Fear and Greed

Many Americans are angry and with good reason.  The American Dream, the dream of progress where each generation is better off than the one before, is slipping away from us.  Americans are angry with their situation in life, they are angry that some they perceive as undeserving are getting ahead of them, but mostly their anger gets directed at the government instead of where the real fault lies with the 1% and with the excessive greed of corporations.

What drives this anger?  Part of what drives it is fear – fear that we’re never going to achieve the American Dream, fear that someone else will get there first and somehow take it all.  Because of fear for our own welfare, we don’t always analyze the problem and solution clearly and we become convinced to support the corporations and blame the government. We fail to understand that we can all reach the American Dream.  The government is charged with securing “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all Americans.  Those “regulations” we’re angry at are really protections, such as protections for the American people from greedy businessmen who want to make a buck regardless of whether they pollute the environment or pay a non-living wage.

We should realize that many businesses are not paying the true cost of doing business.  When we have to pay for the cleanup for businesses that pollute, we are bearing the cost of their doing business and essentially just handing them over our tax dollars.  Often, the pollution doesn’t get cleaned up or goes undetected, and then we pay the cost in loss of habitat, loss of health, and even loss of life.  In our fear of losing jobs, we make these “sacrifices”.  We shouldn’t have to make these sacrifices.  Greedy businessmen claim that they can’t make as much money if they have to protect us from pollution or pay a living wage, so they blame the government for their loss of profit and try to convince us that they can’t provide jobs under such circumstances.  So we give them more money in the form of tax cuts or incentives, wait for it “trickle down” into more jobs, and it never happens.  They could provide more jobs or pay a living wage if they made less profit, if they were less greedy.  Instead, they find it easier to blame the government, push for those tax cuts or incentives and just keep the money.  It’s welfare for the rich. The rich are the real welfare cheats.

Those “taxes” that we’re angry at are really investments for our society.  Without our investments, our bridges would become unsafe, our children wouldn’t have schools, our country would have no army or police department, and it would be every person for themselves. Some people try to convince us that investing in infrastructure is fine, but we shouldn’t invest in people. We are told that people should work hard and save money, but how can they do that if businesses don’t pay a living wage.  Take Wal-Mart for instance.  Many of their workers don’t earn a living wage, so they depend on food stamps or other forms of government assistance. The government is making up for what Wal-Mart doesn’t provide. This is our tax dollars going directly to Wal-Mart.  Again, this is welfare for the rich. Wal-Mart is not paying the true cost of doing business – we are. Requiring Wal-Mart to pay a living wage would save our tax dollars. Our country will be stronger if we invest in its people rather than our corporations.

When this country was founded, we knew it would be stronger if we acted together, so we formed a representative democracy.  Our representatives would be elected by us and answerable to us.  Unfortunately, as humans some representatives can become corrupted by power and/or money.  When this happens, they can be bought by corporations who want the laws bent in their favor which saves them money, but at a cost to the rest of us (in pollution cleanup, food stamps, and other government assistance).  The corporations and powerful people who want to shape our government are the ones that we should be angry with.  If they were not so greedy, if everyone made a living wage, if everyone was guaranteed a clean world to live in, then we all could achieve the American Dream.   They are not going to do this out of the goodness of their hearts.  They are ruled by greed. Corporate propaganda aims to create fear among us, that we’re going to lose our place in line for the American Dream, that someone is unfairly cutting in line ahead of us.    In reality, there is enough to go around.  America is the richest country on the planet.  What are we afraid of?  What has happened to the “home of the brave”?  We should not be standing in a line for the American Dream, we should be linked arm in arm, achieving it all together.  It’s time we took back our government from the hands of the 1% and put it back into the hands of the people.  Carl Spoerer is one of those people, someone who will work for us, not for the 1%.

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