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Of wealth inequities, Wal-Mart wages, healthcare woes, Jim Jordanisms and Merry Christmas

The most significant thing the oligarchy (top one or two percent of the wealthy) that we now live under has achieved is pitting the rest of us against each other.

Instead of protesting and doing something about the worst income inequality in the history of the United States, we’re at each others’ throats over abortion, same-sex marriage, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the social safety net that has kept us from the abyss all along.

A sizable portion of our society has been convinced, or has likely convinced themselves that at least half of us are lazy louts.

It’s apparent to me that a lot of Americans want to believe this of their fellow men and women.

I’ve known plenty of folks — even those who should know better — espousing that nonsense.

If you listen long enough, a certain theme emerges: “I’m sick of my tax dollars going to bums sitting on their a----.”

Some Christian nation we have.

Those crooks on Wall Street, most of whom should be wearing prison garb by now, are full steam ahead from the recession of 2008-2009, which they largely created.

It’s the American people in general who have never recovered.

We’ve had over 40 straight months of job growth, but when you’re bleeding 700,000 jobs per month (as we were at the end of the George W. Bush presidency), we’re not really back to robust health.

Speaking of Wall Street, it endlessly intrigues me that critics of welfare programs are always crowing about “kings and queens” of that genre.

A person receiving welfare — even if doing it in a fraudulent manner — couldn’t damage us in a lifetime the way a Wall Street thief can in a day.

Are there people in this nation who won’t work and expect a handout from the government?

Certainly.

Are they now or have they ever been close to a majority of Americans?

H--- no.

One historical fact proves it.

For three to four decades after World War II, the unemployment rate in America seldom exceeded the five percent range.

If there were as many layabouts as some claim, what were all those people doing?

I once heard a woman say “men should be like salt and pepper shakers. You could take them off a shelf and put them back as you please.”

That’s essentially what has happened to the American worker since the 1980s.

For those recent decades, all we’ve done is fatten the bank accounts of the richest among us.

Since the last recession, for example, 95 percent of economic  gains have gone to the top one percent.

On the other side of the scale: One in six Americans lives in poverty and one in seven needs food stamps to get by. The jobs today often don’t pay a liveable wage and provide little or no benefits. We’re easily disposable parts.

With the decline of unions (around seven percent in the private sector and not much higher in the public sector), most of the chips (if not all) are in management’s hands. Never a good place to be.

If you know American labor history, you’re aware that most of our so-called job creators have to be dragged kicking and screaming into doing the right thing (good wages, benefits, etc.) for their employees. There are only a precious few today holding them accountable. It’s a woeful state of affairs.

A primary example is Wal-Mart, the leading private sector employer in the country, which has never been unionized. The median hourly wage (including part-time) is $8.80. Wal-Mart claims it’s closer to $12.67 an hour. Regardless, the only true beneficiaries is the family of the late founder, Sam Walton. Also, leading up to labor disputes in 2012, the National Labor Relations Board found that “Wal-Mart unlawfully threatened employees with reprisal if they engaged in strikes and protests.”

You can bet your life that Wal-Mart is not the only place American workers are treated that way.

The overall minimum wages of $7.25 is an obscenity.

Are we complete fools? This is what’s being done to us. We’ve been sold down the river (out of the country actually).

The redistribution of wealth is a nightmare scenario for conservatives. Funny, isn’t it, you never hear them admit what’s befallen us is that very thing. Robin Hood in reverse, that is.

What we get instead is a big segment of our population hurling invective at those helped by the government (unemployment insurance, food stamps, etc.). We’ve mixed victims of this vicious greed in with the real slackers. Go figure.

We’ve wasted our energies demonizing our collective selves rather than confronting those who are exploiting us.

It includes politicians on local, state and national levels.

Ironically, none is worse than the right-wing extremist — Jim Jordan, Republican of Urbana, who represents our 4th District in the U.S. House.

Jordan was front and center among the Tea Party faction who recently shut down the federal government. The U.S. economy took a $24 billion hit.

Jordan is a boot kicker for businesses and corporations. Their taxes are too high and regulations too stiff, he snorts.

When it comes to actual human beings, however, Jordan can be one very cruel customer. He even voted to slash $40 billion  over 10 years ($4 billion per year) from the nation’s food stamp program. It follows several billion in cuts to food stamps this year (the Senate hasn’t voted on the latter).

Jordan is a posterboy for the Republicans’ arrogant and insolent you’re-on-your-own party. One of his favorite talking points is “the government is taking your money.” Those are code words for “it may be helping someone less fortunate than you.” Heaven forbid.

The reason that Jordan and his anti-government crowd hates it so much is simple. The federal government, in particular, has frequently been a financial and legal friend to those they scorn: The poor, down on their luck, minorities and the disenfranchised.

Much of what has gone wrong for us in America stems from our own complicity and apathy.

Take our very conservative county and area, for instance. Jim Jordan is as likely to lose a general election as we are to have a blizzard on the fourth of July.

At a recent meeting of the Bellefontaine Rotary Club, Jordan spoke to a group Examiner staff writer Reuben Mees called “100 of Logan County’s brightest teenagers.”

 I can only hope that at least some of them disagreed with his ideology. In this county, however, you could never be sure.

Jordan ranted against the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act (Obamacare), which seeks to provide 30 million Americans with health insurance. At one point he said, “The only solution to Obamacare is to repeal it short of that we can only delay it.”

What about all the people who don’t have health insurance, or it’s inadequate to their needs. What’s the alternative? It’s been bankruptcy and death in many cases.

Our health is a roll of the dice, and luck can’t be the option for our care, Mr. Jordan. We should have had universal health coverage in this nation for decades. It’s inexcusable that we don’t.

Jordan, of course, involved this mantra: “But when you get married and raise a family and watch the government take your money, you do get concerned.”

He tacked on “never forget, you live in the greatest country in the world.”

Yes, but in spite of people with attitudes like him.

Imagine, cheerleading for something as vital as health insurance — peoples’ lives really — to fail.

It doesn’t strike me as an American virtue.

Rampant economic inequality and lack of health care are surely moral issues.

Like slavery and segregation, we’re either on the right or wrong side of history — and humanity. There’s no in between.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone.

Jerry Turner
Quincy

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