Most people who have heard anything about Jesus Christ, who millions of Americans claim to follow, are aware that he had little regard for the rich and said it would be easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven. In fact his advice to rich people was to give all of their belongings to the poor and follow him, presumably to Heaven, but he certainly never suggested his followers pray for every affluent person in America, or anyplace else for that matter. Still, O’Reilly was so concerned over the plight of a lottery winner being taken advantage of that he included them with, as he put it, “every affluent person in America who is in danger” and because “the cost of living well is out of sight,” there was one thing he asked his audience to do for the rich; pray.
Since the President, the Pope, and dozens of noted economic experts have cited America’s income inequality as the “challenge of our time,” Republicans are beginning to reiterate what Paul Ryan complained was “the politics of division making a big comeback.” Ryan was “concerned” that Democrats, particularly President Obama, was trying to “exploit fear and envy” of the rich; Ryan’s venerated “makers.” Ryan’s real concern is that Americans are weary that every government policy favors the already wealthy, and conservatives are taking every opportunity to head off a movement to address the crippling income inequality that is producing a nation of peasants and decimating the economy.
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Income inequality has gotten so distorted that 95% of wealth taken in the economic recovery since the Great recession has went to the richest one percent while the rest of the population is falling into poverty, and those in the vanishing middle class have seen their incomes decline. Americans do not envy the rich, they just want to share in the wealth that they helped created and have decent jobs and living wages that conservatives are launching a crusade to portray as envy.
Last Monday, a National Review writer said that “of the seven deadly sins, envy may not be the wickedest, but it is the most embarrassing. To be possessed by envy is to admit a humiliating personal inadequacy and it is the affliction of the insignificant. It is the small man’s sin.” Kevin Williamson railed on economist Robert Reich for “abusing the well-off” because he cited how the wealthy contribute to charities that only serve the wealthy, and then use their contributions as tax deductions to pay less taxes that could go toward programs to create jobs as well as help the homeless and hungry. Reich cited a Congressional Budget Office report that revealed “$33 billion of last year’s $39 billion in total charitable deductions went to the richest 20 percent of Americans, of whom the richest 1 percent reaped the lion’s share.” It is the rich feeding the rich, and cutting their tax liability in the process that Reich felt was unfair; most Americans would likely agree with him. In fact, most Americans do agree with him.
Republicans must be getting concerned that the American people are waking up after thirty years of trickle-down economics that has given the wealth of the nation to the richest Americans. Except for Republican supporters living in the Southern United States, the people understand that their prospects for the future are gloomy at best unless the transfer of wealth to the rich comes to a screeching halt. It bears repeating that it has been nearly a year since President Obama called for a hike in the minimum wage, infrastructure improvements, and job creation programs to help rebuild the middle class that is crucial to a strong economy. Instead of acting, Republicans in the House passed legislation to end overtime pay, rejected a minimum wage increase, obstructed job programs, and hinted they are ready to raid senior citizens’ Social Security pensions to enrich Wall Street.
In the states, right to work for less laws dominate the Southern United States, and the Koch brothers and ALEC are targeting Republican states to raid their public employee pensions through their State Policy Network. It is not because they need the money, they just do not want public employees to have a decent retirement. Conservatives have spent thirty years transferring the wealth of the nation to the rich to create a population of peasants who will work for next to nothing just to survive, and the thought that the people are not falling for their snake oil “trickle down” scam any longer terrifies them. Thus, Bill O’Reilly exhorts his audience to pray for the affluent, Paul Ryan claims “takers” are hurting “makers,” and the National Review condemns wanting a fair wage and programs to help the disadvantaged as “envy;” the small man’s sin.
The people have had enough. They are struggling to survive while the rich get richer and they hear reports that the economy is growing but they still don’t have jobs, decent wages, healthcare, education, or housing; basic rights they are willing to work for if they were only given the opportunity. Republicans have squandered three years in control of the House and they have done absolutely nothing for the people despite promising jobs on the way to victory in the 2010 midterm elections. Americans do not envy, or hate, the affluent, but they should fear them because it is their money drives Republicans to take what little they have left and they will take everything including their right to vote because that is the only thing that frightens the wealthy. One thing is certain, there will not be very many Americans praying for the rich
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.
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