I recently received a chain email with one of those great American myths: that somehow the poor are the advantaged people in American society, feeding off of hard working Americans.
Our educators should make a lesson plan on these statements and instill these words in the minds of all students instead of doing the opposite.
- You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
- What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
- The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
- When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that, my dear friend, is the beginning of the end for any society.
- You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it…”
– Adrian Rogers, 1931
This would be funny if it were not such an integral part of the naïve American psyche, if we didn’t think that somehow we were constantly being cheated by the poor — contrary to every possible fact, statistic, and evidence imaginable. Of course, I am not arguing that government intervention, welfare programs, and “socialism” are the answer. Nevertheless, the reality of American economic policy under both the Republicans and Democrats since the 1980s has proven to be nothing other than a massive transfer of wealth from the taxpayers to the rich, not the other way around. As Paul Krugman recently explained about the Republican revered Reaganism,
Let’s talk for a moment about why the age of Reagan should be over.
First of all, even before the current crisis Reaganomics had failed to deliver what it promised. Remember how lower taxes on high incomes and deregulation that unleashed the “magic of the marketplace” were supposed to lead to dramatically better outcomes for everyone? Well, it didn’t happen.
To be sure, the wealthy benefited enormously: the real incomes of the top .01 percent of Americans rose sevenfold between 1980 and 2007. But the real income of the median family rose only 22 percent, less than a third its growth over the previous 27 years.
Moreover, most of whatever gains ordinary Americans achieved came during the Clinton years. President George W. Bush, who had the distinction of being the first Reaganite president to also have a fully Republican Congress, also had the distinction of presiding over the first administration since Herbert Hoover in which the typical family failed to see any significant income gains.
The Republican “no government intervention” doctrine is little more than a sham whereby the government steps in time and again on behalf of the rich. Not that the Democrats aren’t part of the problem. The best example is how, first with Bush and then followed by Obama, the taxpayers just bailed out Wall Street, and now Wall Street is celebrating what JP Morgan recently called their “best year yet”; the taxpayers their worst.
Meanwhile, the American press with the indignation of the Republicans has decried the abuse of taxpayer money by the corrupt ACORN. How stupid do they think we are? ACORN is an irrelevant nothing. In thirty years, Acorn received in government funding roughly what Halliburton, Dick Cheney’s former company, received per day during the entire Iraq war. Furthermore, every single major military contractor still receiving taxpayer dollars has been convicted of fraud at least once in U.S. courts. But, we have ACORN hysteria.
The whole idea that the poor keep benefiting at the cost of the rest of Americans wouldn’t be such a laughable farce if it weren’t for the fact that people actually believe it. Since when have the poor gotten richer and the rich poorer in this country? And yet we continue to be a country that believes deeply that “we” are being played, victimized by the poor. Who would you rather be in the U.S.? A poor woman milking the welfare state or Liz Cheney, who — along with every other child of the rich and famous — has trouble landing a job she deserves based on merit alone?