Americans want free stuff!

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W.J. Astore

Once again, I’ve come across the talking point that Americans who support candidates like Bernie Sanders just want a bunch of free stuff.  You know: non-essentials like health care and education.  What are these freeloading Americans thinking of?

We live in the richest country in the world, yet we seemingly can’t afford health care and education for our people.  Yet we can afford roughly a trillion dollars each and every year for national “defense.”  Why does the Pentagon want so many “free” bombers, fighter jets, drones, aircraft carriers, and missiles?  Why do the militarists always get what they want, with few complaints about the price?  (And let’s not forget roughly $6 trillion wasted on the Iraq and Afghan Wars, or for that matter the trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street and the banks.  Why did they get so much “free” stuff at taxpayers’ expense?)

We truly need a political revolution in this country, which is why I support Bernie Sanders.  He’s the only candidate who truly gets how rigged our system is — how it’s become an oligarchy, even a kleptocracy, that favors the richest and most powerful among us.  Sanders has been a model of consistency for decades, and he’s as genuine as a public servant can be.

No candidate is perfect, but Bernie will move this country in a fairer, more humane, direction.  He realizes health care is a human right.  He realizes education shouldn’t put students into a form of debt peonage.  He realizes hardworking Americans deserve to be paid more, deserve better benefits, deserve to be treated with dignity.

We need to combat an attitude in this country that says rich people are our winners and the poor are losers.  We in America are still taught to idolize the rich and fear or despise the poor. The rich represent “success” and the poor are supposedly lazy or just losers. Can’t they just get a job?  Can’t they pull themselves up by their boot straps?  If you’re poor, it’s all your fault — this is still an all-too-common idea.

We need leaders who understand the working classes and want to work for them.  Bernie Sanders is that kind of leader.

20 thoughts on “Americans want free stuff!

  1. I remember back in the late 70’s when I was in college and took a course Problems of an Urban Society. One of the interesting facts I learned was that the bottom 25% of the population paid more in taxes than they received in benefits. Given the changes in the tax laws since I am sure that is still true. If so then it’s not that Americans want free stuff. They want stuff they have paid for.

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  2. This looks like an official endorsement! Unfortunately, the very fact that Bernie continually brings up the wretched corruption of the corporate-oligarchic status quo is what guarantees–write this down, I’m making an official prediction!–guarantees the Dem. Establishment will shunt him aside. They may wake up to Biden’s deficiencies and come up with a last-ditch replacement, but their nominee will NOT be Bernie. Is Hillary available? (Needless to say, she would again be a very tainted candidate.) She was just named Chancellor of some college in occupied Ireland (!!), but they say it’s mostly a ceremonial title anyway.

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  3. Speaking of “the trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street and the banks” and “Why did they get so much ‘free’ stuff at taxpayers’ expense?” See (just for introductory appetizers):

    Michael Hudson, Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy (paperback, 2015)

    From Chapter Fourteen: The Giveaways Get More Deeply Politicized and Corrupt (pp. 205-206)

    “It sounds as if everything was just an accident, like the chronic IMF and European Central Bank miscalculations that austerity will bring recovery and prosperity if bondholders are paid enough, social-programs and pensions cut back enough, and wages lowered enough to “restore confidence.” The same mistake is made decade after decade. The post-2008 giveaway to Wall Street — without benefiting strapped mortage debtors — was no accidental mistake. It was deliberate policy, over which politicians shed crocodile tears when it turned out that the public lost heavily while the wealthy One Percent [whom I call the Seizure Class] serving institutions gained so vastly. Yet this benefit for insiders and the One Percent is what has made the bailout a successful policy capture from Wall Street’s vantage point.”

    “We didn’t do it for the banks,” claimed Geithner. “We did it to protect people from the failures of banks. It’s very counter-intuitive.” Indeed it was! It was the FDIC’s job to protect depositors against failure, and Geithner worked l like a demon to block the commission from performing this function by taking over the large and most reckless banks that he was protecting. This rationale that saving “the people” required saving the banks — the trickle-down idea that saving the 99 Percent required enriching the One Percent even more — became the umbrella for unlimited giveaways and concessions to the Treasury’s and Fed’s Wall Street constituency, much as bondholders used to hide behind “widows and orphans” whose trust funds presumably would be eroded by inflation resulting from wage increases for the population having to work for a living.”

    Also of interest, a wide ranging interview with Michael Hudson conducted by Max Keiser and Stacey Herbert, but I haven’t had the time to do a transcript or even some excerpts yet. See: The Beginning of the End of Super Imperialism in 2020?, The Keiser Report (E1483), RT.com (January 2, 2020)

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    1. Ah yes, a series of “mistakes”…like the conveniently failing brushfire wars the US keeps launching, which “require” launching additional ones, all to the benefit of the War Profiteers.

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  4. Yes, if only Bernie could become the next president, the whole world would benefit. My only consolation is that even when not elected, his influence on future generations of voters will have been immense, so maybe in time he’ll win – even if he might not live to see it happen.

    As for banks, you all remember the good old times when banks would pay you interest on your deposits, in fact the money they borrowed from you. But once they got everyone entangled in their web, they not only stopped paying any interest but want us to pay them for keeping our savings from burglars. It now has financially become saner to keep savings in stockings or under matrasses – provided your house is not easily flammable – as the stocking at least does not charge you anything for its service. Their latest trick is to promote self-service by forcing you to adopt e-banking, so they can lay off ever more employees.

    My savings luckily are in a bank which does not finance the production of arms, oil & gas and other nefarious enterprises, but its pityful interest does not even cover inflation anymore.

    Interesting documentary about the unaccountable 2008 sharks : https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/specialseries/2019/06/men-stole-world-2008-financial-crisis-190611124411311.html
    Feel the Bern, may his cardiologist perform miracles !

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    1. PS: the documentary will only be available on-line until January 30th. Quote from its contents :
      “Without the crisis, Brexit would not have happened and Trump would not be the president of the United States,” says Martin Wolf, the chief economics commentator at the Financial Times.”

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    2. When Bernie points out that “real wages” (adjusted for the ever-rising cost of living) have not risen in some 40 years, that is essentially accurate. In the long run, a bank will never pay its depositors high enuf interest rates to overcome this situation. The banks would go belly up as a result of such a practice! That’s the way The System is geared…Meanwhile, Mr. Bone Spurs orders assassination of an alleged Iranian militia (“Revolutionary Guard,” whatever, I’m not concerned with fine details) high-ranking figure, causing crude oil futures to jump. Another harm to the working-class and middle-class consumer here.

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  5. Bernie has four problems, 1) too old, 2) maybe sick (I think this campaign will kill him), 3) socialist in an economy that has been propagandized as successful (Yang would choose different measures of well-being), and finally 4) he sold us out last time by supporting those that cheated us and stood against virtually all Bernie’s policy preferences, There has been nothing this time that convinces me he is out of their clutches. He would have beaten Trump last time, but can’t this time. He does have a legacy he could pass on and my hope is that he gives his delegates to a Tulsi-Yang ticket.

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    1. Bernie’s support of the CIA-DNC-MSM (mainstream media) Russia narrative is particularly disturbing. Relately, his failure to recognize that Trump was duly elected is also disturbing.

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      1. It seems to me that, unless results were really skewed to give totally inaccurate figures, the current disaster in the WH was not “duly elected” in the popular vote but presented the election by the electoral college. And, yes, I understand that is the way we do things, but that fact alone doesn’t make it right.

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        1. There are a number of problems in a popular vote system. The most populous states would get a skewed larger amount of attention. The most populous states are in my judgement the most corrupt; we don’t want them ruling us. The individual states currently determine voter qualification – do felons vote? do 15-year-olds vote? Can a parent vote for each child? I once had a sixth grade teacher who said teachers should have two votes. It is better the way it is.

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          1. Well, the most populous states already are entitled to the most EC votes, so what’s the difference?? I’m not at all sure the largest states are most corrupt, either. Rhode Island has had quite a batch of scandals over the decades! The solution, methinks, is to award office to the winner of most votes nationally. Winner takes all for the only two slots on the ballot for national offices, those of POTUS and VP. All other offices, state and municipal, to be won by popular vote within the state. Simple. Simple, that is, once gerrymandering has been resolved, question of felons (like some former mayors, governors, etc.!!) voting and other “little matters”!

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        2. A state by state movement to award all EC votes to winner of popular vote in the given state has gained some success. The GOP, of course, will strive mightily to quash it on the Federal level.

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    2. The odds of a Tulsi/Yang ticket (other than as a failing third party effort) are what we call in scientific circles “astronomically” or “vanishingly slender”!! Gabbard’s own politics appear more than a little muddled to me. Does she even know where she stands? Andrew Yang is smart enuf to understand the magnitude of the climate crisis, but on the whole I’m far from convinced he has solutions to the world’s problems. It pains me to have to say this, but pragmatically speaking a third-party campaign will just guarantee four more years of Trumpness. I continue to be disappointed that this incumbent hasn’t suffered a major aneurysm during one of his temper tantrums. Well, can’t win ’em all, right?

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