“Trickle Down” Beliefs Die Hard in America

I used to say half-jokingly that there’s no political party in America to the left of any party in Canada. Now, I realize that I wasn’t kidding. I don’t think there’s any major political party in America to the left of any party in the civilized world.

This is a country where the vast majority of the people believe deeply in the old saying:

If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?

In America, the worst sin you can commit is to be poor. Here, “poor” is a four-letter word, like “dumb.” Phrases like “never give a sucker an even break” or “a sucker is born every minute” help to tell the American story. I can’t recall hearing a politician quote the Golden Rule – “do to others as you would that they should do to you” – even once since I came to America 31 years ago.

Yet I constantly read that this is a Christian country. And, seemingly, the people who profess their Christianity most vehemently are the ones who believe most deeply in the rule of gold instead of the Golden Rule.

There are millions of Christians in America, of course. But they are far outnumbered by people who worship the Golden Calf and blasphemously call it Christianity.

Perhaps that’s why American politics is so disappointing.

communistThe Obama Administration is a case in point. Right-wing protesters are vilifying America’s first black President as a Socialist – even a Communist (see poster at left) – and yet his policies so far have been significantly to the right of center.

Here’s how writer Michael Brenner summed up Obama’s track record in a recent Huffington Post article:

Let’s take a clear eyed look at what President Obama actually has done and said. He placed his supposedly signature health care reform initiative in the hands of those dedicated to thwarting it, he has curried favor with the criminally incompetent financial establishment, he orphaned the proposal to help underwater homeowners through the bankruptcy courts, he stiffed the trade unions on the loosening of rules for organizing workers, he has retained all of Bush’s policies on surveillance, he has refused the slightest chastisement of the CIA and their mercenaries, he has retained Bush’s practice of Executive statements interpreting legislation, he has followed a behind closed doors style of policy-making, he has followed the Pentagon hawks in escalating the war in Afghanistan, he has made repeated advances toward the evangelical right. This is the behavioral pattern of a deeply conservative personality and conventional thinker who tips his hat to every establishment he encounters.

Yet the popular perception is that the President has gone too far in growing the federal government and getting in the way of those who would loot the country and oppress the poor. Where have these critics been getting their information?

Obama’s administration has been anything but radical. His timid “trickle-down” policies succeeded in saving the country from total financial collapse but he has done nothing to reform a system that can lead only to more disaster in the future.  And his “economic recovery” has so far bypassed the poor and middle class. It’s a recovery of the rich, by the rich and for the rich.

As economist Robert Reich blogs today:

Look more closely and the only ones doing better are the people and private-sector institutions at the top. Many of America’s biggest companies are sitting on huge amounts of cash right now, but that says nothing about the health of the U.S. economy.

Only in America would tax cuts for business, bailouts for Wall Street and giveaways to the health insurance industry be criticized as “Socialist.”