Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Against the Tea Party and the Scapegoating of Welfare Cheats

In response to some rather ignorant and hateful remarks posted on a page of mine...

I understand there is a great lack of intelligent political organizations and ideas where you live. But if you really think that welfare cheats are this biggets problem this country has, I think you are really letting some whackos do your problem defining for you.

The economic collapse did not happen because of welfare cheats.

Banking deregulation that resulted in several million Americans loosing their jobs and homes did not happen because of welfare cheats.

The $4 a gallon gasoline you are buying is not that expensive because of welfare cheats.

We did not spent over a trillion dollars invading and occupying a country that never threatened us because of welfare cheats.

There are not tens of thousands of American veterans missing their arms and legs today who are going to live the rest of their lives with spinal damage, TBIs, or PTSD because of welfare cheats.

Welfare programs are a small part of the total federal and state budgets. I find it disturbing you would lash out against the most desperate and degreded people while ignoring, say, the military industrial complex, or perhaps the prison-industrial complex, which at great tax payer expense houses hundreds of thousands of non-violent drug offenders.

Wealth inequality is the worst it has been in this country since the 1920s. When that happens you get poor people doing desperate things and leading miserable lives. However, if you were paying attention at all, you would know that welfare rolls nationally have not gone up significantly during the recession. Food stamp benefits, however, have gone up several times, mostly to people like myself who work hard, get laid of, and spend a short amount of time on food stamps while they are looking for another job.

The greatest donors to charity, in my opinion, are the working class, who work long hours, multiple jobs, for low pay and no benefits, and donate the great wealth they create to the companies they work for.

The tea party is controlled by rich republicans who started the wars and who crashed the economy and who live in Mcmansions while their employees live in hovels with no health insurance. These people are trying to scapegoat the poor and minorities for things the rich have done. They are not a solution to our problems, and they are not on the side of working people. The represent upper middle class haters, attempting to mobolize the middle class behind the rich. No one who works hard for a living need spend any time near them.

My $0.02. And by the way, I am not a Democrat either.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Problem With Atlanta...

... is that it doesn't really want to be a city. It hasn't in decades and it has no sign of changing this attitude. For purely logistical and geographical reasons not of its own choosing, the status of a city was thrust upon it. Today, as I return, I see it continues, ever futher, to unravel.

The great disintegration perhaps began just after the civil rights movement as whites fled the city limits for tax havens and whites-only school districts in the suburbs. The newly independent status of Sandy Springs as its own city consumates the success of this process, which began long ago. Yes, the whites still drive to town because they also like making money and having jobs. Yet to a disturbingly large extent, they don't seem to care about most of the people who live elsewhere in the city, particularly if their skin is a darker color. They vote with their dollars and their feet and these things consistantly choose to keep train tracks and highways and distance in between their neighborhoods and black neighborhoods. Cheap gas prices in the 1980s and 1990s allowed a completely unsustainable, and absurd infastructre of roads, highways, interstates, perimeter interstates, strip malls and big box stores to develop and serve this idea, of seperate and thuroughly unequal Atlantas.

Now the gas prices are crashing it all down. Flight of any kind is difficult at $4 a gallon. MARTA planners struggle with decentralized and spread out population centers just as much as they do with budget shortfalls and operating costs. But no technocrat elected or otherwise will be able to wave a wand and solve the transportation- or any other problems- of this place. Not while people have their present mind set.

Because the present mindset is not that of citizens in a city thinking about how they ought to live and structure their affairs. The mindset is a blend of selfishness and apathy. Absurd monuments to unproductive wealth are constructed to house the well to do while the less well to do struggle along with dead end, low paying, and unfullfilling jobs, as well as completely inadequate education. The city does not look itself over in a mirror for blemishes in need of a remedy. It deliberately conceals its sepsis. It spends millions hosting the olympics. It builds the largest regional aquarium in the midst of a water famine. It plants grass, then burns fossil fuels to mow this grass. And then fertilizes the grass so it will grow faster. And it allows 65 year old men who have worked all their lives building the city to spend their golden years begging fellow riders on a late and broken down train for spare cash to help pay for their heart medicine.

Religious hyprocrisy of the most disgusting and abominable sort blares from the radio, news, and print. Emotional appeals to hate and condemn, wage war, punish, and imprision has completely taken the place of journalism, much less humanity. Lungs choke on idled engines. Teeth rot from Sweet Tea and Coca Cola. Humidity bears down oppressively soaking the skin, driving all away from public centers of gathering, citizens stumbling back for their own private air conditioning.

Until this changes, until enough people around here are able to stick their heads far enough above ground, over the oaks and poplars and pines and past the smokey haze of ozone and carbon monoxide, beyond the reach of the hate preachers and the flag wavers the billboards, liqour stores, cigarettes, and overpasses, until people voluntarily drag themselves from their private suburban asylums and reach this lofty height and see, yes, we are all one city... until they are convinced that it is a good idea to actually go to one another's neighborhoods and learn for themselves what problems, needs, talents, and resources, actually exist there... Atlanta will in all its glory, continue to burn.