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Friday, August 31, 2012

Willard's vision for America
Posted by Jill | 7:55 PM
In a night full of appalling moments, perhaps the most appalling was Willard Rmoney's positively Bushian praise of those who have to work two low-paying jobs just to keep their heads above water:
You deserved it because during these years, you worked harder than ever before. You deserved it because when it cost more to fill up your car, you cut out movie nights and put in longer hours. Or when you lost that job that paid $22.50 an hour with benefits, you took two jobs at 9 bucks an hour and fewer benefits. You did it because your family depended on you. You did it because you’re an American and you don’t quit. You did it because it was what you had to do.

But driving home late from that second job, or standing there watching the gas pump hit 50 dollars and still going, when the realtor told you that to sell your house you’d have to take a big loss, in those moments you knew that this just wasn’t right.

But what could you do? Except work harder, do with less, try to stay optimistic. Hug your kids a little longer; maybe spend a little more time praying that tomorrow would be a better day.

It was sort of like this moment in 2005, when George W. Bush similarly praised a divorced mother of three in Omaha, Nebraska:
"You work three jobs? … Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that."

When Romney talked about people working themselves to death in these low-wage jobs, the audience went nuts with applause. Yay! Exploited low-wage workers! Woo-hoo!!

I guess Willard didn't get the message from his surrogate John Sununu, who essentially branded everyone who isn't a business owner as a chump, in this interview with Brian Lehrer the other day:

“Investment carries a risk and you have to encourage people to take that risk otherwise they’ll take the easy way out and just start earning a salary …. When you have to compensate for a risk, you have to provide an extra incentive.”

This has now become Republican boilerplate, this idea of "makers" and "takers". In the eyes of the Republican Party, those who own or head up businesses, especially LARGE businesses -- the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Foster Friesse, the guy who founded Papa John's Pizza...and yes, Willard Rmoney -- are the "makers". Everyone else is a "taker". This has snowballed into a notion that working for someone else is "the easy way out." Ask me some night when I've started work at 7 AM and I'm still up testing at 1:30 AM the next morning if I feel like a "taker". But in Willard Rmoney's vision for America, that's the dichotomy. You're either a billionaire or you're nothing. And you should be damn grateful that you have to work 80 hours a week on your feet between your eight-and-a-half buck an hour job at the Mitt Romney-"saved" Staples and your 8.36 an hour job punching a cash register at the OTHER Mitt Romney "success" story, Sports Authority. You used to be a network administrator, or a sterile instruments tech, or a lathe operator? Maybe you made $40,000 - $60,000 a year, which wasn't enough to make you rich, but with another income it was enough to live a reasonably pleasant, if frugal life with an occasional movie night and the fees for your kid's Little League. Those jobs have gone away, and what's left is the scraps left by Willard Rmoney and his Bain Capital buddies for which you and others like you are left to scramble.

Oh, and Willard Rmoney's buddy John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John's? His delivery guys get $6.10 an hour -- less than minimum wage, because arguably they get tips, though for some reason people who wouldn't think of stiffing the waitress in the pizza parlor, they won't tip the guy who drive eight miles in the snow to deliver their fifteen dollar pie.

This isn't a function of the recession, either. This is the New World Order, the free market dream of Republicans. It's all part of the systematic elminiation of the middle class that's been underway since Reagan started pointing his fingers at mythical "welfare queens" and telling us that THEY were our problem, not the greed of the few. And it's not going to change any time soon.

Meanwhile, Americans will keep demonizing teachers and firemen and people who had to train their foreign replacements and those who are over 55 and haven't been able to get even McDonald's to hire them and calling them "losers" and "moochers" and "takers" -- at least until it happens to them.

What happens then? I'm not sure we want to find out.

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