The majority of Americans are fortunate to never know what it means to be destitute, or exist in a condition where they lack enough money to afford basic human needs such as food, clothing, shelter, or health care, but there are forces in this country intent on creating an entire population living in poverty. Over the past thirty years, Republicans and their libertarian funders used a variety of means to create an economic environment conducive to the wealthy increasing their fortunes, and they couched their plutocratic machinations with promises that if the people gave more to the rich, their largesse would be rewarded with a return on their investment down the road that did nothing but crash the economy and create more wealth for the richest one-percent of income earners. Over the past four years, Republicans and their corporate masters changed tactics and promised the people that cutting the nation’s debt and deficit through austerity was the key to creating a vibrant economy, full employment, and a thriving middle class, and through it all the number of Americans slipping into poverty increased with no sign of letting up in the near or foreseeable future. Now, Republicans have abandoned any pretense of helping Americans improve their economic fortunes, and with unflagging support of their wealthy support mechanism are on a tear to create the nation of peasants America is destined to become.
Over the past week, Republicans who know there are over 47-million Americans living in poverty and dependent of the Agriculture Department’s SNAP (food stamp) program passed a farm bill providing $195 billion in subsidies to agricultural corporations and eliminating food stamp and nutritional programs they considered extraneous, or irrelevant. Half of those affected are children, and over 10% are senior citizens living in poverty. It was not even an assault on minorities because more white Americans receive food stamps than African Americans or Hispanics proving that the GOP’s goal is withholding food from all Americans living in poverty and they have enlisted a powerful ally to send more Americans deeper into poverty.
On Tuesday, billionaire libertarian Charles Koch joined Republicans pushing to eliminate the nation’s minimum wage he implied was the ultimate secret to lift Americans out of poverty as well as the major obstacle to economic growth. In fact, Koch said “we need to analyze all these government subsidies, all these things that are creating a culture of dependency, and we’ve got to clear out what reduces the mobility of labor.” A Koch-funded ad in Kansas insinuated minimum wage Americans earning $34,000 annually should consider themselves fortunate, but an American working full-time making minimum wage only earns $15,080 annually, if they can find full-time work. As it is, the poverty level for a family of four is $22,283 annual income, and even in the poorest state in the nation a worker earning minimum wage has to work 67 hours per week to afford the most meager apartment if they are fortunate enough to find a full-time job; food, utilities, and clothing are luxuries out of the realm of a poverty-level worker’s budget. Most medium to large businesses prevent full-time employment to avoid giving lunch breaks or benefits, and those working-poor Americans make up a large share of food stamp recipients Republicans just drove into hunger by eliminating SNAP funding from their Draconian farm bill.
Koch had the temerity to claim him and his brother’s political efforts to create poverty are not for their own benefit, but for the country’s greater good, and by country he means corporations; not the people. He also asserted that “other large companies are promoting some kind of special cronyism where they’re undermining economic freedom” and he certainly meant companies such as Costco Stores and Starbucks that pay a living wage that, according to Koch, are destroying Americans’ opportunity at economic freedom and chance of escaping poverty. Koch doubtless joins the Walton family company, WalMart, that recently threatened to scuttle plans to build three poverty-wage stores in Washington D.C. because the city council were considering a bill to require large companies to pay employees a living wage. As it is now, each WalMart store costs taxpayers a minimum of $1 million in public welfare and healthcare costs because they pay poverty-level minimum wage and maintain a strict policy against overtime pay, allowing workers to take bathroom breaks, or receive basic medical accommodations. According to Koch, who along with the Walton family holds more wealth than the majority of Americans, the minimum wage is forcing companies to fire employees and rails at the notion of raising it to $9 an hour that would barely help 15 million poverty-level American workers afford to eat, find shelter, or afford basic healthcare.
What Americans are witnessing now is a conservative movement that is finally revealing their only economic agenda is creating poverty for the masses by openly raping what is left of economic opportunity from the people, or any chance for tens-of-millions of Americans to escape extreme poverty borne of pathetic minimum wages at part-time jobs. The nation already ranks near the bottom of every category for a developed country whether it is middle class wealth, infrastructure, social programs, healthcare, education spending, or children living in poverty and still, Republicans voted to eliminate overtime pay, end Medicare and Social Security, food stamps, promote eliminating the minimum wage, and all to, as Charles Koch says, lift Americans out of poverty and to spur economic growth. The Koch’s have even turned on their John Birch acolytes in the teabagger movement in Georgia by fighting the tea party to stop expansion of solar energy development because the billionaire brothers have not yet figured out how to charge Americans for harvesting energy from the Sun.
Americans are being assaulted on all fronts by Republicans and their corporate funding machine, and there is little doubt their intent is creating a destitute population. Last year the Koch brothers claimed the 2012 election was the mother of all battles, and since they lost that battle to create poverty by a Republican president are mobilizing to eliminate what little economic and survival protections the people have left. Eradicating funding for food stamps from the farm bill is just the beginning as Republicans threaten to block a debt ceiling increase unless President Obama submits and implements the Paul Ryan budget to hand over Social Security and Medicare to privatization, and any concerns over the $135 billion in food stamp cuts in Ryan’s budget were just eliminated when Republicans excluded SNAP funding from a farm bill. Now that their main contributor openly called for eliminating the minimum wage, the people must realize that last year’s mother of all election battles has escalated into open warfare to create what Republicans have panted for over the past thirty years; a nation of peasants serving a ruling plutocracy headed by Charles and David Koch.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.