We have a party that does not want to extend unemployment benefits because, as Ronald Reagan said, “Unemployment insurance is prepaid vacation for freeloaders.” Meanwhile in Madera the unemployment rate is near 14 percent.
In has been 40 years since Ronald Reagan introduced “supply side economics,” which is just another name for “trickle-down economics.” We have watched the ultra-wealthy’s share of the national income go from 8 percent to 23 percent. We have a situation where the top 400 wealthy families have more wealth than the bottom 150 million people in our country. We have seen a situation where a vulture capitalist like Mitt Romney pays 14 percent in taxes on $20 million while a small businessman having an adjusted net income of $100,000 pays 50 percent.
The hollowing out of the middle class has been devastating, as have the effects on the poor. This is a worldwide phenomenon.
Most people just do not get what is happening. Then an international figure speaks out and is immediately called a Marxist by Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.
This is what Pope Francis said: “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.”
Francis wrote in the papal statement: “This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”
“Meanwhile,” he added, “the excluded are still waiting.”
We are at the crossroads. We can continue to elect Republicans whose only real job seems to protect the interests of the uber-wealthy, or we can come together and get back to economic policies that built the greatest middle class the world has ever known.
Frankly, I fear for the Pope’s safety. Men who stand up against the plutocracy put themselves at risk. The Kennedys, Martin Luther King Jr. and Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador are just a few examples. I, for one, will pray for the Pope’s safety.