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Public Theology: Wealthy Republicans are Pushing Common Folks Over the Edge
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Wealthy Republicans are Pushing Common Folks Over the Edge
James Thomas Hodgkinson, an ordinary person from Illinois, tried to kill a bunch of Republicans as they were playing baseball. The chickens are coming home to roost.

By Ed Knudson

Editor's Note: The photo depicts James Thomas Hodgkinson outside of a post office in Belleville, Ill., in April 2012. Credit: Derik Holtmann/Belleville News-Democrat, via Associated Press.

We live in what is called a capitalist economy. What does that actually mean? It means that the laws and priorities of the country cater to the needs and wants of people with wealth, people with lots of money. They are the ones who get to decide what gets built in local communities. They are the ones who are the "investors" who have the money to invest in projects. They are the ones who own the vast majority of the stock and financial resources of the country. They have in the last decades not been investing in this country, but other countries, especially China. Cities in China have many huge cranes building big apartment buildings and factories. But in this country you see few cranes, factories closed down leaving people out of work. These people of wealth are usually the children of other wealthy people.

The wealthy desperately want to keep what they have, and they are truly worried that regular people in a democratic society are going to come and take their wealth through taxes or other means. They became especially nervous about the big social changes of the 1960s when young people, often the children of the middle class and wealthy, refused to go and fight in an unjust war in Vietnam. They became worried when so many began to challenge their right to control so much in this country, building huge bombs and refusing to invest money in urban development. The wealthy have let cities like Detroit be destroyed and have allowed Chicago black communities become zones of violence. White people have over these decades tried to escape the cities, but rural areas these days are places of social dysfunction with huge numbers of people on some form of drugs. The worse things get for regular people in this country the more fearful the wealthy get.

It was after the sixties that business people started forming new organizations and foundations that promoted a "capitalist" way of thinking. I put that word in quotes because there is much debate over different forms of capitalism. But the essence is that the wealthy rule. Some people of wealth in history have done good things for their money. But today, the wealthy, such as the Koch Brothers, oppose the independent findings of our research universities in favor of setting up their own think tanks and citizen organizations which will create a ideology in favor of the wealthy. And they now actually buy and control politicians in a literal sense. That's why so many people are sick and tired of government. It is controlled by the rich.

But the rich have to make sure they can control not only the politics of the country but the media as well, by which they are able to manipulate the minds of regular people. They need to get regular folks to think in ways helpful to the wealthy. So they invented something called "libertarianism" and they hired right wing talk show hosts to spout this philosophy on radio stations around the country, especially in rural areas. Donald Trump was elected partly by lots of alientated common people listening to this stuff and watching the lies of Fox News which try to convince people that liberals and the Demorats are "the elite" who look down on them. The whole point of right wing media is to get already alienated people to hate liberals. Hate Hate. Hate. It's all about emotion. Hate those liberals who may challenge the wealthy. Politicians in Washington D.C. today are put there by the wealthy elite, in both parties. It was Bill Clinton who turned the Democratic Party from being the party of working folks to being the party of Wall Street and the educated class.

The income of regular folks has not increased much, if anything, over the last decades. Big gains have been made in productivity, regular folks are producing much more than earlier, but the gains are not going to them. The rules inside corporations are made in such a way that only the upper echelon people get the raises. Especially huge, obscene amounts of money are now paid to CEOs and other corporate officers. A whole new economic world has been created with the growth of computers capable of calculating massive amounts of data; a financial playground, where the wealthiest gamble their money against one another, but this is all connected to real stuff, like mortgages and homes, and the whole thing crashed and burned in 2008. The rich got the government to bail them out, and the Obama administration tried to set some limits, but those are now under attack by Republicans at the beck and call of people of wealth.

Think about this: wealthy owners have been able to get by paying regular people so little that very large numbers of working people today cannot even afford to rent an apartment for themselves and their families. They do this in three ways. They have been able to destroy the unions of working people. And they control the politics so the minimum wage stays so low. Who gets the rewards for work? Those who risk the most? Not at all, regular folks risk their physical health to work long hours and it is wealthy investors who pull in the real money according to the rules of the game today. Another way they avoid paying people is through contract work. Rather than hire people to be part of the firm with pensions and benefits and health care, companies engage in "contracts" with individuals with no benefits at all and who can easily be let go or fired. The Chinese Communist government has absolute control over workers in that country, that's why investors like to put their money over there. The same is now becoming true in this country. Capitalists want to be in absolute control over everything and Trump is anxious to help them do it.

But regular folks are becoming alienated. One of them just shot at a bunch of Republicans out playing baseball. Republican office holders are going to have to become afraid of going anywhere in public these days because there are more and more regular folks who have had enough, and may vent anger in violent ways.

The Democrats won't do much anymore as a party They are now debating whether they should support working people at all. There is little political representation for regular folks anymore.

James Thomas Hodgkinson, the shooter, was reported to be a Bernie Sanders supporter. The regular Democratic Party and its professional consultants were literally shocked that Sanders could do so well in the 2016 primary election. Sanders actually spoke up against corporations and wealth. But this was "shocking" to Democratic leaders. Alienated voters have no political option so some of them may well be deciding to pick up a gun and shoot. That's what Republicans say they believe in, guns, more and more guns, bigger and faster guns, and more and more violence and anger. That's how Trump talks. People need guns to protect themselves from the government. That's how alienated people have become.

And lots of alienated folks voted for Trump. What are they going to do when they finally realize that he was conning them, when they lose their health care, when their local post office is closed, when they lose their rural hospital, when they can't get a job because the government is closing now more and more facilities and programs, when they have to pay to drive on the freeway or go across a bridge? At some point people are going to realize what it means to live in a world completely controlled by capitalists and they are going to hate it. We are well down that road.

I do not condone violence. I would like to cut the budgets of the military and intelligence agencies in half. I would like that money to go for schools and health care centers across the country and world. We would need fewer guns if there were fewer desperate people around.

But what is going to stop wealthy people from wanting more and more for themselves? What is going to stop them even though they already have far and away enough for themselves and their families. I like innovation. I want people to be rewarded for their work. But today the people with wealth have gone way overboard. Regular folks are dying early, taking drugs, drinking alcohol, beating on their spouses, living homeless on the street, and going out of their minds. We hire more and more police to shoot people who are mentally ill because the wealthy refuse to pay taxes for mental health centers (Ronald Reagan closed them down).

I don't want government to be in charge of everything. But I also don't want the modern corporation in charge of everything. I want a democracy where the people set the rules for business. It is simple to me. If business is able to set the rules for itself it is going to dominate the society in ways that we are seeing today, and people will become more and more alienated. That's not the world I want for my children and grandchildren.

We can start moving in a different direction by holding a new election. If enough people demand it, it will happen.

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Date Added: 6/14/2017 Date Revised: 6/14/2017 5:54:43 PM

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