Lyndon Baines Johnson understood that his war on poverty was certainly designed as a way for Americans to responsibly help the least of our society live day-to-day with some small amount of dignity.
But LBJ was also responding to the advice of talented economists and sociologists who educated him on the idea that the way to build a sustainably strong economy is to begin at the bottom and grow upward. In other words, LBJ understood that when an American lives on the margins, where that individual is struggling to provide food and shelter for his family, then every dime that he gets by way of public assistance is going to be used to buy everything from groceries to clothing for his family.
LBJ and his advisers understood that the war on poverty was also in effect a building block for economic prosperity.
When the crazy train hit Washington, mostly during the Reagan years, intellectually dishonest conservative think tanks and opportunistic politicians told America that they had a new invention. They told America that their new invention would turn old worn-out notions of economics on its head and create even greater prosperity for our economy.
The big convention: the big lie was called trickle-down economics. Small groups of billionaire inheritance babies who had never gone hungry a day in their lives convinced the American media to sell the American public on the idea that if we give seemly wealthy individuals and corporations more money then that Grey Poupon billionaire crowd would share their windfalls with America’s working poor and lesson the burden on taxpayers who were paying for LBJ’s war on poverty.
The truth is that the American media figured out that the trickle-down fraud did not work. And they figured that out within five years of the time that they first helped sell the lie. But by the time the billionaire scam was already in place, the billionaires began buying up the media so the trickle-down trash argument could be recycled day after day on TV, radio, and the print media.
This week, as a matter of fact, we are seeing what 50 years ago was regarded as responsible media pitching the teabag Republican talking point that continuing on with appointment benefits for millions of unemployed workers would actually be bad for the worker.
According to outlets like CNBC and Fox American, workers have become lazy and too comfortable with the table scraps that we as Americans are throwing on the floor for them.
The trickle-down idea is that if we give them no scraps at all, the economy will spin into a new level of prosperity because those millions of lazy workers who can’t provide food, clothing, and housing for their children will invent ways to generate money. If you listen to the ignorant pablum falling off the tongues of Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio and John Boehner types, you will conclude that they believe when a person is starving, they will reach farther down to find character resources that will miraculously show them the way to avoid starvation.
Since the days that the feeble, tired old man Ronald Reagan sold his trickle-down revolution, the Republican Party and all the oddballs who still call themselves Republicans have taken on the appearance of character-void predators willing to evaluate right and wrong uniquely in terms of dollars.
They have so completely lost their moral compass and their sense of humanity that this week a “how to” memo was sent out by the house Republican conference. It was a “how to” instruction on how to look human and show empathy to the millions of unemployed workers who today have been left with no safety-net whatsoever
The truth is we have a better chance of having gasoline drop to a dollar a gallon than we do saying they 2014 Republicans can even spell “empathy” or “compassion,” much less understand it.
I would advise the House Republican conference fool who sent out that ridiculous “how to” memo that you can’t reinvent reality.
For years, Republican advisers like Frank Luntz have been trying to coach people like Mitch McConnell and Marco Rubio into how to at least give the appearance of being a well-adjusted human. In the same way that the stripes will always distinguish the difference between a zebra and an extraordinary looking stallion, the “R” in front of a politician’s name will always separate them from the overwhelming majority of Americans who are genuinely empathetic and compassionate people. Mr. McConnell and Mr. Boehner, you will still be zebras tomorrow.