9 Oct

The Personal is Political

For the purposes of this article, we shall define Politics as: the wise distribution and maintenance of power.  I would hope that as compassionate thinking human beings we would all agree with this definition.

It is painfully obvious that we currently have a bankrupt and corrupt political system in the United States, as evidenced by the necessary Occupy Wall Street and the solidarity Occupy cities across the country. I shall point out some rather disturbing facts that corroborate the gross imbalance in the distribution of power and wealth.

71% of the current debt was accumulated under Republican Presidential administrations.  Since 1960 2/3 of the debt-ceiling elevations have been signed into law by Republican Presidents.  Here is the real kicker that completely supports all of us that have participated in the Occupy Wall Street protests: The percentage of profits paid by Corporations in 1961 as compared to today: 1961–40.6.  Today–10.5.  The estimated value of government subsidies that will go to the oil and gas industries between now and 2015: $78,155,000,000.

Now I would like to call your attention to the graph:

As one can see, ONE % of the population controls 47% of the net financial wealth of the country; the next 19% control another 44% of the wealth, which leaves 80% of the population of the country to try and get a share of the only 9% remaining wealth and resources available–not exactly a wise distribution of power. (Social Service or Social Change? Who Benefits from your Work, Kivel, 2000)

Current Economic/Political Pyramid

The grossly disproportionate distribution of wealth aligns directly to the distribution of power. It is not a great surprise that the 1% is composed of mostly white, heterosexual men who identify as Christian. What is sad is that this 1% is clearly out of touch with at least 80% of the population of the country.  What is worse, is that there is a growing trend of much of the 80% voting against their best interest, due to fear rooted in religion.

Let’s talk about some concrete examples. President Obama has put out a Jobs Bill that Republicans have threatened to block; not a wise distribution of power, but certainly a way to maintain the embarrassing imbalance of power. President Obama was also instrumental in the repeal of DADT, which several Republican candidates now want to overturn.

Americans have the opportunity to have a voice in how our country is run, but you have to vote.  I would ask that before you vote, you look at the following: are you being represented? how many women are in positions of power? how many African-Americans? how many people from the LGBT community? Look up voting records.  Look and ask where candidates stand exactly on specific issues.  I, for one, could not support any candidate that would willfully deny civil rights to a population in the United States based on gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.  The war on women and their health rights is directly linked to homophobia and sends a message to the globe about human rights in general.

Finally, when a host of Republican candidates sanction the “booing” of a US military member because of his sexual orientation, and sanction the behavior of a crowd cheering to let a human being die rather than ensure we all have healthcare, it worries me beyond words.  Have we become a Nation of Swiftian Yahoos?  I also want to underscore the disconnect from those in power to the rest of the country.  67% of Americans said they would vote for a well-qualified homosexual candidate for president.

*All statistics came from Harper’s October 2011

8 Responses to “Politics”

  1. James Queale October 9, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    A sad story but it needs to keep being told. The top 1% have so much control in congress with powerful lobbyists. Senators and House members vote based on money, that is for sure! Though I believe that Republicans are bought off more, Democrats are not immune to the corruption either.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt October 9, 2011 at 10:24 am #

      Yes, neither party is immune to corruption. It would be nice if we had more than two viable parties.

      • James Queale October 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

        Yes it would be. That is why I like Canada, we have numerous parties, Conservative Party, Liberal Party, NDP (New Democratic Party), Green Party, and the Bloc Quebecois Party (they are only in Quebec).

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt October 9, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

        We could learn a lot from our neighbors to the North.

  2. James Queale October 9, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    Sadly, if the country mentioned doesn’t begin with “United” and end with “America”, then Americans could care less because only America knows how to be successful.

  3. Christopher Wilson October 10, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

    Nicely written article Michael

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt October 10, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

      Thank you, Chris. Let us hope that critical thinking skills, compassion, and a dedication to civil rights will prevail in 2012.

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