Sunday, February 1, 2009

US history for $500

I've been slowly reading a book for the last couple of months (only about 100 pages left!) that is really very interesting and I highly recommend it - A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. It is history from the masses, the disenfranchised, not the popular history taught in schools. It also doesn't waste time. I have learned more recent history (post-WWI) in this book than in any history class I ever took (damn Puritans!)
Anyway, as I read this book, I get more and more incensed that nothing changes. The people in power stay in power; the power rests with big corporations and the rich and that will never change at the rate things have gone. I hope they do, but I'm not holding my breath.
So here are a few things to get off my chest:
1) Cutting taxes for the rich and corporations has NEVER, I repeat, NEVER, helped and will not stimulate the economy. In fact, tax cuts to the top tend to have the opposite effect. To the bloody Senators and Representatives who have been complaining that the Obama stimulus plan doesn't have enough or any tax cuts for the rich and big business, 'cuz that'll trickle down, you are all delusional! It DOES NOT WORK! We've been trying trickle down for decades and all that has happened is the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. 
2) Historically, every Congress has passed laws to help business and hurt people. So much for We the People. Congress doesn't represent the people. Politicians are too concerned with getting reelected to actually help people. They help business. Even all the laws passed to ostensibly protect workers' rights, civil rights, etc, were written in many cases to protect business and are also not worth anything if they are not enforced. Please explain to your daughters, sisters, mothers, etc, why they make less than men for the same work (and are doubly cursed if black, while black men don't fare much better). I've actually found evidence at a former job that a man hired to a lower level position was being paid more than I was - after I had worked there 3 years and he was a new hire. He was fired for incompetence while I had to be replaced by 2 people. The Lilly Ledbetter Act is a good start, but we shouldn't have to sue for companies to do things fairly.
3) The US has historically done a poor job of backing foreign governments. We have tended to back abusive tyrannies over the popular revolution that would have actually established a more democratic or at last less brutal government in many, many cases, for the simple expedient that it was better for business interests. Who cares about our supposed mission to bring democracy to the world? If Big Business will suffer slightly less profits, we need to intervene and destroy other countries. And we often get it really, really wrong, installing or supporting a brutal dictator that then turns against us and causes more problems down the line.
4) Seriously, what is the difference between Republicans and Democrats? Once they are elected, the only way to tell them apart is by the little R or D after their name and before their state. This is why I refuse to affiliate with a party. The Republicans of small government actually like to spend just as much as the Democrats, only they cut taxes so the deficit runs up. They also get more involved in way too much social legislation - so much for small government! The Democrats spend just as much on military/defense as the Republicans, have just as much culpability in whatever (cuts to programs, tax cuts to the rich, etc) historically. 
5) Seriously, there are parts of some of the 21 of 25 chapters I've read so far that ring eerily of current and recent events. It is really scary that the more things change, the more they stay the same. 
Really, read this book. 

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