Money For Prostitutes? Yes! Money For Auto Workers? Hell, No!
Returning from a visit with a friend yesterday, the first face that greeted me when I turned on the TV was that of Republican Louisiana Senator, David Vitter. He of the prostitute philandering scandal a few years ago was there expressing his outrage on behalf of the American taxpayers. This man who was featured in my blog two days ago in the “Politicians Gone Wild” segment, was mostly pushing the Southern Republican line of “major cuts in workers’ wages” as the price of some sort of “bailout” for the Big 3. Senator Vitter, in his pre-penance philandering days never seemed to meet a high-priced call girl who he didn’t think was worth her pay, but when it comes to hard working auto workers and their families, he expresses a sense of moral outrage at their temerity to demand a middle-class income.
Today when the newest first-time unemployment claims were announced, 573,000, bringing the two-week total over 1 million jobs lost, the media continued its frenzy over the much-more sexy story of Blago the Clown’s fall from grace. And, to be expected, they were weaving webs of innuendo to bring President-Elect Obama and his new team into the story whenever possible. And let’s not forget that Jesse Jackson, Jr., was roundly criticized for defending himself in “too defensive” a manner. What the hell is that? Obama is being criticized for issuing “too tepid” a response, yet Jessie Jackson, Jr., is supposed to control his sense of outrage at having his political career tainted by a Governor Gone Wild. No matter what anybody does, they can expect the news media to find fault. It’s what they do. I still contend that the mantra of every newsroom is, “Let’s go out there and make some news today!”
While Vitter helped lead the charge against unions yesterday with his fellow Republican Senators from the South, a study surfaced that may shed some real light on the whole sorry mess that we as citizens of “the greatest democracy in the world” are really up against. In response to the FBI investigator’s statement that Illinois was certainly a contender for the “most corrupt state in the nation,” came to light a little known Federal report that rates exactly the most corrupt states in America. Illinois finished a disappointing sixth. At the top of the list – Surprise! Surprise! – is Vitter’s home state of Louisiana. Next in the rogue’s gallery of corrupt states? Mississippi. It’s probably
all those “crooked-letters” in that little rhyme we learned back in elementary school. Third on the list? Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky. I guess Senator McConnell should put his rock down before he launches that throw at Obama. And not to be left out, fourth place goes to the home state of Republican Senator Richard Shelby, Alabama. That’s why we should listen carefully to the good advise of Senator Shelby when he speaks. By the way, when this information about his home state was presented on Morning Joe, Scarborough sat stunned and silent. Now, that’s a first!
The study bases its ratings, fairly I think, on the number of public officials convicted on corruption charges per capita. For those of you who need a math lesson on what “per capita” means, that’s how many corrupt officials compared to state population. Illinois – the fifth largest state in the US – does indeed look bad in raw numbers, but the number of taxpayers cheated per “corrupter” is much higher in those four Southern states. As a son of the South, this hardly comes as a shock to me. The well-heeled elite of The South and the politicians that they pay to represent them have turned their heads in the face
of grinding poverty since the days of the Civil War and perhaps beyond. No region of this nation tolerates a greater poverty rate than The South. It seems to be a sign of good government in Old Dixie to keep taxes low at the expense of basic human needs. It is commonly shouted down here that people wouldn’t be living in poverty if they’d get up off their asses and go to work. Of course this overlooks the fact that many are working at jobs that pay below the poverty level. I guess it is also a slap at all those children who refuse to leave school and go back out and work in the cotton fields like the good “bleeps” used to.
While Southern states have paid Japanese and German car companies to come into their states by way of outrageous tax breaks and free land deals, not to mention subsidizing them further by paying the entire cost of constructing whole assembly plants, they are prepared to stand in the way of American car companies being subsidized by their own government. Why isn’t somebody like Patrick Fitzgerald investigating the money trail in southern states that led to all these sweetheart deals for foreign car manufacturers? Oh, that’s right, the Department of Justice is controlled by the Bush Administration. I believe Dubya is a Republican, isn’t he?
Republican Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina has been parading about daily swatting down Detroit’s chances on every TV show he can. Only David Shuster of MSNBC had the right
question for the stammering Sanford. “Governor, what about the subsidies that your state gave to BMW to locate a plant in South Carolina?” Sanford hemmed and hawed around, and then changed the subject. When asked today on Morning Joe what advice he would give to the US Government based on his experiences as Governor of South Carolina, he pointed to what I guess are his proudest accomplishments: a 0% (that’s not a typo) tax rate for corporations, down from 5%, and a flat income tax on the good citizens of South Carolina.
A lot of people like the idea of a flat tax, especially people who make lots of money. They proclaim it to be the only fair tax. I see their point and understand why they feel that way, but I think they really don’t think it through. Let’s say you are living at or below the poverty level now, maybe because you are retired and live on a fixed income. Let’s say you make $750 per month from a pension or Social Security or maybe even an unemployment check. Think deeply about how near to impossible it would be for you to live on $750 per month. In Texas you would barely qualify for any assistance at all at this level – we’re talking no food stamps here. Right now the Federal Government understands this and wouldn’t burden you with income taxes. But under a flat-tax system of say 10%, you would have to pay $75 per month in taxes. Now, you are living on $675 per month.
These figures aren’t outrageous or even overstated. Literally millions of American families live on this amount or less every month. Disabled persons who receive SSI payments from the Social Security Administration only get $603 per month, and they must prove that they are completely unable to work to get that. That’s not much to live on. Take away $60 of that and you’re down to $543 per month. Now before all you right-wing libertarian types inundate my blog with your outrage against those who are in this predicament, wake up and watch the daily news. In today’s economy there are few of us more than one or two paychecks away from this scenario. This is exactly why I indict southern politicians who tolerate grinding poverty in their states, turning a blind eye to it and continuing to feather the nests of their rich contributors through tax cuts and corporate welfare. They are hypocrites of the highest order.
I also indict the religious leaders in my region for instructing their followers to keep voting these thieves back into office in exchange for support of only two issues – a ban on abortions and a ban on same-sex marriages. Shame on them! They condemn their very own followers to generation after generation of poverty in the guise of these two insignificant issues. I also charge them with hypocrisy in this because what they are really defending is their tax-exempt status under our governmental codes. Think about how many of these “evangelists” live the high life and build great monuments to their success in which to “pass the plate” to gain their tax-free incomes. They may fool their followers, but they don’t fool me. They believe in themselves and they also believe that the Republicans are more likely to keep them in business than the Democrats. I wish their leader, Jesus, was here right now to turn his whip on these modern-day temple priests. Of course, they would call him a terrorist and have him put to death. History just keeps circling back around.
The main thing I would like to stress here, other than my poor old cardio-vascular system, is that it is time for the American people to stop listening to the heartless Republicans who rule The South and return to the idea of one America that looks out for the good of all the people, not just the fortunate few who can afford to buy a voice in government. It’s up to us to STAND UP and demand better, demand a government that takes care of THE PEOPLE first.
KEEP FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT!