Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Menu For Disaster

Even as the growing Chris Christie scandals continue to dominate national headlines, secondary stories about inequality and corruption are combining with the Christie saga to draw a serious and worrying trend.

For example, the West Virginia corporation responsible for the recent chemical spill that left hundreds of thousands without access to clean water just filed for bankruptcy, apparently as a ploy to fund another corporation owned by the same wealthy but corrupt people. Apparently in America today, if you're a corporation, wrecking the ability to use one of the basic resources of life for hundreds of thousands of Americans for more than a week is just another way to finance your next selfish, destructive venture.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the MLK holiday, a report by Oxfam that shows the richest 85 people in the world now have as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people on Earth, and the rush of Americans that finally have health care insurance thanks to Obamacare and Medicaid, the negative pattern we're seeing is clear to us.

It might not be clear to everyone, however.

That's why, in situations like this, it's helpful to have the example of someone like Nebraska's Governor Dave Heineman - a political leader who wants to believe a study that says he should get a $3.5 million taxpayer-financed new plane. Meanwhile, nearly 100,000 of Heineman's constituents still don't have health care under Medicaid, thanks to him ignoring another equally legitimate study.

That this same Republican governor is also attempting to bully the legislature into using Nebraska's cash reserve for tax cuts for wealthy landowners (with a little bit for the rest of us) shouldn't surprise anyone familiar with similar behavior patterns. It should be noted that Gov. Heineman approached the Nebraska legislature with a similar tax-cutting proposal last year, and after a thorough study, the Legislature - including many members of his own party - effectively told the governor to go pound sand.

Indeed, if Nebraska ends up this summer suffering the kind of drought already affecting California, Nebraska will need all the money currently in its cash reserve, along with a whole lot more. The drought from 2012 cost Nebraska farmers and the state's economy hundreds of millions of dollars - and the official seasonal drought outlook for half of Nebraska is already predicting the early part of this year to be dry.

As we and others have said more than once, when people show you who they are, believe them. What our political leaders in America, and especially in the Republican Party, are showing us in New Jersey, and in more subtle ways in Nebraska, should now be obvious to most people.

When it comes to the already rich and powerful, many of these folks believe that our collective society's resources are exclusively theirs, to be used, abused, and selfishly hoarded. Meanwhile, facts and studies prove those resources, if used judiciously, honestly, and truly conservatively, can provide benefits like health care to most people, without worrying about running out of money.

But many of those in power would prefer the poor and working classes simply get lost.

Is it any wonder then, that in the latest Gallup poll on economic inequality, 67% of Americans are angry with how our nation is distributing our wealth, from the poor and working class to those selfish fools who are already more than wealthy enough.

It's long past time for those feasting on the benefits provided by the rest of us to be excused from the public trough.

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