Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The case against class warfare

(This was my June 28 Huffington Post blog, but I feel the timing to run it again is just right.)
The cold day in hell has arrived.
If you had asked me a year ago if I would ever agree with Congressman Paul Ryan about anything, you would have either received derisive laughter or a challenge to a duel.
After all, this is a man who is praised by people who should know better because he is willing to sacrifice Social Security and Medicare "for the good of his country."
But when he told an interviewer last September, "Class warfare ... may make for really good politics, but it makes for rotten economics," Paul Ryan stumbled onto the truth.
This election season has been marred by people who have tried to stoke a feud between those who struggle to make ends meet and those who worry if the elevator they installed for their cars is down for repairs.
Class warfare does make for rotten economics and it is time to tell Paul Ryan and his colleagues, whether they classify themselves as simply conservative or Tea Party, that we are sick of it.
It is class warfare when a bunch of white middle-aged men with six and seven-figure incomes fight tooth and nail to keep people from having affordable health care, making the same arguments that were made before Medicare and Social Security were passed.
It is class warfare when public school teachers are attacked for being the cause of education problems in the United States while these same men do everything they can to eliminate the programs designed to battle the poverty that is the biggest cause of failures in our inner-city schools.
It is class warfare when anti-union and anti-worker legislation is touted as vital to bringing jobs to states when the whole idea is to get every state to pass these bills and reduce the wages and benefits that these "job providers" offer.
It is class warfare when you lower taxes again and again for these "job providers" who never seem to provide any jobs. With taxes so low, no money is left to pay for essential services, which makes it necessary to launch attacks against the middle class public servants whose jobs relied on that money.
It is class warfare when you blame the educational system for not providing job-ready workers (which was never the purpose of public education in the first place), to cover up the shipment of those same jobs to other countries to save a few dollars.
It is class warfare when you begin the systematic elimination of campaign finance limits, the only thing that offered the possibility of an even break in the electoral process to those who cannot afford to wine and dine their politicians and offer them carpet bags full of cold cash.
It is class warfare when the corporations are given unlimited free speech, while one impediment after another is placed in the path of unions or anyone else who represents workers.
It is class warfare when legislators continue to offer bills designed to strip money from public schools and have it sent to private institutions, while making no effort to make sure that those same private institutions will open their doors to anyone, including those with physical, emotional, and behavioral problems.
The most horrific part of the class warfare that the American people have been subjected to the past few years is that the more times we are told that class warfare (against the 1 percent) won't work, the more effectively it is working for that same one percent.
We automatically accept, almost without question, that Medicare and Social Security, success stories by anyone's definition, must be altered, or perhaps dismantled, in order to save the programs.
We accept the statement that public schools are failing, when the overwhelming majority of them are not and the inner-city schools that are having problems are being hurt just as much by politicians' disdain for dealing with poverty and societal problems, as by poor teachers.
We accept the idea, and it is far more insidious than anything else I have mentioned, that those who are poor, those who are diseased, those whose religion or sexual preference is different from the majority, those who have come to this country because of what the United States represents, and I pray will continue to represent, are somehow the root of this nation's problems.
We have all been victims of class warfare. What has been most shameful has been the way the word "conservative" has been destroyed by these zealots. There is nothing conservative about systematically destroying the ideals and values that have made this country great.

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