Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Economic Justice

When I use a term like economic justice, the far right comes unglued and immediately sees communist warning flags and a Hitler wantabe (how that one comes up, I don't know but it does. Maybe it's because they don't know much about what Hitler did but just that he was bad and that's enough). The very thought of discussing economic justice has their hair on end.

Well tell me what something like this tells you about the economic situation in our country?

Basically the top one percent has the power, the money and most of the material goods in our country. They have five members on the Supreme Court, and control of one of the country's major parties with a fair number they more or less control in the other one also. Obama seems to feel he must move toward them if he wants to have a second term which doesn't bode well for the middle.

Corporate interests can now donate any amount they want to any candidate with no questions asked as they are considered to be the same as any other voter. Interestingly Justice Roberts, writing for the majority when they knocked down Arizona's campaign finance law, said basically that for the state to match the funds for the opposing candidates that say a wealthy man/woman had given, would take away that wealthy person's freedom of speech. Scratch your head over that one!

Did you read Suzy Orman, the financial something or other, suggesting that for most people renting is better than owning? It means give it up people. They have most of it and want the rest. You can be a sharecropper-- at best. What those people want is a feudal system and that is their definition of economic justice. Clearly there is never enough money for some people.

Now why would the majority in a culture support the top 1% having all the money, all the power, all the benefits? Why would ordinary people actually fight for tax cuts for the wealthiest? Think about it. Right now there wouldn't be all the concern over paying for Medicare and Medicaid, over helping the poor with heating, with all the reasonable social programs in this country IF they had not extended the tax cuts for those who have incomes (this is after deductions remember) of over $250,000. IF they had not started two wars they didn't want to pay for, the poor wouldn't be threatened this way. This isn't about the poor but they are bound and determined to convince Americans it is.

Some say it's for the benefit of small business that they fought for those tax cuts. No, it's not. Small businesses have many deductions and in the end if they are having a net income of over $250,000, they can afford to pay that extra 2 or 3% which is only on that part over $250,000 anyway. The question has been raised-- it wouldn't be enough to do that, the problem is bigger. Fine but it's a start. Statistically is doesn't work out to be a help; so why not do it?

I have read one theory, on the resistance in the right to doing this, that ordinary folks think they'll be rich someday; so out of selfishness, they are protecting the interests of the wealthy. Well given the rate of inflation (which is soooo hidden and so dominant a factor for the value of dollars), they might get those dollars all right, but it won't mean much when they do. It's lucky most people don't carry around cash anymore and use debit cards because the amount of cash you'd have to carry is expanding rapidly.

Another reason the middle supports this economic imbalance is religious. They have a favorite cause like fear of gays having normal family lives or of a woman being able to decide for herself whether to have an abortion. On figuring out the secular voices supporting more and more for the richest, I give up as it makes no real sense to me. I do understand those on religious grounds but I wish they'd use their head and especially Christians remember who it was they claim they follow.

Why is the concept of economic justice so controversial? I think some is because people really haven't thought what it means. They have a fear it means giving most of what they have now to someone else. They see it as about social programs for the poor. It actually is not the case. In a system of economic injustice, which more and more we have, you could have programs that give pittances to the poor to keep them from revolting.

I think economic justice is more establishing a level playing field, having an environment where everyone has a chance to earn a living, where jobs are available and at a wage that provides basic living expenses, where living conditions are not intolerable for anybody, and where businesses are encouraged to reinvest in their inventory and hire more employees as their profits rise.

I have to think also that, at least for me, a world of economic justice would not have the poor on the streets or people starving. Is there really joy for people with a lot of money when they know some cannot afford the basics of life? How long can they convince themselves that those children deserve to starve? Economic justice to me is about jobs and fairness.

So I'd be interested in hearing what others think economic justice means. The great mystics, those who have gone beyond living in caves and have come back out to look at human lives, they generally support economic justice. It makes sense even for the rich but when greed takes over a country, logic and sense aren't factors anymore.

How can it be better for the rich to have a group of people with less and less education, less and less ability to support themselves and more reason to attack others as they have no concept of morality taught to them? How can it be fun to have so much when you know others are suffering?

Economic justice means that when you do a job, you get a fair wage for the work. It means that you don't have some work (CEOs for instance) valued thousands of times over what others receive when all jobs are needed.

When so many of our manufacturing jobs were shipped overseas, where they can be done cheaper, the elites in this country didn't have to worry about economic justice anymore. They just had to worry about whether to get that fourth home in the Hamptons or Cape Cod.

We are heading for a feudal system as the rich have convinced the rest of us that their way is the best. So government cannot do anything better than the private sector. Convenient for them if people buy into that, isn't it?

What this all means is the next generation won't be able to rise up as was possible for my generation. People will be locked into caste systems based on no way to get educations or training if there were even jobs to do. They won't be able to get an education as this bunch is doing all they can to end public education. They won't have the infrastructure to support doing anything but slave labor. They won't have the investment in research, none of the things that got us where we were when the downturn began thirty years ago.

Economic justice is about everybody who has the strength to work being able to find jobs and at wages that enable their families to live.It means one bunch don't take it all even though, and this happens too often, those taking it have been contributing nothing to the culture.

This is a matter of Christianity. Try what Jesus said about it in: Matthew 20:1-16. Some try to spiritualize this to a meaning other than what he literally said. Why can't it be both?

It's in Judaism: "Speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy," King Solomon in Proverbs. "You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer but you must pay him his wages on the same day, for he is needy and urgently depends on it." Moses in the Torah

Economic justice doesn't mean there will be no poor, but it means the system is not weighted to take more and more for one group as a way to enrich themselves off the sweat of another.


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Robert the Skeptic said...

There is a concept by many "haves" in this country that the "have nots" are undeserving; they haven't earned the privilege of a better life. The Libertarians are particularly good at promoting this concept, essentially a Meritocracy.

It is interesting to me, having worked in Social Services (Welfare caseworker) how often these people fall from grace and then turn to the government they despise, to now help them. The hypocrisy is staggering.

But no, I recall when McCain was running his blathering the simple minded "they want to redistribute the wealth" (aka, the other party are socialists, so watch out).

What I fear is that if pressure builds on the wealthiest, their control of the food production and distribution will employ manipulated costs and lessening availability of access to food in order to keep the unruly masses at bay.

Ingineer66 said...

I don't really fit into any of your categories of people that are conservative, but I have a few things to say anyway.

According to CNN Money, the Bush tax cuts that you despise so much cut taxes for the middle class by $450 Billion but they only cut taxes for the people that make over $250k per year by $81 Billion.
Obama has said he wants to raise taxes on those making more than $250K so I guess we can deduct that $81 Billion from our $1.6 Trillion deficit that he is running so in the future we will only have a $1.52 Trillon deficit. That is just class warfare to show his base, but does very little to solve the deficit.

You can look at the data. No matter what the tax rates are, the income to the Treasury is about 19% of GDP. If you raise taxes enough on the rich, they will change their behavior to avoid the taxes. So the trick is to grow the GDP. But Obama has done much to stifle growth of the GDP. All of the uncertainty with all of his proposed Cap and Trade regulations and changes to health care and other labor laws and uncertainty about his foreign policy and tax plans have all been bad for the economy.

And don't forget the fact that many liberals in this country don't want to grow our GDP. They complain about us producing too much and using too much of the worlds resources. They want us to be a third rate nation.

Rain, what is a "fair wage"? Personally I think minimum wage should be about $117,000 per year. I think that is what a freshman Congressman makes. That seems fair that we pay them minimum wage since that is about what they are worth.

And Robert, we didn't need McCain to tell us Obama wanted to spread the wealth around. Obama told us that himself, that, "that is what taxes are for" when he went off script with a microphone nearby. That is why they don't let him speak off without a teleprompter very often.

Rain said...

Did you favor fighting two wars without paying for them, ingineer? If you will recall this was all working out rather well until Bush decided to do that, to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare without paying for it and tax cuts without corresponding spending cuts. Explain to me again how we had a surplus in 2000 and by the time Obama took office we had a huge deficit favored by those who like wars but not bills, I am thinking.

The issue here with the spending programs is what is your solution? Let people starve? Go homeless? No heat in their homes? And that won't pay all that much of this deficit considering we have a runaway military with no brakes being put on it by left or right.

I am guessing you want no minimum wage. Did you ever think that it is part of why you make what you make? If we had no inflation, maybe it all wouldn't matter. If people all treated each other fairly, maybe it wouldn't matter. Do you think either are true?

So what is your solution? End medicare totally? You maybe don't have any elderly to worry about and after all you have insurance through your work so again no sweat, right? And Social Security, let the people all invest it wherever they want (that tiny percentage) and watch happen to it what happened to those invested in Lehman Brothers or Enron. Good thinking.

Social Security is only part of the problem because of the necessity of the government to pay back what it's been borrowing these years. It wouldn't be a problem if people had to pay the payroll tax on their entire incomes but cannot have that. The rich must be protected as you might be there someday soon, right?

The question asked here was-- what is economic justice? I am guessing it means people float or swim on their own. Apparently starvation is just fine with you as it won't be yours starving and you don't mind knowing it happens to others as they deserve it...

Ingineer66 said...

Rain, you make this too easy. The folks on the left always say Republicans want people to starve or die or some heavy handed extreme. Paul Ryan's budget still grows Medicare, just not as fast as it is currently growing. What would you have us do? Just keep spending into oblivion like Obama and the Dems were doing? At that rate in 10 to 20 years the entire nation would implode. You think people are starving now? Just wait until the US defaults on the debt to China and we can't take care of anybody.

Republicans have been trying to save Social Security for years so that there is a system left for future generations. Maybe you don't care what happens to the country after you are dead, but some of us do. Some help is better than nothing and nothing is what there is going to be if we stay on the spend, spend, spend course.

Two wars? We have 3 now, well sort of, Iraq is done according to Obama and media. But we blew $150 million in 24 hours in Libya. And we are losing there.

Rain said...

How informed are you about all of this? Do you understand that to give a stipend to a state for people to use for buying health insurance does nothing to lower costs and can eventually become meaningless? As for not wanting people to starve-- what social programs do you support? You are making an assumption which i think is faulty-- that the right cares about people who aren't rich. You will find out about that. What they would have done with letting people invest themselves just ended responsibility.

Ingineer66 said...

The right cares about people more than the left. The left wants to keep people down and dependent on government support. The right wants to build people up and take control of their own lives instead of depending on handouts to survive.

Rain said...

You have to be kidding, ingineer. Surely you don't believe that. So how would the poor get this strength? Miraculously?

Answers in the past like education the right wants to squash for any but those who can afford private or maybe they want me to pay for their religious schools. They have no programs to help with the environment and I will tell you something you may not know-- bad air and water don't make for strong people. The right has put through tax benefits for those who ship jobs overseas, they have hurt the job market in all the ways I can think and it's all about the stock market but not for the average people. They let it sink to get rid of those every so often and they pick up the stocks at a bargain.

How many lefties do you know? All the ones I know pay a lot of taxes and favor good programs that help people take care of themselves. I have to think you only know them based on right wing radio or else your friends and family are nothing like mine!

What you said here was right wing talking points. Watch out or they'll be all you know and I have news for you which you also might not know. The right is not on your side either.

Read again what I wrote about my idea of economic justice. It's not theirs and if it's not yours, I hope you know of a good construction company for work as the government won't be doing roads anymore.