Thursday, June 26, 2014

Conservatives Are Totally Detached From Economic and Social Reality

The Pew Research Center is out with part two of its huge survey of American politics and it appears the American Right is even more whacked out of its collective head than we thought. Recall the first part, released a couple weeks ago, focused on political polarization see e.g.

For this round, Pew's researchers have created a political typology which "sorts voters into cohesive groups based on their attitudes and values." There's bound to be much interest on this and you can see where you fall in Pew's typology quiz here - but for now let's focus on the chart above, particularly the left half.

We find more than three quarters of conservative Americans - those in the steadfast conservative, business conservative, and young outsider typology groups - agree that "poor people have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything." Only seven percent of steadfast conservatives say that the poor "have hard lives."  Now, which group do you think is detached from reality? (And displays beliefs at least as egregious as saying climate change isn’t human engendered)

 Incredibly, and to show the extent Neoliberals and their media have mind-fucked everyone, even a not-insignificant share of left-leaning groups say that the poor have it easy.  In my book these folks aren’t truly left at all, but wine and brie chasing Neolib dilettantes most likely in the employ of Wall Street or a media company… or perhaps the beneficiaries of an inheritance so they don’t have to get off their keysters and work. But lucky for them, they aren't my targets in this post.

Overall, it is the widespread agreement among conservatives on this point of grabbing benefits without doing anything that's really striking. There are reasonable, well-intentioned arguments on either side of many poverty-related issues - about the causes of poverty (see the right half of the chart), or whether government benefits provide a leg up or simply perpetuate poverty, for instance. But at root the conservative beliefs about what agents perpetuate poverty are totally out of whack with the actual data - which I will get to.

As an educated liberal (some might call me - and have- "over-educated") I  have a hard time understanding how any semi-literate American could read about the experience of families relying on food stamps to eat, or those trying to manage chronic conditions with Medicaid, and conclude that these people “have it easy”. Do these morons even understand how tough – as well as humiliating – it is to even get enrolled in the respective benefit programs? Do they remotely grasp or have they a clue that in many states – since Clinton’s 1996 ‘welfare to work’ law passed- many are forced to work at menial jobs for below minimum wage pay to garner benefits?  Do these turkeys understand how the SNAP program was actually cut back in December and that the bulk of those affected are KIDS under age 18? (15.7 million in all).

It makes a citizen ashamed to call himself an “American” when so many of one’s countrymen can be so fucking ignorant, or stupid. But hell, for conservatives it’s not a handicap but a pastime – they embrace being fucking stupid and ignorant. It’s in their blood! Other salient facts and data points they might wish to process:

1) Compared to middle and upper-income Americans, the poor are three times less likely to have health insurance coverage, and more likely to put off or skip necessary medical treatment as a result;

2) The poor are three times more likely to be victimized by crime;

3) The daily stresses of living under poverty impose a cognitive burden equivalent to losing 13 IQ points;

4) Poor children are three times more likely to be affected by food scarcity and obesity;

5) Poor children receive a lower quality education in public school, and the ones who make it to college are more likely to drop out;

6) Poorer Americans breathe dirtier air, they sleep less, and they  even have less sex;

7) In the end all this "easy living" literally shaves decades off their lives.  

 The aggregate data above shows the beliefs of the conservatives are as baseless as their beliefs about climate change (i.e. not being human-caused)  We might have pity on these jokers, but their arrogance prevents it.  What I’d really  like to see is all the fat and content rich or merely comfortable conservatives try to live the lives the poor have had to- then come back and tell me how “easy’ they have it!

Here’s the harshest truth for our clueless conservative brethren: the poor exist today because a large swatch of the American work force is regarded as “disposable” by the Neoliberal political elites. In most cases, this vast enclave of perhaps 47 million is the victim of simple population increase (including via illegal immigration) which has created a large surplus labor force. Because the size of the labor force is too much by nearly 40 million, not all citizens can be fully employed. There simply aren’t enough jobs nor will there ever be (As it is,  the jobs currently  created per month barely keep up with population replacement levels. Before about 4 years ago, the jobs numbers had fallen far behind population replacement levels.)

 The other harsh fact is that Neoliberalism's market imperative rejects work benefits and hence is driven to pare labor to the bone in favor of capital. This favors companies that are “lean and mean” rather than employee friendly and also mass-hiring. What divisions aren’t profitable are outsourced overseas. The Neoliberal isn’t even content with gov’t jobs and wants to outsource all those to private “lean and mean” concerns. See :
The other jobs in the Neoliberal sphere that pay anything are generally reserved for the embedded Wall Street and financial enclaves (including the debt promoters and holders) and a relatively few “techies” and military hardware (e.g. drone, F35) engineers. Most others  not outsourced have been automated, to relieve the corporations of having to hire flesh and blood humans and pay them - including health benefits.  Hence, the 23 odd million citizens under-employed and another 15 million who remain chronically unemployed - at least until they can try to collect Social Security (which is also causing enormous pressure on the system)

 As for  the much maligned “welfare”,  author Charles Reich has this to say about it (Opposing the System’, Crown Books, pp. 125-126:

The claim that government is free to reduce or cut off welfare and other forms of support for people in economic need is totally mistaken. Welfare is not a gift, nor is it, despite frequent assertions, a transfer from those who earn a living to those who are not.

 Welfare is rather an obligation from society – and from those who are working- to those who have been deprived of work and the opportunity to earn a living. If we want to speak of transfers, it would be more accurate to say that those with a secure place in the economic system are enjoying a transfer of wealth from those who have been excluded from the economic system. Welfare then is partial compensation for a deprivation of livelihood that allows others to work

Clearly, a humane welfare model then must be based on the premise that welfare is an obligation from society and not a ‘gift’ or reluctant transfer from the working to the non-working. If an alleged model is assembled without this premise, then it is anything but a genuine welfare model, never mind the language.  In fact, it is more a Neoliberal indentured servitude model, a la "welfare to work" advocated and passed by Clinton.

 Apart from welfare, the only vehicle of possible escape from poverty is the military. But since the Neoliberals and conservatives don’t even wish to fund the VA properly, we’ve seen how that’s turned out. That pair of political degenerate factions loves to start wars and maintain 4,400 bases around the world, but they hate to pay the costs. The end result? Those who seek to escape poverty are often cast further into it since when they leave the military they find they have to deal with PTSD and other disorders, not to mention injuries, and can’t find jobs to use whatever talents they might have.

 As for food stamps, those are hardly “hand outs”. I consider them instead to be the balance of what poorly paid workers  are owed (most SNAP families have at least one primary worker) but which the cheapskate political system refuses to pay them in formal hourly wages.  This system would rather piss away trillions on unprovoked “wars” or massive tax cuts for the rich, than feed 15.7 million kids who have no control over their own fates. Here is how the system perceives all those kids:


The evident dynamic:  coupling  mammoth increases in military-defense spending with enormous tax cuts for the wealthiest – is to ensure the majority of the population is unable to obtain adequate remuneration from paid work, and hence become more impoverished over time. As they do, they lose control of their lives, fall into debt bondage and either die or have to work (in lowest level or paid jobs) around the clock just to survive.
Meanwhile, young people eventually will have to cease going to college and amassing debts equal to a mortgage and join the volunteer military instead - paving the way for the need to incite more conflicts. It’s a never ending cycle of  economic and social insanity.

In effect, the globalization of U.S. production, jobs and mobile capital has laid the seeds for the acceleration of the rate of exploitation ( S/V) ..see, e.g.

The Political Elite thereby have engineered a built-in mechanism to spawn entrenched destitution among the nation’s  middle and working class populations over time, especially as the population continued to increase in Malthusian proportions

 The issue is simple here: if the political system refuses to approve a living wage – and forces families to live on $9.50 an hour or less, then it can’t be surprised such families need food stamps!  Only a congenital idiot would believe otherwise, which evidently most of these conservatives are if they believe food stamps are “handouts”.

 Sadly, the latest PEW results simply show how further corrupted the political system has become as well as too many of those within it. If these comfortable others – mainly conservatives- can’t seem to believe that they also may one day be poor – if the hammer of fate or Neoliberal ‘craps’ falls on them, then they really have no business sucking up air or space on this planet.  They are a liability and a continuing detriment to us all. They are part of the problem instead of the solution. What we need more than anything else is a powerful revival of the REAL Left, to counterbalance this regression to the lowest common denominator. I will deal with that issue in future blog posts.

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