From The Thom Hartmann Program on Air America:
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Thom Hartmann reads this article sometimes on his radio program. It’s called Day in the Life of Joe Middle-Class Republican, by John Gray, and it basically debunks the “self-made man, rugged individual” myth the GOP and talk radio have cultivated and spread over the years.
Day in the Life of Joe Middle-Class Republican
By John Gray Cincinnati, Ohio
Joe gets up at 6:00am to prepare his morning coffee. He fills his pot full of good clean drinking water because some liberal fought for minimum water quality standards. He takes his daily medication with his first swallow of coffee. His medications are safe to take because some liberal fought to insure their safety and work as advertised.
All but $10.00 of his medications are paid for by his employers medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance, now Joe gets it too. He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs this day. Joe’s bacon is safe to eat because some liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.
Joe takes his morning shower reaching for his shampoo; His bottle is properly labeled with every ingredient and the amount of its contents because some liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained. Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some tree hugging liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air. He walks to the subway station for his government subsidized ride to work; it saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees. You see, some liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.
Joe begins his work day; he has a good job with excellent pay, medicals benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe’s employer pays these standards because Joe’s employer doesn’t want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed he’ll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some liberal didn’t think he should loose his home because of his temporary misfortune.
Its noon time, Joe needs to make a Bank Deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe’s deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some liberal wanted to protect Joe’s money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the depression.
Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae underwritten Mortgage and his below market federal student loan because some stupid liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his life-time.
Joe is home from work, he plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive to dads; his car is among the safest in the world because some liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. He was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers Home Administration because bankers didn’t want to make rural loans. The house didn’t have electric until some big government liberal stuck his nose where it didn’t belong and demanded rural electrification. (Those rural Republican’s would still be sitting in the dark)
He is happy to see his dad who is now retired. His dad lives on Social Security and his union pension because some liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn’t have to. After his visit with dad he gets back in his car for the ride home.
He turns on a radio talk show, the host’s keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. (He doesn’t tell Joe that his beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day) Joe agrees, “We don’t need those big government liberals ruining our lives; after all, I’m a self made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have”.
By John Gray Cincinnati, Ohio – <!– var prefix = 'ma' + 'il' + 'to'; var path = 'hr' + 'ef' + '='; var addy82174 = 'jgray7' + '@'; addy82174 = addy82174 + 'cinci' + '.' + 'rr' + '.' + 'com'; var addy_text82174 = 'jgray7' + '@' + 'cinci' + '.' + 'rr' + '.' + 'com'; document.write( '‘ ); document.write( addy_text82174 ); document.write( ” ); //–>\n email@example.com <!– document.write( '‘ ); //–> – Published July – 2004
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I like this piece. There are a great many things we can do for ourselves, but as this piece cleverly illustrates, there are a great many more things we can’t.
From the 1/23/08 Thom Hartmann Program on Air America Radio (video posted on GoLeft.tv):
The Thom Hartmann Program is heard nationwide on AAR stations (and streaming in AirAmerica.com) from noon to 3 PM EST. Required listening for progressives.
I never took economics in college, so forgive me if I get some stuff wrong in this post.
Often when I speak with conservatives at work, I am bombarded with illogic. One illogical statement I hear at the Post Office is praise for the “free market” and “free trade”. I guess this a staple talking point on conservative talk radio, and I hear it parroted by my co-workers, who are middle-class, union laborers. “We need to free the markets,” they’ll tell me. “We need market-based solutions, not more government. Privatize. Privatize! PRIVATIZE!!!”
Often these people are great regurgitaters of their talking points, but can’t really listen, or explain their arguments beyond the gibberish quoted above. If they will listen, I try to explain how LITTLE sense their talking points make, at least when applied to lower and middle-class wage-earners (like Postal Workers).
Fiscally, the Post Office does alright as it is. It finishes the year in the black, year after year. Take away military retirement payments the US Government has been forcing the USPS to pay, and the Post Office is very profitable. But that is besides the point, since the USPS is not a traditional business, but a constitutionally-mandated service to the American people. The USPS has a duty to provide low-cost service and home delivery to EVERY American in the USA. This duty is stated in the US Constitution and lawfully upheld by Private Express Statutes. UPS won’t, and can’t, deliver to everyone in the US, ditto Fed-Ex and DHL. It simply isn’t cost-effective to send a driver into the middle of nowhere to deliver a birthday card to your Aunt Doris. But the Post Office does, because we are mandated by our Government to do so. Our motto is “WE DELIVER.”
So, first-off, if you privatize the Post Office and “free the market”, suddenly citizens “off the beaten track” are going to find themselves S.O.L when it comes to getting delivery–possibly even having to pay fees to get mail delivery, and everyone will be paying higher postal rates. Overall quality will diminish also, with low-cost mailing options suffering the most in an attempt to force customers to choose higher-cost, higher-quality options.
Secondly, to increase corporate profits, the newly-privatized Post Office is going to slash good-paying union jobs and decrease benefits across the board. Their ultimate goal will be to eliminate the union altogether and replace union laborers with minimum or below-minimum wage-paid guest workers from Central and Latin America. The Post Office already has lower-pay, no benefit temporary workers, but a private Post Office will try to break the union and increase this workforce exponentially. This is how corporations do business, and this will be their goal.
So, from a purely selfish desire to keep your job and benefits as they are, I don’t see how a union Postal Employee can support privatization or the “freeing of the market” as it applies to the Postal Service, or even as a national policy.
I have been reading Dean Baker’s blog Beat the Press at The American Prospect since hearing about him on The Thom Hartmann program recently. Baker is an economist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. He’s also a super-smart guy. Some of the things Baker says, and backs up w/ data, are:
- Real wages haven’t grown in almost 5 years–and average wages today are below the December 2002 level, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. So, since Bush took office and continued to “free the markets”, real average wages have been flat while corporate profits and executive paychecks have soared. Contrast that with a 1.6% annual growth in real average wages in the late 90’s.
- If “free market” types are so keen on removing all protections for American labor and manufacturing, why not free the market altogether by removing protections for patents on prescription drugs, copyright protections, and restrictions for hiring foreign lawyers, doctors and economists? From Beat the Press blog by Dean Baker:
The NYT feels very strongly that Congress must approve further trade measures that put downward pressure on the wages of workers without college degrees. It made this case in an editorial promoting new “free trade” agreements today. At one point it presents the finding of a study from the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics that eliminating all remaining barriers to trade will add $500 billion a year (@ 3.8 percent) to GDP.
Serious people might ask how the Peter G. Peterson Institute determined the remaining barriers to trade. Did it consider the patent monopolies on prescription drugs, which cost consumers hundreds of billions a year, a barrier to trade? Did it consider the copyright protection that obstructs the free transfer of music, movies, software and other material over the web a barrier to trade? How about all the restrictions that make it so much more difficult to hire a foreign doctor, lawyer or economist than to buy a foreign made car or shirt? Did the Peter G. Peterson Institute view such restrictions as barriers to trade?
The answer to all these question is “no.” The Peter G. Peterson Institute has no interest in reducing or eliminating trade barriers that have the effect of shifting income upwards. The Peter G. Peterson Institute, and apparently also the NYT, only wants to eliminate the trade barriers that might benefit less educated workers. And, because they have so much influence in the media, they get to call this “free trade.”
Much economic knowledge is as limited as my political knowledge, but I’m trying to fix that. I read Thom Hartmann’s Screwed recently, and plan on picking up Mr. Dean Baker’s The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer. You can order Dean Baker’s book here. You can get Thom Hartmann’s book just about anywhere, but you can buy the book, and support a good progressive website, by ordering the book at Buzzflash.
I listened to The AM 620 KPOJ Morning program w/Thom Hartmann of May 24, 2007 last night at work. Thom and co. had Rep. Brian Baird of Washington State on and Tom informed him of Monica Goodling’s testimony regarding Tim Griffin, Karl Rove’s protege and current US Attorney, Arkansas Eastern District, and the “caging” lists of the 2000 and 2004 Presidential Elections.
For those who don’t know, caging is an underhanded, and ILLEGAL political tactic (used exclusively by the Republican party) of sending certified letters to minority voters with the instruction “do not forward” on the envelope. If the letter is returned to the sending RNC office, that voter is challenged when they try to vote or send an absentee ballot. An overwhelming majority of those targeted with this dirty trick are minority voters–and–as reported by Greg Palast, many are enlisted military currently serving overseas (and therefore not able to be at their home address to sign for their certified letter from Karl Rove). This practice is ILLEGAL when used to target a specific race/ethnic group. A 1986 ruling forbids the Republican party from engaging in this activity. Brad Friedman at Bradblog covers this much better than I, check out his report here. Much more inportant information on caging in its use in tipping (rigging) the Presidential Elections of 2000 and 2004 can be found in Greg Palast’s books: The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse. Both are available now in paperback from Penguin books.
Returning to Tom Hartmann’s interview with Rep Baird, I was shocked at Rep. Baird’s seeming dismissiveness and/or ignorance of the significance of the Goodling revelation about Tim Griffin and the caging lists. As per usual, the Democrats–or at least this one–seem(ed) unable or unwilling to fight back against the GOP, even when the facts, the law, and public opinion are on their side–and the issue at hand has nothing to do with the Global War on Terrorism, National Defense, Supporting our Troops, or any other issue they don’t want to appear “weak” or divisive on. Hartmann referred to Griffin’s list as the “smoking gun”. The House Committee needs to revisit this bit of testimony at length until all the sordid details of Griffin and Rove’s caging lists come out. Caging is not only un-American, immoral and repugnant–it is ILLEGAL.
If exposed by our elected leaders, this slip on Goodling’s part could be like Pandora peeking into her gift box from the Greek gods. One teeny-tiny-little peek and all the foul troubles of the world–or, in this case, all of the Bush/Cheney/Rove/Rumsfeld/Rice/Griffin high crimes and misdemeanors–will come pouring out of said box in an unstoppable torrent.
So maybe Goodling did have the “keys to the kingdom”–or, at least, the keys to the White House’s footlocker of dirty tricks.