Sunday, August 02, 2020

Let Them Drink Martinis

Upon learning the peasants had no bread a princess who lived hundreds of years ago supposedly replied, "let them eat cake." 

That statement may or may not have ever been uttered by a princess but it served to make a point. In our time we have a somewhat analogous position towards hungry people taken by politicians who are beholden to the ultra wealthy.

According to this WaPo article; 
"Although the Senate GOP proposal offers no new funds for SNAP and Pandemic EBT, it does double the tax deduction for business meals, known as the “three-martini-lunch deduction,” increasing the reimbursement from 50 percent to 100 percent of meals."
Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) is intended to provide food for children who received free or reduced-price school meals in the 2019-2020 school year, but their school was closed. SNAP is another name for food stamps. It is the federal government program intended to help prevent families with dependent children from going hungry. To begin to understand who those families might be it may be helpful to consider that a person working full time (2080 hours) a year in one of the 21 states that adhere to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour brings home a yearly gross income of $15,800.

GOP senators care less about kids going hungry then they do about pleasing lobbyists representing the rich and powerful. 

I draw two conclusions (a) the American people (minus the oligarchs) should be mad as hell and (b) over the last 4 decades our federal government has been captured by people/corporations with vast wealth/power so that it no longer represents the will of the people. 

Either that or you have to believe the will of the people is to be able to fully write-off expensive business and lobbyist three-martini lunches...which of course no one the GOP is essentially giving the vast majority of citizens a big old middle finger and daring them to stop them.


The GOP are (as they have for decades) playing the "how ignorant are the American people" game. As "the one who says the quiet part out loud" said I love the poorly educated. Well bless your heart of course you do - otherwise why start Trump-U? It's not breaking news that con men of all stripes, from snake oil salesmen to corrupt politicians, love ignorant and gullible people.

Working class people have been manipulated into voting against our own interests for decades but we can hope that current events will cause enough citizens to become politically informed, active and energized to use their vote to bring back a representative democracy that represents the people rather than the .1%. 

We'll soon find out if money, power, and decades of the best propaganda money can buy, have led us inexorably to some sort of fascistic/totalitarian state where people are encouraged to label, hate and fear their fellow humans to keep the rich rich and the powerful powerful, or if we live in the nation that so many in our time and before our time fought so hard for.


Sorry if this is boring but this little bit of personal history might help explain where I am coming from...

In my first incarnation as a college student with a double major in Political Science and Philosophy I wrote a paper in 1973 during the Nixon administration about what appeared to be pre-fascist tendencies at that time. Professor Prausnitz gave me good marks for it. I found out after Dr. Prausnitz died that he and his parents had escaped Germany after the Nazis came to power. Then sort of like Rip Van Winkle I went to sleep for 40 years or so (in the Navy, working, raising kids) and when I woke up (retired and had time to do some research) I began to realize how anodyne the Nixon administration's pre-fascist tendencies were compared to where we are today after 40 years of insidious attacks on liberal democracy. 

There are lots of articles and talk about fascism in the air these days. One of the best I've read is this one by Umberto Eco who was a young fascist in Mussolini's Italy. If you don't have time to read the whole thing here's a synopsis from the New York Review of Books -

"Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises.” Umberto Eco wrote in The New York Review in 1995. “Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances.” To that end, Eco outlines fourteen defining qualities of fascism, among them: the cult of tradition (1), a fear of difference (5), obsession with a plot (7), and a contempt for the weak (10). “These features cannot be organized into a system,” he writes. “Many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.”

Probably worth mentioning, in the fog of the deliberately hysteria-generating anti-antifa propaganda coming out of the right wing media complex, that we fought a World War to end one would think (incorrectly) that we are all anti-fascist. In the Orwellian propaganda of the billionaire funded right-wing media machine the pro-fascists are patriots and the anti-fascists are criminals. My father fought and was wounded in that world war to end fascism. He was a Montana farm boy who loved his country not a criminal.