Tag Archives: philip alston

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