Post by syvyn11
9. Arab Spring (which Obama said at one time he was responsible for)
5. Japan Earthquake
3. Dysfunctional political systems (which Obama is a part of, but
tried to say he wasn't)
2. Bush (cause you can't blame Bush enough!)
1. Congress. http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2011/08/20/obama_accuses_...
Is anything ever his fault?
At least he's not a CHRISTIAN like RIck Warren who wants to punish the
poor like Jesus would...
The right wing's Up-Is-Down World is a strange place where war is
peace and freedom is slavery. Their current favorite theme is even
more amazing: the poor are oppressing the rich.
Consider how a zombie lie showed up in a particularly malicious tweet
a couple of weeks ago:
HALF of America pays NO taxes. Zero. So they’re happy for tax rates
be raised on the other half that DOES pay any taxes.
This lie has been debunked a zillion times. About 46% of Americans -
mostly students, elderly, and unemployed - don't make enough money to
pay one particular tax: the federal income tax, which (unlike most
others) is progressive. Those same people shell out for payroll tax,
gas tax, phone tax, sales tax, state and local taxes, you know the
What struck me about the false-witnessing tweet, though, was its
source: Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of the
Profit Driven - sorry, "Purpose Driven" Life.
Warren's nominal boss, one Jesus of Nazareth, encountered this
situation regarding progressive taxes.
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and
watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many
rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in
two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this
widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all
gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in
everything—all she had to live on.”
Mark 12: 41 - 44
Clearly, Warren didn't see it that way. Fred Clark of Slacktivist (a
big fan of the actual message of Jesus) verbally took Warren apart:
This was a slander against poor people that no one would ever pass
along unless they really didn’t like poor people. It sounded mean
because it was mean.
It is the sort of lie that one rich man tells another rich man when
there are no poor people within earshot. Neither of them believes it,
but slurring the poor is, for them, a source of amusement. “The poor
are freeloaders who have it so much easier than we do,” is a lie that
rich people have been repeating to one another for thousands of
and I don’t believe that Rick Warren is the first one actually dumb
enough to really believe it.
See if you can understand it, because I just can’t. I have no idea
someone as wealthy and privileged as Rick Warren would resent those
who are not at all wealthy or privileged, but it seems he does.
Clark is onto something here. When presidential candidate Rick
"Goodhair" Perry used the same line recently, he at least was careful
to specify income taxes. But then he did an interesting thing:
We’re dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans
don’t even pay any income tax. And you know the liberals out there
saying that we need to pay more.
The use of the word "injustice" is not accidental. The term social
justice has traditionally meant working to ease the hardships of
poverty. But Perry reverses the meaning and claims the victims of
injustice here are the rich people forced to shell out an extra
because those impoverished meanies are selfishly hoarding what little
they have left.
This kiss-up, kick-down attitude is popular on the right, not just
with rich campaign donors but with a lot of middle-class and just-
hanging-on people whose anger could do some good if focused on the
robber barons' ever-increasing share. Instead it's targeted at the
poorest people, who conveniently don't have lobbyists to defend them.
I think it works because of a comforting bit of wishful thinking:
that life is fair, and bad things don't happen to good people.
Following that belief, those with money are by definition Worthy, and
those without are Unworthy. It's tempting to believe - or at least
want to believe - that if you work hard, if you're just Worthy
you'll get ahead.
Thus any aid to impoverished people can be given with a heavy dose of
shaming, while corporate subsidies and rich people's tax writeoffs
don't come with the same contempt. Wisconsin's Alberta Darling got
elected after explaining that people who make $250,000/year aren't
"wealthy." Meanwhile, the Heritage Foundation published a report on
the undeserved luxury enjoyed by people living below the poverty
line: almost all of them have fridges AND microwaves! (Or as
put it: they can preserve AND heat food!)
Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman campaigned for Governor of California on
the promise to slash welfare while cutting corporate taxes. It can't
be that she thought it was good financial sense to take from those
with nothing to give to the wealthiest; at some point we're left with
no explanation except hostility. (The racial dogwhistles involved in
welfare-bashing, and the myths that undocumented immigrants are
high on taxpayer money, need a whole other diary.)
Last year a San Francisco Chronicle article showcased a successful
program helping homeless people who hung out at the main library. One
of the first responses from a reader: "Since homeless people don't
pay taxes, why are they allowed to use the library at all?" (Show
your W-2's at the door before you enter the library, or call the fire
department, or send your kid to school, or stop at a stoplight...)
And now some companies are openly advertising that they will only
people who are currently employed. Because if you've been downsized,
you must not be Worthy, right?
Politicians don't like to talk about poverty. They talk about the
"middle class," which presumably contains people who are at least
somewhat Worthy. With the series of economic disasters over the last
few years, the media will occasionally show some interest in talking
about unemployment or foreclosures - as long as it's a formerly
class person who lost a job or home. But they'd still rather talk
about rich people who are now slightly less rich.
Barbara Ehrenreich is one of the few journalists who addresses issues
of poverty on a regular basis. She gives a depressing description of
formerly middle-class family forced onto welfare, where the
requirements included fingerprinting, applying for 40 jobs a week
(with no transportation help), and a "job readiness" class 35 miles
away that was no help at all. But the populist hostility is aimed at
the family struggling to get by, not at the company taking taxpayer
dollars to teach no specific skills but "readiness" for nonexistent
The latest criminalizing-poverty idea out of Florida is drug testing
for all welfare applicants. Sure, it funnels a lot of taxpayer money
to the company doing all those drug tests, but it has the right
punitive attitude toward those Unworthy impoverished people. Other
measures in various states have included making food stamp cards a
conspicuous bright orange (which serves no function other than
shaming), a proposal to require Norplant for welfare recipients
failed to pass in Mississippi), and the much-ridiculed (and
unsuccessful) proposal to replace the clothing allowance for foster
kids with a debit card that could only be used in secondhand stores.
(The company managing the debit cards - at taxpayers' expense - would
not be subject to any shaming, of course, just the kids.)
Ehrenreich catalogs ways that poverty has literally been
criminalized: arresting people for sitting or lying on sidewalks,
arresting anti-poverty volunteers for handing out free food, and the
classic story of Al Szekeley, a disabled Vietnam Vet who had been
staying in a shelter:
He had been enjoying the luxury of an indoor bed until December 2008,
when the police swept through the shelter in the middle of the night
looking for men with outstanding warrants. It turned out that
Szekeley, who is an ordained minister and does not drink, do drugs,
cuss in front of ladies, did indeed have one -- for "criminal
trespassing," as sleeping on the streets is sometimes defined by the
law. So he was dragged out of the shelter and put in jail.
There's the guy who's oppressing Rick Warren by not paying enough
Any system that declares the Haves morally superior to the Have-Nots
will always get the support of the Haves. Our political and media
establishments are run by Haves. They're currently engaged in a
campaign to convince the Have-Littles that they're on the same side,
being oppressed by the Unworthy Have-Nots. Somehow, we have to keep
countering with the truth: up is not down, slavery is not freedom,
and robbing the poor to give to the rich is not justice.