Paul Krugman has a good column today on the farm bill and the Republicans near glee at removing the food stamp component of the bill, leaving only the big subsidies to huge agribusiness firms. One thinks there must be a special place somewhere for people like Tennessee Representative Stephen Fincher, who quoted scripture to justify removing food stamps (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) from the bill it has been part of for decades. He quoted Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians,”“The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” It would be easy enough to show he is using the quote out of context, and one need not even do that to understand the special place reserved for him is probably not heaven. Okay, that is harsh. Fine. So is Fincher, who voted to take away needed aid to the truly poor, while voting to keep the rest of the farm bill. Why is that a heinous, hateful vote? Because Fincher himself is a farmer who has received millions in subsidies through the farm bill. It’s okay for him to get millions of dollars from the government dole, and God forbid a starving family would be helped with $134 a month to keep the wolf of hunger from the door.
Krugman concludes about these current Republicans, trying to figure out what it is all about: “I don’t fully understand it, but it’s a terrible thing to behold.”
For me it is another stark example of the success of the propaganda put out by those very few richest among us–yes, I’m talking to you, David and Charles Koch–who have convinced a great number of Americans that our hard times are due not to the mammoth shift of wealth upwards to those at the top, but rather to the greed of the poorest Americans. There isn’t a hint in any data to support that, while there is quite clear evidence that much more of our overall wealth is held by the top one percent and and more specifically the top one tenth of one percent. The rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer. And yet the shrinking middle class blames those very poor for the fact that the middle class is shrinking, while the Koch’s build yet another multi-million dollar home to use a couple times a year.
Some friends had told me that the HBO series The Newsroom was very good. For awhile I have access to HBO, and have been watching the first season of the show just as the second season premiered. I enjoy the show, even if it is a fantasy. I mention it here because of one line in the opening rant by the Jeff Daniels character. In the rant, before a crowd of university students, he speaks many truths you will never hear anyone in the media say (thus the fantasy), and one in particular struck home. He was ranting about how America is not the greatest country anymore, and one of the examples he gives why that is true is that “we used to wage war on poverty, now we wage war on the poor.”
Amen, and all too true. When I say I want my country back, in part what I mean is that I want a country that wages a war on poverty, and not a war on the poor. When we are the best country it is when we all believe and act like we are all in this together. When we are at our worst, it is when we blame each other and act like we are all in this alone and have gotten everything we’ve gotten purely on our own.