Friday, November 20, 2015

We Cannot Have Billionaires until the Homeless and Refugees are Helped


By Bob Ferris


There are a lot of memes out there proclaiming that we should not welcome Syrian refugees until we address “fill in the blank” where the blank is filled in by homeless soldiers or starving children in the US.  They all are misdirected and forget what America is all about or should be.  They are misdirected in that these should read: We should not have billionaires until “fill the blank” is addressed and we help Syria refugees.

But before some brain-washed Ted Cruz clone jumps up and says “Hey Martha, this yahoo is talking about communism” let me say: Absolutely not!  But communism is always a convenient hobgoblin to hoist (see McCarthyism) when folks are trying to establish fascist, oligarchic or theocratic regimes or all three.  But I suppose that it is a little like yelling “fire” in a swimming pool in that the gullible and non-thinking swimmers will create a wake trying to get to ladders and steps not fully grasping they are already in the safest place.

Billionaires and the super-rich exist only because they have disproportionally used our public resources and infrastructure.  Billionaires, and we have more than 400 in the US, are not an example capitalism succeeding but rather that government has failed in its charge to represent all people and properly steward our resources for this and future generations.  On this note, how can a legislator feel pride in creating riches for a precious few while allowing our air to be degraded, our waters to be undrinkable, our infrastructure (e.g., public lands, education, transportation, sanitation, etc.) to erode, and this looming climate crisis that materially sink us both literally and figuratively.  Nice job!
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”  
There is a lot of talk about the Founding Fathers of late but to me it comes back to reading things like the Constitution starting with the Preamble (above).  Nowhere in the above do we see language either in the lines or between them that say that we will create a ruling elite or work to shift the assets of the middle class to the wealthiest.  Asset transfer or favoritism does not create tranquility or general welfare and it certainly does not secure blessings on this generation and those to come.

So when you see these hateful and short-sighted memes, understand that they were created by those yelling “fire” in the pool of our nation in the hopes that those unthinkingly rushing to the ladders and steps will carry these messages far and wide.  We are a nation of immigrants—all of us—and a lot of our families were once refugees.  We welcome those in true need regardless of their beliefs as we were welcomes regardless of ours.

Interestingly just after we sped out the door upon posting this piece we went to the Library of Congress and then onto a talk at the Folger Theater where they talked about Shakespeare's "Pericles" and the relevancy of that play to the current situation with the Syrian refugees.  At that event they passed out these cards letting us know how we can help.  

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