Tag Archives: michael parenti

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/

 

 

 

 

 

The Christian Bible–A Communist Manifesto? Socialist Propaganda? Where is the Gestapo of Righteousness When You Need ’em?

So… the Christian Bible. Do you believe what it says is true? Are you a communist? A socialist? A rebel? A reader of this blog? Wow! That’s impressive!

I’m always amazed by the many people who refer to themselves, and rather sanctimoniously indeed, as ‘Christians’ while they continue to advocate ideas and actions that defy what the Christian bible actually teaches.

I’m no biblical scholar, nor am I the most devout. In fact, I’m rather agnostic these days–unsure about everything. Is there a God? Are humans basically good? Or evil? Are Americans more selfish than the rest of the planet, or are we just playing out the dark side of human drama–human nature at its worst. We’re one of the richest countries in the world but that doesn’t motivate us to make the world better. Our wealth as a nation has just made us greedier, more selfish. So is it better for the spirit to just remain poor? Can you be a good person and be rich? Possibly, the love of money is the root of all evil? Well, that’s what the Christian bible says anyhow…

Whew! That’s too heavy, even for me right now. (It is the holiday season, after all…)

Ehem.

Yet I remain surprised (heck, I’m flabbergasted!) when I meet so-called Christians who support ideas like these:

“Money is great! Ya’ gotta love money, or you’ll be poor! Selfishness is good! Don’t share/Don’t care!  And power over other people too–that’s great! We need to control others. God wants us to be rich! Greed is good! We should want more, more and more! The homeless choose to be homeless, so we shouldn’t help them. We shouldn’t provide safety nets to help the poor because the poor are lazy, don’t want to work, are making bad choices, etc. ”    __the propaganda machine, a.k.a., various mainstream media sources in the usA… (sic)

(And then I meet people who are not Christians, sometimes are atheists, and they can be the kindest most loving people without a big, strong hyper-masculinized god to bully them into being nice ’cause otherwise they’ll go to hell! How do they do it?)

Oh yes, there’s lots more propaganda I could discuss here, but just for the sake of saving time and space, let’s talk about the poor, the homeless, those who are suffering economically. Should we help them? Should we budget cut programs to help the poor while continuing to give to the rich? ‘Cause ya’ know, the rich are so nice. They want to make money so that they can help us. They don’t make money to enrich themselves and their families. They don’t have selfish motives. They make money so that they can give some back to the rest of us, right?

Yeah, right. That’s why they keep trying to get out of paying taxes ’cause they just love giving back to the society that provided them with the resources they needed to get rich in the first place.

Hmm…

But goshly gosh, it’s Christmas/Kwanzaa/Chanukah/the holiday season/an Atheist’sNightmare, so shouldn’t we all come together as a people and share? At least for now? Share the wealth among each other?

Got plenty of money to go to college? Well, then why not  give someone else a scholarship so that he/she can go?

Got plenty of money and then some, for food? Well, why  not go out and give food to those who need it?

Got plenty of energy and physical strength to do work? Well, why not find an elderly or disabled person who can’t and needs help then mow their lawn, trim their hedges, shovel their snow, cook them a meal, etc.

Why not? Why not help someone else? It’s a great way to meet new people. Think of the new friends you could meet. Think of the many ways that person might end up helping you, might become a shoulder you can one day cry upon when there’s a death in your family, or a person you could go to for advice when you’re facing a problem you can’t solve. We never know how we might help each other (and sometimes in small ways that don’t involve money.) Yes, it may take up a little of our time, but may also enrich us on a spiritual level and make our lives worth living. That is both priceless and timeless.

What are you saying? Are you promoting communism? Socialism? Goshly gosh, don’t you like capitalism?

Nope, I’m talking about kindness, fairness, peace and love. I’m talking about what the Bible that you claim to have read actually does teach:

–that at the end of times, the least among us will move to the top:        “…the last will be first and the first will be last…,”  _Matthew 20:16

that we should give and give willingly, be willing to give the shirt off of our backs:  “Give to anyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.”  _Luke 6:30

“If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone takes your cloak, do not withhold your tunic as well.”  _Luke 6:29

“If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.” Matthew 5:40

Just be happy with basic necessities. Don’t strive for massive amounts of material wealth:

“But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to be rich, however, fall into temptation and become ensnared by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.” _1Timothy 6:8-9, New Int’l version

The Lord will provide, so don’t worry about money and material possessions: “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field,  which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you–you of little faith.”  _Luke 12:28

The way we treat the least fortunate among us is the way we’re treating God himself. Can’t give to the poor? Then you are snubbing God himself!: “Truly, I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” _Matthew 25:45, New Int’l version

“Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”   _Isaiah 58:7

But my own personal favorite is this one: “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” _1 Timothy 6:10, New International version

Life in the Idiocracy: the Perils of Assuming Your Fellow American Can Read and Reason

Oh dear…

Looks like I’m a human art-life form disturbing the comfortable masses (asses!) once again… So here I go,

As you can see from my previous blog (if you actually read it, that is,) I posted an article on Disqus about student loan debt. (That’s something I won’t do again anytime soon, as, apparently, most people on that site are unable or perhaps just unwilling to read.)

The responses I got were overwhelmingly hateful and often blatantly sexist–yes, sexist.Oh dear! Are you advocating political correctness? Actually, I’m advocating rational discussion that does not include hatred of half the population or of anyone for that matter. Why does our society need to be so hateful? Why do some of these haters call themselves Christians? Poor Jesus. If he ever did exist, he’s crying up there in the heavens right now. And if God exists, He most definitely will not bless America. He will condemn it as a hateful, warmongering, hypermasculinized, sociopath’s wet dream.

While I was grateful for the many comments I got so soon after writing the article, it was disappointing to see that most of the commenters clearly hadn’t read the article at all… In fact, many comments appeared instantly after I’d published the article, so there really wasn’t time for the article to have been read carefully. Evidently, the commenters saw the title of the article, saw that it was written by a woman, saw that it referred to student loan debt, then just left hostile comments.

Hmm… Is it not possible to just respond with “I disagree because… ” and then offer some factual statements? Of course not. When yu don’t have any facts but just a lot of hate behind your ideas then that’s all you can express, especially when you can’t read or write. Donald Trump supporters, no doubt. And Trump supporters were on the rampage on Disqus! Hey, I thought Trump was mostly on Twitter? Guess he likes Disqus too. (Probably because it resembles “disgust.”)

I wonder whether the comments would have been so hateful had the article been written by a man? Are people that cowardly that they spew out their hate whenever they see a woman post on the Internet? Oh yes, women are such an easy target, aren’t we? We’re often so passive, so vulnerable, so nurturing, so self deprecating. Except… for… me.

I just don’t have a lot of tolerance for sexism. I don’t like racism or classism either, but sexism seems to be something our society in general tolerates on a regular basis. Americans don’t like passive people and women, generally speaking, are very passive.

Except… for… a few of us who aren’t going to sit back and just tolerate random acts of sexism anymore…

Nope. Not any more.

I’m amazed that when I present the fact that billioniare Donald Trump declared bankruptcy several times, I still got the response that student loan debtors shouldn’t be able to. I mean, you can’t have it both ways. If you think people should pay off their debts, then that should include Donald Trump. He shouldn’t be able to declare bankruptcy either. Why is that so hard?

Because it’s logical.

Oh.

After seeing such hateful comments appear magically as soon as I’d published the article, I realized that I’d assumed there were intelligent, rational people out there in the blogosphere who would actually read the article and learn something from it.

I suppose that was my  mistake. Most Americans can’t read or write. Those who can read have trouble understanding what they’ve read because of all the big words… It’s sad this country has sunk so low. I remember a time, not so long ago really, when I could feel proud to be an American, when American-made meant good quality. With all its flaws, this was once a great country. Sadly, those days are gone.

(No, Mr. Orangehead is not going to make America great again. But I think he will make things worse for most of us. The rich can afford to leave the country, at least. The rest of us? Well, we’re stuck with an orange patch of grass spewing noxious gas out of an old bald head farting around in the White House.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personally, I don’t like to express hatred for other people, especially people I don’t even know and on the Internet where it is easy to be irresponsible with one’s communication. My article presents some very good reasons why we should restore bankruptcy protections for student loan debtors. Of course, the haters, the trolls, moved the discussion in a completely different direction. What else is new? I’m going to try to not let me think poorly of all of my fellow Americans. I’m sure there are a few of my fellow countrymen and women who are able to think deeply and carefully. A few. Very few. Most of them are probably emigrating as fast as they can…

Perhaps I should write light happy, mindless blogs from now on–blogs about how great the USA is, how proud I am to be an American, how the sun will come out tomorrow. Really, it will. (Of course, “tomorrow” can mean different things to different people…) What does Ann Coulter believe “tomorrow” means? Rush Limbaugh? Bill O’Reilly? Mr. FurryOrangehead?

Here was my final response before vacating the Disqus(ting) blogosphere:

“Just going to add a comment to my own post here. After taking the time to write this fact-filled post, I’m amazed by the ignorant-filled commentary. Some people think the USA has become an idiocracy. Now, I have proof of it. I will show these comments proudly to my friends who are hopeful for this country. We truly need an educated population in this country. But I’m sorry to say that most Americans just aren’t college material. Perhaps we should just eliminate university-level education in this country altogether, as the average American, if this site is any indication, isn’t capable of reading, writing, and engaging in intelligent dialogue.”

 

Occupy Your Mind: Student Loan Debt–How Obtaining a College Education Can Ruin Your Life

In this episode we cover a very censored topic: student loan debt. Disturbing facts about student loan debt are rarely covered by both mainstream and alternative media. Why is this? My guess is that Americans–both liberal and conservative–still have a perception that college graduates are wealthier and more privileged than the rest of us.

Seems there are few Americans left with the empathy, compassion and willingness to understand those who are suffering right here in the USA. A lot of Americans are reluctant to give up the “American dream” mythology. To admit that talented, intelligent and well-educated people often don’t make it unless they were born with a lot of money in the first place is hard–very, very hard for most Americans.

In fact, I would liken it to getting a macho, “man’s man” athlete to admit to having once been sexually attracted to another man or to convincing a nun to admit that abortions are sometimes necessary. Liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, Americans are united on one idea: they’re all a bunch of temporarily embarrassed millionaires, convinced that the system will work for them… someday… eventually… if they work hard enough and maintain a positive attitude.

Consequently, there are still a lot of misconceptions about the student loan issue. Propaganda (a.k.a., “fake news”) proliferating across the media persists that college students aren’t budgeting their money and are recklessly taking out loans they can’t afford.

News flash: College students, by definition, can’t afford to take out loans. They’re students, after all. They apply for financial aid because they don’t have much money. But the government, our educational institutions, and sadly, many of our fellow Americans, have decided that student loans should be provided as a form of “financial aid” to needy students. When will we accept that WE have created this problem, not the students who are being victimized by this faulty system?

Never!

But in case you are interested, I’m listing some facts about  student loan debt that you won’t hear spoken about in many media circles. Read on and be enlightened:

–21 states will take away your driver’s license if your student loans have gone into default. Yep, that’s nearly half the country. Montana, apparently, has overturned the law, but not sure why some “liberal” states such as California and Washington State have maintained such draconian legislation. It seems like common sense that preventing a person from getting to and from work would not help that person to pay off debts, but apparently, common sense eludes nearly half the country. (Heck, look who was just “elected” President!)

–Many states will also take away your professional licenses if your loans have gone into default. So if you’re a hair dresser or have another job that requires licensing, you may lose your ability to work, thus making it harder to pay off that ever increasing debt.

–Once your loans have gone into default, the government may garnish your wages,  your tax refunds and even your social security/disability benefits! So… retirement and disability are out of the question! Don’t get sick! Don’t grow old! Gotta get rich quick!

–Student loan debts ARE THE ONLY DEBTS that cannot be written off in bankruptcy. Billionaires such as Donald Trump can declare bankruptcy more than once after making poor or reckless business decisions. Gamblers and over-spenders can declare bankruptcy. One may buy a house or car that one doesn’t need then declare bankruptcy later on. But intelligent people who simply want to better themselves by obtaining an education have no quarter. We are being discriminated against. Why?

–Propaganda spread back in the 1970s, accusing affluent doctors of refusing to pay off their student loans. A study proved this “fake news” to be exactly that–false! Yet the government began to restrict bankruptcy protections over the next few decades until they were removed entirely. This is reminiscent of Reagan’s welfare queen propaganda that convinced a nation that helping poor people was actually a terrible thing to do, thus justifying Reagan’s harsh budget cuts on programs serving the poor.

(What? Are you suggesting we can’t trust the government? Heavens, no. I’d never suggest such a thing.) Find out more by clicking on the link below:

https://consumerist.com/2015/03/17/you-cant-discharge-your-student-loans-in-bankruptcy-because-of-panicked-1970s-legislation/

One Fraud Case Used to Accuse All Welfare Recipients

How Reagan Killed Welfare

–This is NOT a  “millennial” issue. There are student loan debtors of retirement age who are having their social security/disability payments garnished because of student loan debt.

–The not-so-very-liberal Bill Clinton administration removed bankruptcy protections for student loans in 1998 and decided to garnish social security benefits from debtors in 1996. (Still LOVE Hillary?) Of course our dear friend (fiend?) George W. Bush kindly placed the final nail in the coffin in 2005 with the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention Consumer Protection Act (another Orwellian term for a law that does the opposite of protect consumers. Like the Patriot Act, it’s another fear-based law proclaiming to protect us–while it actually exists to protect them from us. Their fear of us, the people, and a possibility of another revolt similar to that of the sixties when hippies stopped a war and got men putting flowers in their hair.) But never you mind what I have to say. Ignorance is strength, right?

BankruptcyAbusePrevention and ConsumerProtectionAct

FinAid.org Student Loan Bankruptcy Timeline

You know, we Americans may have lost our ability to recognize that we’re all in this together but those in power have not. They truly are in this together. Yes, Virginia, there is a conspiracy. Politics is a game of conspiracies where the powerful struggle to maintain their power over the masses. If you don’t believe in conspiracies then, sorry, but you don’t understand how politics works. The truth is, Democrats and Republicans are both secretly and very deeply in love. Touching, isn’t it?

Touché!

–This is unconstitutional. The Bill of Rights are the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution. They were written to please the colonists who were concerned that the US Constitution was not democratic enough. The Bill of Rights prevented the federal government from taking too much power by granting powers to the people. You can read the Bill of Rights by clicking on the link below:

https://www.aclu.org/united-states-bill-rights-first-10-amendments-constitution

The 8th Amendment clearly states that “excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Of course, our government has violated that amendment many times, most disturbingly by the setting up “secret” torture prisons at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib in an effort to get around our nation’s laws against torture.

Of course, the 6th and 7th Amendments are supposed to guarantee us a speedy trial that allows members of the public or a jury to be present as witnesses. (Witnesses provide important oversight over power.)

But we student loan debtors are granted no such luxury. We are treated like illegal aliens within our own country. In fact, an immigrant could live a better life in the USA than a college grad saddled with massive student loan debt. How can this be?

Well, it seems that laws no longer matter when an ignorant, dumbed-down population isn’t familiar with its own laws and appears to not care anyhow. It’s easy for politicians to break laws them simply create new laws that make what was once illegal, now legal, so they can continue to break laws.

Could this ultimately be the reason for draconian legislation against student loan debtors? To further dumb-down the masses by discouraging higher education? The liberal arts teach us to be philosophical, to question authority, to use our imagination so that we can create a new reality. The liberal arts teach us the mistakes made and lessons learned from history and a lot about human nature. All of this is very useful for creating a better world. Is that way the liberal arts are now being vilified? (With apologies to Meryl Streep.)

By the way, if you have student loan debt, don’t give up. Write to your Congress person and insist that bankruptcy protections be restored. Contact activist groups such as the ones listed below to get involved. Better yet, contact alternative media sources such as TYT Politics, DemocracyNow, et al, and every alternative source you can think of then pressure them to cover this story.

The American people need to know that student loans are ruining lives. This is a serious issue and needs to be addressed. Americans need to be informed. Our politicians don’t care about us, but they can be made to care. They can be embarrassed into caring. Right now, they’re just hoping that Americans won’t find out the truth so they can keep getting away with what they’re doing. So perhaps contacting  Congress won’t work, but contact the media! As many sources as you have time to contact. Let’s get the word out!

Click on the sites below for more info:

StudentDebtCrisis.org

StudentLoanJustice.org