What Working-class and Poor White People Need to Understand About Rich White People

Rich people do not care about you.

No, I’m not talking about your cousin who drives a Mercedes, has his own insurance business, and always picks up the tab when you go out for beers. I’m talking about super-rich people: the Walton family, the Koch brothers and, yes, the Trumps. I’m talking about people who continue to make money off the backs of the poor while convincing those same people to remain loyal no matter what. But the truth is they are never going to share or trickle down their money to you — regardless of how white you are, how loyal you are, or how much you support their companies or their politicians.

When a family like the Waltons, worth over $50 billion — that’s billion with a “b” — are fine knowing their employees are collecting food stamps to survive and they do nothing about it, that speaks volumes. It says loud and clear: I don’t fucking care about you!

When Donald Trump was willing to close down and bankrupt multiple small businesses because he couldn’t be bothered to pay his bills, all while living in a gilded penthouse and flying around New York City in a helicopter, that screamed: I don’t fucking care about you!

Creating jobs isn’t a thing to be praised.

Creating well-paying jobs is. Billion-dollar corporations like Walmart and McDonald’s don’t create healthy economies. They create mass poverty. Anyone can create a job. I’ll pay you $1 an hour to clean my house, do lawn care and general maintenance Monday through Friday for eight hours a day. There, I created a job. Have I contributed anything to society? No. Have I boosted the economy? No. All I’ve done is put one person in poverty.

“Job-creation” is nothing more than a catchphrase that politicians use to get votes. It doesn’t mean anything. Let’s say there is a small town with 500 people and a factory opens and pays minimum wage. If the company hires everyone in the area, the result will not be a thriving community. It will be a community of 500 poor people. Yes, the factory technically created jobs, but it also spread poverty. Never forget they need us more than we need them. Without us working their low-paying jobs, they have nothing. Make them pay fairly for your labor. Make them create well-paying jobs.

Black and Brown people are not the reason you’re poor, rich white people are the reason you‘re poor.

Corporations siphon money from profits to share with stockholders, upper management, and CEOs, leaving everyone else, regardless of color, scrambling at the bottom for crappy pay. The owner of the factory is the reason you are poor, not the person of color working beside you for the same wage. Don’t be angry at the immigrant trying to make a better life. Be pissed off at the company who exploits both of you so they can pay lower wages and maximize profits.

There is NO such thing as a “Welfare Queen.”

There never was. Politicians made this up. It is propaganda designed to make you think people of color are lazy and want a free ride at your expense. If you resent them, you are more likely to vote to eliminate programs that benefit them but could also benefit your own family. Generations and generations of white people have been programmed to be racist even if it’s to their own detriment. By helping to keep people of color down, you keep yourself down — and that’s how politicians want it. Consider how the GIF below uses racist propaganda to persuade you to think negatively about people who need government assistance. (And no, one example of a person buying steaks with food stamps does not prove the entire welfare system is corrupt.)

The “War on Drugs” and “The War on Crime” are fake.

These programs target minority communities and keep the private prison system making billions. As collateral damage, poor whites sometimes get sucked into the system, but not enough that anyone cares. Poor people are funneled through the prison system with plea deals. Incarcerated people work for pennies a day in a modern-day slave trade, making products for billion-dollar corporations.

The rehabilitation system has almost no programs for actual rehabilitation because the system wants ex-convicts to fail. It’s how they keep the money pouring in. The propaganda of these fake wars tries to convince white people that black and brown people commit more crimes, that white people should fear them, and that prison is where they belong. If you allow yourself to be brainwashed by racism, the system will continue to prey on poor people of all colors. Rich people hire lawyers to get out of prison time. Poor people are scared and pressured into plea deals. And no one cares until it happens to them.

Stop listening to people who say you need to boot-strap your way up, especially if they have never had to boot-strap their way anywhere.

This is a myth wealthy people have been telling poor people for centuries. It’s a way to keep poor and working-class people grinding away at jobs that create more wealth for them, not you. It’s a way to pit working class people and poor people against each other. Instead of showing each other compassion and joining together, we look down on anyone we see as “not working hard enough” — even when that mentality keeps us down too. Working hard is admirable; being made to feel lazy or less than because you lack equal opportunity is manipulation.

Rich people don’t have some magical way of thinking that makes them rich. They aren’t better, smarter, or more creative than poor people. They have more money, and more money offers greater opportunities. That’s it.

I’m not suggesting people shouldn’t try to better their lives. Never give up. What I’m saying is stop beating yourself up because you face a longer, tougher road to succeed than someone who was born into wealth and privilege. And try to have compassion for those who are struggling to make ends meet. Beating people down who are already exhausted isn’t just unfair — it’s cruel.

Wealthy white people love to see poor people fighting among ourselves.

If we dislike each other over things like race, sexual orientation, and religion, then we aren’t paying attention to what the billionaires and politicians are doing. They want you to get riled up over wedding cakes, who uses what bathroom, and what to say at Christmas time. By pumping out media stories that make you think you are losing something, or that your lifestyle is in danger, they can keep you focused on stuff that really makes no difference in your life.

I’ll put it like this: if I offered you $5 more per hour at your job on the condition you do not insert yourself in matters that don’t concern you, like gay couples getting married, would you accept it? Here’s another way to look at it: would you rather have a $100 Christmas bonus, or a $1000 Holiday bonus? When we take a step back, get honest, and ask ourselves if we genuinely care how other people live, the answer is usually no. We get fired up over the onslaught of shocking headlines, and that’s exactly what people in power want.

Rich people have convinced working class people that unions are bad.

Workers are stuck in low-paying jobs without the power to walk out and negotiate for better wages and benefits. News outlets (owned by rich people) frame stories of union walkouts as if workers are lazy or greedy. They often show workers of color on picket lines to reinforce the notion that black and brown people want “something for nothing.” That is one way to minimize wages for workers and maximize payouts to stockholders and CEOs.

If a CEO makes $120 million a year, in one year he or she has enough so they never have to work again for the rest of their life. They never have to work another day, and neither do their grandkids or great-grandkids. The entire family is set. Do you think they care if the company goes belly up? Why would they when they’ve got theirs? If you lose your job are you set? Corporations spend a great deal of time peddling fear in workers that the most important thing is the “health” of the company above all else. That’s just a tricky way to convince workers to take less, so those at the top can take more. What’s the best way to achieve that? Split up unions and take away workers’ power. There is power in numbers, and they know it, and do everything they can to keep us from seeing it. Remember: without your labor, they have nothing!

When the show Friends became a runaway hit it came time for the actors to renegotiate their contracts. David Schwimmer, who played Ross, went to the rest of the cast and suggested that, instead of negotiating individually, which could lead to resentment if some were paid more than others, they should negotiate as a single group. The result was the entire cast was paid the same for the run of the show. It was equal and fair, and no one left the show because of hurt feelings or resentment. That’s a union.

There is a myth that raising the minimum wage would allow unskilled workers to make as much as skilled workers and that wouldn’t be fair.

Again, this is more spinning of tales so that wealthy CEOs can keep worker pay at an all-time low while they make billions. The truth is if minimum wage went up, skilled wages would go up too. How? Let’s say you are an EMT working for $15.00 an hour and the minimum wage goes up. Now everyone working in retail and fast food is making the same as you. Pretty insulting, right? Wrong. That’s what corporations want you to think so you will fight to keep other poor people down. If the minimum wage rose to $15, you could get a job anywhere for the same pay. That would give you leverage to negotiate a higher wage by saying, essentially, “There is now an abundance of jobs paying what I make. I can leave and take one of those jobs unless you pay me more for my added skills.” Your skills are now worth more. Instead of $15, you may get $20, but you’ll never get the $20 if you keep fighting to keep others down. Lifting others lifts you up too.

Continuing to support politicians who give tax breaks to the rich is never going to make your life better.

When a company gains billions in tax breaks, the people at the top get multi-million-dollar bonuses. Workers at the bottom may (if they are incredibly lucky) get $1000 after 20 years of service. That’s $50 a year! A one-time bonus of a $1000 will do nothing to change a working person’s life. At best, it will alleviate a bit of stress for one month. One month for 20 years! Meanwhile, CEOs and other top executives are wondering if they should buy a yacht or another vacation home. While poor people are cheering over being thrown slop, the rich are pigging out at the buffet table.

If poor and working-class people stop fighting each other and band together, we have the numbers to make real change. Rich people know this, and it terrifies them. If we suddenly start demanding better wages, they may have to give up a bit of profit. If we start demanding health care and quality education, they may have to pay a bit more in taxes. If we start treating each other with respect and equality, they can no longer use fear, homophobia, racism, and propaganda to distract us.

We have the power. Now we need to stop giving it away.

3 Ways You Can Drive Conservatives Insane: Debunking Right Wing Lies

July 28, 2014 | Filed under: Debunking Right Wing Lies,RIght-Wing Myths |Originally Posted by: Samuel Warde

 

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One of the surest ways or enraging conservatives is through debunking right wing lies, particular the ones most commonly seen on Facebook, Twitter and beyond. Here is this weeks handy list of right wing lies we have taken the time to correct.


Be sure to sprinkle these around and let us know some other great lies you want us to debunk in our next Debunking Right Wing Lies segment.

1. The United States is not a “Christian Nation” founded upon “Christian Principles”.

One need look no further than to Thomas Jefferson to understand the false nature of this claim.

Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. “

Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

And one cannot forget that Jefferson strongly advocated the separation of church and state:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State. “

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT., Jan. 1, 1802

Another founder, John Adams, was a Congregationalist who later became a Unitarian. However, he deliberately avoided creed-based dogmatic religion.

The Treaty of Tripoli, introduced to the Senate by John Adams and ratified by unanimous decree, was signed by Adams in 1797 and includes the following passage for any doubters out there:

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

 The Treaty of Tripoli, signed Nov. 4, 1796, effective June. 10, 1797

2. The Affordable Care Act is Working

Rolling Stone puts it best, reporting:

President Obama’s centrist healthcare bill was informed by federalism (delegating power to the states) and proven technocratic reforms (like a board to help doctors discern which treatments would be most cost-effective). Republicans, undeterred, decried it as Soviet-style communism based on “death panels” – never mind the fact that the old system, which rationed care based on income, is the one that left tens of thousands of uninsured people to die.

From the beginning, Republicans have predicted disastrous consequences or Obamacare, none of which came true. They predicted that the ACA would add to the deficit; in fact, it will reduce the deficit. They claimed the exchanges would fail to attract the uninsured; they met their targets. They said only old people would sign up; the young came out in the same rates as in Massachusetts. They predicted the ACA would drive up healthcare costs; in fact it is likely holding cost inflation down, although it’s still hard to discern how much of the slowdown was due to the recession. In total, the ACA will ensure that 26 million people have insurance in 2024 who would have been uninsured otherwise.

It’s worth noting that every time the CBO estimates how much Obamacare will cost, the number gets lower. Odd how we’ve never heard Republicans say that.

3. Ronald Reagan Supported Gun Control

I do not believe in taking away the right of the citizen for sporting, for hunting and so forth, or for home defense. But I do believe that an AK-47, a machine gun, is not a sporting weapon or needed for defense of a home.”

~Ronald Reagan, at his birthday celebration in 1989.

As governor of California, Ronald Reagan signed the Mulford Act, which prohibited the carrying of firearms on your person, in your vehicle, and in any public place or on the street, and he also signed off on a 15-day waiting period for firearm purchases. “There’s no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons,” Reagan said at the time, according to Salon.com.

In 1986 as president, he signed into law the Firearm Owners Protection Act, which “banned ownership of any fully automatic rifles that were not already registered on the day the law was signed.”

After leaving the presidency, he supported the passage of the Brady bill that established by federal law a nationwide, uniform standard of a 7-day waiting period for the purchase of handguns to enable background checks on prospective buyers.

In 1991 Reagan wrote an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times stating his support for the Brady Bill and noted that if the Brady Bill had been in effect earlier, he never would have been shot. He also urged then President H.W. Bush to drop his opposition to the bill and lobbied other members of Congress to support the bill.

In 1994 Reagan wrote to Congress urging them to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of military-style assault weapons.

Vlogging Update: May 2017

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Hey y’all,

Sorry for the long absence.

My computer died.

I gave it to my aunt to work on.

She does IT work for the local school district.

Unable to fix it, she gave me another one that a school was getting rid of.

I tried to salvage what I could from the old one.

But, most of my programs and files were lost.

I’ve been searching for the missing software and restoring what I can.

My scanner/printer didn’t want to cooperate with the new computer.

I tried replacing it.

But, the replacements didn’t work either.

After a couple of days messing with it, I finally got it running.

My van has a million problems.

But, at least I got the front tire fixed that kept going flat.

I’ve replaced that tire THREE TIMES and it still kept going flat.

I thought maybe the rim was bent.

I had it looked at and they found a piece of metal lodged inside.

They patched it up.

Now, it shouldn’t be a problem anymore.

Only cost me $15 bucks (thank God)!

I tried to repay my grandmother $700 dollars I owe her.

She forgave some of it.

My ex forgave the $200 I owed her, too, since I’ve been helping her relocate and move her stuff.

Not sure how I’ll get my other debts paid.

But, I try not to get stressed out about it.

That really fucks up my creativity.

Spring Has Sprung

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I was watching some YouTube videos lately.

I got very annoyed.

Other bands are doing stuff that I wanna do.

But, they keep beating me to it.

I hate when that shit happens.

Maybe it is just that everything has already been done to death and we keep repeating and reinterpreting what came before us.

I dunno.

I know that, financially, I am gonna be screwed for the foreseeable future.

I am robbing Peter to pay Paul for as long as I have to.

I seriously doubt that I will break even before summer begins.

I keep putting off working on and publishing the zine until I can get ahead a little.

But, that doesn’t look like it is going to happen very soon.

I may do a cheaper version, than what I had in mind, until it begins to pay for itself.

Just a thought.

I will probably raid my boxes of old tapes that I have in storage and dig around for some incomplete material to finish.

I have a lot of it, going back nearly forty years.

Since I have been tinkering with the analogue multi-track machine, maybe I will include some fresher stuff with it, too.

I dunno.

A guitarist whom I have not played with in years contacted me and is eager to jam again.

So, maybe he can give me a morale boost and help me get my shit done.

Maybe.

I am always willing to jam with other people if they are interested.

I need to find somewhere that I can paint and make loud noises too.

Maybe somebody can help me with that.

George Bush’s Gift To The World: The End of American Imperialism

Published on Friday, January 30, 2009 by CommonDreams.org
George Bush’s Gift To The World: The End of American Imperialism
by David Michael Green

George W. Bush was unquestionably the worst American president in the two and a quarter centuries of the country’s existence.
After all, James Buchanan, the previous aspirant to the title, merely did nothing while the South seceded. Hah! You’ll have to do better than that, Jimmy, if you want to wear this crown!

Bush did far better, of course. It would appear to be the one thing in his entire life he actually worked hard at, and the one challenge he was able to meet successfully. This was an astonishingly destructive presidency, that’s true even despite the fact that we don’t really know much about his administration, because in addition to being the worst, it was also the most secretive ever. (I’m sure that’s just a coincidence, too.) Moreover, that’s also even considering that most Americans still vastly underestimate the depravity of Team Bush. As I have argued previously, if you think they were ‘merely’ arrogant bunglers with exceptionally bad politics, you’ve grossly underestimated them. In fact, they were predators who launched their class warfare agenda behind the smoke-screen of national security, faux patriotism and secret government.

Does this record of unparalleled devastation mean that Bush never did anything right in eight years? No, though it’s pretty much the case that he never did anything right on purpose.

Unquestionably, however, Bush did make some positive contributions to American life, even if they were completely inadvertent, and even if they were dwarfed by the swath of destruction he left all across the landscape. Put simply, George W. Bush’s greatest success was that he gave a very bad name to very bad things.

Like the Republican Party, for example. Or conservative ideology. Or theocracy. Or presidents with the last name of Bush. Or emotional midgets who seek the White House as a salve for their personal psychological neediness.

We can be grateful for all these contributions, and I certainly am – though “thanks” is not likely what I would say if I had the pleasure of relating my assessment of Mr. Bush to him directly. More likely it would be something closer to the gracious words Dick “Dick” Cheney had for Patrick Leahy early on in the administration, when the two bumped into each other on the Senate floor. Those remarks were not, shall we say, fit for print in a family newspaper.

But I digress.

George Bush left us many gifts, but perhaps the greatest of them is that he has ruined the sport of imperialism in America, maybe forever.

Admittedly, that may of course be wishful thinking. Woe be unto the world, for example, should there be another 9/11 type of event. Somebody somewhere would have to pay in spades, and they likely wouldn’t be nice white folks.

And god only knows, alternatively, what Americans might be capable of under conditions of real resource deprivation. Considering what we’ve already done while being the richest and most powerful country in the world, it’s scary to think of what we could do with our back genuinely to the wall.

But leaving those unusual situations aside, it must be said that, after Iraq, the fun has really gone out of eviscerating small foreign countries, even those foolish enough to locate themselves on top of our oil.

Imperialism used to be a fairly sporting avocation for gentlemen of a certain class. You could occupy hapless Latin American countries, topple Iranian democracies, and simultaneously sponsor apartheid suppression of whole populations, still having time left by mid-afternoon for a couple belts with the boys down at the club, all in celebration of a good day’s work at the office. It was jolly good fun for all. Except, of course, for all for whom it wasn’t.

Unfortunately, that latter category included more or less the entirety of the southern hemisphere, and not a few in the north to boot. But, so what? We’re Americans! Caring about the morality of imperialism is for pre-dictatorship revolutionary anti-colonialist leaders and washed-up European former empires who can’t get it up anymore.

Truth be told, we’re now closer to being in that latter category than not, and we can thank George W. Bush for that, one of the few contributions of this complete and utter disaster going by the name of the 43rd presidency.

I’d say we’re more than a bit lucky for that outcome, too. Imagine if Iraq had been a success. Imagine if it had been the cakewalk they obviously thought it would be. Indeed, one of the great ironies of American politics is that Iraq probably readily could have been a ‘great success’, at least in terms of what could be marketed as such to a foolish American public.

In that sense, we are really quite fortunate, in a perverse sort of way, that Bush was as much a lazy boob as he was a warmonger. We are lucky that Rumsfeld was as dogmatic about his 21 century military ideas as Cheney was a completely psycho amoral sociopath. For had they simply run an occupation that was as carefully planned and as adequately staffed as the invasion, or had they toppled Saddam and then promptly left, “Mission Accomplished” would have been a lot more than some banner duct-taped onto the bridge of an aircraft carrier.

And that would have been very bad news indeed for the rest of the world. Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba – there’s no telling where they might have gone next, and likely with the full support of the American public, at that point popping the buttons off their jingoistic shirts (made in Thailand, of course), their chests puffed out to the wall.

Americans were already growing dubious of regressive exploits in international adventurism, it seems to me. I remember laughing at the senior Bush, whose first pronouncement after defeating the pathetically under-matched Iraqi military in 1991 was “By God, we’ve licked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!” Yeah, he actually said that. All I could think at the time was, if you have to say it, dude, it ain’t really happenin’. And all I can think now is, out of 300 million people in this country, did we really go to the Bush family twice to staff the presidency?

But, in fact, the Vietnam syndrome had not been licked. That war was a traumatic experience, and it changed public perceptions about the desirability of war itself. On top of which, America was not completely immune to the general Western post-World War II movement away from militarism as a means of settling disputes. Then there’s always been our long-standing vision of ourselves as both peace-loving and anti-imperialistic – however absurd those perceptions often were in light of actual practice. These also provided at least a speed-bump along the road to war in all but the more obvious cases.

Indeed, two things about public opinion and war in America struck me as pretty notable, but not much noted, these last years. One is that there was a surprising – I thought – lack of blood lust after 9/11. I guess part of that was that there was no state enemy to be attacked, as there had been in the past, and part of that was the foregone conclusion that we would be invading Afghanistan. But, really, I’m surprised there wasn’t a far more intense call for revenge. As one measure of the absence of this, consider that Osama bin Laden still has not been captured or killed, almost a decade (!) later, and that nobody seems much to care about that or mention it very often.

The other thing worth noting is that the public was, in fact, dubious about the Iraq invasion, right up until the weeks before. People realized that it was bogus, at some basic level, and they certainly had a hard time connecting it to 9/11. It took a marketing full-court press to eventually garner public support for the war (America’s pathetic excuse for a Congress was a lot easier to roll). It never worked abroad (another reason Americans were a bit slower to come on-board), but in the context of post-9/11 fears, a general tendency to trust the president, and the regressive movement’s prowess at equating militarism with patriotism, the Madison Avenue campaign finally produced a tenuous majority support for the Iraq invasion in the weeks right before it actually went down.

I think it’s slightly encouraging that, even in that context, it still took a real effort to sell the war. It’s also seriously discouraging, on the other hand, that it could be sold, and that it was. But, as noted, this was a tenuous acceptance. Had the war gone well it would have amplified the militarism in the Bush team and the country’s willingness to let them run rampant. Since it went disastrously, it had the opposite effect.

Iraq is probably not the last time America will go to war. But I think it’s fair to say that this country – its nose once more bloodied by a stupid imperial adventure, stupidly prosecuted – will be that much more reticent to repeat the experience. We do learn in America. It is often a painfully slow process, sometimes punctuated by reverse trajectories (can you say ‘creation science’), but we do occasionally exhibit the classic clinical signs of a student who can be taught, however reluctantly and inadvertantly.

And thus we owe a debt of gratitude to the Iraqis, perhaps a million of whom have been murdered, another four or five million dislocated, and countless others wounded – emotionally, if not physically, if not both – for helping us to learn. And the people of Syria and Iran and much of the rest of the developing world owe these Iraqis thanks as well, for giving the US pause from invading other countries at will.

America’s place in the world is likely to be entering a new period now, for several reasons. One is that the low-key successes of the Obama administration will help underscore the sheer lunacy of the Bush years, and all the policies associated with them. Another is that we are rapidly coming face-to-face with the reality that empire is expensive. As our standards of living go from mere steady decline to sheer precipitous decline, you’ll know that we’ve actually turned that corner when mainstream politicians finally have the courage to talk about scaling back expenditures on the obscenely bloated American military machine.

But, in the end, it may truthfully be said that no one did more to discourage American militaristic tendencies than Jingo George, himself, however odd that may seem.

And, who knows? If I ever met him, maybe I could even bring myself to thank him for that, after all.

But only, of course, from above, after I had decked him.

David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers’ reactions to his articles (mailto:dmg@regressiveantidote.net), but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website, http://www.regressiveantidote.net.


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