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Nov 29, 2021Liked by Robert Reich

As a member Gen-x, I can say that I saw a definitive line in the sand with Reagan. His racist “Welfare Queen” rhetoric really seemed to resonate with the republicans. The “I’ve got mine “ attitude is killing our grand children’s future, not taxes. Citizens United (corps aren’t people!). Our government has morphed so far from the original framework, that it’s no wonder we are on a path to fascism. (And the GOP seems to fully support dictators). Is Congress ever going to overturn the Trump tax cuts? And why is there no discussion of ending Citizens United? Bueller…Bueller!!

P.S. I noticed a lot of people stepping up over the holiday to help those struggling. While this is wonderful, wouldn’t it be more helpful to those families struggling to have reliable help all year instead of just when it’s convenient for others?

A decent job, living wage, affordable housing, childcare, healthcare is way more helpful than a free turkey at the holidays.

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The American people have been lied to by both parties, but more so by the GOP since Day One.

The BBL (Bi-partisan Big Lie) goes like this and you've heard it a thousand times at least:

"We don't have enough money for social programs because we have to stick to our budget just like your household must stick to your budget. Because we are accountable with U.S. tax dollars we must prioritize our budget and everbody knows defense spending is our Number One priority and our second priority is to give trillions in tax breaks to the rich and powerful or else the super-wealthy and big corporations won't be able to provide jobs and they will leave America if we don't give them giant tax breaks. We must subsidize big oil and coal or we won't have enough energy to run our society, so those of you who want increased gov't spending on social programs are irresponsible and need to learn how to live on your own income, whatever that may be. If you don't have enough income you're too lazy to work harder and need to work more, because we got rich from hard work. Sorry Charlie, you must be some kind of socialist or Communist because you want more gov't handouts. We cannot increase social spending or else we will have to raise taxes and suffer inflation."

This old BI-PARTISAN BIG LIE has dominated the economic narrative in America since FDR's New Deal, thanks to THE HAVES OVER THE HAVE NOTS. The media still promotes the BBL as if it were true. The BBL is the official policy of the Republican Party and moderate Democrats.

Both Clintons have used the BBL like a sub-machine gun, mowing down any argument for increased social spending. Newt Gingrich made his entire career about the BBL and fueled his political rise by incessantly repeating the Bi-partisan Big Lie over and over and over again.

The entire media has served as a bi-partisan echo chamber repeating the BBL for decades and decades. No wonder a majority of Americans believed the BBL when Robert Reich served under Clinton. The American people have been steeped and marinated in the BBL and continues the repetitive promotion of the BBL to this day.

Whenever a progressive Democrat proposes increased social spending, that proposal and their sponsors are quickly beat down with BBLs: "We can't increase social spending without raising taxes and increasing The Deficit. Marsha, Marsha, Marsha, we must reduce The Deficit, not irresponsibly increase The Deficit."

Mitch McConnell always says that he opposes increased social spending because he doesn't want his grandkids paying for old liberal ideas of increased social spending. Clearly Republicans have gotten more mileage out of repeating the BBL than Democrats, but even today in the year 2021 many moderate Democrats loudly object to increased social spending based upon the old BBL.

So what's the truth? Jack Nicholson once said, "You can't handle the truth," and unfortunately I believe that applies when it comes to the things Americans believe about our economy, gov't spending and how our gov't actually works instead of how our gov't is supposed to work.

Currently, when Congress passes a bill that requires gov't funding, that bill goes to the U.S. Treasury whereupon the Treasurer makes a "request for funds" from the Federal Reserve.

The Federal Reserve Chairman literally sits at his computer and creates money out of thin air by using his keyboard to add zeros to the requested dollar amount and deposits said amount into a U.S. gov't bank account at the U.S. Treasury. The Federal Reserve calculates interest and adds that full amount to the U.S. deficit. btw, federal income tax does not fully fund gov't spending but only a small portion thereof. Don't think so? Watch what Ben Bernanke said to Bernie Sanders when Bernie grilled former Fed Chairman Bernanke on how does the Federal Reserve creates money out of thin air and who do they lend trillions of U.S. tax dollars to: https://youtu.be/3Lb_f8m6IqE

So what's wrong with that process? EVERYTHING.

Here comes the "Can't handle the truth" part:

Our Founding Fathers are doing cartwheels in their graves knowing that long after they created a constitutional gov't where our FF gave Congress the Constitutional authority to create currency out of thin air WITHOUT HAVING TO RELY UPON A CENTRAL BANK, (like England) a greedy, bad-faith Congress would come along and unconstitutionally impose a CENTRAL BANK titled, "The Federal Reserve" whereupon Congress would be required to "borrow money" plus interest from a private banking cartel shamelessly titled "The Federal Reserve."

So what's the alternative? The obvious alternative is:

1) Congress stop borrowing money via the Federal Reserve, accruing an ever-increasing, very unnecessary deficit;

2) Congress fund gov't operations by Congress utilizing its Constitutional authority to create funds out of thin air and deposit said funds directly into U.S. gov't bank accounts at the U.S. Treasury without "borrowing money" from The Federal Reserve.

Thanks to economists such as Stephanie Kelton, many Americans are waking up to the fact we are being fleeced and robbed by Congress borrowing money from the Federal Reserve and the bi-partisan lies that protect such an egregious process. See Stephanie Kelton discuss The Deficit Myths here: https://youtu.be/FATQ0Yf0Fhc

Both parties and the media will continue to ridicule and attack anyone suggesting that Congress stop borrowing money from the Federal Reserve and instead Congress direct deposit currency instruments directly into U.S. gov't bank accounts WITHOUT involving the Federal Reserve.

Both parties and the media reject this idea out of hand, falsely claiming Americans cannot have an unregulated constitutional money supply because it will cause massive inflation and ruin our economy.

HORSEHOCKEY! Nothing could be further from the truth.

Today's so-called "inflation" is partially caused by COVID-related supply chain issues, but much of the so-called inflation is simply the result of big corporations refusing to cut massive corporate profits instead of raising their prices. Proctor & Gamble posted record profits in the billions, but raised their prices significantly instead of doing any "belt-tightening" of corporate profits - you know, the kind of "belt-tightening" media pundits and Congress are always suggesting the middle class and poor do.

Moreoever, we could fund more social programs to help the middle class and poor, including increasing Social Security to LIVING WAGE LEVELS AS IT SHOULD BE, by sufficiently TAXING ASSETS of the uber-rich and big corporations, instead of taxing their reported incomes.

Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and even big corporations such as Sanyo claimed NO INCOME or they LOST MONEY even though Sanyo sold millions upon millions of units in America.

Our crooked Congress accepted and continues to accept massive donations from the uber-rich and big corporations to write tax loopholes into the law so they can avoid paying federal income taxes.

So who's going to do anything about it? The Republican Party? Nope. Moderate Democrats? Nope. What about old school Democrats like the Clintons, Barack Obama and Joe Biden?

Are they going to do or say anything in their retirement years to change the BIG MESS WE'RE IN?

The BIG MESS they helped create and protected their entire careers? Nope.

So who is going to make the change we need? A third party? No way, not going to happen.

I say increasing the number of progressive Democrats in Congress is America's only chance to STOP THE OLD MADNESS of Congress borrowing money from the Federal Reserve, increasing The Deficit, increased military spending, increased tax breaks for the uber-rich and big corporations, continued gov't subsidizing of the oil and gas industries and so forth and so on.

Thanks to the internet and increased communications amongst Americans, We The People have a chance to find out and acknowledge the REAL PROBLEMS with our government and support progressive policies that a majority of Americans now support by voting for incumbent progressive Democrats and those progressive Democrats running for office in your local, state and federal elections.

They say Knowledge is Power, but we all know that Knowledge without action remains powerless, ineffective Knowledge.

- Ron Harold progressivemediaservice@gmail.com

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Nov 29, 2021Liked by Robert Reich

A representative of our area's housing shelter agency spoke at church yesterday and outlined the reduction in federal spending on housing since 1970. What she didn't mention was the destruction of unions and unionized industries, the lack of living wages, and the concomitant rise in inequality, which is pricing people out of housing. Charity, important as it is, can't begin to claw back the ills caused by inequality.

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Medicare saved my grandparents' lives, my parents' lives, and my life!!! I have a comfortable retirement, thanks to this essential government program!!! Lets be sure to expand it to include dental, hearing, and vision benefits. And let's allow Medicare to negotiate with Big Pharma to lower prescription drug costs. Thank You.

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There were incessant portrayals of 'Welfare Queens' in Cadillacs living large everywhere. There were myths in the area I lived in of 'Pig roasts' happening in the basements of the 'flats' , apartment buildings that were 4 or 5 stories high with basements. I'm sure they were as rare as the 'welfare Caddies', but to this day I sometimes hear these lies repeated. These myths were about the Puerto-Ricans who started to move into the area in the late 50's. Also Blacks who came in to the area before then. I remember older people saying "Why work hard? If you are not rich, just go apply for welfare." "The best place to be is rich or very poor. then you don't have to work hard and you get what you need." It was racist and untrue, but people believed it.

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I agree that those who are "well-off" do not feel a connection to the poor. And I agree with your statement regarding the "beleaguered working-class" perceiving help to the poor will increase their taxes. I live with both. I am among those seniors who live in subsidized housing, receive food stamps, and help with my heating costs. I had a fraction of wealth, working hard for forty years. My financial comfort was lost in 2001, and the final blow came in 2008. I have no complaints: I am healthy, content, loving, continuing with my art and writing. However, I live with seniors older than I who struggle in ways I would not wish upon anyone. Until one sees the loss of human dignity and hope through lack of almost everything, if not everything, then writing checks, et cetera, keeps one at a safe distance from the cold reality of poverty's face and hollow eyes. I know this, for I once had the finances to write those checks. I live in a rural area of upstate New York and know the children of struggling working families. Our small community tries to help with fundraising programs, childcare, making dinners in church basements so a child can eat at least one nutritious meal, too often the only full meal that week. We are a predominantly white community. Those who do have money share little or nothing at all.

We are called the 'have-nots' by those who have financial well-being. The cold fear of losing financial security creates an absence of generosity. I observe the fear among those who have more than enough, becoming a 'have-not.' I feel sad for the loss of basic charity once so vibrant in our nation. I love this country, but we are not who we once were. I hope our better angels prevail over the huckstering of FEAR by the media, our government, our churches, and every conversation I hear. Fear overpowers compassion; hence, the spirit of generosity.

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Conservatism is not a legitimate political ideology but a sociopathy instead. This is why Republicans and conservative Democrats oppose increased social spending for the unwashed masses - because their conservative beliefs are born of racism and classism.

Conservatism can be summed up as follows: "I got mine so, to hell with you buddy!"

And, "I don't have your problems you lazy slob, so I don't care about your problems - problems I do not suffer."

It's worth noting the massive hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance the "Christian Right" evangelicals suffer while implementing and protecting policies wholly incongruent with Jesus' teachings.

Conservatism is a form of mental illness developed by long-term racism and classism.

The sooner we start treating conservatism as a sociopathy born of racism and classism, the better off we will be implementing progressive policies which benefit the middle class, the poor and the disabled.

The sooner progressive Democrats focus and sharpen progressive messaging much better than progressive Democrats have done, the sooner progressive Democrats start calling out racist politicians who support class warfare against the middle class and poor, the better off we will be in reaching progressive goals.

- Ron Harold progressivemediaservice@gmail.com

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Completely agree. We were much more generous and compassionate before Reagan, Gingrich, and Fox News turned the country into a bunch of greedy narcissists. Now, how do we fix that? You’d think with all the emphasis on mindfulness and compassion it would improve but in some ways things seem worse than ever. Or perhaps it’s just time for the pendulum to swing back. I certainly hope so.

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Who are the lobbyists in Washington or elsewhere against child poverty? Old folks like me have powerful and influential organizations like the AARP lobbying both parties on behalf of the elderly. I and my wife are bombarded with appeals for money (particularly this time of the year) by numerous charities, political groups, and others, but I don't recall any appeals for combating child poverty. There is little reporting about this in the media. I was not aware of how bad things were until reading your newsletter. Where are the advocates to solve this problem?

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Social Security is way too low. Most Americans on Social Security can tell you all about it.

Social Security or SSI in most instances pay less than the current federal minimum wage.

How do lawmakers expect seniors and the disabled to live on Social Security when workers cannot even pay their rent with their federal minimum wage? Do workers deserve a living wage while seniors and the disabled are expected to survive on much, much less than a living wage? Equality my butt.

In 2020, the maximum SSI federal benefit is $783 per month, or 74% of the federal poverty level. The average SSI benefit, however, is only $446 for seniors. ... Even when including income from other sources such as Social Security or a pension, a person receiving SSI is likely living below the federal poverty level.

The average Social Security benefit in 2021 is $1,555 per month - the cost of an average one-bedroom apt. is approx. $1,500 per month, not counting utilities and additional costs.

Social Security should NOT be based on past low wages.

I support a UBI of $2k monthly funded by SUFFICIENTLY TAXING THE ASSETS, NOT INCOME, of the uber-rich and big corporations, and by deficit-free Congressional spending. (not borrowing from the Federal Reserve)

According to the most recent studies, in the United States:

More than 15 million older adults are economically insecure.

About 50% of seniors rely on Social Security for the majority of their income.

Over the next 10 years, the number of elderly Americans without homes could triple.

Poverty affects older adults differently than other demographics — these individuals are especially vulnerable to economic instability when their physical health, cognitive abilities and social networks decline.

The Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University estimates that 8 million Americans slipped into poverty during the coronavirus pandemic.

The monthly poverty rate for older adults increased from 15.7% in January to 16% in September, a less significant change than with other demographics.

The monthly poverty rate for adults ages 18 to 64 increased from 14.3% to 15.5%.

The monthly poverty rate for children increased from 18.7% to 20.4%.

The true buying power of Social Security benefits has decreased 30% over the past 20 years.

- Ron Harold progressivemediaservice@gmail.com

https://www.justiceinaging.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/F_SSI-Fact-Sheet.pdf

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I think the fact that the elderly vote, usually in higher proportions than other age groups, is one reason, but probably not the major reason. Racism may also play a part. There is a substantial number of people in this country who say they are willing to forgo government benefits, including access to medical care, if it means that Black people will also receive those benefits.

The major reason may be that, in contrast to the elderly, children cannot be given checks or other help directly. The assistance goes to their working-age parents. There is an attitude in this country that poverty is a character flaw, that it results from laziness, and that all red-blooded American parents should be able to provide for their children. Rugged individualism and all that. During the Trump administration, many Republican governors sought to impose work requirements for Medicaid. And yes, even some Democrats have bought into this. As I recall, Joe Manchin wanted to impose a work requirement for the child tax credit, obviously not for children, but for their parents. Thus, the child tax credit is disparaged as merely a "government freebie," rather than a program to enhance the quality of life in this country and improve the life prospects of our nation's children. And entitled billionaires like Elon Musk unabashedly proclaim that they just don't care.

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I think that by 1996 we were far enough bought into the otherization of minorities and immigrants, post-Reagan still waiting for that trickle-down, and experiencing enough wage stagnation in the lower class, that it caused that loss of support for welfare. And those conditions have only worsened since. So now you have a vast class of people who work so much for so little that they haven't a spare moment, energy, or dime to consider advocating for poor children, even if they do have compassion. Understandably, many feel they must jealously guard what they've worked so hard to scrape together. And, you have the hardworking professional class, who may see the outsize and complex nature of problem and know they can't personally fix it, and who also based on experience don't trust politicians to fix it either, so they make a few charitable donations and hope for the best. They may care and be willing to help, but likely feel the size of the problem requires systemic action of a scale beyond their means and influence.

I don't know what the answer is, other than perhaps if we can reform our political system to remove corporate influence, politicians may have more bandwidth and incentive to address the needs and concerns of constituents rather than prioritizing corporations. Anything that can be done to significantly increase the responsiveness of represesentatives to voter concerns would be a step in the right direction.

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I wonder if the Prosperity Gospel might be influencing the Right generally. "People are poor because they haven't earned the right to be otherwise [thru a godly life and sufficient ambition]". It may also be a general attitude of "I'm not going to aid *those people* no matter what color they are. IOW, simple Tribalism... [aid for the elderly being already baked in]. :| pip

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According to timeless wisdom, ALL Americans can better flourish in a more just economy. How do we build a "more just economy"? Read "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, not the Few", & "We Cry Justice" as edited by Liz Theoharis. We must pass BBB act, & win the midterms.

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What’s the answer? The Answer is "Medicare for all" with a single payer program for ALL U.S. citizens and legal resident aliens with the withholding of premiums from wages of everyone going into the program just a Medicare does today along with Social Security. Just as Medicare has buy up programs through insurers, like "Medicare Plus" employers could provide the added benefit for a quarter of what they are paying now allowing them to pay higher wages like the Federal Government raising the minimum wage to $18.75. The Insurance Lobby would love the "PLUS" programs since most people would buy them and the catastrophic "pay outs" would be minimized like Medicare covers them now. States would love this so they would not have to have their own Medicaid programs and everybody is covered from Birth. Problem Solved ! If and when congress ends the filibuster and rams this through before the end of 2022.

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I think that "become[ing] far less equal as a society" - from the last ¶ of Mr Reich's theory - is far more symptom than cause. On the other hand, the cause is far greater in complexity than a single, well-meaning mind, no matter how learned or enlightened, can possibly wrap itself around. However, I >suspect< the cause has >something< to do with a toxic notion of competition, a game oriented notion of competition. From that perspective, what one calls inequality in society is to say there are winners and losers in some kind of existential game. Of course, the lie we're told is that society is a "house" - the "invisible hand" - that never cheats in a fair game of chance amongst rational actors - that is, a fair and unrestricted market. That's set in stark contrast with the notion that success - that is, winning - is the result of an individual's hard work. Even >thieves< believe they work hard! The contrast is between an apparent rational determinism and an existential crap-shoot extant all the way down to the DNA that our forbears have passed on to us and that we will pass to our descendants. Of course, among the spoils in this game going to the winners, along with writing it's history, is setting the "house rules." And as we all know, the house, the "invisible hand," >never cheats< - by its own rules the winners establish. And of course, the winners >never< believe that "all men are created equal." To the winners in that game, that's the point of winning! Is it any wonder that "we have become far less equal as a society ‽"

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