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Rant. Muse. Eat. Sleep. Recycle.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

CB, you refer to a set of social problems...

... African Americans who are under-educated, unemployed, unmarried, incarcerated and oversexed – and blame it on social-program spending. “… these are the results of $6,600,000,000,000 worth of government administered social programs.”

To quote “Fargo’s” Marge Gunderson, “I’m not sure I agree with your police work there…”

That these problems continue isn’t proof that social safety-nets are the cause.

The individual is pretty much formed by adulthood and money poured into adult welfare programs (substance abuse, domestic violence, legal services etc) can seem, at times, to make painfully little difference to the warp and weave of the social fabric. But it’s not only the lives of these adults that we’re ultimately trying to effect. The hope is that we can stop adults who are in free-fall mode from taking their kids along for the ride and then make sure the kids have their basic needs met as well as give them opportunities that might help break the cycle.

The Reagan-era perpetuated myth of the “welfare mom” who procreates just so she can take in an extra welfare check is a false enemy. The enemy is poverty, which begets dumbness, which begets dumb choices.

Conservative policies seem to contradict conservative stated goals. Their mouths say “work,” but their policies say, “starve.” Conservatives are steadfastly opposed to raising the minimum wage. A full time minimum-wage worker earns $10,712 a year. A couple with two children would have to work a combined 132 minimum-wage hours a week just to make ends meet… and they do (despite what Rush Limbaugh says, it’s not just teenagers who are taking these jobs).

Many Americans saw poor black people sitting on New Orleans rooftops and assumed they were all welfare recipients (one conservative pundit quipped, “now they won’t know where to pick up their welfare checks”). In fact, those desperate faces were, in many case those of the “working poor” -- the people who sweep our floors, prep our food, type our memos, and empty our bedpans. To make matters worse, Bush keeps pushing his guest worker program claiming that an imported labor force would only take those jobs that Americans are unwilling to take. In fact, this is just a way for Bushes corporate donors to get cheap labor. If these jobs aren’t made available to “guest workers” employers are forced to make the jobs more competitive for American workers.

As for the problem of unmarried parents, how are two dysfunctional adults better than one? Seems like twice the emotional scarring to me. What we have to focus on is how to keep sexually active humans from reproducing until they’re financially and emotionally ready to do so. The catch 22 is, they won’t be equipped unless society delivers a good education and the promise of a decent job. This is the social contract. When we default on it, the problem continues into perpetuity.

Sadly, liberal programs to address that very problem are under constant and unrelenting attack by the right. I’m talking about sex education in schools, and access to the morning after pill and safe and legal abortion.

The irony – which somehow seems lost on many right-wingers – is that the abortion rate (along with poverty) steadily declined during the Clinton years and has (along with poverty) steadily increased under Bush.

(Which reminds me of another Limbaugh-ism. He likes to quote poverty numbers from the beginning of the Clinton administration (numbers that belonged to Bush One and were bad) and compare them to poverty numbers at the beginning of the Bush Two administration (numbers that belonged to Clinton and were good). In fact, he has it exactly backwards and the lying SOB knows it.)

Other damaging conservative bright ideas include corporate welfare that allows outsourcing of American labor and off shore tax shelters so multi billion dollar companies don’t have to contribute to the tax base. Where bankruptcy is concerned, we’re getting screwed six ways to Sunday. The new bankruptcy bill says to credit card companies, ‘hunt away, we’ve blocked the exit,’ but corporate bankruptcies are protected, and leave us, the taxpayers to pick up the tab for reneged upon pension plans.

Let’s talk about Delphi, a GM spin-off and one of the largest employers in Michigan. Tens of thousands of retired GM workers are now being told they’ll now get only 30 percent of the pension they worked their asses off to earn. Meanwhile, current workers are being told their wages will be cut in half. And Delphi goes on its merry way, protected by corporate bankruptcy laws.

What the Taliban did to the Muslim religion? That’s what the neo-cons have done to your party. Rather than defending them, you should be demanding they give it back. At least then we can get back to agreeing to disagree.


And now for the ‘wading into unknown territory’ portion of my post (I think Renegade Eye, a self-proclaimed Trotskyite is better qualified to address this, but I’m going to take a stab at it anyway)…

Just because we have social programs doesn’t make us anything resembling a socialist country (not that there’s anything wrong with that). We are capitalists, through and through

Having said that, there seems to be little agreement as to what qualifies as socialism – just because a party calls itself socialist, does not make it so. More often than not, so-called socialist governments are an amalgam of different political parties. Of your examples, a Spanish Socialist Workers Party won the election in 2004. Who knows yet weather it will work?

Since 1998, the government of Germany has been built as a coalition of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, The Green Party and Christian Democratic Union.

And Jacques Chirac's party affiliation, Union for a Popular Movement, is considered right wing, by French standards.

Rather than talk about countries that “promote” (or dabble in) socialism. Let’s talk about a place where it’s been in place for decades -- ya know, the lefties that brought us Ikea and Abba:

“The Nordic countries are characterized by excellent macroeconomic management over all," said Augusto Lopez-Claros, director of the global competitiveness program of the World Economic Forum. "They are all running budget surpluses, they have extremely low levels of corruption, with their firms operating in a legal environment in which there is widespread respect for contracts and the rule of law, and their private sectors are on the forefront of technological innovation."

"It's that old myth that social protection requires more business regulations and hurts business," said Caralee McLeish, a co-author of the World Bank survey. "In fact, we found that social protection is good for business, it takes the burden off of businesses for health care costs and ensures a well-trained and educated work force."

The Nordic countries have bested some of the world's hottest economies and dominate the top ranks of the list of most competitive economies in the world in a new ranking of the best places to do business.”—The International Herald

Better to compare the US to Argentina where rabid privatization has left the country with nothing left to privatize, eroding the tax base, and leading to a deep recession. In 2001, economic collapse left more than half the population living in poverty.

--Posted by Kay

link | posted by Jae at 5:54 PM |


Blogger Renegade Eye commented at 9:31 PM~  

I'm not related to Trotsky, my family descends from his. Trotsky had the most enduring ideas, than any other revolutionary. His writings stay pertinent longer, than for example Che Guevarra, who was important mostly to his period alive.

Just a note. Trotskyists get offended if you say Trotskyite. That's what Stalin called his followers.

Capitalism is never static. It always needs new markets. It is a competitive system.

We live from day to day, under capitalism. The working class, in order to take the pain away, due to a system that is profit oriented, fought hard for reforms as social security, welfare, the right to unionize, free speech. The system is not static. Reforms have to be fought for, and defended. The reforms are the result of the labor, civil rights, antiwar and feminist movements. We receive no gifts.

The bottom line is you can have reforms, and it still be a capitalist system, just like you said.

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