Tag Archives: george carlin

Why Trickle-Down Economics Doesn’t Work: The Rich Don’t Share–It Makes Them Feel Poor!

We, as a country, are in collective denial. As Phil Alston states so well in a recent interview with Amy Goodman, we have the money to end poverty, but we simply choose not to, donating money to the rich instead (via tax breaks, tax refunds, and other forms of government assistance.)

Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? Uh no. It actually makes no logical sense at all.

But I would take Alston’s point even further to say this: we’re not only refusing to help the poor but we’re also choosing to persecute the poor as well.

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a war on the poor.

A war on the poor! The United States is always at war with something, and it’s usually something defenseless, something or someone we can easily defeat because of their lesser resources.

Here in the USA, we don’t know ourselves. That’s a part of our denial: 36th in water quality in the world, a high infant mortality rate, shorter lifespans than in many other countries, etc…

Yet the brainwashing continues. Schools continue to teach children that they’re lucky to live in the USA, the land of opportunity with freedom of speech, freedom to be yourself, unless, of course, you say something that someone with a lot more money and power than you doesn’t like…

That was true in Hitler’s day, and it is still true today. We’re all free, theoretically. People everywhere in the world are free to say whatever they want (as long as they are physically able to speak.) Problem is, some other people also have the freedom to lock you up in prison for speaking. Yes, you have the right to speak, but if someone else has the right to lock you up in jail for the rest of your life for speaking, you probably don’t feel free to speak, even though, technically, you are.

You see, we all can speak out against social injustice, but some of us worry about losing our jobs, about alienating people who have power over us, or worse, about being imprisoned. So we remain silent.

Here’s my speech:

There’s a type of prison that is rarely discussed in the US these days because the PTB (powers that be) would rather we not notice them. I’m speaking, of course, of the prison of poverty. You may not be in what we commonly refer to as a jail, but not having the freedom to do the things you love and live the life you choose because you don’t have the money to do so, is a lot like being imprisoned. Working at a demoralizing job in an environment that attacks your self esteem and that doesn’t pay a decent living wage, you can become so consumed with stress, always trying to keep up with the cost of living–paying bills late, paying fees charged on top of those bills because you paid late, paying the rent, the utilities, the high cost of healthy food, insurance costs, transportation costs, health care costs, etc. It all adds up for those of us who struggle to make ends meet.

Eventually, many of us just give up and accept that our lives will always be miserable no matter what we try to do to change them. That is the moment when some people succumb to addictions or abusive behavior toward themselves or their families. Some people have just given up on themselves and on the human race in general. ‘What’s the point?’ they ask.

If your voice isn’t listened to, then why speak out?

If hard work doesn’t pay off, then why work hard?

If you’re good at what you do and no one cares, then why be good at what you do?

If you’re a nice person but keep struggling while watching the selfish and the cruel succeed, then why be a nice person? Maybe greed really is good?

Do you see my point?

The worry and fear that goes along with financial struggles limits us, prevents us from fully developing as human beings. When we’re struggling so much that there’s no time to think, it’s easy to become self-centered. We become accustomed to worrying about how to pay for things.

Sometimes we forget about those measley hopes and dreams. We forget how to live life, how to find joy, how to relax and listen for our favorite song or wait for a film we want to see to be released. We forget these little luxuries because we just don’t have the money to pay for them and probably never will again. Sometimes we just have to let these things go and… just… survive. Let go of all that makes you human and just learn to survive, like a stray cat howling in the alley.

Survival. Not much of a life, is it?

Yet human suffering caused by poverty could end in an instant here in the United States where there is plenty of exorbitant wealth that could easily be spread around.

What are you saying? Are you a communist? Look, we already talked about that in my previous blog, didn’t we?

Here’s an excerpt of what Phil Alston had to say about poverty in the US:

“Well, the United States is, of course, one of the richest countries in the world. But all of the statistics put it almost at the bottom. Doesn’t matter what it is, whether it’s child mortality rates, whether it’s the longevity of adults [that’s how long we’re expected to live, in case you don’t know,] whether it’s the degree of adequacy of health care, the United States is very close to the bottom on all of these.

What’s really surprising is that when I go to other countries, the big debate is that ‘We don’t have the money. We can’t afford to provide basic services to these people.’

And yet in the United States, they’ve got a trillion or a trillion and a half to give to the very rich, but they also don’t have any of the money to provide a basic lifestyle that is humane for 40 million Americans…

…What’s shocking is that in a country like India today there’s a huge government campaign to try to get sewerage to all people, make it available. In Alabama and West Virginia where I went, I asked state officials, ‘So what’s the coverage of the official sewerage system?’ ‘I don’t know.’ ‘Really. So what plans do you have then for extending the coverage, albeit slowly?’ ‘Uh… None.’ So do you think people can live a decent life if they don’t have access to sewerage? If the sewage is pouring out into the front garden, which is what I saw in a lot of these places?’

‘That’s their problem. If they need it, they can buy it for themselves.

In Alabama where the soil is very tough, it can cost up to $30,000 to put in your own septic system.”

Your thoughts on the United States after this two weeks [of traveling through impoverished areas in the US]?

“Well, the United States is unique. First of all, it doesn’t recognize what we call as social rights on the international level—the right to health care, the right to housing, the right to food. The United States is unique in that, saying, ‘These are not rights.’ Second, the issue with the elimination of poverty always is around resources. We don’t have the money. The United States, again, uniquely has the money. It could eliminate poverty over night, if it wanted to. What we’re seeing now is the classic, it’s a political choice. Where do you want to put your money? Into the very rich or into creating a decent society which will actually be economically more productive than just giving the money to those who already have a lot…”

__Philip Alston, NYU Law Professor, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, from an interview with Amy Goodman on ‘Democracy Now’ 12/19/2017

Related links:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-wealth-reduces-compassion/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/our-humanity-naturally/201603/beware-americas-shocking-loss-empathy

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-wealth-reduces-compassion/

 

 

 

 

 

Why We Need Arts Education and Funding in Order to Function as a Healthy Society

Well, we’ve done it again, peoples. We’ve gone ahead and made another video of one of our political discussions.  This time, Millennial Devon and non-Millennial Meri discuss the arts, the liberal arts, and humanities education.    

When I talk about student loan debt and the suffering it is causing many of us who’ve been damaged by it, I often get the response, “What was your major?” As if that matters..

Or how about this comment:  “College should be tuition-free, except for the arts.” Arts majors should know better. Let’s just eliminate the arts, shall we?

Ooh… Gotta love that one! Are the arts unnecessary? Are artists unimportant? Should we all suffer or starve because our talents lie in the arts?

I think not!

This is part one of the discussion. Part two will post within the week. Check back for more, babies!   Warning: the following video may contain subliminal messages… because it is a work of art!

So…

Why should we study the arts, fund the arts and arts education?

Why is art just as important as engineering, doctoring and computer programming?

We’re creative people, so we’ve come up with lots of ideas.

 

Because:

 

— The arts enable society to function smoothly by providing a way for diverse types of people to work out conflicts and frustrations by working on creative projects together as a team.

 

–The arts are inherently democratic, providing a voice for the underdog, a safe place for people of all genders, races, religions and class backgrounds to communicate ideas that may be unpopular but that need to be heard.

 

–In this way, the arts provide a safe place for ordinary people to speak truth to power, to criticize authority and to make political policy changes via the subtle, subliminal messages of art.

 

–The arts provide a healthy outlet for angry, disenfranchised groups to safely ventilate their frustrations without inflicting harm but while influencing the world powerfully and for the better.

 

–The arts are universal. Around the world and throughout time and space, we humans have expressed our humanity through the arts. We learn about history, about how other peoples have lived, about human nature and what makes us “tick,” by studying art throughout the ages. We also learn about mistakes humans have made that we don’t want to repeat from looking at the arts and how they’ve evolved throughout time. We need an understanding of human nature and common human errors in order to plan social policy and to govern our human race.

 

–The arts can convey information to people who can’t read, can’t write, can’t speak or have mental health disabilities preventing them from communicating in the “normal” way.

 

–The arts influence the general public subliminally. People don’t realize they’re being influenced while they’re being entertained, so they’re more likely to accept the information.

 

–The arts can heal some people with mental illnesses who are in a lot of emotional pain and who can’t be reached otherwise.

 

–The arts make life fun, beautiful and meaningful when it otherwise may seem bleak and hopeless. An artist can take what others consider to be trash and turn it into something beautiful or meaningful.

 

–Studying the arts develops our imagination and creativity, so we become better able at finding solutions to complex problems. We become “out of the box” thinkers. That makes us better problem solvers—particularly when solutions are not obvious to most people. With all the problems in our world today, we need people who are better at solving problems.

 

–Artists tend to be rebels who question authority and the status quo. They are often the first people to recognize serious problems developing within our society. They are often the most capable of informing the masses and getting the masses to listen.

 

So…

 

Why fund the arts? Because we’ll die without them.

We, the humans, need the arts!