When Republicans who helped make it easy for companies to move American jobs overseas then turn around and happily call unemployed Americans lazy, I get angry. (I realize that many Democrats, including Bill Clinton with NAFTA, are complicit in the offshoring phenomenon.) When teabagging Republicans attempt to slash and burn all social safety net programs, while continuing to slander and belittle unemployed Americans, I start to go a little blood-blind. And when snakes with mock humility like Paul Ryan attempt to ascribe this nation's economic problems to the workers who had no role in offshoring, I almost lose the capacity for speech.
It doesn't matter to me whether Ryan believes what he says. He doesn't seem altogether unintelligent, but it's hard to know from a media-filtered distance. Folks can be more clever than smart, as Bernie Madoff proved once more for anyone who hadn't realized earlier.
But today Paul Ryan amplified Mitt's comment on 47% of Americans being spongers, dropping the percentage and labeling two classes, "makers" (the 53%) and "takers" (the 47%). Never mind the obvious criticisms, that within that 47% are many employed people who simply earn less than their tax threshold, and many retirees who have already paid their working lives' share of taxes. And I won't even argue that there is legitimate fraud: I've known a few men who took advantage of long-term disability while working under the table. (Were I more of an activist in those days, I might've turned the guy in.) I've known a few people who milked unemployment insurance, refusing jobs because they seemed dull or didn't pay as well as unemployment. I acknowledge these problems exist.
But Paul Ryan has it perfectly backwards when he talks about makers and takers. This nation's makers are the workers. The makers are the people who work for a living, with their hands, in the field, teaching, building, repairing, healing, growing (to name a few) and, yes, drilling and mining, even typing and filing. The workers. The people who might not earn enough in all cases to pay income tax, particularly if they're underemployed. The people who are likely to need (like me--18 months on unemployment and Medicaid until June of this year, and a baby born to the family during that time) the social safety net from time to time. We are the makers.
The takers are the financiers, who no longer serve primarily to help develop industries and communities here in this country. The takers are the bankers like Mitt Romney who shuffle investments, frequently in fraudulent fashion, around the world and build only their own fortunes while otherwise playing at best a zero-sum game of job-shifting from one country to another. The takers are the ones who get the taxpayer bailouts, and still get their bonuses and their undeservedly huge salaries.
The sooner Americans recognize the makers and takers for who they really are, the sooner we'll be on our way to genuine recovery.
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