Come on, people. We’ve been trying conservative policies for over 40 years and they’re still not working. In fact, most of us are a lot worse off than we were before. Can we please stop now?
In mid-20th Century America, we were seen by many as the greatest country in the world. We had the biggest economic boom and the most broadly shared prosperity ever seen in the history of humankind. We had big dreams of creating opportunities for upward mobility, ending rural and urban poverty, exploring outer space, cleaning up over a century’s worth of pollution, eradicating disease, and making amends for our brutal legacy of slavery and genocide against blacks and Native Americans.
And despite our many mistakes, we came close to succeeding. Now, look around. Are we better off than we were 40 years ago? Most would say, “no.”
Somehow, we’ve devolved into a mean, petty, penny-pinching, do-nothing nation brimming over with anger and resentment. When well-paying manufacturing and coal mining jobs began to decline in the early 1970s, we could have mobilized a massive effort to better prepare for the “new economy” that’s wreaked havoc with so many of our lives. We could have blunted resentments over gains by blacks, other minorities, poor whites, and women by taking steps to grow the economy so we’d all benefit. Instead, we chose a sick and twisted “socialized risk, privatized profit” model that pits us against each other and forces American workers to bear the brunt of risks in our ever-shifting economy. Meanwhile, the top one percent gets most of the gains.
Cracking down on Wall Street does not hurt economic growth, rich people do not create jobs, federal debt is not always bad, people on welfare are not the ones dragging us down, and our economy is not an us vs. them zero-sum game.
But somehow, in 1980, Ronald Reagan and his fellow conservatives convinced us it’s “morning in America” and we began slashing our federal programs and throwing everything our grandparents and great-grandparents fought and died to achieve away. After that, even Democrats began trying to shuffle off their “tax and spend” reputation in exchange for some so-called “welfare reform” and “tough-on-crime” street cred. Now voters are forced to choose between a party that’s racist and pushes extremely conservative policies or a party that’s more inclusive but with milder versions of conservative policies, at least when it comes to the economy and war. Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders is vilified as a wild-eyed socialist when he’s only slightly more left of GOP president Dwight D. Eisenhower’s administration, during which the top tax rate was a stunning 91 percent.
— Thomas Pogge (@ThomasPogge) September 15, 2017
That would all be fine if conservative policies were working, but they’re not. Since Ronald Reagan was elected we’ve been moving backward and now we’re well on our way to becoming our stereotype of a third-world hell-hole. This needs to stop.
20 ways conservative policies have made us much, much worse off.
1. It’s bad enough that people struggling with mental illness and drug addiction live in the streets. Now, increasing numbers of working families are homeless as well. From New York City to Silicon Valley, and all the cities and towns in between, there isn’t a single place in the U.S. where a minimum wage single parent can afford a two-bedroom apartment for themselves and their children on the minimum wage.
Illinois for instance would require someone to work 75 hours a week at minimum wage to be able to afford rent pic.twitter.com/alc2N5Za5s
— Jeffrey Uhl (@jeffrey_uhl) September 4, 2017
2. Back in the 1970’s, futurists cheerfully predicted that gains in productivity would lead to shorter work weeks and higher pay. Instead, nearly all the gains have gone to the top while the rest of us work longer and harder than ever and our incomes have stagnated or decreased in today’s dollars.
3. Corporations only see themselves as responsible to their shareholders, and no longer care about or get held accountable to their employees, their communities, or even their customers. In fact, they screw everyone whenever they can get away with it, except their top brass who get paid millions…For what?
4. Our roads, bridges, and public transportation systems are falling apart, but Republicans and many Democrats keep insisting we have no money to fix them or build anything else. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2017 Infrastructure Report Card gives our crumbling infrastructure a stunning D+. No wonder we have such a hard time recovering from extreme weather events and other disasters.
— 13D Global Strategy & Research (@WhatILearnedTW) August 19, 2017
5. In cities like Detroit and Flint, Michigan citizens no longer have access to clean drinking water, thanks to the cruel and penny-wise, pound-foolish decisions of the Republicans running their state government. Meanwhile, on Halloween, U.S. children collect coins to help UNICEF provide this basic service to developing nations.
Flint, MI has been without clean water since April 24, 2014. More than three years later, residents still don’t have clean water. pic.twitter.com/zlEUaHKJEZ
— BLACKOUT (@UnitedBlackout) September 14, 2017
6. Civil rights and voting rights for blacks, women, Native Americans, and just about anyone who isn’t a white Christian male are being dramatically rolled back. Make no mistake, that’s what voter ID laws are all about, as well as the GOP-dominated U.S. Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act.
7. We allow our police to terrorize black neighborhoods and trap black youth in a school-to-prison pipeline that shuts them out from their communities and the economy.
8. The criminalization of non-violent drug offenses committed by people of color (but rarely of drug offenses committed by white people) amounts to the reinstatement of slavery through a loophole in the 13th Amendment, which allows forced prison labor. We now have U.S. prisoners assembling products for household name corporations for as little as 25 cents an hour.
School is back and it’s time to learn about the School-to-Prison Pipeline which funnels black & brown kids into our criminal justice system. pic.twitter.com/uL0CpQc5wU
— The Root (@TheRoot) September 7, 2017
9. LGBT people have made some gains, at least for LGBT people who happen to be white and affluent, but conservatives’ bogus “bathroom bills” and obstruction of their right to marry — as affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court — are being chipped away at as well.
10. Our state and federal lawmakers are no longer responsive to the needs of their constituents because they’re mostly bought and paid for by corporations and their wealthy owners.
11. Thanks to SCOTUS’s Citizens United decision, our rights to free speech and representation are being drowned in gushing torrents of cash.
12. In the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we ended Jim Crow and interference with black people’s right to vote. Now, the rights of black, brown, and low-income people’s right to vote are being undermined by bogus Voter ID laws that have no reason to exist other than keeping people from voting.
America never should’ve taken voter suppression: First time in 50-yrs without full protections of Voting Rights Act. pic.twitter.com/jkeOVWZ8ES
— Scott Spencer (@bullriders1) September 6, 2017
13. Aggressive gerrymandering — redrawing of district boundaries by the party controlling state legislatures — now allow lawmakers to choose their voters instead of voters choosing them. Luckily, even some Republicans find this blatant vote rigging to be beyond the pale and are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule against it in an upcoming case.
14. Fewer and fewer employers provide health insurance or pay enough for workers to afford their own insurance, and now the GOP’s attacks on the ACA may throw millions off their insurance plans.
15. Our federal, state, and local governments are gutting our public schools by allowing them to be undermined by for-profit charter schools and “Christian homeschool” programs that teach children the world was created 5,000 years ago and humans cheerfully roamed the earth with dinosaurs.
16. Starting in 1972 with GOP President Richard Nixon’s creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, we’ve cleaned up our choking smog, polluted waters, and toxic Super Fund sites. Now both the Democratic and the Republican parties support fracking and fossil fuels while failing to make major investments in renewable energy sources.
This is one of the reasons the #EPA was created: rivers so polluted they burned.
— Pre-existing Dio (@letter_d) March 30, 2017
17. Climate change endangers our coastal cities and our food supply, yet we refuse to take serious measures towards addressing it and now Donald Trump has backed out of the Paris Accords on our behalf. A significant number of Americans don’t even believe human activity is the cause of global warming.
18. Thanks to the Republican Party’s takeover of America and right-wing evangelicals’ takeover of whatever part of the GOP hasn’t already been taken over by the Koch brothers and other billionaire backers, we don’t even believe in SCIENCE anymore. Funny, how these so-called Christians’ climate change denial dovetails perfectly with fossil fuel industry’s desire to keep burning fossil fuels.
19. Since the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine was retired in 1987 by the Reagan administration, Fox News has run rampant, the other major news stations are too corporate, no one trusts the major news sources anymore, and now we can’t have any sort of constructive public dialog because we don’t even agree on what the facts are.
20. Now we’ve managed to vote a corrupt, treasonous hateful, racist, pussy-grabbing imbecile into the White House and have made ourselves the fool of the world.
And guess what? Speaking of conservative policies, many Americans say they oppose government spending in general, but when push comes to shove, few can agree on what should be cut.
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