Sunday, August 21, 2011

Thanks Jon Stewart

For the show he aired Thursday, August 18, 2011 on Comedy Central’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart. [It may air again as a rerun on, Monday, August 22, 2011. Or, watch it on Comedy Central or Jon Stewart’s web sites.] Stewart’s adept razor wit put so much into perspective. It is heartwarming to have at least one person stick up to conservative politicians and pundits who spewed such vile vitriol about poor people.

Framing the Issues:

"Animals," was Ann Colter’s description of poor people on social programs. Choosing his side, Neal Boortz harangued, "It is all out war on the productive class in our society, for the benefit of the moocher-class!" He ranted on, "Many of them get so much money in credits that it wipes out any Social Security taxes or Medicare taxes they are paying. They are absolutely on a free ride."

Absolutely? Well, not exactly. Most likely, poor and middle classes pay state, sales, property, as well federal taxes added to their phone and power bills, etc. The power bills pay for refrigerators that 99.6% of poor people "own" [or they belong to landlords of apartments, poor people rent].

Stewart’s keenly barbed reporting left off the statistic of poor people owning computers. It was on another statistic that I commented on in a Tweet. Poor is determined as $22,800 a year for a family of four. This family then has children. Today, children cannot go to school without a computer to do homework. So, poor parents sacrifice elsewhere to educate their children properly. Gee, would "moochers" do that?

Herman Cain wants what he and others call a "fair tax." People will pay no income tax, but 23% federal sales tax on everything they buy. This includes, but is not limited to, federal sales taxes added to other taxes on medical services, gasoline, propane, electricity, rent, mortgages, etc. State and local governments aren’t going to give up their take.

For example, someone subsisting on $800 a month should really be making $984 to break even, giving them no money to save or invest. This Federal Sales Taxpayer will need $194 x 12 = $2,328 extra yearly to survive. If this person lives in subsidized housing, he or she pays about 40% of their income on rent, minus medical bills. He or she has about $480 left for gas, utilities, food, and medicine. Without housing subsidies, more would find housing on the streets. (Those in other countries may think this is much money. They don’t have the high rents America does.)

Is a compassionate government going to subsidize this extra money needed to pay the 23% Federal Sales Tax? This federal sales tax idea might put us into greater debt. Only a compassionate government, however, would install subsidies. Republicans might not care if the country goes back to the days of Les Miserable, or Tale of Two Cities.

Perhaps, Mr. Cain cares, who says he is not without compassion. His program will return a "prebate" check of $230 a year that is about 2.3% of the 23% taxation. Two point three. Poor people paying approximately $320 monthly rent will pay an extra $883.20 per year for housing. They are supposed to find this extra money where? Not to mention, that all prices will increase so corporations can make up for the 23% extra they are paying in federal sales taxes.

Can we count on corporations to recognize that they are no longer paying federal income tax that many don’t pay anyway, so they might forgo increasing prices? If their comportment is anything near the whining conservative pundits and politicians depicted on Jon Stewart’s show, they would never consider lowering prices.

Painting a Picture of a Friend:

I’m honored to call my friend someone whom conservative pundits and politicians would vilify in their screeching rants. My friend agreed that I may extract images from her life, but I’m NOT to use her name. She was clear about that. My friend’s name will be Jane Doe. Also, though similarities between us exist, I’m not Jane Doe.

I’ve got to be fair and say, Jane Doe is not typical. She gives religion a good name. She really does love Jesus, and wants only to live her life as good as he lived his life. Knowing her, I’m sure that she entered this world the beautiful soul that she is.

Jane Doe was not a wanted child. Her mother tried, unsuccessfully, to abort her. She was left with permanent medical conditions because of this. To avoid the beatings and berating, she left home in her early years, supporting herself with modeling and whatever work she could find. Looking to fill the emotional void her unloving parents left her, she searched for someone to love. She ended up having four marriages. Of course, understanding basic psychology, we know that she unconsciously looked for the wrong men who validated the demeaning attitude and language of her parents. This left her with very little self-esteem.

Although she is highly intelligent, this kind of upbringing integrates into the psyche no matter how hard one tries to clear it out. Religion, therapy, or self-empowerment cannot fully purge deeply rooted abuse. Activities do help negativity from creeping to the forefront. The childhood wounds, however, are haunting. They can surface from an unkind word, look, or gesture.

Jane Doe’s fragile face, sad eyes, and delicate demeanor show the hard life she lived. Sometimes her deportment is harsh from a raspy voice of too many cigarettes aging her too early. She smoked for decades to calm her nerves, but is quitting for her health. She doesn’t take pain medications her doctors push onto her, but takes herbal-supplements to improve her health.

Though Jane Doe gets angry when people deliberately hurt her feelings, she works very hard to avoid taking her life out on others. Friends have told her that those who purposely berate her are jealous. She’s working on having a thicker skin. She is grateful for what little people give to her, and always insists on returning the favor twice over. She has a sensitive spot for those less fortunate than she. As little as she has materially, she is rich beyond measure spiritually.

At the age of seventy, and with multiple medical conditions, Jane Doe gets commodities monthly for about 15 other Seniors existing through the grace of social safety nets. Some are veterans. Some were homemakers, who never made their own money, but live on their dead husband’s Social Security. Jane Doe asks nothing for doing this errand, shouldering the financial burden of extra gasoline. It also tires her physically. If one of them occasionally forces her to take a dollar, she accepts it in grudging good grace to allow them to feel good too. She is happy helping other people. This brings her closer to being like Jesus.

Jane Doe shops at thrift stores, and avoids using air conditioning (already in her rented apartment) and the propane stove as much as possible. When a taillight gets broken, the cost of fixing it eats into her carefully crafted budget. To get the commodities for her neighbors, she doesn’t need a busted taillight. Tickets would really cut into her stipend.

Jane Doe also gets frustrated with others on social programs just like conservative pundits and politicians. At least she tries to understand why they sit around all day doped up on prescription drugs. We discussed it.

First, let’s get some things straight about "Obamacare." If he and Congress cared so much about people having healthcare, they’d have given Americans a one-payer system. They’d never put in the carrot for the insurance companies as a Mandate to purchase insurance that he and Pelosi exempted friends from buying. They’d have stressed paying for alternative medicines and procedures that can cure.

Patients have regarded physicians as gods for too long, thinking that only they can cure illnesses. Drug advertisements are incessant. Seniors are hooked on debilitating drugs because some doctors farm patients to make a comfortable living when getting perks for prescribing. One medicine often needs another to counteract its effects and so on. Patients trust their doctors to do what is best for them, not themselves. Pharmaceutical lobbies are too powerful.

No one educates patients about alternative medicine and healing. Most seniors never read Adelle Davis’s books like, Let’s Get Well, or Let’s Eat Right to Stay Fit. However, we now have Dr. Oz.

Not only healthy eating, but herbs are part of Jane Doe’s routine. She knows how to help herself when doctors are willing to give her the diagnoses she needs to get the proper herbs.

Both Sides are Acting Like Siblings:

Are conservative politicians and pundits feeling picked on by others trying to make them do right? They are behaving like siblings crying about the other child getting a bigger slice of the pie. Huh? Isn’t their slice bigger? It’s really about fairness, not who has the biggest piece of pie.

They tell us that they aren’t the privileged ones, but that they worked for their wealth. We’ve no doubt that the paid mouth pieces for the extremely wealthy work hard to give their bosses’ point-of-view. Not withstanding, Social Security and Medicare recipients also worked hard paying into those programs their entire working lives. It’s not welfare. It’s insurance.

Pundits and politicians throw the word entitlement around like a dirty word as though meaning people feel entitled to what isn’t theirs. When it really means, people ARE ENTITLED to the benefits for which they paid.

If the system is broken, taxpayers didn’t break it. Congress stole from the Social Security Trust Fund that is separate from the General Fund to pay for pet projects and never returned the money. That’s what Al Gore referred to when campaigning for president in 2000 when he talked about a "lock box" that Congress couldn’t touch.

Would those conservative politicians and pundits begrudge Social Security if Wall Street could get its paws on the privatized proceeds? Other corporations could do what Enron did—pilfer pockets until going bankrupt, and thus, ending the program. These are the greedy rich whom taxpayers resent, not millionaires generally, though they still should play fair, especially in these bad economic times.

It really is a fairness issue. While families are struggling to stay afloat in these bad times, millionaires and billionaires are basking in riches. Surely, no one believes that families of four, earning $250,000 a year, especially in large cities, are wealthy. Those numbers need updating to reflect the current economy.

Obviously, the ranting pundits, who Jon Stewart so artfully depicted, have no self-esteem. Unless they confess in memoirs, the public will never know why they are so rabidly against the financial poor and middle classes.

My mother’s wisdom often returns to me, "Try to remember, your father had parents too." We get it. Some rich parents of these conservative politicians and pundits didn’t want children either just as poor parents sometimes don’t want them. So, their parents shoved large amounts of money into their little mitts."Here kid. Take this. Go away and don’t bother me." Copious cash was the only source of comfort for children who grew up to become conservative politicians and pundits. Not getting love, they became cynical about humanity. Perhaps, they think even more money will assuage the hollowness in their hearts. They have not learned that money is no substitution for families, friends or even loving pets.

The poor, who in selfish, sibling eyes also use the system just like rich corporations, irk many. However, do we really know what path their shoes walk? Perhaps, like Seniors, doctors also prescribed them drugs that dose them into losing their Life Forces diminished by their parents. Love isn’t as easy to mandate as healthcare.

If the Right will understand the Left, and vice versa, maybe both sides can think of each other as human beings. Yes, people in both financial classes can be a bit lazy. Should both sides agree to try to do better? Because, if we lose our compassion, we are nothing.

So, have I convinced conservative pundits social safety nets should exit? "Okay, maybe Jane Doe can keep her Social Security and Medicare. She doesn’t or rarely uses Medicare anyway." Who decides which of us is worthy? These programs need an unbiased entity, not privatized ones who stand to gain. This is why government does do this best.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post! You make some really important points, Barbara. There's too much demonizing all around and too little compassion. I so agree about the social safety net, especially the "entitlements" like Social Security and Medicare becoming new dirty words -- when they shouldn't be. They are not gifts nor welfare, but benefits we all earned through many years of hard work. I'm especially amused when there is this panic about Boomers' retirement and the need to make adjustments to Social Security. Those adjustments were made nearly 30 years ago when the official retirement ages were raised for us and Social Security taxes dramatically increased. For all these years, we have been paying out and waiting longer to retire -- and now conservatives want to change the rules again because they have been pilfering the trust. Despite this, I do agree that government is the best overseer of these programs and privatization would be a disaster. During the financial debacle of 2008 when our 401Ks were in free-fall, I couldn't help but think with horror how much worse it might have been if Bush had been successful in the privatization of Social Security. I'll be sure to pass this post along to friends!!