Les Misérables: Literal translation, “The Miserable Ones” or “The Wretched Poor”
As November’s mid-term elections rapidly approaches and politicians across the United States jockey for American votes that will further enhance their lives and their political party’s wealth and prominence, 98% of all Americans are on economic life-support. It’s a fact, for 98% of all Americans, becoming Les Misérables or “The wretched poor” is a matter of losing two consecutive pay checks; a thin line to cross living in today’s “Great Recession”.
Census figures for 2009 are scheduled to be released this coming week and the nation’s grim unemployment data will most certainly verify that the United States poverty level will rise from 13.2 percent to nearly 15 percent, the largest increase in single-year poverty in over 60 years. In layman’s terms, there are nearly 45 million Americans living at the poverty level, that’s 1 in 7 Americans who can be classified as being poor.
The next time you’re at the supermarket take a look around and realize for a moment that 1 in 7 Americans are in need of federal assistance just to be able to feed their family. One in seven does not discriminate by race….it’s inclusive of ALL Americans.
2008 Poverty Thresholds, Selected Family Types annual income
Single Individual under 65 years: $11,201; 65 years & older: $10,326
Single Parent with one child: $14,840; With two children: $17,346
Two Adults with no children: $14,417; With one child: $17,330; With two children: $21,834: With three children: $25,694
Source of information: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008, Report P60, n. 236, p. 43.
A startling reality
• Child poverty increased in 2008 from 19 percent to more than 20 percent in 2009.
• Blacks and Latinos are disproportionately affected, based on their higher rates of unemployment.
• Metropolitan areas that posted the largest gains in poverty included Modesto, Calif.; Detroit; Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.; Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
The games politicians play
Political prognosticators emphasize that from now until November the plight of America’s poor will not be factored into politician’s stump speeches as incumbents and their opponents gallop towards the mid-term election’s finish line, aka “The run for the roses”. – congressional and senatorial seats – So why the dismissal of America’s poor?
Politicians and their staff have reasoned that making speeches about the economic woes of the rapidly shrinking middle-class, provides them with substantially more political “punch” for winning elections than speaking of the plight of single parents, child poverty and the disproportionate unemployment rate of Blacks and Latinos.
“My guess is that politically… figures that address the ever growing poor in America will be greeted with alarm and dismay but they won’t constitute a clarion call to action,” said William Galston, a domestic policy aide for President Bill Clinton. “I hope the parties don’t blame each other for the desperate circumstances of desperate people. That would be wrong in my opinion. But that’s not to say it won’t happen.”
The question that millions of Americans should ask themselves and their neighbors as the middle-class and poor struggle to make ends-meet is, “Are the majority of politicians so blinded by their quest to obtain primo health care benefits for themselves and their family for life as House Representatives and Senators that they’ve completely failed to realize that the thin line between the poor and the middle-class is as razor-thin as missing just two paychecks”? Additionally, “Does the allure of one day becoming a million dollar lobbyist for the ‘Invisible Hand’ prevent most politicians from – in the words of Spike Lee – “Doing the right thing” for all Americans”?
According to Lawrence M. Mead, a conservative New York University political science professor who authored the social political novel, “The New Politics of Poverty: The Nonworking Poor in America,” “Poverty is not as big an issue right now as middle-class unemployment. That’s a lot more salient politically right now.”
One can presuppose that professor Mead doesn’t have a clue to life outside of his own “elite bubble”.
Conservatives and their magic flute
Based historically (since after reconstruction) on the merit of their vote in both the congress and the senate, it’s evident the GOP is mainly interested in helping the United States’ elite 2 percent become more prosperous.
Like the Pied Piper of Hamelin who played a magic flute to lure the town’s children to their demise, the GOP entices the middle-class “wanna be millionaires” with pseudo promises that a “good attitude” and “hard work” will one day elevate them to the rank of the elite 2%. Newsflash….ninety percent of the time, money marries money. That is unless you’re an eighty-five year billionaire and you decide that marrying a stripper would enhance your remaining days.
The GOP’s dedication to the rich comes down to a simple philosophy of believing that it is the elite 2% of Americans that is actually responsible for creating job opportunities in this country and the poor…well, they’re seen as being both an embarrassment and a distraction that should get the hell out of the way and die before a Democrat in power raises taxes on the elite to sustain Les Misérables’ very existence.
Case-in-point: should the GOP re-take the House and the Senate in November, the health care bill – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – which President Obama signed into law on March 23, 2010; or “Obamacare” as conservatives prefer to call it, will become cannon fodder for a ravenous conservative majority that is already foaming from the mouth to repeal the bill or further dilute it’s effectiveness.
But why would the conservatives repeal the healthcare bill, especially when millions of middle-class families struggle on a daily basis with rising costs of healthcare? It all comes down to “opening the door” for health insurance companies to make obscene amounts of money with little to zero interference.
President Obama’s healthcare bill prevents maximum profit for healthcare insurance companies and it ultimately waters down their control over the very people who need affordable healthcare the most. Under the current restraints of the healthcare bill, insurance companies cannot deny coverage to America’s sick. It’s that simple.
In retaliation to President Obama’s interference, the GOP through the use of smoke and mirrors – lies in most cases – have created in the minds of many less informed Americans; citizens who passionately love John Wayne, Ronald Regan and preemptive wars, a false image of President Obama as being an anti-American, foreign born, socialist / communist who is determined to tear down the American pillars of democracy by offering ALL Americans affordable healthcare. The nerve.
Indeed if the GOP’s “magic flute” works well in the November mid-term elections, start listening for conservative chatter that threatens to purge Medicare and Social Security as a measure to balance the country’s budget.
Once “the curtain” is pulled back exposing the unabridged version of conservative philosophy, it’s not hard to figure out which political party is really looking forward to pulling the plug on granny. Newsflash…it ain’t the Democrats.
As soon as the Senate passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Dec. 24, 2009 Republicans and conservative activists started making a promise to less informed voters, “Give us a victory in the 2010 midterm elections, and we will repeal the socialist Obamacare.”
“Every Republican in 2010 and 2012 will run on an absolute pledge to repeal this bill,” said Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House who remains a key strategic thinker for the Republican Party.
Strange, if the GOP really cared about the middle-class why would they want to repeal a bill that empowers an economic class of Americans who need affordable healthcare the most? The answer: it dilutes maximum profit from multi-billion dollar health insurance companies.
Remember the fictional Duke brothers from the Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd comedy, “Trading Places”? Well America, other than Ronald Regan, if the GOP were to select a political party crest with a painting that symbolized conservative values, the crest would have a painting of Randolph and Mortimer Duke.
Wealth, Income, and Power
In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2007, the top 2% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business echelon) had 50.5%, which means that just 21% of an elitist group owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home), the top 2% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%.
In layman’s terms, it’s champagne toasts for the elite 2% and salsbury steak for everyone else; on the scoreboard of life it’s: Les Misérables zero (o), the elite 2% thirty-four (34).
So America, the next time you hear talk of conservatives opposing tax cuts for middle-class Americans, and repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, understand that it’s only business as usual for a party that has grown accustomed to Champagne and caviar over salsbury steak.
In closing, let’s end this article with a question made famous by the legendary television crime fighting detective named Kojack, – a fictional character portrayed by the late Telly Savalas – “Who loves you baby”? – addressed to the poor the middle-class – Hint, it ain’t the GOP.
Until the next time Louisianans, Good Day, God Bless and Good Fishing.