In the United States, we have divided the political landscape into liberal versus conservative for too long. These terms only serve to divide us and stereotype each other and this infighting only benefits the ruling classes.
Fox News commentators and Republican politicians have painted liberals as unAmerican, lazy, anti-work, pro-terrorist and made many other false claims about this group they call “liberal”. There are also the bumper stickers that highlight this stereotype, “Annoy a liberal: work hard, succeed and be happy.” Do liberals really want others to be unhappy? Who are these liberals? I am still looking for them.
A better question than is someone liberal or conservative is to ask, “Is this person, policy or politician pro-corporate or pro-human.” What do I mean by pro-corporate or pro-human? Let’s take a look.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have clearly benefitted corporations more than the American people. Corporations who make military hardware, supply the troops, and commodify oil have benefitted from the war. The wars have also damaged our economy, greatly increased our debt, damaged our credibility in the world and sacrificed thousands of U.S. soldiers for corporate profit. Soldiers lives are traded for corporate profit.
How about the Troubled Asset Relief Fund, or TARP. That saved the economy from collapsing and thus, helped all Americans, didn’t it? Well, no. TARP was a $700 billion dollar bailout for major lending and banking institutions in America. The idea was that the recipients of this money would free up lines of credit for businesses and individuals and this would jump start the economy. In truth, those banks loaned less after TARP and increased bonuses they paid themselves. The TARP money didn’t trickle down at all and only helped the major players at the major lenders. Now we learn that banks were loaned $7.7 trillion in federal dollars at .01% interest. They then turned around and loaned money at 3% to the government who had loaned it to them to make over $13 billion in profit. How does that help the people?
How about those corporate tax loopholes and rates? Those cuts lead to job creation, and thus benefits the people, right? Wrong. We have had 12 years of the Bush/Republican tax cuts and official unemployment is still around 9%, much higher than when those tax cuts were enacted. Clearly, only corporations benefit from those tax cuts and loopholes, and they have not turned that extra cash into jobs.
What about cutting regulations, that leads to jobs, right? In fact, deregulation of the banking industry was a major cause of the banking collapse and thus recession of 2008. The idea that allowing companies to pollute more, or ignore health and safety laws, or other forms of deregulation leads to more jobs, is ludicrous. Are you telling me that the deregulation of the off shore oil platforms that helped cause the BP oil disaster lead to jobs. Really? Obviously, deregulation of industry helps corporations and hurts citizens.
What about the Affordable Health Care for America Act? Doesn’t that help people? Perhaps. It clearly captures more customers for insurance companies with the individual mandate while doing little to address overall costs in the system. It does help more Americans get insurance by eliminating most of the “pre-existing condition” barriers to health care. The law does provide some help to low income people and also tax credits for small businesses to buy insurance.
In the long run, this law is less cost affective than a single payer plan where corporate profits are taken out and it’s managed either by a private or public agency. There is some benefit to some of the public, but corporate interests are still protected at long term budget expense with this health plan.
Even our attempt to regulate the environment with cap and trade is a compromise that doesn’t really address the fundamental problem of global warming. Cap and trade is an attempt to get those that pollute to pay for that benefit and those that don’t pollute to get credits. Companies will game the system, buy and trade the carbon credits and eventually it will do nothing to reduce long term emissions. If we want to reduce carbon emissions we need to set limits and create technology to reduce those emissions while investing in and installing cleaner energy plants. We should not allow corporations to buy their way out of pollution with cap and trade laws. Ultimately this type of regulation would do nothing for the people and the planet.
Why was it possible to end don’t ask don’t tell and allow gays in the military? Doesn’t that benefit the people? It is because allowing gays in the military doesn’t ultimately hurt the corporate bottom line and the ban wasn’t useful anymore as a divisive issue to distract the public from our economic crisis. It also props up the progressive credibility of their man, Obama. “See, Obama supported ending don’t ask don’t tell, so he’s not corporate.” It does allow more Americans to join the military, so perhaps that helps some, and it does end discrimination which is always a good thing.
If you are to be an informed citizen, you must drop the conservative and liberal dichotomy that the corporate and political elite promote to keep us separate. We must all look at politicians and decide for ourselves whether their actions and policies benefit the most people and will help the weakest members of society or if they are only there to benefit the 1%. If you are part of the 99%, you must support those politicians and policies that help the 99%, not those that benefit only corporations and the 1%.