Nel's New Day

September 11, 2012

GOP Takes Our Freedom

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 6:53 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Eleven years ago, a tragedy in New York City gave the government a green light to limit freedom for the people in the country. Since that time, the GOP has used fear and hatred like bludgeons; they have started two wars and allowed huge corporations to increase their burgeoning control over the people of the United States. Although the GOP talks about wanting small government and giving people more freedom, they have slashed away at the “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” described by the U.S. Declaration of Independence, hammering at freedom from religion and freedom to control one’s body. There are also many other ways we have lost our freedoms—our life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Employment: Businesses have rights; workers don’t. More and more, businesses hire on a temporary or part-time basis so that they don’t have to provide rights and benefits. Employers can read employees’ correspondence on company computers and track employees’ movements on the company cell phones. Businesses have the right to fire anyone for expressing political views online even when employees write these when they’re not at work. States legislate against organizing and forming unions, thanks to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Lawmakers use tax abuses to break union contracts. Businesses even control bathroom breaks: Mary Williams Walsh reported in the New York Times, “Employees at lower rungs of the economic ladder can be timed with stopwatches in the bathroom; stonewalled when they ask to go; given disciplinary points for frequent urination; even hunted down by supervisors with walkie-talkies if they tarry in the stalls.”

A healthy lifestyle: The United States ranks 49th in infant mortality; lower-income families suffer much greater infant mortality in this country than those in higher income brackets. The average life expectancy for an African American in New Orleans is roughly the same as that of a North Korean and shorter than that of people in Colombia, Venezuela, of Vietnam. Life expectancy for poor white males in Appalachia and the Mississippi Valley is roughly the same as that of males in Mexico and Panama. Mortality among Americans aged 65 and older decreased by 13 percent after Medicare was created, and seniors spent 13 percent fewer days in the hospital. The GOP plans to reverse this trend through their proposed Medicare voucher system and increased eligibility age.

Health care: Millions of people in this country are forced to beg for health care, even when they pay for insurance, and then argue over a complex system of denied payments with arcane explanations. Without the ability to fight this, people then are subject to medical debt collectors and possibly end up in jail. Most people in the United States lack affordable dental care.

Social mobility: The recession allowed businesses to demand wage concessions from workers and increase huge salaries and bonuses to senior executives. The push toward tax cuts for the wealthy resulted in a decline of government jobs. The share of middle-income jobs in this country has fallen from 52 percent to 42 percent since 1980, while the share of low-income jobs rose from 30 percent t0 41 percent. The cost of higher education has shifted from taxpayers to students and their families in the past 30 years. During this time inflation has increased median family income by 147% while college tuition and fees rose 439%. That’s a tripling of education costs, in real dollar terms. According to the New York Times, “Among families with incomes in the lowest 20 percent, the net cost of a year at a public university is 55 percent of median income, up from 39 percent in 1999-2000. At community colleges, long seen as a safety net, that cost is 49 percent of the poorest families’ median income last year, up from 40 percent in 1999-2000.”

Personal time: The U.S. is one of the few developed nations that don’t require employers to offer paid vacation time to their employees. Even if employees have vacation time, they have trouble using it because staff cutbacks keep them from being covered. Others can’t afford it, and employers pressure them not to take off any time. Michael Janati also noted in the Washington Times, “Americans are working approximately 11 more hours per week now than they did in the 1970’s, yet the average income for middle-income families has declined by 13% (when adjusting for inflation).” More people are literally “working themselves to death.”

Information: Because of weak regulations and lax enforcement of laws, corporations can keep people from access to vital information for business transactions. Banks hide balloon payments and other key loan provisions in complex and unreadable documents while bankers misrepresent the terms of the loan. The Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) hides the names of mortgage holders and their terms from people and courts. Banks control FICO and other credit-scoring agencies. Corporations walk away from bad loan deals with their banks, but individuals have almost no recourse if they fail to live up to agreements. In fact, individuals pay for the corporations faulting on their loans. If people refuse to accept “arbitration clauses” weighted in favor of corporations, they will be denied critical services. Corporations such as cable television operators and health insurers act as monopolies or near-monopolies. These actions deny freedom of choice.

Bill Moyers said, “In 1984 the number of companies owning a controlling interest in America’s media was 50; today that number is six.” Corporate media still shapes our perception of current events. When tens of thousands of demonstrators protested at George W. Bush’s first inauguration of George W. Bush, almost all the media refused to show them. The same thing happened when an estimated one million demonstrators protested the invasion of Iraq on February 15, 2003. News outlets such as the Washington Post, which has outsourced much of its financial reporting to an organization run by right-wing billionaire Pete Peterson, use labels such as “extreme” and “fringe” to describe politicians and organizations who advocate for policies which are supported by 75 or 80 percent of all Americans.

Housing and travel: The 16 million underwater homes in the United States house are occupied by approximately 40 million people who owe an estimated $1.2 trillion in “underwater” real estate value. This value disappeared when the housing bubble burst. The mortgage deception often included forgeries, lies about the loan’s terms, and filing of false information. Stuck with these debts, many homeowners lose the ability to move to another area even if they need to find jobs lost after the bank-created financial crisis. If they have a job, they pay taxes that prop up the banks.

Privacy: Internet companies sell personal data for profit, often by using cookies on personal computers to track activities. Facebook sold users’ video rental records. Google pulled Americans’ personal information via WiFi when it created Street View. Apple iPhones track and store their owners’ movements. The government is already using corporate data, sometimes without subpoenas. Corporations voluntarily permit the government to use their technology to spy on citizens, included one reported case where the government placed a spy server at an ATT location to track the activities of its subscribers. There’s a lot more that we don’t know.

Representative democracy: Lawmakers ignore the wishes of people in the country. While 75 percent of most Americans and 76 percent of Tea Party supporters oppose Social Security cuts to balance the budget, political leaders negotiate these cuts. Lawmakers refuse to legislate tighter control on banks, but the majority of people in the United States want this to happen. The majority of people want higher taxes on millionaires, another issue that Republicans will not consider.

The GOP is right: we need more freedom. It’s just that the GOP version of freedom shackles the people in the United States.

Asides: Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson said he plans to spend $100 million this year to get Mitt Romney elected president. It would be money well invested if Romney is elected. Romney’s tax cuts would net Adelson $2.3 billion over the four years of Romney’s administration, making him a profit of $2.2 billion.

The Federal Communications Commission has voted to require local television stations to put detailed information about political advertising including the cost of specific commercials on their websites.

Veteran GOP strategist Mary Matalin describes Paul Ryan’s wife, Janna, as living a real middle-class mother life. Married to one of the most powerful Washington lawmakers, she also has a cousin in the House and an uncle who used to be an Oklahoma governor and senator. Janna Ryan has also worked as a Capitol Hill staffer and lobbyist who knows “probably more than any of the spouses that, with all due respect, didn’t come from that background, whether it’s Michelle [Obama] or Ann [Romney] or Jill [Biden],” according to Matalin. Sounds like an ordinary soccer mom to me. 

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