The Status Quo Marches On

I know that it must be tiresome to some that I continue to drone on about social and political problems like some young Social Justice Warrior. I am at an age when friends encourage me to focus more on my own comfort, health and happiness. That old Serenity Prayer should be my mantra, you know, being wise enough not to wrestle with terrible, unjust things I am powerless to change.

Against that view, there is my right, for the moment, to freely express myself. To write about things that sit crosswise in my craw, set them down in a few words, rather than rant about them to Sekhnet who has less ability than usual, during this emotionally draining plague, to deal with frustrations about the larger things here in America that we have absolutely no power over.

The world is complicated, direct causes and effects are often not clearly visible, many forces are always at work, virtually nothing in human affairs is amenable to a simple, accurate explanation. It is impossible, most of the time, to point a finger at the demonstrable cause of a problem and have people band together to fix it.

We see this in the “debate” over whether climate catastrophe is being accelerated by massive human pollution (regardless of scientific consensus). We see it in the “debate” over whether unaccountable police violence is out of control in America, or just part of human nature and our culture of freedom. Opinions, as they say, are like assholes– everybody has one. At least one. The best we can do, as far as I can see, is start our opinionated conversation agreeing about what used to be called “facts”.

The question of what is a “fact” is now hotly debated in our culture of radicalized emotionalism. Many Americans rely on the New York Times for an objective view of what is going on around them, for indisputable “facts” they can cite. My father used to read it cover to cover every day, and always took what he read (and particularly what was not reported, which he got from other publications) with a certain skepticism. The daily examples of the need for this skepticism are constant.

From the passive voice to identify George Floyd as a man who “died during the course of an arrest” (true, but hardly the most accurate way to say it), rather than a man that witness video showed was slowly killed by policemen who’d eventually face murder charges, to today’s equally subtle, seemingly inconsequential but clearly false statement about the motivation for Trump’s recent tweet about the 75 year-old activist hospitalized in Buffalo after being seriously injured by riot police, floating the idea that the elder was a provocateur from Antifa:

Trump blames the “outside agitator”, “terrorist” group for “encouraging … demonstrations”? Did not both Trump and his Attorney General loudly and repeatedly blame Antifa for the violence and destruction of property, the claimed massive rioting in the streets, that they claim made violent police and military response necessary to save our nation from anarchy? Did Trump ever blame the loose affiliation of anti-fascist groups for “encouraging demonstrations”? Seriously, Grey Lady, don’t you have well-paid professional editors who read this stuff before it becomes “all the news that’s fit to print”?

Anyway, here’s a bit you can feel free to consider or dismiss as left-wing propaganda, though, to me, it shines a bright light on a large part of what ails this great nation. The undisputed right of the wealthy few to acquire virtually everything, while there is crying need among millions of their fellow citizens, millions of undernourished American children, Americans without homes, Third World infant and maternal mortality rates in our wealthy nation, a raging pandemic without adequate health care for millions. The right of the super-wealthy to accrue more wealth, no matter what, is never questioned. It is simply unAmerican to question an individual’s right to limitless reward for their greed.

Seriously? The entitlement of the world’s richest man to increase his wealth by $36,200,000,000 in less than three months, during a worldwide plague, while cutting non-unionized, largely unprotected essential warehouse worker “hazard pay” by $2/hour may not be questioned?

Is this unquestioning embrace of American aristocracy a sign of our Exceptionalism? More that half a trillion dollars in “profit” could not be better spent than on a record-shattering increase in the vast wealth of 630 American billionaires?

The $565,000,000,000 windfall to the richest, divided among the 40,000,000 recently unemployed, would be a mere $14,125 to each of these people and their families. What difference could brutally confiscating this money and giving tens of millions of challenged Americans barely over a thousand dollars a month possibly make to anybody during a national emergency? Don’t ask, don’t tell.

Of course, the ready critique of that immodest proposal is that any plan to redistribute American wealth is Communism, plain and simple. Plain as the nose on your smug fucking red face. Here you go:

You can read more about these numbers here, (Sanders, unprincipled class warrior sneak that he is, includes a “citation” for his claim). To allow you to dismiss this inflammatory claim (that billionaire wealth has increased by 19% since March) as pure, Commie propaganda, I provide a handy direct link to the original source of the information — a progressive think tank called the Institute for Policy Studies. Based on numbers from notorious Commie front Forbes and “vetted” by viciously Stalinist USA Today. [1]

[1] from the Common Dreams source cited by Sanders (which displays and links to the original article from the Institute for Policy Studies):

Editor Notes:

NOTE: IPS uses March 18 as a date for tracking wealth because that is the date tied to this year’s annual Forbes Global Billionaire survey, published on April 7. This year Forbes reported that total U.S. billionaire wealth had declined from its 2019 levels, from $3.111 trillion down to $2.947 trillion. But within weeks, IPS’s Billionaire Bonanza 2020 report found these losses were erased. As of May 28, total U.S. billionaire wealth is $3.439 trillion, not only a $485 billion increase from March 18, but a $328 billion increase over last year’s Forbes 2019 global billionaire survey.

Methodology: Original calculations are based on IPS analysis of data provided by Forbes’ Global Billionaires List. Forbes maintains a real-time assessment of billionaire wealth. Every Wednesday, after markets close, IPS consults that data set and calculates the total net worth of billionaires in the United States. Unemployment data are from the U.S. Dept of Labor.

Read more about IPS’s methodology in the report and in this FACT CHECK by USA Today.

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