the cause of poverty and become more like democrats.

    Isnt that just great.

    Instead of examining the causes of powerty, they are going to throw more money at the problem instead of taking steps necessary to eliminate the cause.

    Wealth creation is the only way to eliminate poverty, the superior system for wealth creation is capitalism.

    More economic and political freedom is the way to reduce or eliminate powerty, not less.

  25. Dredd:

    Bailing out banks is not capitalism but fascism or socialism and most of us free market types were manifestly against from the beginning. The market should have been allowed to work to iron out the malinvestment, the bail-out prevented this and we are still feeling the pain 5 years later and may feel it for much longer. Look at Japan, they have refused for 20 plus years to allow market forces to work.

  26. Mark,

    I noticed this discussion of a Brookings Instutite report:

    The number of suburban residents living in poverty rose by nearly 64 percent between 2000 and 2011 … according to a Brookings Institution analysis of 95 of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas. That’s more than double the rate of growth for urban poverty in those areas.

    “I think we have an outdated perception of where poverty is and who it is affecting,” said Elizabeth Kneebone, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of the research. “We tend to think of it as a very urban and a very rural phenomenon, but it is increasingly suburban.”

    (Huffpo). Anyway, thanks for bringing the topic up for discussion.

  27. Bron 1, March 24, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Dredd:

    Bailing out banks is not capitalism but fascism or socialism and most of us free market types were manifestly against from the beginning.
    ==============================
    Agreed.

  28. Dredd:

    a plutocrat is not a capitalist. John Galt was not a plutocrat, he was more of a hippie, he wanted to be left alone to do his own thing in freedom and peace. A hippie without the bad hair and clothes and who used his mind to better his lot in life.

    Ayn Rand was against plutocracy, oligarchy, dictatorship and any other similar form of tyranny. All the Objectivists I know wanted the government to stay out of the banking industry.

  29. Ari Fleischer and Haley Barbour. Now there is a pair. Neither rhymne nor reason can keep the world safe for democracy when such a Twain shall meet. Nice southern accent brings the Southern Strategy. Articulate California accent brings the business strategy.
    Ari, ari bo barbie, bannan fanna for barbie, fee fi mo barbie, Ari.
    –Name game!

  30. @ Dredd, Bron

    “Bailing out banks is not capitalism but fascism or socialism and most of us free market types were manifestly against from the beginning.”

    Actually, the first central bank, set up by Alexander Hamilton, was a rats nest of insider info and coflict of interest by the Founding Fathers.

    It was chartered for 20 years to pay off the national debt. The first Congress, who created the bank, knew the bank would succeed because they had a plan to discharge the debt, so when they themselves bought stock in the bank they created, with a congressional plan to make the bank succeed, I don’t really think that’s what “free markets” are really about.

    The debt they were paying off was 4/5 domestic debt, in the form of depreciated government IOU’s issued to revolutionary soldiers. The soldiers sold their depreciated IOU’s to recoup some of their losses. It was the urban financial interests who had disposable income enough to buy up the depreciated debt.

    An important part of Hamilton’s debt repayment scheme (read: the Founding Fathers, acting as speculators on the success of the new government, organized a payout for themselves) involved paying off the IOU’s at face value. There was no market mechanism to support this payout: it was pure abuse of power.

    As I indicated earlier, though, this was part of a larger cultural milieu that treats the poor as poor due to moral defect, and the wealthy as entitled to wealth due to moral superiority. It is the same reasoning that slave-holders applied to their chattel: it was their Christian duty to teach the the African brutes civilization through bondage.

    The Founders (and there were many of them who were not named Jefferson) left plenty of evidence as to their views on these matters. As I indicated earlier, the Articles of Confederation is one of the most unequivocal pieces of evidence they left:

    Article IV of the Articles of Confederation begins:

    “The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different states in this union, the free inhabitants of each of these states, paupers, vagabonds and fugitives from Justice excepted, shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several states.”

    Note, “paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice” are “excepted” from the “privileges and immunities of free citizens.”

    Not only to blacks and women not count, but hippies and the poor were classed with criminals.

  31. How did the Party of Lincoln end up so far South. It used to be that a Red State was someplace in Eastern Europe. Now ya got Red State/Blue State, north and south. Southern Strategy of Lee Atwater worked out fine. Except that Obama won the Electoral Vote and Mittster won the South. Solid South for Mitt. And Haley.

  32. Meet DirtyDog. He is new to the marina and Dogpac. He is guide dog to blind guy with boat and he guides while blind guy steers the tiller. They leave the fenders out on the side in case of collision. Another new dog to the pac is Early&OftenDog. He was a Democrat and former Party Hack in his prior life as a human.

  33. Great job Mark. It is amazing that the Republicans think that saying out one side of their mouth that they want to include everyone in their tent, and then pushing for and voting for a budget that cuts the heart out of the poor and middle class in order to protect the tent owners, the rich and corporate entities, out the other side of their mouths.

  34. Ari Fleischer… Wasn’t he the one advising Tiger Woods after being a mouthpiece for Dubya? Is he back? Fantastic! We were beginning to run out of red meat.

  35. When any individual or group’s political commitments trump their commitment to the facts expect gibberish like the Growth and Opportunity Project to emerge.

    Mark has done us a huge favor in analyzing this latest bit of nonsense.

    Lotta is also correct that this is the new re-branding phrase. It will replace past phrases such as Family Values, Christian Coalition, Moral Majority, Tea Party with GOP, the Growth and Opportunity Party. And just as there were no values within the family or actual morality within the majority, there will be little opportunity or growth within the project or the party.

    So I repeat: When any individual or group’s political commitments trump their commitment to the facts expect gibberish like the Growth and Opportunity Project to emerge.

  36. Both political parties on the federal level are responsible for the legislative and fiscal mess forced upon the citizens of the US. Unfortunately for all of us when one party becomes out of favor, the response is to switch alignment to the other side with the belief they will be the saviors. In time, even that will swing the other way, the worst case scenario for either party is to be delayed a bit until it swings in their favor later. Neither party is completely a saint or a sinner, but in my view they are both failing the citizenry greatly for their own agendas or benefit.

    I would certainly like to see a benevolent thrid party come forth that won’t be crushed politically or legally by either party. But, the two are too entrenched to be displaed that easily. Voting every incumbent out of office would be a good start.

  37. The Republican party as a whole has no desire to actually help the poor. They only desire to keep themselves in power to make themselves richer.

    That said, you are only fooling yourself if you think the Democrats are much better.

    Obama is a Wall Street puppet. Time to face the facts.

  38. Jeb Bush played an active role in the development of this re-branding … it’s his candidacy in 2016 that;s at stake.

  39. Blouse:

    Funny thing is that he’s not even mentioned in the strategy paper though Rubio, Ryan and plenty others are as GOP leaders who appeal to young or Hispanic voters.

  40. @darren, nick, bron,

    If you’re sick of the two party system, nothing will change so long as you keep voting for Demoncrats and Republicans. If you think polarization is a problem in American politics, more polarization is unlikely to be the solution.

    Consider the following novel approach to protest voting:

    Voting behavior has a minimal impact on policy in large part because it is primarily a means of legitimating the power structure from which both parties derive their influence. The current power structure prevents citizens from effectively lobbying Congress, replaces dignified work with automation, uses higher education to turn students into indentured servants, and provides no viable means to halt the post-911 erosion of civil liberties. Leadership is not a viable means to enact social change because belief in political leadership is itself a tool used to enforce conformity. Conformists don’t bring about social change.

    An alternative to 3rd party voting, which is often denigrated as “throwing your vote away” is to use voting as a means to coordinate the attitudes of the disaffected — that is, to use the existing electoral system for a purpose other than installing an individual in office. Such an alternate use of voting would be to vote for yourself as a write in candidate coupled with the determined advocacy of this same tactic.

    The advantages of such a voting tactic are multi-faceted:

    1. Focuses on individual initiative rather than rely on some external organization for efficacy

    2. If enough people participate, will create a spectacle that the media can’t spin.

    3. Lets disaffected voters know how many others like them are out there as a pre-requisite for more organized behavior

    4. Gives voters the choice to vote for what they believe in rather than against what they fear

    5. Non-violent

    6. Inexpensive

    7. Able to distinguish the angry voting abstainers from the apathetic non-voters

    It is important to the success of such a tactic that participants vote for themselves and not a third-party candidate as a “protest vote.” The objective is to create a numerical anomaly in the election results that neither the media nor the political establishment can spin by creating a disparity between the number of ballots cast and the number of votes leading candidates receive. The purpose is to refuse to legitimize a corrupt system.

    If a prospective participant is afraid of becoming a “spoiler” and tipping the election in favor of “the other side,” then, first and foremost, advocacy of this tactic should be directed towards non-voters who don’t vote for major parties anyway.

    Also, keep in mind another way of interpreting how close our elections have become:

    In 2000, the Florida recount was triggered by statute because less than 0.5% of votes separated Bush from Gore. If one denies that the election was rigged, one must then accept that an election settled by less than the statistical margin of error by definition says nothing about voter preference. An election so close might as well be settled by chance.

    A statistically-significant degree of participation in such an action would be 5% of the popular vote, as this is what is required for federal election matching funds. This could be the youth vote. The purpose is to create a numerical “black hole” that the nation will have to examine, both in terms of voter preferences and with respect to the integrity of the voting system overall.

    If you’re like most voters, then you believe polarization is a problem in contemporary American politics. Voting for Democrats and Republicans will only lead to more polarization, and is not a viable solution. At some point, citizens are going to have to take just a little bit of a risk and change their behavior. Anybody who looks towards the risks taken by protesters in the Arab Spring should consider engaging with this more modest risk.

  41. Darren and Nick.,
    First of all, the idea that the Democrats are just as responsible for the logjam in congress is not borne out by the facts. Just who has filibustered bills over 300 times since Obama took office? How many times has the House voted to repeal Obamacare since it began 3 years ago, when they as a group knew it would not pass the Senate or be signed by President Obama?
    I am not suggesting that the Democrats are not looking after the corporations and the wealthy more than they should, but to suggest there is an equal responsibility for deadlock is not accurate.

    Secondly, The only way any progress in the political system will occur is when the money is taken out of politics. Members of Congress have to continually fund raise for their next election. Senators have 6 years to fund raise, but they have to raise even more money for a state wide campaign. Get the private money out of the system and you will jump start any reform, imo.

  42. INDIGO:

    you mean vote Libertarian? I can do that with no problem if they give up anarchy and just talk about limited, small government.

  43. @bron,

    I wish Ron Paul would have run as an actual libertarian.

    If he got 5% of the popular vote, he could have qualified a libertarian party for federal matching funds the next season. Instead he ran as a Republican, and with the Citizens United ruling, the federal campaign matching system is now irrelevant. That’s a real opportunity missed.

  44. “Priebus and the five authors of the report – Henry Barbour (nephew of former R.N.C. chairman Haley Barbour) of Mississippi, Zori Fonalledas of Puerto Rico, and Glenn McCall of South Carolina, all members of the R.N.C., along with Sally Bradshaw, an adviser to Jeb Bush, and Ari Fleischer, former press secretary to George W. Bush – were far more blunt in their analysis than many expected.” (NYTimes) (The report was released on 3/18)

    Jeb Bush at CPAC dinner on 3/15:

    “In our country today, if you’re born poor, if your parents didn’t go to college, if you don’t know your father, if English isn’t spoken at home, then the odds are stacked against you. You are more likely to stay poor today than at any other time since World War II.”

    ” … The face of the Republican Party needs to be the face of every American, and we need to be the party of inclusion and acceptance. It’s our heritage and it’s our future and we need to couch our efforts in those terms,”

    “Our central mission as conservatives is to reignite social and economic mobility in this country.”

    Straight out of Growth and Opportunity Project

  45. Blouise, Jeb Bush will be the moderate in the race. Rand Paul is attempting to get the Santorum vote with his “personhood” bill. He is courting the libertarian and christianist vote at the same time. Don’t know if it will work. Hillary might be able to expand the Obama coalition from 51% to 54%.

  46. Lawrence:

    I wasn’t just referring to the logjam that you have suggested, which I would agree with you, I am talking globally about both their irresponsibility to the public for putting our country into the situation it is in; especially with regard to the mounting debt and the other inequities that have resulted. I don’t like their overbearing approach to civil liberties or getting us into actions that young men and women have to bear the must tragic of pains (such as wars or lost opportunities or economic subjugation.)

  47. Bron 1, March 24, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Dredd:

    a plutocrat is not a capitalist. John Galt was not a plutocrat, he was more of a hippie, he wanted to be left alone to do his own thing in freedom and peace. A hippie without the bad hair and clothes and who used his mind to better his lot in life.

    Ayn Rand was against plutocracy, oligarchy, dictatorship and any other similar form of tyranny …
    ============================================
    A capitalist is anything a capitalist wants to be to get as much money as possible, which boils down to greed all too often.

    It is the ultimate shape shifter ideology, which along with its user crosses ok from time to time on its way to this or that form of oppression.

    Like many other “isms.”

    I recently read the article “Is Capitalism Moral” and commented how inane such a question is.

    It is like asking “is a hammer moral”, because both are inanimate.

    Any idolaters who worship hammers or capitalism are, shall we say, “imaginative.”

    Paul Ryan is imaginative concerning Ayn Rand, from whom he got his ideology and purpose for “public service”, as I noted up-thread.

    Others have correctly observed of her:

    In yesterday’s post we looked at the high number of psychopaths on Wall Street, and elsewhere, so today we will refine the data down to show more of that psychopathology, which is now embedded within the ideals that converted the constitutional republic with a middle-class oriented economy, into a Plutocracy running a Plutonomy.

    Her psychopathic ideas made billionaires feel like victims … Selfishness, it contends, is good, altruism evil, empathy and compassion are irrational and destructive. The poor deserve to die; the rich deserve unmediated power … This holds that the only moral course is pure self-interest. We owe nothing, she insists, to anyone, even to members of our own families. She described the poor and weak as “refuse” and “parasites”, and excoriated anyone seeking to assist them …the nation … is rescued, through unregulated greed and selfishness, by one of the heroic plutocrats, John Galt.

    (Ayn Rand: Patron Saint of The Plutocracy – 2, emphasis added). You not only have it wrong Bron, you are not even in the ballpark.

    Ayn Rand is as unAmerican as any psychotic ever, and has nothing to do with capitalism, except for using it as an evil tool of various psychotic plutocrats.

    Her mind was ravaged with everything wrong on this planet and in this country.

  48. SwM,

    Jeb is the anointed one … if he wants it … remember Romney … nothing has changed

    I honestly have no real inkling what the Democrats are planning … Hillary, Biden or another unknown like Obama? I just don’t know

  49. Indigo Jones 1, March 24, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    @ Dredd, Bron

    Article IV of the Articles of Confederation begins:

    “The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different states in this union, the free inhabitants of each of these states, paupers, vagabonds and fugitives from Justice excepted, shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several states.”

    Note, “paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice” are “excepted” from the “privileges and immunities of free citizens.”

    Not only to blacks and women not count, but hippies and the poor are classed with criminals.
    =====================================================
    That is why Ayn Rand moved here to Hollywood from her “homeland” Russia.

    She thought she would help the Republicans turn the place back into the place governed by those Articles.

    They are working hard to tear the hell out of our nation in the process.

  50. SwM,

    I’d like to think so but there is Biden to consider and they seem to be “placing” him. In that matter, they can be as short sighted as the Republicans.

    Don’t get me wrong … I’d be happy with either choice.

  51. SwM,

    Tex, on the other hand, would be positively ecstatic if Hillary got the nod. He is a huge Hillary fan. Our bank account would suffer. ;)

  52. Bush II on Bill & Ted’s Ayn Rand’s Bogus Journey to become one of the 300 (1% of the 1%):

    “Throughout our history, the words of the Declaration have inspired immigrants from around the world to set sail to our shores. These immigrants have helped transform 13 small colonies into a great and growing nation of more than 300 people.”—Charlottesville, Va., July 4, 2008

    It also dove tails with what Indigo Jones said about The Articles of Confederation.

  53. The Captalist In Chief:

    “I’ve abandoned free market principles to save the free market system.”—Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2008

  54. Mark,
    Wonderful post. “Then came the right-wing Reagan revolution of 1980 that made being poor akin to being a criminal.”

    Regan was truly a transformative president, in the most destructive way. Government as the enemy, poverty as equivalent to criminality and sloth, a war on organized labor and user fees as a way to shift tax burdens onto the working class while at the same time re-structuring the tax code to benefit the investment class.

    This country is still recovering from the Reagan revolution. It pained me to hear Obama reference Reagan during some of the past campaign. I will rejoice on the day when the weight of historical opinion recognizes Reagan for the destructive force he was. And to think that the Reagan faithful were proposing his addition to Mt. Rushmore is too much to bear. We will sooner recover from eight years of Bush/Cheney than we will from the eight years of Reagan/Bush.

  55. The poor should find ways to help themselves. We as a nation have a 16 trillion dollar debt and Obama’s plan will increase it to 25 trillion before he gets the deficit under control. Now if that doesn’t show how bad we are financially then those of you who believe that government is their savior, pitch in with all of your money and let the rest of us run the nation out of the mess we are in by not only balancing the budget but by decreasing the debt and eliminating the deficit completely.

  56. Anon

    The Republican Party is the only party who does want to help the poor. You never help someone truly by giving them something. Give a man a fish and he eats for a day but teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime.

  57. “Say the word “plunder” when explaining what has happened to the American middle class.” – Dredd

    Yep.

    “Wealth creation is the only way to eliminate poverty, the superior system for wealth creation is capitalism.

    More economic and political freedom is the way to reduce or eliminate powerty, not less.” – Bron

    What I expect from you and completely and utterly wrong. The pillaging of the middle class, once protected by laws that restrained bankers and financiers, is brought to you by the rush to deregulation that started under Reagan that have systematically dismantled the protections put in place by the New Deal after those same corporate criminals wrecked the economy in the 20’s and caused the Great Depression. Regulated capitalism is the best method for generating wealth because it constrains bad actors in positions to damage the economy at scale. Laissez-faire capitalism is the problem, not the cure. Left to its own devices, laissez-faire capitalism is a recipe for social self-immolation as those with no sense of ethics or social responsibility fall upon our society like zombies on fresh meat in the name of personal profits, damn the consequences. Laissez-faire capitalism has brought this country to its knees twice already. Learn the lessons of the patterns of history or be doomed to repeat them. It is also an open door invitation to Italian style fascism. And we all know how fascism ends. Badly for everyone.

    You think all forms of socialism are the Devil because you’ve been fed and willingly ate a huge line of bullshit for years.

    A form of socialism is the only thing that will save us at this point. Whether the fetters on bad actors are loose (democratic socialism) or firm (any of several other variations on socialism) is a matter of preference. However, letting the monkeys run the ape house is not taking care of society and its general welfare.

    And taking care of society’s general welfare is a Constitutional mandate.

    “I would vote for Obama for a third term before I voted for Jeb Bush, 2 of them are enough.” – Bron

    And this is why I am ever thankful for the 22nd Amendment, but I get where you are coming from. However, consider that Obama has done easily as much damage to the Constitution as the Bush family and that he did so based on bold faced lies to do the exact opposite once elected. Then reconsider that statement.

    Indigo Jones – in re “Voting for Yourself” Strategy for protest voting.

    I like it.

  58. Timmy:

    The poor should find ways to help themselves.

    ************

    Like by eating cake? And what shold their children do? Or the elderly poor? Or the disabked poor? Or the mentally challenged poor?

    Are you related to Marie Antionette? Btw how much did you pay in federal taxes last year?

  59. Timmy:

    You’re priceless. Give a man a fish in the digital age? Ever heard of workfare? We address yourvplatitude already. Care to try again with other Republican talking points?

  60. Timmy:
    What’s your view on disabled veterans? Ability to work either limited or nonexistent. Walking wounded, literally, with physical and mental problems proximately caused by Republican elective wars.

    Gonna solve their problems by teaching them to fish?

    I was going to link to stories with headlines such as this one from 2005: “GOP Rejects Added VA Hospital Funds – Los Angeles Times”

    Could not post them because there were more than two million hits on Google. What, in your opinion, do we owe combat veterans?

    What do we owe the elderly who do not have enough in their Social Security check to live on? If you hang around the pet food aisle of a supermarket long enough, you will see older people, shabbily dressed, surreptitiously studying pet food cans to see which have the most nutrition at the lowest price.

    Timmy, what kind of fishing lessons do you recommend for the young single mother who is confined to a wheelchair because of a crippling disease?

  61. Republicans can’t stand to see all the poor people they have created with their spectacularly failed trickle-down economic policies. The poor are simply considered collateral damage.in the GOP fight to give more to the mega wealthy….

  62. This open letter to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney was written by Thomas Young, a dying veteran. Young is now on hospice care. Timmy, what kind of fishing lures do you recommend for Tom Young?
    *********************************************************

    To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
    From: Tomas Young

    I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

    I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

    You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

    I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

    Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

    I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

    I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

    I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

    My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.

    *************************
    Journalist Chris Hedges recently interviewed Tomas Young at his home. Read it at the link………………if you have the guts.

    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_crucifixion_of_tomas_young_20130310/

  63. Interview with Thomas Young. Anyone want to bet on whether George W. Bush and Dick Cheney will watch this? Or if by any chance they did, would they care? Timmy, I am still waiting for some advice on what kind of fishing tackle to send Thomas Young.

  64. “I would vote for Obama for a third term before I voted for Jeb Bush, 2 of them are enough.”-Bron

    Bron, what difference is it when you already voted for 4 terms of GW Bush? Whats another 4 years of Bush going to matter? You really do not think there is any actual difference between Bush and Obama do you?

  65. The democrats need to demonstrate they can win an election without resorting to voter fraud. It’s becoming more evident each and every time we hear of a voter that voted multiple times for Obama. One guy voted for his wife that passed away before she could vote. Still another made news admitting she voted at least six times for Obama. So the $10,000 question is, can a democrat win the 2016 election without voter fraud.

    Now, the Republicans have a problem – with the “low information voters”. These voters blindly voted for Mr. Obama and are completely clueless that the reason why there are poor people is because the democrats oppress voters and keep them in a needy state – dependent on the government, and therefore, they need the votes. So the Republican running in 2016 has the huge task of trying to get out to the low information voters and simply tell the truth about what the democrats have been doing to them for the past several decades.

    Now if a Republican can get to the low information voters and combat the voter fraud for the democrats that will without question, be a factor again in the 2016 election, he will have the colossal task of undoing and fixing all the screw-ups from the 8 years of Mr. Obama. If the country can be fixed again, it will take a strong Republican to fix it.

  66. Hubert Cumberdale,
    I the Republicans can pony up a candidate like Teddy Roosevelt or Abraham Lincoln, maybe so.

    By the way, what are your suggestions for what it is going to take to make things right for veterans returning from Bush and Cheney’s elective wars? People like Thomas Young? Then there are those civilians who, through no fault of their own due to disease, old age or accident, are in similar situations. What about them?

  67. The true story is even more shocking than Mark’s shocking post reveals:

    Incomes for the bottom 90 percent of Americans only grew by $59 on average between 1966 and 2011 (when you adjust those incomes for inflation), according to an analysis by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston for Tax Analysts. During the same period, the average income for the top 10 percent of Americans rose by $116,071, Johnston found.

    To put that into perspective: if you say the $59 boost is equivalent to one inch, then the incomes of the top 10 percent of Americans rose by 168 feet, Johnston explained to Alternet last week.

    (HuffPo). A lot of people need to get in touch with reality.

  68. Otteray Scribe

    You never addressed my point: Giving someone something doesn’t help them. Of course, there will always be exceptions. Families are obligated to help each other and when there is no one left then churches and non-profit organizations should step in. Government however is not the answer. Simply put, the poor will always be with us but America’s treasury will not keep up. That is a fact.

  69. Dredd

    So what if the top 10% income grew more than the other 90%. America was not found on the idea that everyone should be the same. Today, people have opportunities in education and it is their choice with what they do with it. The real problem is a breakdown in the family and family values which no one wants to talk about.

  70. Timmy,
    Your assumptions fall under the category of argumentum ad Ignorantiam.

    You ignore more than a hundred years of psychological research into human nature. Not to mention a shifting the burden fallacy. Let churches and individuals volunteer to provide help, while the rich and super rich get to volunteer nothing.

    The only psychologist to ever be awarded a Nobel Prize was Dr. Herbert Simon. His research pointed out a number of truths about the behavior of both organizations and individuals when it came to economic decision making. His theories have been summarized as follows:

    The task of rational decision making is to select the alternative that results in the more preferred set of all the possible consequences. This task can be divided into three required steps:

    1. the identification and listing of all the alternatives;
    2. the determination of all the consequences resulting from each of the alternatives; and
    3, the comparison of the accuracy and efficiency of each of these sets of consequences

    The greedy work constantly on ways to keep their stuff. The poor tend to contribute money, goods and services at a much larger rate than the rich.
    That takes us to the Rich vs. Poor Fallacy:

    http://www.nolanchart.com/article5450-the-rich-vs-poor-fallacy.html

  71. Otteray Scribe

    “The greedy work constantly on ways to keep their stuff”

    It’s their stuff!!! I guess you have no problem letting anybody come and take your stuff. That is not stealing under your theory. Why don’t you move to Cyprus and put all of your money into their banks? What you need to learn is about all of the waste that takes place in government programs that would not occur if everything was left up to people helping people. You use the word greedy but fail to realize that a high percentage of people are not greedy. We do help each other and do not worry about those who have more than us.
    Secondly, as stated above, FAPE-free and appropriate education is available to all. It is what one does with the opportunity that makes a difference. If a person has a child as a teenager then that is their problem not societies. If one drops out then that is their problem and not societies. If they choose not to study or do their homework then it is their problem and not societies. I have no problem telling people like that no otherwise how will they ever learn?

  72. You really didn’t pay attention in class. Arguments built on logical fallacies and contrary to fact, oh, what is that word . . . lose.

  73. Gene H.

    You got logical right but fallacies only apply to your way of thinking.

    Are you saying what is yours isn’t actually yours?

  74. Timmy,

    Why bother? OS has handed you your head on a plate already. All you have are Libertarian talking points based on faulty logic to begin with such as the idea of absolute rights under a social compact (including property rights). There is no such thing. And yes, I was talking about your logical fallacies. However, if you just want to be tied in knots?

    I’m your huckleberry.

  75. Timmy 1, March 25, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Dredd

    So what if the top 10% income grew more than the other 90%. America was not found on the idea that everyone should be the same.
    =======================================================
    The problem is not “more,” it is the plutocratic dominion via More, MORE, and M O R E … which at some point jumps over the common decency into the oppression, feudalism, and elitism that we tried to leave behind in England’s darker days.

    There are many issues upon which everyone should be the same.

    You need to find out what they are.

  76. Pete999: “TIMMEH!!!”

    *****

    LOL, Oh dude, you didn’t. LOL.

    I loves me some Southpark and my Pete999.

  77. Well, I’ve been waiting for someone to link to the most appropriate song, but I guess it’s up to me.

    Much like The Dude, I can’t abide by the Eagles, so here’s a song that will hopefully erase the aural memory of those whimpy Eagle’s tunes. :)

    The lyrics are also very appropriate for the subject at hand.

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