Thursday, March 07, 2013

The Fate of the Poor

I cannot help but wonder what the fate of the poor would be if Republicans actually managed to win and govern our country for a time. As far as I can tell, in general they seem to be:
Opposed to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (universal health care in any form), unemployment insurance, food stamps, a minimum wage, unions, taxes, socialism, communism, big government (much government  at all), abortion, contraception, immigrants, any form of welfare, environmental protection, sustainable energy, evolution, science, and government jobs.
They seem to be for, only no taxes, smaller (or no) government, privatization of all things, oil, gas, and nuclear energy, global warming, massive corporations, millionaires and billionaires, capitalism, and creationism. I cannot help but wonder what the fate of the poor would be if they were ever to have their way.
Under our current capitalistic system, and as there is at the current time, there would be a huge unemployment problem. As there would be a huge surplus supply of labor wages would continue to be very low, businesses would not hire for the sake of hiring but only for profit, and as they would not  condone government creating jobs, unemployment  would continue, poverty wages would be the rule, there would be no safety nets, no health care, no food stamps, etc. Under such conditions the poor would, of course, suffer and die. London and Manchester in Dicken’s time would look like a form of paradise unless some kind of welfare existed. As far as I know, Republicans have not suggested how they would deal with the conditions they would have created. Their solution, I guess, would be simply, let ‘em suffer and die. Have they ever suggested any solution to the problem of poverty and the poor? What might they propose to do about it? They might, I suppose, argue that the market would take care of the problem, but as long as labor remained merely a commodity that would never happen.
You might think that decent people, in a decent society, would not allow such a thing to happen, but it is happening right now with some 50% of the population living at or below the poverty level. So far, under the past few administrations, little or nothing has been done to improve things. Republicans have blocked all of President Obama’s attempts to alleviate unemployment or anything thing else that might have improved the lives of ordinary citizens. The enormous gap between the wealthy and he poor has been widening for years until we now have a situation in which one or two percent of the population own and controls more wealth than the vast majority, the “99%.”
I think one of the reasons this situation has been allowed to continue and fester as it has is due to what I would call the “Progressives’ fallacy,” their disbelief in the venality of the wealthy. This has been especially true of President Obama who seriously underestimated how greedy and selfish some could be. He kept insisting he could accomplish “bipartisanship” only to learn the hard way that was not to be. This attitude prevails among “Progressives” in general. Think, for example, of Chris Hayes who wrings his hands and says we need health insurance because our fellow citizens are suffering, unable, I guess, to understand that not all people are concerned about the suffering of their fellow creatures. It can also be seen in the fact that  Republicans are unwilling  to increase taxes on the obscenely wealthy even by a measly two or three percent even though their current taxes are about at an all-time low. A few billionaires have indicated they would be willing to pay a bit more but obviously the majority have not and, in fact, use their fantastic wealth to ensure they will not have to pay more.
I am not sanguine about the possibilities for any major change in the way things are. Change will only come about by dragging Republicans kicking and screaming at every modest step that might occur. American capitalism, following Dylan Thomas’s advice to his father, will not go gentle into that good night, but will rage, rage against the dying of the light.

"Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinct feature: it has simplified class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other — bourgeoisie and proletariat.” 

Karl Marx

 Karl Marx    

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