Been a long time since I last updated this blog; I see the previous post was “Part 1: the Personal,” so I’m following through on my promise to address current events, “the political.” This has been a year of crises, tragedies, and terror…but enough about Donald Trump.
Seriously, though—there is so much to be said about this election and various other events that I’ve noticed the emergence of a pattern of modern mythology. (I might veer into mentioning candidates, but I will try to be a bit more, uh, general). So let me be a modern myth-buster.
MYTH #1: "Taxes are crushing us.” No, they’re not—especially if you are wealthy or a corporation. The top tax bracket is lower than it’s ever been—for both individuals & corporations. There are several sub-myths as well. First, the myth of “the death tax,” especially its “devastating impact on family farms.” What a load of caca de vaca. Only multimillion-dollar estates (>$5.6M) are subject to the estate tax, and very few of those are family farms—which for the most part carry heavy debt that nearly matches or exceeds their assets. Second, that taxation is evil. No, taxes are the rent and the dues you pay to live in this society. You don’t have a right to withhold part of your rent because you disapprove of the luxury car or the dream vacation that your landlord bought, or of your condo association dues because you wanted a bigger pool instead of a new roof. Third, that taxes on sugary drinks are racist and impair your freedom to rot your kids’ teeth. When Pepsico or Coca-Cola raises its prices, do you scream bloody murder? No, you pony up and keep buying the stuff. Taxes on soda, sports & energy drinks and sweetened teas add less to the cost of the stuff than do bottlers’ or stores’ price hikes. And why should we have to endure crumbling roads & bridges, small business contractors getting stiffed by the state, pension funds into which workers have paid go belly-up, social safety nets slashed and healthcare costs rise just so you can give yourself and your kids diabetes, fatty livers and tooth decay as cheaply as possible?
MYTH #2: “We mustn’t hurt the job-creators.” This goes hand in hand with myth #1—big business is paying lower taxes than at any time since WWII. Certainly lower than when St. Ronald unveiled his trickle-down policy in 1981. Yet where are the jobs? Which brings us to:
MYTH #3: “Obama took away our jobs.” No, your venerable “job creators” did. In the name of boosting the bottom line for shareholders (submyth: “All hail the shareholders”), big business set about cutting expenses to the bone in order to maximize already-record profits. Your manufacturing jobs went to India & China—not because of free trade (as Genghis Don would have you believe) but because their citizens are willing to work for a fraction of what even the lowest-paid Americans get, without fringe benefits or even legal protections (such as those against sweatshops, workplace dangers, sexual harassment and child labor). And even if by some miracle of conscience (or, more likely, the threat of penalties or the promise of tax breaks) those jobs return, they will no longer pay what they used to or carry the same benefits or protections as in the past…because unions have been gutted like fish and crushed like paper cups. Finally, there is a significant number of those jobs that will never, ever return, because of automation. (But the right-wing never mentions that).
MYTH #4: “All lives matter.” Well, all things being equal, they do. But all things are still not yet equal. Police still don’t value black lives equally, so black lives need to matter more than they currently do. Our police forces need to be demilitarized, stripped of surplus military stuff like armored personnel carriers and the like. They need to, as almost all their mottoes say, protect and serve—not occupy and rule. They enforce the law, but they are not the law. And yes, blue lives matter, too—but get real: more innocent African-American civilians are killed by police than vice versa. Far, far more. The recent tragedy in Dallas was due to an assassin—not an entire ethnic group. Submyth: “stop & frisk works.” No, it doesn’t. It’s unconstitutional. And it gives innocent black males arrest records they don’t deserve; and as for the guilty, they are given harsher penalties and longer sentences than whites committing exactly the same offenses.
MYTH #5: “Career politicians are ruining our country (state, city, etc.).” You know how someone gets to be a “career politician?” By getting elected to and staying in office, over and over again….because people vote for them. Why? Because for the most part, they do the jobs they were elected to do, and for the most part they get better at it the more experience they amass. You know what you get when you elect the inexperienced to high office? Incompetence. (Case in point—a certain Gov. who never even ran for grade school class President, can’t tell the difference between running a state and running a private-equity vulture-capital firm, nor the difference between gov’t and business budgets, and can’t understand why the legislature doesn’t want to pass his agenda. Hey, America—don’t say IL didn’t warn you).
MYTH #6: “The only patriotic values are Conservative.” (Corollary—“liberals don’t value freedom or liberty”). Take a look at the names of various super-PACs: “Freedom Works.” “Liberty Principles.” “American Crossroads.” All code names for conservative Republicans. (We liberals are stuck with variations on “Progress” and the like—while we weren’t watching, the GOP has co-opted and copyrighted/trademarked every patriotic buzzword). Watch and listen to local and state campaign ads. Invariably, when you hear buzzwords like “career politicians,” “(name of your state capital),” “taxes,” “out of touch,” and “doesn’t care about us,” you will, at the end, hear that the ad was paid for by “Liberty Principles” or such—and though the ad is for one candidate or against another, that the payor “is not connected with any candidate.” Right….far right...
MYTH #7: “They’re all the same, so vote your conscience.” Well, guess what? Not only aren’t they “all the same,” your conscience (or a “protest”) never gets elected and has no power to achieve any of your goals. And if you vote your conscience or for a third party candidate (I like to call that a “boutique vote”), you are likelier to help elect the person who is likelier to set back your desired agenda for decades, wiping out whatever progress was made.
MYTH #8: “News should be fair & balanced.” No—contests (and game-day weather) should be fair. Tires, budgets and minds should be balanced. News should be factual, and presented in a neutral manner—which is not the same as either “fairness” or “balance.” Facts are messy. Stuff happens as it happens. Spin it all you want during op-eds and interrupt-and-scream-at-each-other panel shows. But the news is the news, no matter whom it flatters or casts in a bad light.
And speaking of interrupt-and-scream-at-each-other panel shows, we all know which side does the liar’s—uh, lion’s—share of interrupting and screaming (hint: it rhymes with “disturbative”). So if I ever decide to host a political panel podcast, I am serving notice: interrupt once and you get warned. Interrupt twice and I cut your mic off. Interrupt three times and…..I hear Trump may be looking for a new campaign manager….