Thursday, December 31, 2015

Socialism for the Rich, Capitalism for the Poor

Matt Bruenig usually writes statistical analyses of poverty and income, but today he's posted an old-fashioned piece of reporting about a guy named Eric Harwood.

Harwood has applied for Social Security Disability twice (still pending on the second one) because of chronic pain from degenerative discs and nerve damage in his legs. He lost his house after the 2008 mortgage meltdown and is about to be homeless. He hasn't been able to work since August of this year. When he loses his apartment and moves to Arizona to live with family in February, he worries he won't be able to get Medicaid.

As Bruenig notes, Harwood is an example of the hard-pressed working-class white Americans whose death rates have been increasing. And who turn to Donald Trump (and Ted Cruz) as a political option, because somehow they think foreign aid and assistance to refugees is what's preventing the government from helping those who really deserve it: children, veterans, the disabled and elderly.

Harwood has part of the analysis right:

In his view, the [bank] bailout was an incredible mistake. The money that went to the banks should have been given out to the people more generally, who then could have used it to pay off their loans (and thus save the banks) and to pump up demand more generally. 
But he doesn't follow that with recognition of the many subsidies that have been carved out by Congress for corporations, sometimes called "socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor." Instead he picks out other needy people as the problem. Bruenig doesn't ask whether there is a racial angle to Harwood's perspective on this, but there often is. He does mention that Harwood is pro-life, so we can imagine that's been used effectively to keep him in the Republican camp.

If all of the people being screwed by the way things are could see their common cause and not let racism and culture-war issues like abortion drive a wedge between us to the benefit of the oppressor, think of what we could accomplish.

Meanwhile, here are some memes that I wish Eric Harwood could see:

1 comment:

Gina said...

Here's a really interesting blog post from The Weekly Sift that does an excellent job of explaining what's going on and why Trump is just more of the same: