FOX news, angry billionaires, and the Republicans blame President Obama for America’s economic crisis. It’s time for a reality check: the recession of 2007-2009 and our slow recovery are the result of unpaid for wars, huge tax breaks for wealthy Americans, deregulated banks, and unscrupulous Wall Street fat cats.
Those are the facts, but here’s how the politicians and pundits spun the story.
- Firefighters, teachers, nurses, janitors, public school employees and other government workers have been painted as lazy, ineffective, incompetent and dangerous to our economy.
- In state after state, public employees have had large pay cuts, lost their pensions, lost their union representation, and paid more for their benefit package, if they have one.
- Senior citizens who receive an average Social Security benefit of $1,228 per month are blamed for our growing debt and deficit. Entitlement reform is a constant Republican demand.
- Children who get free lunch at school are insulted and degraded. Some politicians suggested that they should be sweeping floors and scrubbing toilets before being fed so they can learn a “work ethic.”
- Millions of struggling Americans saw their food stamps slashed by politicians who called them lazy.
- Long-term unemployment compensation was not renewed leaving over 1.3 million desperate Americans without any help.
- Illegal immigrants, mostly Mexicans, were blamed for taking jobs away from American citizens.
Americans Blame Other Americans
The GOP spent most of the last eight years regurgitating these talking points. It should come as no surprise that millions of Americans now believe that their economic troubles are the fault of other Americans who gamed the system, bought lobster with food stamps, and refused to go back to work so they could enjoy big welfare benefits. No wonder people are mad.
Americans have been convinced by their Congressmen, Senators, Governors and Legislators (who are in the government, by the way) that government is our biggest problem. Most citizens don’t have a clue that the US has the lowest level of public sector employment in over 30 years. After the recession ended in 2009 , another 580,000 people lost their public sector jobs. Teachers have suffered the largest number of job cuts.
Americans forget that when the government cuts jobs, real people are laid off. They lose their paychecks, and sometimes, their homes. When jobs disappear, spending goes down and other businesses suffer. More jobs are lost. It becomes a downward spiral. According to economists, the recession was so deep that it may take until 2020 to replace the jobs that were lost.
Americans Feel Threatened
Fifteen years after the tax-cut gang took office, the poor are poorer, the middle class is smaller while wealthy Americans are living large–super large. They have grabbed an ever-increasing proportion of America’s income–95 percent of the income gains reported since 2009 have gone to the top 1 percent. The income gap in the United States is now greater than it has ever been.
Americans are afraid. They believe that their futures are threatened. They are right about that. But, the question that needs to be answered is this: who threatens our future?
- a kindergarten teacher
- the nurse in the local ER
- the janitor who scrubs the high school restrooms
- the park ranger in Yellowstone
- the millions of hard-working Americans who struggle to make ends meet on low wages
- Seniors on Social Security and Medicare
No, absolutely no. Our future is threatened by politically-active billionaires and their friends in Washington. These are the men who pour millions of dollars into selling all of us on huge tax cuts for the rich, lower tax rates for corporations and the imaginary nonsense of the trickle-down economic model.
Now those mega-rich plutocrats, who never met a dollar they didn’t crave, are partnering with the anti-government libertarians who never met a government program they didn’t want to slash. From food stamps to social security, every program since FDR is on the chopping block.
Our future IS threatened
- By candidates running for President who propose slashing taxes, leaving a hole in the budget of trillions of dollars. Donald Trump’s tax cuts are estimated to cost $10-13 Trillion in the first 10 years. They’ll cost another $15 trillion in the following decade.
- By candidates running for President who oppose all programs that help those struggling in poverty or trying to find a good-paying job.
- By candidates running for President who take huge sums of money from billionaires and PACs while ignoring the needs of real people.
- By candidates running for President who promise to increase our military budget.
- By candidates running for President who want to eliminate healthcare reform, throwing millions of Americans out of their healthcare plans.
- By candidates who stoke anger, fear, and even violence by pitting Americans against each other while proposing the same economic policies that created the economic mess in the first place.
To protect our future, we have to say no to tax-cutting, trickle-down, war-loving politicians who set the economic crisis of 2007 in motion. We have to remember that billionaire businessmen, who raked in enormous fortunes during the recession, have no concern for struggling Americans. Their concern is first, and always, their wealth.
And, we have to realize that our future will be threatened if a Republican becomes president on January 20, 2017
I had a colleague of mine suggest I read your book. While my parents were not part of the John Birch Society(my uncle was a JBS member) your book has given me some insight in to changes I have seen in my parents. Almost every time I talk to them in person or over the phone they bring up all kinds of extremely conservative absurd statements and go to extremes twisting things to justify their statements. It’s coming from both my mom and dad. I see a lot of my parents when I read about yours. Long ago I heard my father commenting on my uncle being a member of the JBS an the comments were not complimentary. Now my father and mother sound like they unknowingly could be card carrying members! Thanks for the insight in to what they may be thinking.
Claire Conner says
Guy, you’re hitting on a very important point–so many people who hated the radical right in the 1960s now embrace the very same ideas. That’s the impact of a constant drumbeat of outrage, anger and hate all dressed up in expensive suits and ties.
Sandy Tracy says
I just finished your book last night. Please share some insights as to what gave you the strength to see the harm in the work of your parents and others. I was touched by the obvious love and compassion you showed for them, yet your strong desire to discontinue being part of the JBS system.
Claire Conner says
Thanks for the kind words, Sandy. I did care for my parents despite our intense differences about the John Birch Society and the Catholic church. I do believe that my movement away from the radical right was helped by lots of reading (I was always the kid with a book in my hands), several wonderful teachers, a high school boyfriend who ignored all the uproar about the Birch society and simply cared for me (you’ll read about him in my next book), and college friends who showed me another way to live. Still, it was a long and painful journey. Luckily, I also had several really helpful therapists who helped me move out of my parents’ orbit.
Sandy Tracy says
Is that high school boyfriend still in your life?
Claire Conner says
That’s the rest of the story as Paul Harvey used to say.
Sandy Tracy says
Charlie Patin says
Very pleasantly surprised at your comment about a “new book”. Any guess as to when it’ll be out? Wrapped in the Flag made a huge impression on me.
Claire Conner says
I’m in the early stages of planning, researching, and writing. I don’t have a publisher or an agent for this one. After the election is over, I’ll settle in and get really busy. Thanks for asking.
Matt Birkenhauer says
Claire Conner says
Matt: this is a spoof, but the really sad fact is the House of Reps is a walking reincarnation of Ayn Rand.
Wrapped in the Flag is a significant book. It connects the dots between driving forces in today’s political movements. It’s a serious wake-up call. Many years ago, my father was given a copy of The Blue Book and invited to join the JBS by a boyhood acquaintance. The JBS agenda operating through a cell-based top-down structure concerned my father greatly. The JBS goal to reach into every aspect of American life in order to take the country back to the Gilded Age, where power and wealth would be in the hands of the very few, would create suffering for everyone else. Most people would not share my father’s concern–it’s hard to be concerned about something you don’t see. My Grandmother shared Dad’s concerns–last year my aunt gave me Grandma’s copy of The Blue Book, complete with her critical notes all through it. Grandma felt, among other things, that Robert Welch was running an anti-communist organization while using communist tactics. When I read The Blue Book I saw a strategy that aimed to hit its mark even when it missed it. One isn’t required to be paranoid about communism (or anything else) to want to build a plutocracy, but if it helps to get people on board . . . so Welch had no trouble spreading lies to promote fear.
Claire, I want to thank you for sharing your story. Not only did your book back up my father’s long held gut-feeling that the Tea Party and possibly other groups had roots in the JBS but you helped me too. You put a human face to a group I’ve long feared and dreaded, and for most of the book, I was mad at your parents. By the time I’d finished reading, I felt compassion for them, especially toward the end of their lives. I came to see people who had been consumed by their own fears. And I saw people who must have loved their children, even when that didn’t show. They did a great thing Claire–they brought you into the world! Your story is a healing one. It’s a story of forgiveness and grace. Your love and compassion, combined with an open mind and a very strong spirit, lead you through the journey of a lifetime, and I’m grateful you decided to share it in this book. I look forward to your next one. You are doing great work! Thank you Claire.
Denis O'Sullivan says
I recently read your book and I have to say that it was fascinating. I read it in one day. I am not an American, though I have spent a good deal of time in the U.S. As a neighbor I have seen the transition that has taken place since the Reagan era and this has not been a good spell for many Americans. Reagan appealed to the middle class, at the expense of the lower class and now it seems its the middle class who are being swallowed by the plutocrats. A higher education in sciences used to the be the ticket to a secure if not wealthy future. Now much in the way of research, especially pharmaceutical, is moving offshore, just like the factory jobs did twenty years ago.
Throughout this transition has been the curious mix of Christianity and hyper-capitalism. The book shows this strange marriage of opposites and how it eroded many things in the Conner family. This is the key aspect of the American political scene that puzzles me. How can one merge the philosophies of Ayn Rand with those of Jesus Christ? Isn’t this the ultimate case of a square peg being driven into a round hole?
That is one thing that seems much different in Canada. Our left wing party, the New Democratic Party, was actually started by by a Baptist minister, T.C. Douglas, who is also considered to be the father of medicare in Canada, for his work as Saskatchewan premier in the 1950’s and 1960’s.