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Bender: They're manipulating the system

"Despite the fact that the Biden administration steered more benefits in their $1.9 trillion package to poorer communities, minorities and small businesses, Republicans, on cue, are suddenly very concerned about fiscal matters. Look at those gas prices! And those grocery bills are through the roof!"

Tony Bender
Tony Bender
Contributed
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I'm not an economist. Unlike the brainiacs in Washington, at least I'll admit it. I'll say with reasonable certainty, however, that the indiscriminate shower of nearly $6 trillion in COVID relief money that bailed out a whole host of industries that didn't need it — including millions to Trump and Kushner enterprises — triggered, in large part, the inflation we're experiencing today. They should have used a trough. For the wealthiest among us, anyway.

Despite the fact that the Biden administration steered more benefits in their $1.9 trillion package to poorer communities, minorities and small businesses, Republicans, on cue, are suddenly very concerned about fiscal matters. Look at those gas prices! And those grocery bills are through the roof! Yeah, it's all Biden's fault. You malleable twits. Are you not paying attention?

Please skip the crocodile tears, Richie Rich. In the first two years of the pandemic, the world's 10 wealthiest individuals more than doubled their fortunes from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion. Historically, there are two kinds of people who weather economic storms, the lucky and the wealthy. The result is we now have 1% of the population owning more wealth than half of the planet's poorest citizens. The top 10% own 85% of the global wealth. It's unnatural and untenable.

This isn't intended to be a knee-jerk treatise, just a layman's observations. First of all, any economic system is only as good as the people within it. Absent greed, socialism is a utopian ideal. If everyone contributed selflessly, you'd have equilibrium. Balance. Unfortunately, many people are selfish and lazy, so we're left with the shiny brass ring of capitalism that's out of reach statistically for most people. But, capitalists are the best salespersons in the universe. We can all be rich! Anyone can be president! Don't forget to buy a lottery ticket.

Despite the fact that every meaningful social safety net has come from Democrats — Social Security, Medicare, workers rights, farm subsidies, rural electrification, civil rights, the Affordable Care Act — that's conveniently forgotten when Republicans cynically pass their cyclical economic mess on to Democrats. Trump sloppily increased the national debt by 36% with COVID handouts and tax cuts for the wealthy. How's that trickling going for you?

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That's not to say that billionaires haven't bettered aspects of society or that they're all fascists. Steve Jobs connected us. Elon Musk's electric cars are one solution to climate change. Privatized space programs may be transformative. Leona Helmsley supplied thousands of rural hospitals with CAT machines. Carnegie built libraries. Bill Gates fights AIDS. All good things, but it's not enough. Economic power is political power and it's used to personal advantage which naturally disadvantages others. Meaning you.

The decimation of the middle class began with Reagan's attack on organized labor. Somehow, Republicans have managed to convince people that having unions fight for better wages and benefits is bad for them. You may as well shoot yourself in the foot if ammunition wasn't so expensive.

It comes back to balance. Nature abhors imbalance. So does any successful society. Until capitalists actually start living within the Christian tenets they so often hypocritically espouse, social safety nets will remain necessary. They're not handouts. Not entitlements. It's just a fighting chance. Folks, your adversaries aren't other working stiffs. It's those manipulating the system. Pay attention.

Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column for Forum News Service. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of this publication, nor Forum Communications ownership.

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTA
Opinion by Tony Bender
Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column from North Dakota for Forum News Service.
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