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Political War in America–North, South, Rich, Poor

July 7th, 2011 · No Comments · Economics, Politics, Populism

This is the world we live in. We don’t need political commentators to tell us what is happening. We see it every day in our lives. Our politicians are in a battle, not for themselves, for which they are accused by so many, but for us Americans.

Now the divisions are very clear. The Republicans are battling for the corporations, for the very wealthy, and for those who are intolerant of others’ religions or lifestyles. In other words, they work for the rich and the disgruntled bigots. Many of those people are in the South for some reason.

The South seems divided between two groups. There are the smiling hypocrites. These are people who harbor racial and religious hatred which they were taught by their parents and ministers from childhood, but who hide it behind a surface gloss of smiles and oblique comments. Only when they are shocked out of their quiet demeanor do you find the potentially dangerous KKK member or night rider who, if prodded enough by fellow bigots will burn a cross or a human being.

The second type of Southerner is one that most Americans do not see. They are what some of us call “saints.” They live lives that are pretty much identical to the early Christians. They live with barbarians and they strive for the skies. Some who are gifted have left us with wonderful tales and creative endeavors that came from a well of experience that could not be expressed in every day society. You do not talk truth to a barbarian. If you want to survive you talk about meaningless, often foppish things–things he or she either understands or does not question.

These Southerners are people the rest of the country does not see until there is a political crisis. Then they stand up because they have no other choice. And it is dangerous. Take for example the case of Don Siegelman. Governor of Alabama, elected to state-wide office for his efficiency several times.

While the sitting governor he was lied about repeatedly by a local Alabama prosecutor, an emissary of Karl Rove, and a barrage of lies perpetrated by Rove in the local Alabama media, had his election stolen in the middle of the night with some formerly uncounted, unknown (actually un-voted) ballots that cost him the election. It was stolen. As soon as he was out of power, he was accused of some kind of fraud on trumped up charges that suddenly converted a common political practice into a crime, accused him of it, tried him of it in a kangaroo court with multiple dubious practices run by a Right Wing political hack judge, also a Rove associate, convicted and sent to prison immediately, directly from the courtroom and kept in solitary confinement so that he could not speak to anyone for several months, until the heat died down.

Nothing like this has ever happened or was ever supposed to happen in this country. But it did. Within a very short time, 48 state Attorneys General, almost every attorney general in the entire country said that this was a miscarriage of justice bordering on criminality and that he should be released and the charges dismissed. But the Bush Administration had the power to keep him in jail and they did, for years until an appeal process could go far enough above the local Fascist political process to have him freed. If that isn’t Fascism, then you need to go back and re-read the history of Germany, Italy and Spain in the 1930s.

Why Karl Rove is not dead–assassinated–or in prison is a question that someone needs to answer. And on the latter point, it is a serious question that should be answered by our very weak Attorney General. If Rove gets away with all the things he did during the Bush Administration, then our Attorney General should be investigated for potential corruption.

This is not an unusual situation in the South, where many thugs–the barbarians–have for so many years worshiped violent behavior that they cannot see justice and fairness as worthwhile. But the South is not even remotely the most important problem. The North has become the real problem.

The Floridians who stupidly elected Ric Scott are no less remorseful than the Wisconsinites who have already collected enough votes to recall 8 Wisconsin state Senators, enough to nullify Governor Scott Walkers anti-middle class and anti-union legislation. The people of Florida have virtually dropped Governor Ric Scott through the trap door, with fewer than 29% saying that they would vote for him again. But in the meantime, he is doing disastrous things to people in Florida.

For example, his policies of cutting funds to education, changing Medicaid reimbursements, foregoing government funds for high speed rail and other policies were attributed by Democratic sources to have cut 350,000 jobs. But Politifact checke this out and debunked a great deal of it. The outcome? His policies would only cost the state of Florida,where there is one of the highest unemployment rates in the country already…about 200,000 job! Oh, well then…that’s different. Only…ONLY…200,000 more jobs lost…in a Recession!

Scott says that he will save the taxpayers of Florida $1.8 billion as a result of a waiver on Medicaid. Do you know what that means. It means that the HHS would turn over to Ric Scott $1.8 billion in Medicaid funds. Remember, as unlikely as it seems, this governor whom the people of Florida just elected is the same man who was fined, as President of HCA (Hospital Corporation of America) $1.7 billion for cheating Medicare and who walked away with no prison sentence and $100 million in cash.

So now the people of Florida are about to turn this $1.8 billion to someone whom many think is a charlatan, a retrobait, a man who escaped becoming a felon by the slimmest of margins, only by making some kind of political deal. The Chairman of HCA did go to prison. So what does this mean?

This means that Ric Scott would once again be able to share with his fellow hospital and health care industry executives hundreds of millions of dollars of your tax money to eliminate good care for poor people and elderly. Understand that if you are on Medicare but are very poor, you are a “dual eligible.” You are someone who is basically also on Medicaid.

So the idea that this is just about drifters or homeless people or drug or alcohol addicted people is nonsense. We now have an increasingly larger and larger part of society, about 3 million right now who are actually unemployed and homeless…whole families. That is up from about 650,000 in 2005. They rely on Medicaid. And the groups being attacked also includes people for whom Social Security is their principal form of retirement income. Given Scott’s record, it is as if the people of Florida were turning their water supply over to someone known for poisoning wells.

We spoke of the bigger problems in the North. The Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, a vile, anti-education, anti-worker Neocon Republican earned his election with lies and now continues with scare tactic lies. He recently commented that he is battling the largest structural budget deficit ever created. He blames former Governor Doyle, who did have a $1.6 billion budget deficit. But Walker implied that this was totally created by Doyle. The fact is that there was an even greater budget deficit under Doyle’s predecessor, $2.8 billion under Governor, another Scott…Scott McCallum…a Republican.

Walker’s cuts in teacher benefits are one thing. Eliminating collective bargaining by law is what could be called a political move by a Reactionary, or a Neocon, or a Right Wing or a Conservative Republican. But we would call it Fascist. We call it that because eliminating the power of the unions is a principal tenet of the counter-revolutionary. It is standard practice. Kill the unions and you reduce the opposition’s power to organize by half or probably two-thirds. Then you can dictate wages and hours and working conditions to your heart’s delight!

Here is the situation in Wisconsin. The average teacher wage is about $46,400. The range of “givebacks” that Governor Walker demanded was a little bit more than $5,500 to a little less than $7,000. So the cuts would mean a net income of between about $42,000 before federal and state taxes and $39,000.

The problem is that this was extortion. What actually happens is that the teachers negotiate their pay. So the unions would say…we’ll get $40,000 in wages and $4,000 in health car and $600 in retirement. You…the state pay the $4,000 and we’ll live on the $40,000. But now Walker says…no…I’ll take the $4,000…and so you now pay for the $4,000 yourself. That is a salary cut of $4,000. And the extortion part was that the Governor simply said that he would begin to cut state jobs big time if the teachers didn’t accept it. But then when they had accepted pay cuts, Walker went further and eliminated the unions so that the workers would have no one to negotiate with the governor for them.

Governor Walker would like you to think that the state was paying those benefits. But it was not.  The state was merely the organized conveyance between the workers’ money and the health insurance industry or the pension plan managers. Remember this. The wage negotiations included benefits which the workers paid through the government. When Walker turned this over to the workers, he didn’t give them the money, and say–now you pay it. He just kept the money and said– now you pay the money. Which means he cut their pay. He basically lied when he said that the workers were now contributing to their health care. It was a lie and it has been verified by many, including Politifact Wisconsin and Tax.com.

This is what Kasich did in Ohio and Snyder did in Michigan. It is a semantic trick and these governors know it. In other words they are lying to reporters and they know it. And in each case, the governors, under the false premise of creating jobs, cut income taxes for the wealthy and businesses. (They cut capital gains and only the rich pay capital gains taxes…that’s an obvious fact.) In Walker’s case he gave at least $1.6 billion in tax breaks to corporations which is how much the deficit would have been had he not cut the teachers’ salaries. So it is…finally…what critics say. It is a program of take from the poor and give to the rich.

There is nothing noble or lofty about what these small time hoods are doing. It is a disgrace to the country that so many stupid Americans have voted in people who would oppress them as soon as they entered office. But that is how a free society learns. One hopes that it will learn at a pace more rapid than the one that is tending to destroy it before their very eyes.

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