What a truthful introduction to the American Right Wing this past week has been for any of us who were still unclear as to their priorities and motivations. What’s been offered to us by the sheer hubris of the corporate Right is an opportunity to really help our communities focus in on what that corporate faction considers an important value, and what they consider an expendable value.
As some of our activist elders might say, “this is a teachable moment.”
This past week, for example, we were told that our money (gathered together in a tax pool) was too important, too valuable, too rare to be invested into a bi-partisan bill that would not only save approximately 1.9 million jobs, but also stood to add another million jobs to the economy. With 3 million jobs in the balance, the American people were told that their communal accounts, their public funds, were too precious to spend on something as expensive as a transportation bill.
Put more honestly, though, 3 million jobs for the 99% aren’t worth it for the Right Wing because one pipeline for the 1 percent wasn’t included. This is emblematic of a consistent right-wing calculus. One pipeline (and 6,000 projected jobs) was enough to hold 3 million jobs hostage.
Thus, Republicans outed their own empty campaign propaganda about job growth
…when presented with a bill that saves 1.9 million transportation jobs and purports to create another million, you might be thinking the JobJobJob Party of Jobber Jobs would be all over it. You might be thinking that because you are a rational human, which the aforementioned JobJobJob Party of Jobber Jobs is not. They want their Keystone XL oil pipeline, and they’ll toss 1.9 million jobs in the garbage if they don’t get it.
The bill we doth speak of, dear reader, is the $109 billion transportation and infrastructure bill that was passed by the Senate months ago, because that is the house of Congress not in the grips of an angry horde that learned its accounting skills from counting out 50 ears of corn to a bushel.
And let’s be honest here, for all the Right Wing hemming and hawing about communist Democrats and imagined socialist fixations of the Obama administrations, this transportation bill was more than a little generous to corporate America. The extreme posturing of the right-wing also can’t hide the fact that even corporate powerhouses like the Chamber of Commerce opposed the GOP’s own transportation bill. Via RMuse
What Republicans in the House did propose was an economically shortsighted bill that kills a half-a-million jobs next year alone. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, “It defies imagination that the Republican leadership and chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee would turn their backs on the needs of our country and pretend it is good government.” Even the ultra-conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce blasted the Republican version of the transportation bill as being “devastating to construction and related industries—materials, equipment, design, engineering. As important, in the long run, disinvestment results in a less competitive economy and a drag on GDP due to underperforming infrastructure.”
The GOP is willing to jeopardize the national community’s roads, rails and bridges. The GOP is willing to cost us up to 3 million jobs. Why? Because the right-wing insists on using this occasion to force the Keystone XL pipeline, a high priority for Big Oil and related production interests, like the Koch Empire. Three million jobs in a time of economic crisis is quite simply “not worth it” for the faction deepest in bed with the oil interests.
That’s the unchanging, quintessential tenet of the corporate right. If it’s not maximum profit, it’s not worth it. Improving the country and creating jobs aren’t “worth it”–much like feeding needy families isn’t “worth it” to the GOP.
This past week when New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand moved to restore $4.5 billion in food stamp funding, she was overwhelmingly rejected by a GOP-led 33-66 vote (the amendment needed 60 votes to pass). The GOP (joined by a few corporate Democrats) rejected aid specifically to needy families so they could preserve guaranteed profits for the crop insurance companies that help prop up the tycoons of Big Agro, like Cargill or Monsanto. As explained by Michael McAuliff at HuffPo
Gillibrand had hoped to prevent food aid cuts in the $969 billion bill by trimming the guaranteed profit for crop insurance companies from 14 to 12 percent and by lowering payments for crop insurers from $1.3 billion to $825 million.
The cuts target the so-called heat-and-eat initiative in which 14 states automatically make families eligible for more food aid if they receive even $1 in help paying their utility bills. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the decrease would amount to about $90 a month for an affected family, representing a quarter of its food budget.
“Half of the food stamp beneficiaries are children, 17 percent are seniors, and unfortunately now 1.5 million households are veteran households that are receiving food stamps,” Gillibrand said, referring not just to heat-and-eat participants, but the broader population of food stamp recipients.
Feeding folks who also have trouble paying their heating bill? Feeding veterans and seniors who have already paid their fair share into that system? That’s not worth it for the GOP. It’s not worth decreasing how much profit our tax money guarantees for the already profitable crop-insurance giants. Guaranteeing even 2 percentage points less in profit is too much of a compromise of Right Wing values to preserve a program that provides an average of a quarter of a needy family’s food budget.
Much like 3 million jobs aren’t worth it, but their corporate masters’ pet project is, we should notice that this isn’t just a recent flurry of rightwing ideology winning out over the alleviation of human suffering. No, this isn’t some exceptional instance. This is how the right wing works year-in and year-out.
Typical to their entitlement/privilege addiction, the Right Wing habitually and unremittingly uses the tax money we’ve all gathered together to further enrich the tycoons that sponsored their rise to power, like the oil companies, Big Agro, the War Industry and the Koch Brothers. Allowing you to use your own tax money to feed your neighbor in a time when half of us are basically poor, that’s not a concern for the Right-Wing outside of the need to repress it.
Through our government, the GOP is enforcing a national set of priorities where letting the poor starve is okay, and even laudable if in the same process you’re enriching someone who’s already pretty wealthy.
It’s long past time to stop pretending these are exclusively political questions and political failings. These are human questions. These are human failings. The pretense that issues of such life and death consequence are merely political is a dangerous and reductive farce that benefits whichever side has the most to gain from ignoring the real travail and human suffering that results from an accounting change here or there.
When we as activists raise these budgetary topics, it’s not just the niceties of our accounting or the dexterity of our rhetoric that should be the focus of our efforts to change the national discourse. These technical academic points are important but if they’re only contextualized by themselves, academic or statistical narratives can too often be a limited and distant description of a much larger, bleaker and more human reality.
After all, there’s really no proper statistic to encapsulate the amount of desperation a working mother feels when she has to send her kid to school hungry. Abstract numbers under-represent the real, actualized human suffering when a parent has to make tough decisions between housing and food for their children. Profit doesn’t care about the hunger pains of someone who’s been unemployed for an average of 40 weeks. That personal financial terror matters only to people, not to the profit motive that has colonized our government with the well-paid hands of the Right Wing.
Connected to every tax break is a cut to food stamps and the triggered suffering of tens of millions. Behind ever fossil fuel subsidy there’s a public school closed and another generation of young minds wasted. For every scrapped food, water or environmental regulation, there are thousands of deaths, millions of birth defects, billions of asthma attacks, trillions of dollars in personal wealth lost to healthcare expenses. For every tax deduction One Percenters like Romney get for things like a dancing horse, we have to close a firehouse or a park. For every labor standard we don’t stand for abroad, there’s a closed factory and brand spanking new prison at home. For every new tax loophole, there are thousands of lost jobs and thousands of ruined lives. For every Right Wing priority and goal there is a consequence of serious human suffering.
Let’s stop pretending we all want what’s good for everybody in America. The corporate right has colonized our government and they have absolutely zero interest in what’s good for America as a country or as a community of human beings.
The consequences of right-wing politics are, were and will continue to be the exacerbation of human suffering. They won’t stop doing it, so we should never stop pointing it out.
Why? Because alleviating the suffering of our fellow human being is a good and decent act. No politics, no ideology, no amount of billionaire gluttony should ever trump that. Any political stance where human beings aren’t “worth it” is dangerous and will ultimately be as inhumane in its outcomes as it is in its design. Greed hurts. Avarice kills. Authoritarianism, corporate or otherwise, destroys. The fact that we don’t, as a nation, acknowledge that these are destructive behaviors with painful human consequences is a fundamentally disturbing statement about what our basic values are. We’re not just in a fight for politics, we’re in a fight for human values.
We need to turn 90 degrees away from the political stage, ignore our “leaders” for a few minutes, and directly face each other as the 99 percent. We need to remind each other of the human cost of right-wing politics. We are the 99 Percent and if we don’t value each others struggles, no one ever will.