A GRAND TIME TO BE RICH AND POWERFUL IN AMERICA

According to this in the L.A. Times, worker pay for the last 14 months has trailed inflation. In real dollars, workers have taken a tiny pay cut.

But not to worry: In the same time frame, corporate profits hit record highs . . . and the tax rate on dividends paid out of those profits has been slashed by 62% since President Bush took office. (I know some of you think relatively little cash is involved, but $441 billion was paid out in personal dividends in 2004, most of it to those already best off.)

The most outspokenly religious president in our history, Bush’s unique interpretation of Christ’s philosophy is to cut programs for the poor while slashing taxes for the rich.

Which brings to mind a quote one of you kindly sent in:

‘A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side.’ – Aristotle

Which brings to mind another quote one of you kindly sent me:

‘Why is this man in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him. Why is he there? And I tell you this morning that he’s in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this.’ – Lt. Gen. William Boykin; New York Times, 17 October 2003

Not to say I believe President Bush is a tyrant (or sent by God). But he and the Republican leadership have unquestionably tilted the playing field even more heavily in favor of the best off.

A GRAND BARGAIN

And if you think religion and economic policy are unrelated in America, consider this (thanks, Gary). It holds that the religious right has agreed to support the President’s Social Security ‘reform’ in exchange for his pushing harder for the Federal Anti-Gay-Marriage Amendment.

In part (from Americans United for Separation of Church and State):

. . . the Religious Right leaders of the Arlington Group are playing hardball politics and have cast aside concerns about the economic well-being of citizens reliant on Social Security in order to score a big political victory – passage of a constitutional amendment to prevent legal recognition of gay marriage.

If it seems callous to jeopardize the social safety net (and borrow trillions of dollars from the next generation) simply to be certain Charles and I can’t have the same rights other couples do – hang on. At least some men of the cloth have come up with the rationale:

Douglas Barker, a Baptist pastor in Alexandria, Va., writing the series for BP News, argued that Social Security had weakened or undermined churches’ roles in helping the poor and elderly. Barker insisted that it is ‘disturbing’ that so many Christian leaders, citing scripture, supported the formation of Social Security when it began in the ’30s.

‘Yes, government has a role in protecting its citizens, but it should never come at the expense of the church abdicating its biblically mandated role,’ Barker wrote Feb. 9.

 

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