By Rachel Gray, Cobb Greens & Friends
It might shock some Georgians to learn that they live, work and pay taxes in a country where the top 1% of our national citizenry owns almost 40% of the country’s wealth. Unlike these multinational, multibillion-dollar corporations and their millionaire CEOs, Americans are tirelessly working, sometimes at more than one job, yet too many can barely raise their heads above the poverty line. The cost of living continues to rise, while the median hourly wage of U.S. workers advanced only 5 percent higher in 2013 than in 1975. Essentially, Americans in the lower half of the income scale have not seen an increase in income for 40 years.
Meanwhile, .01% — composed of an elite circle of enormously wealth families — possesses $6 trillion dollars. Specifically, the Walton family, who rakes in billions of dollars in profits from WalMart. This retailer has the immoral credit of having the biggest customer base paying in food stamps, while also being the biggest employer of people who rely on food stamps. That is the definition of corporate welfare in America; rich profit-sucking stock holders forcing the working class to rely on social programs like food stamps, subsidized housing and Medicare. A corporate subsidy bill that runs taxpayers a cost of $153 billion from the state to federal level each year.
This kind of successful, legal wealth grab victimizes average taxpayers. It also relies on extremely harsh, low wages for American workers who cook our food, care for our loved ones, clean up our messes, watch over our young children, transport and stock our never-ending list of daily supplies and in many other ways grind the gears of our service economy, as we slug further each day into an entrenched, corporatized, consuming society.
According to a recent article in Common Dreams, “These multi-millionaires effectively shifted nearly $4 trillion in wealth away from the rest of the nation to themselves in 2016…That’s over $17,000 in housing and savings per lower-to-middle-class household lost to the super-rich.” This funneling is mostly done through tax breaks to the top 1%, all while our hospitals, schools and roads fall into disrepair, and the average middle-class family falls further into bottomless debit.
GOP Wages War On Poor; Democrats Play The Victim Role
This week, President Trump pitched his horrific budget proposal, drastically cutting $6.2 billion in safety-net, assistance programs from departments like Housing and Urban Development, as well as eliminating the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. The White House budget proposal also decimates job training, heating subsidies, community development grants, financial support for homebuyers, Meals on Wheels and Head Start, with the harshest targets being small town, rural America, the exact areas candidate Trump boasted he would protect. The GOP is hoping the 4.5 million low-income households will be too lazy to do anything about this moral crime, and the Democratic Party is relying on their base being too helpless to do anything but ask for mercy, and then declare it a victory with the cuts are slightly rolled back.
The GOP plan would place the burden of these programs (dating back to the 70s and 80s under Johnson, Nixon and Ford) to state governments, despite the horrible record of municipalities on ensuring affordable housing in some of the nation’s largest, most diverse cities. Still, local progressive initiatives might be the only way to actually achieve progress in this area. For instance, voters in Los Angeles, where Green candidate Kenneth Mejia is running for U.S. Congress, approved a $1.2 billion bond measure to house the homeless.
If the federal government actually ensured a living wage, along with fully funding education from pre-K through college, and increased Social Security benefits, then American citizens would be less reliant on food stamps, housing credits and other ‘welfare’ programs. The lack of foresight and understanding by the GOP is actually perpetuating this cycle of ‘handouts,’ which the Democratic establishment also seems completely content with maintaining, as it makes their supporters more and more reliant on this ‘charity,’ while doing little to actually build a prosperous middle class.
Georgia Greens Demand Wealth Equality
Trickle-down economics doesn’t work. That debunked theory seems to be something the average American knows today. When wealth only flows to the top, the elite have no incentive to loosen their grasp on trillions of dollars. These dollars, when placed in the hands of working Americans, could cycle through the system, creating a robust economy that benefits everyone. Real solutions can only be discussed in new ways by the Green Party. Progressive economists don’t merely want this captured money (held at ransom) to trickle down; the true goal is for America’s wealth to flow down and all around, especially at the local level. The Democrat establishment, tied to Wall Street and large charitable foundations, are content with trickle down. The status quo allows them to be glorified for taking pity on the poor. The Green Party recognizes pity isn’t what is needed, as desperately as dignity, respect and opportunity.
“Green economic policy places value not just on material wealth, but on the things which truly make life worth living — our health, our relationships, our communities, our environment, and building peace and justice throughout our nation and the world…We support using the tax system to bring more equality to our nation. Rising income inequality makes us all poorer in myriad ways. More equal societies are happier, healthier, safer and greener.” – U.S. Green Party Economic Justice & Sustainability
- The Green Party calls for an economic system based on a combination of private businesses, decentralized democratic cooperatives, publicly owned enterprises and alternative economic structures.
- All people have a right to food, housing, medical care, jobs that pay a living wage, education and support in times of hardship. The Green Party calls for restoration of a federally funded entitlement program to support children, families, the unemployed, elderly and disabled. This program should be funded through the existing welfare budget; reductions in military spending and corporate subsidies; and a fair, progressive income tax.
- The Green Party calls for a graduated supplemental income, or negative income tax, that would maintain all individual adult incomes above the poverty level, regardless of employment or marital status. And, the Green Party opposes the privatization of Social Security.
The accumulation of individual wealth in the U.S. has reached grossly unbalanced proportions. ‘Luxury development’ has pushed Atlanta to the breaking point, prioritizing multimillion-dollar stadiums over affordable housing. This kind of economic depression and oppression must be stopped, and replaced with a system designed to work for everyone. It’s clear the American people cannot rely on rich Wall Street executives and establishment politicians in Washington to regulate their profit making. The Green Party and its members must push with all of our strength to aggressively restore a fair distribution of income, starting with our demand that the federal minimum wage be raised to $15 immediately.
Georgia Greens on the Scene!
On Sunday, February 26, the organizing team from Cobb Green & Friends attended a town hall in Smyrna held by Democrat State Representative Stacey Evans, who represents much of the Cumberland and Marietta area. When asked about the plight of America’s working class, Rep. Evans reminded the room of more than 50 people that Georgia’s minimum wage of $5.15 an hour is far below the federal standard.
Rep. Evans quickly cast the blame of this systemic poverty issue on Republican lawmakers in Georgia, who she stated placed road blocks to keep cities and counties from enacting laws to protect workers from oppressive practices like surprise scheduling of retail and service workers. Evans told the group she has voted against those laws. However, the only amount of leadership Evans offered on this issue at the meeting was to advise Georgia Greens and fellow grassroots activists to apply organic pressure as consumers on businesses to pay higher wages.
Last month, the Cobb Greens & Friends leadership also attended a tele-town hall of Republican U.S. Congressman Tom Graves of Georgia’s 14th district, covering the northwest corner of the state, including Paulding County. Rep. Graves told the more than 8,000 callers he wanted to reduce the size of government, and rework the tax code to drastically decrease collections at the federal level.
However, a poll conducted by the Congressman’s staff live on the call revealed that less than half of the callers would prioritize their need for a lower tax rate, with 16% saying they would favor keeping their current rate, and 38% seeking only a simplified tax filing process. “Washington doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem,” was the mantra Rep. Graves repeated a couple of times, as he vowed to abolish the IRS and install a fair tax, which he said would end corporate welfare with a more direct, upfront tax policy with less loopholes.
During the call, the Congressman alluded that the town hall discussion had addressed jobs in America. Unfortunately, those limited references were mainly around rallying cries to build a Mexico-border wall and evict immigrant workers, with a heart-wrenching 51% of callers responding to a live poll that a wall on the southern border should be built ‘no matter the cost.’
Neither Democrats nor Republicans stand for raising wages and guaranteeing the right to organize unions. That’s why we need a Green Party in Georgia. Consider joining the Georgia Green Party at our minimum dues level of onoy $10 per month.