Is This The America That We Want?


Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty, (rafflaw) Guest Blogger

Over the past few weeks and months, we have read repeatedly about how politicians are upset that the government is doing nothing about jobs.  We hear it from the Right and we hear it from the Left, but the unemployment rate is still around 9.0% with many out of work Americans no longer looking for work.   With this background, I was incensed when I read about a Minnesota legislative proposal to bar citizens on public aid from having more than $20.00 cash in their pocket at any time!

“Minnesota Republicans are pushing legislation that would make it a crime for people on public assistance to have more $20 in cash in their pockets any given month. This represents a change from their initial proposal, which banned them from having any money at all.  On March 15, Angel Buechner of the Welfare Rights Committee testified in front of the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee on House File 171. Buechner told committee members, “We would like to address the provision that makes it illegal for MFIP [one of Minnesota’s welfare programs] families to withdraw cash from the cash portion of the MFIP grant – and in fact, appears to make it illegal for MFIP families to have any type of money at all in their pockets. How do you expect people to take care of business like paying bills such as lights, gas, water, trash and phone?” ‘ Crooks and Liars  

I know of other states that require that unemployment benefits be deposited into debit card accounts, but the worker can get cash from that card.  Minnesota seems to think that $25.00 in one’s pocket is an indication that they are wasting the public aid money!  These same politicians have no problem in granting Billions of dollars in tax give aways to the wealthy and to corporations, but God forbid an unemployed person, or a disabled person who might have $30.00 in their pocket!

I wonder why Minnesota and other states are requiring that public aid benefits be deposited into a debit card account?  Could it be that the fees banks charge for the use of the debit card has something to do with this legislative nightmare?  Maybe if we follow the money, we will find some Minnesota legislators who are receiving contributions from the Bank lobby.  How will this Draconian anti-cash proposal be enforced?  Will unemployed people be stopped in the street and frisked?  Will there be a “Cash Swat Team” roaming the streets of Minnesota searching to find those pesky cash spending poor people?  This very same legislation will even make it illegal for the debit card to be used outside of the state of Minnesota.  Firedoglake   

This attack on the Poor and unemployed is not just limited to Minnesota.  We have seen the unemployment benefits attacked in Washington, D.C. and in states like Missouri.  Missouri is cutting off the benefits of the unemployed who go beyond the magical deadline of 79 weeks.  “Because the Senate failed to act, the extended benefits program will expire March 27, and the final checks will go out April 2.  The state Department of Labor estimates 11,700 Missourians were receiving extended benefits in early March, while about 6,500 more were nearing the 79-week cutoff.  About 950 unemployed workers become eligible for the extended benefits each week, according to department officials.  But Lembke and other fiscal hawks argued that the state should reject the federal money and cut off benefits at 79 weeks to protest government spending and large federal deficits.” McClatchey  Here they are cutting off the benefits of people who are desperate and out of work and these politicians claim that they are doing it to “protest” the fiscal policies in Washington!

These are just a couple of the examples of the assault on the poor and unemployed of Minnesota and Missouri.  But it is happening in Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire and Maine and all over the country.  Even though the Banksters get millions in bonuses and the wealthy get huge tax breaks from the Federal government and many states, the politicians keep talking about fiscal responsibility.  Some have even called the long-term unemployed lazy and claim that they are satisfied with staying home and receiving the governmental pittance that is called public aid.  Crooks and Liars   I just can’t remember a time when being poor and getting laid off from your job because the corporation that you work for has outsourced your job, was considered a heinous crime. 

We have politicians in our country who have violated laws against torturing detainees in our War on Terror, but yet they are making millions writing books and going on TV to claim that they did nothing wrong.  Why are they allowed to make millions and to not suffer the slings and arrows of a governmental intrusion into their lives, but yet if you lose your job and can’t find work in this Depression, and you have $25.00 in your pocket, you are subject to arrest?  Who are these people who decide that the wealthy need every break possible, but that the poor are to be mistrusted?

I would like to paraphrase a question that was asked of Senator Joseph McCarthy in a Congressional hearing in the 1950’s and direct it to the legislators who are behind this affront against the poor and middle class. ”Have you no Shame”?   Some of these same politicians claim that this is a Christian country.  If that is true, I think Christ is crying tears of blood today.

46 thoughts on “Is This The America That We Want?”


    What the anti-cash movement really wants is digital totalitarianism: a dystopian nightmare in which the entire human race is enslaved by international corporations and their pet governments. An anti-establishment gadfly like WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could be instantly deprived of money–and thus freedom of movement–with a couple of keystrokes. (We saw a preview of this when PayPal and Amazon shut down WikiLeaks donation mechanism and web server, respectively.) The high-tech hell depicted by the film “Enemy of the State” would become reality.

    It is true that, in a society where every good and service has to be paid for with a debit or credit card, terrorist groups would find it much harder to operate. Don’t forget, however, that today’s terrorists often become tomorrow’s liberators. Anti-British terrorists George Washington and Thomas Jefferson wouldn’t have stood a chance if the Brits had been able to intercept wire transfers from France.

  2. About the time you think it cannot get any weirder, it does. The latest from Arizona:

    Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce (R) claimed last week that Americans are not citizens of the United States but citizens of their respective states.

    It gets better. In a movement led by Pearce, several members of the Arizona Legislature introduced a bill giving Arizona the power to ignore any and all federal laws with which they disagree.

    Full story here:

  3. RE: Otteray Scribe, March 20, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    As for Brian, I have no idea what has happened to him. His absence is conspicuous, since there are not as many disruptions of the discussions. He says he has an autistic spectrum disorder, and judging from his rigidity, that sounds reasonable.

    As for Brian, see comment 369 or so at:

    I find the notion that I have “rigidity” to be amazingly comical. The simple fact, as I can fathom it, is that I am so remarkably free of “rigidity” as to be comfortable questioning any and every aspect of human society which garners my attention.

    I reject the Adversarial System of Jurisprudence for the simple reason that I found my three encounters with it in Door County, Wisconsin to be damaging to my family in ways beyond horrid.

    I cite the Wisconsin Constitution regarding conscience and religion and am ignored by the people I have a hunch are the rigid ones and who decry me as being rigid because I am flexible enough to stand up in accord with conscience to whatever I find harmful enough to merit being protested.

    While on the trip, I needed an item from a hardware store to accomplish a minor repair. To avoid outing this person, I shall describe a person who had a similar physical handicap, a person I knew as a grade-school child in Sturgeon Bay in the late 1940s.

    The person in Sturgeon Bay was a member of a contractor-construction family, and this person had worked as an electrician before going off to serve in World War II. He went to war with two functional hands and came back from the war with only his left hand in place; his right arm stopped several inches from where his right hand would have been had the war not removed it from his body. It can be challenging to be a one-handed electrician.

    The person I met on the trip to Omaha had both hands in place, and had a different sort of physical handicap. My wife has prosthetic joints for both hips and knees and her left ankle has collapsed and she wears a leg brace in order to walk, and usually uses a four prong cane or, sometimes, a wheeled walker. My colon was snatched in the summer of 1986, the better to prevent colon cancer (no colon, no colon cancer?), and the ileorectal anastomosis sometimes goes into spasms that essentially stop me in my tracks. I know something of what it is to be physically handicapped. I know something of what it is to live a life which triumphs over physical handicaps, also.

    The hardware store was not very busy, and I spoke with the “hardware store person” for perhaps ten minutes. Near the beginning of our talking with each other, I asked him the three questions of my doctoral field work, “1. Ever make mistakes? 2. Ever make a mistake you shouldn’t have made? 3. Ever make a mistake you could have avoided?”

    In remarkable contrast with the usual comments on this blawg, the hardware store person responded with puzzlement to my first question, asking me, “What do you mean by ‘mistake’?” I said, to the person, “Use your own meaning,” and the person said in reply, “I’m not sure; I am always learning new things.” To my second and third questions, the hardware store person answered, resoundingly, “No!”

    When I commented to the hardware store person that, with the around 4000 people I have asked those three questions, only about 2 percent answer as she/he did, the person told me that was surprising. Near the end of our talk, I asked the person for his/her view of the Adversarial System of Jurisprudence, and was told, in effect (I here use paraphrase to protect confidentiality), “It is dishonest.”

    Somewhat in the manner of Thorsten Veblen, I attended Carleton College, but did not graduate from Carleton (my dad, brother, and daughter did graduate from Carleton). I read “The Theory of the Leisure Class,” while at Carleton; my copy is the January, 1957 Mentor paperback with the C. Wright Mills introduction.

    Early in my time at Carleton, it came to my attention to learn whether that which leads to the existence of “the leisure class” (aka, the top tier) might also be that which leads to war, war being the means whereby the leisure class (or top tier) maintains its supposedly elevated status.

    The presence of a fiat economy (one incompatible with engineering economics) appears to be to be essential for the Leisure Class to maintain its status, for it is quite precisely, in my observations thus far, the fiat economy which enables those of the Leisure Class to so subjugate those folks who actually do useful work that the Leisure Class can effectively enslave those who actually do useful work. Bill Moyers, among many others, remarked that the rich (Leisure Class) are rich because the poor are poor, and I observe that the poor are poor because their labor has been co-opted by the ratchet mechanism of the fiat economy, whereby the instigators of the fiat economy reap the profits of those who do actual work when the fiat economy is in upswing and reap the spoils when the fiat economy is on the downswing. Without the upswings and downswings, the fiat economy simply cannot, as best I can yet understand, function.

    It is the purpose of this fiat economy ratchet to drive wealth into the Leisure Class with such effect as to terrify those who do actual work into abject fear for their survival, and drive those who do actual work into being scared to death of asserting their validity, given that the Leisure Class effectively owns “the government,” and can get the government to concoct any and every law and statute needed for the class disparity to be maintained and enhanced.

    As for my “disruption of the discussions,” it is quite precisely by doing what top tier people regard as disruption of the discussions that I am able to gather the research data necessary for my continuing work.

    The mechanism I use is simple. I write something and post it, being as truthful as words allow. Because what I experience as being truthful is markedly disparate from the views I first encountered among the Leisure Class students at Carleton (with some of whom it seemed to me that I was deemed lower than putrid filth), I began to work away to learn what happens to people such that they become willing to be top tier or Leisure Class members.

    Threaten me with unending, unbearable torture or worse, and I will never allow my being of the top tier, or of the Leisure Class. My conscience will never allow me to be other than an ordinary, run-of-the-mill person whose actual presence on earth is at best a triviality.

    To those of the top tier, I have a simple question. Who told you which way is up?

    Opinions may vary. Alas, which way is up is not a function of opinion; it is of directly observable, objective fact.

    The predicament deception presents to the deceived is simple. Deception resolutely informs those who have been deceived that they have not been deceived, else what would deception be?

    I find no fault with those who have been deceived, I find no fault with those of the top tier and/or the Leisure Class.

    For anything actually worth doing, in a world which supposedly began with a big bang, everything worth learning has to be learned because the big bang began with nothing and nothingness.

    If it is worth doing, it is worth doing poorly or worse when that is what is possible. It may be necessary to do something billions upon billions of times before it becomes possible to do it other than poorly. Yet everything done poorly is one step on the path to learning to do it well, and nothing done poorly would be better to not have been done.

    My work may be deemed a study of what sort of trauma leads people to seek refuge in the top-tier/Leisure Class bunch instead of doing something useful for the future of humanity besides helping people learn what is wisely avoided once understanding how to avoid it has become practicable.

    Top Tier? Leisure Class? It ain’t your fault, y’all is done did been deceived.

    I come with an offer of real help in hand, for free.

    While people worth noting were gathering that which makes them noteworthy, I was stumbling around in the dark recesses of human society and in the works of those now forgotten or despised. I have what I believe to be a first edition of LeCompte du Noüy, “Human Destiny,” Longmans, Green and Co., 1947. On the front of the dust cover is the following from Robert A. Millikan (of Nobel Prize and Millikan Oil Drop fame), “A book of such fundamental grasp and insight as cannot be expected to appear more than once or twice in a century.” Like me, du Noüy had studied biophysics; unlike me, he was not a bioengineer. Like me, he saw and understood much of the inextricable unity of religion and science, and he, somewhat as I work to accomplish, wrote of that inextricable unity.

    World War Ii had ended less than 2 years before “Human Destiny” was on its way to the publisher. From page 263-4, “Alas, the convulsions which the world has just undergone will leave the people in such a state of exhaustion that individualism will be endangered. Ambitions, especially in Europe, will for a long time be restricted to security; security against aggression, against hunger, against cold. Men will be too tired of suffering. They have rediscovered the fears of their prehistoric ancestors, and the need to aggregate, the spirit of the herd, the elementary instinct of the horde may reappear in the masses. Premonitory signs can already be seen. They will probably materialize through the multiplication of professional or other defense organisms which begin by protecting private interests and, in general, end by annihilating the individual and suppressing his liberty. The subjugation of man to things, the disindividualization of man, his submission to soulless social or political machines, in which he will seek refuge in the vain hope of a material protection, will lead to his exploitation by unscrupulous leaders; the disaffection from a spiritual power, which, for lack of energy and clear vision, may lead to the lulling of conscience. It will perhaps be a somber period in human evolution, a period of anonymous, underhanded strife, of distrust against all initiative, a period of regression for true civilization.”

    I study the work of those who have sufficiently and deeply pondered the human enigma that I may learn something of value about the real, unfolding nature of human nature, and not simply replicate such of the blunders of the past as developed into the Leisure Class, as a personal exercise of Leisure Class vanity.

    That which those of the Leisure Class may deem disruptive is that which my vocation most emphatically invites me to explore. And I explore no less for the benefit of those of the Leisure Class than for anyone else.

  4. “Someone tell these doofusses that it’s practically impossible to have 20 dollars on you when you’re on public aid”

    I agree with BelgianBrain, except that I think doofusses is too mild an appelation. I prefer inhumane, immoral bastards.

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