Debate Forum Left, 1/10/12

We earn it, they take it

By  Marianne Stanley

Double-dipping, huh? So now this is the “big thing” that needs to be addressed as something that is hurting our country? You can bet that you’re hearing a carefully crafted marketing campaign when complex things are boiled down to simplistic phrases or words. And if it’s so repeatable, you can also pretty much put money on it being on the wrong side and by “wrong,” I mean it is part of a plan to take yet another thing of value from us.

Take a hard look. We have, in a relatively short time, become a new and grotesquely different country than we used to be. Yep. Welcome to the “United Takes of America!”
Government entities have gone from serving their constituents to serving those with the most money and/or power, taking away any meaningful elections. Our schools have been systematically dismantled so that our children are some of the least educated in the world, with abysmal knowledge of factual history and science, and a curriculum that discourages strong teachers and analytical thought, while stripping away culture and life-enriching art and music programs.

Anti-trust laws have become impotent as corporations like Walmart eat up whole towns by killing local, family-owned businesses that go belly-up after generations of anchoring their communities. The world is becoming an exponentially more dangerous place because Congress has taken our tax dollars that should have been spent for the common good and is instead using them to fund fake wars in far-off lands whose resources we covet.

Starting with Reagan’s deregulation of industry and his hostility to environmental concerns, the U.S. continues its deep, quickening slide down the rabbit hole to a fantasy world that cannot endure much longer.  We are watching an unprecedented government attack on citizens, particularly the middle class. Since when have the working men and women of this country been pushed lower in income and benefits year after year, just to be further assaulted by this most recent attempt to deny them access to their own pensions?

Government employees agree to work a certain number of years and in return, will be given a pension. This is a contract. These employees have worked faithfully for decades, holding up their end of the bargain. If the government entity then turns around and says, “Oh, guess what? You can’t have what we promised you after all,” that entity has just committed “Breach of Contract” and can be taken to court. Contract law was seen as so fundamental to a democratic society that it is enshrined in our Constitution as something sacrosanct. But today, with a mere wink and stroke of the pen, the majority of our legislators are banking on our ignorance and their power to pull off such scams.

Just read the January 6 edition of the Dayton Daily News and you’ll see no fewer than three stories about the shafting of “common folk” for the benefit of the rich and the powerful. One story says that more than half of companies that accepted $21.2 million in state money have failed to do as they promised in creating jobs but that the state will not seek a return of the money given to them!

As government fails to do what it should do best — pass laws and set policy for the common good, we will continue to see the downhill slide for the average American. House Bill 388 would essentially take a validly earned pension from its rightful owner without that person’s consent.  This is called “stealing.”

Let’s face it. There is only one reason HB 388 is being proposed. Greed and opportunity. The state sees a way to add to its coffers by tapping the interest from the pensions it would set aside if an employee continues to work. Just as the Republicans in Congress keep trying to get to our Social Security and Medicare funds, local and state governments are seeking to enrich themselves on the backs, once again, of the middle class. None of this would be necessary if legislators truly did represent the people rather than the corporate interests that got them there.  If it had been illegal to ship jobs offshore, to do predatory lending, or to deprive workers of medical coverage, none of this would be happening.

Back to double-dipping. Here’s what it comes down to — people who work should be paid. People who earned a pension should receive it. If they do both, they get both. End of story.

To pacify those with the big bucks who got them into office, legislators at every level are shooting us in the kneecaps and permanently crippling our nation in the process.  By government standards, the Middle Class died in 2011. Projections are that 18 million homeowners will have lost their homes to foreclosure within the next few years.  One in two Americans now live in poverty. The U.S. has the highest high school dropout rate in the world.  Billions of us around the world are forced to watch a virtual pornographic movie of our Mother Earth being raped and left to die for the profits of a few.

Our country is waging war on other countries where we have no right to be.  We are seeing a war against women and their reproductive rights.  Energy companies are waging war on the environment, causing untold harm with air and water pollution, causing fracking earthquakes and irreversible and deadly climate change.

It is time for us to wake up, pay attention and fight back.

Marianne Stanley is an attorney, college professor and former journalist who believes many of our nation’s ills could be cured if our children were taught critical thinking skills beginning at the elementary level and continuing through middle and high school. She can be reached at MarianneStanley@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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