Voting Your Own Best Interests
by Kevin_Foley
 Politics Progressive
March 05, 2012 10:29 AM | 1745 views | 5 5 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Rich or poor, young or old, black or white, Republican or Democrat, Jew or gentile, there are common denominators for most of us when it comes to what we want out of life.

We all seek the health and wellbeing of our children and grandchildren so we can watch them grow and prosper. We want our homes, cars, roads, food, water, medicine, and air to be safe. We expect to be treated fairly in our personal and business lives. We all work for economic security for ourselves and our families, especially as we approach or enter our retirement years.

We take the guarantee of these for granted, but there was a time inAmericawhen none of them was assured. For the republic’s first one hundred years or so, it was anything goes, do as you please, don’t worry about the consequences.

In that political and economic climate, only a few managed to thrive. For everyone else, there was slavery and child labor; hunger; exploitation of workers; illiteracy; poverty; polluted rivers; disease; dangerous work places; ravaged landscapes; fraudulent financial markets; unstable banking; contaminated food and medicines; unsafe products.

Americans were not created equal in those days. Nor was everyone entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It took a Republican president to see the inequality of a system rigged to favor the wealthy and privileged. So Teddy Roosevelt pushed for reform. He broke up monopolies, advocated environmental conservation, fostered banking reform, protected food and drugs, and demanded railroad regulations.

Naturally Teddy was attacked, not by the many Americans he sought to help, but by the few who benefitted under the rigged system. Did TR succeed? His is one of the four faces onMt.Rushmore.

We’ve seen ample evidence that the system is once again rigged to benefit the few. The most glaring example was TARP. The banking and financial institutions that caused the economic disaster through reckless, unregulated practices were saved with hundreds of billions of tax dollars paid by the rest of us.

But it was we and not the perpetrators who suffered the consequences; tens of millions of lost jobs, foreclosed homes, drained bank accounts, and wrecked retirement savings.

Many of us are understandably angry. But much of our rage seems blind and misdirected and the few who cashed in on the rigged system this time around want to keep it that way. They know if we ever open our eyes, we’re going to realize who the culprits are.

So media surrogates belonging to the few stoke our anger with nonsense about fake birth certificates, fictitious “wars” on (fill in the blank), and phony conspiracy theories. Anything to deflect our attention away from the things we should really care about, like the future of our kids, our health and wellbeing, and our economic security.

Meanwhile, to maintain political and economic power, the few benefitting from the rigged system relentlessly push two demands. First they want bigger tax cuts for themselves because they claim to be “job creators.”

So-called “trickledown economics” will benefit every American, they say, but there is scant evidence to support what George H.W. Bush once called “voodoo economics.” In the decade since Bush Junior’s tax cuts were enacted, we’ve seen the slowest period of job growth in decades.

The few also insist regulations kill jobs. Yet, most if not all regulations aim to preventAmericafrom sliding back into the dark days of anything goes. The few reject regulations, not because they kill jobs, but because they cost money.

Remember when the car companies claimed seat belts were too expensive to install in every automobile? They managed to avoid regulation for years. It turned out they weren’t too expensive and millions of lives have been saved since seat belts were made mandatory.

Thus, these two arguments in favor of the few are deceptive. Tax cuts for the few don’t benefit the many, and regulations are necessary to protect the many from the few.

So, what are the things we should support?

Our tax code is a good place to start. Do any of us really want to pay a higher percentage on income taxes than somebody making millions or billions? The few think we should.

New banking and finance laws protect you from the predatory lending practices of banks and credit card companies. Do you really want to see them repealed so you can pay higher interest rates and fees? The few would like that.

Is your college graduate seeking a job? Do you really want your child going without health insurance while he or she looks for work? The few would prefer they do.

Is your teenager earning money for college? The few want to do away with the minimum wage.

Counting on Social Security and Medicare for yourself or a loved one? The few would like to eliminate both as we know them, the sooner the better.

Before you shout “class warfare” or “Marxism,” take a moment to consider what Teddy Roosevelt had to say more than a century ago:

“Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.”

TR knew the American Dream could never be fulfilled for the many as long as the playing field was tilted in favor of the few. So, one last question: What are your own best interests and who is trying to serve them?

Comments
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Kevin Foley
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March 08, 2012
EM Buckner - I am well aware that Cobb is a very conservative county, but I also know there are many people out there who don't necessarily agree with everything they read on the MDJ opinion pages. I don't seek to incite, only to present the other side of the story. Thanks for your support and pass the word.
EMBuckner
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March 07, 2012
Ms. Armstrong is passionate--and I agree w/ Mr. Foley that we need more people who're passionate and involved in public life. But Mr. Foley is much the more thoughtful and well-informed commentator. (His reputation is likely to be ruint by my praise--but that's the risk one takes when one speaks or writes in public.)
Kevin Foley
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March 06, 2012
Ms. Armstrong - You are a passionate advocate. Tip o' the cap. Our country needs more of us. But you seem "blinded by the right," as David Brock put it. By appealing to anger, prejudice and ignorance, the conservative movement has managed to harness people to fight against the things that would ultimately be in their own best interests.

When you understand that conservitism has nothing in common with what concerns you, you'll

come over to our side. Peace.
Laura Armstrong
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March 05, 2012
First of all, we live in a country where mob rule has never been the vision. Thus, just because the scale has tipped and there are more people taking from the system and wanting more, more, more than giving to it does not mean the mob should have their way.

Additionally, lots of us support things that do not necessarily personally benefit us. For example, I note you don't bring up the military. I support the military in many ways, and so do many other military families. What do we get out of that deal, especially under a Democrat president who appears to care more about the rights of enemy combatants? This president says our loved ones get too much combat pay, too much health insurance. First he wanted us to pay for our own, breaking the sacred contract with our forces that's been in place since before he was born in Hawaii or wherever he claims it was. Now, he's going to raise our premiums over 350% in the next couple years. Barack Obama, the guy who abandoned our troops last week when he apologized to the world for something that was an accident, also says civilian kids should be allowed to stay on their parent's insurance under Obama care, but not military kids. After they turn 21, if not in college, they must pay an arm and a leg for minimum coverage. As if their parents haven't already given that.

Teddy R. walked softly and carried a big stick. Obama struts and reads a good teleprompter, but his stick is so very small. The world has less respect for America than it did when he took office, and too many Americans, as you say, only care about what's in it for them.

frogbreath
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March 05, 2012
Just a little nitpick--to harp on the percentage of taxes is a misleading trick. You venture into, in a more subtle effort, the realm of "fair share" which all progressives insist should be what they decide. This is disingenuous. I use that word to illustrate how people try so hard to say that someone else is either a fey person or outright lying and yet, couch it in a softer terms.

I know for example that Mitt Romney paid over $3 million in Federal taxes and donated another $3 million to his church and to charity. Who are you, or the government to dictate where he gives his money? Is that not a form of Marxism?

I do not believe you are lying. I believe you to be sincere and thus you are even more of a threat to a republic form of government.

Why don't you emphasize that almost 50% of our people pay no tax and many take their "fair share" in the form of tax credits? Why don't you tell the folks that many ineligible folks collect tax credits and welfare that are either here in America illegally or whose families have been gaming the system for generations?

I wind up in the position of defending the "elite" or the "1%" of which I am far from a member.

You seem to want that, in your definition, "fair share" money to be administered by the federal government. There is where we completely part company.

Change the tax structure to a "Fair " or flat tax. Eliminate all the write offs that grant those with large incomes, the opportunity to legally cash in on them.

PS I am not "shouting" Marxism or class warfare, I am whispering it. I cannot think of what else it may be.

PPS Teddy also said, "Walk softly, but carry a big stick". You would use that big stick against those who actually pay taxes to support our republic.

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