Do People Need to Reevaluate the American Dream?

people-politico-flag-cloudsI’m not talking ’bout rich, I’m talking ’bout wealth.
-Chris Rock

Average American people don’t understand the difference between being rich and being wealthy.

Rich is the guy who won the lotto. It happens. It could happen to you. It is not bloody likely, but it could. Wealth… doesn’t just happen to people. It almost impossible to create wealth. It is highly unlikely you will ever create a business that is so successful that you create wealth. The odds are worse than the lotto. Billions of times worse.

Bill Gates did it. He founded a company that revolutionized the business world. Sam Walton did it. He revolutionized the way we shop. Rockefeller did it. He revolutionized steel. Now, look at you. You aren’t going to revolutionize anything. You, Average Joe, are average. The wealthy are attending seminars on how to expand their wealth to take care of their 5th generation. Think about that. If the average person has two kids, then those kids have two kids, we are talking about people who are planning to have enough wealth to have their family of 64 live in lap of luxury for their entire lives. And guess what, these are not the first generation wealthy either. By the time you get that far down the line none of them have earned anything. The more you think about it the more the entire concept of a meritocracy loses water. And do not be fooled, that is exactly what people are being sold; the concept of meritocracy.

You are being sold the idea of “to each according to their merit”, and that is a false statement. That is like saying “everything in the world is fair”. It is just not true. You determine your own self worth, and that has little to no bearing on your financial status. In the grand scheme of things you are average. Most of us are. Billions of us are.

The thing is there is nothing wrong with being average. There is nothing wrong with striving to be better than average either, it is a noble goal. Most of the unwashed masses never even try. But it is a fascinating personality trait that would simultaneously make someone so arrogant that they believe they can break free of the pack, be that one in a billion, yet possess such low self esteem to believe that they deserve their lot in life no matter how bad that lot may be. And they will accept that lot in life no matter how easy it would be to improve. It is as simple as voting for the other guys. It is as easy as reevaluating what is important. But they will cling to the idea that they are exceptional no matter how statistically impossible that achievement may be.

The sooner Americans understand that rich happens by luck (like having some athletic, musical, or acting talent, or by winning the lotto) and that wealth is engineered through generation after generation of careful planning or by revolutionizing the world, the sooner Americans will do more to help each other. But I don’t see it happening because the lie is so entrenched.

“What is that lie” you ask? The lie is American Exceptionalism. For generations we have been told that we are special just for being born in America. President Obama has even been widely criticized for not promoting the concept as broadly as previous presidents. But the concept is faulty. There was a time when America truly was exceptional. When anyone, no matter who you were, where you came from, or your family’s financial status, could and often would achieve the American Dream. But that time was long ago when the American Dream was as simple as owning a home, being your own person, and living a life better than the previous generation. The American Dream itself has been distorted to fit this view of American Exceptionalism. The new American Dream is to be a rock star or movie god. To live the life depicted on MTV Cribs, or Keeping up with the Kardashian’s. But that life is statistically unobtainable. If you return to what the American Dream once was and simply try to live a better life than you had growing up you will see how flawed the whole system really is.

What made American exceptional in the past was how we reacted in the worst of times. It is what we did for our fellow Americans, what we did for each other, that led us to win two World Wars. It was working together that got us through the Great Depression. It was the will to achieve together that put a man on the moon. It was never what we did in the best of times that defined us, but what we did in the worst of times. Now is one of those times, and everyone needs to reevaluate where they stand; with the rest of America, or alone trying to achieve the lie.

Facts vs. Belief

government-buildingI would find it amusing were it not so appalling that people support the idea that the struggles between Democrats and Republicans are simply matters of belief. These problems are a matter of facts. Republicans ran on a platform of jobs and the economy. Since taking office in January the Republican led House of Representatives has rallied behind social issue after social issue while doing everything in their power to make sure taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans were kept at record lows.

It is a fact that corporations are sitting on some of the largest stockpiles of cash in American history. It is a fact that the wealthiest 4% of Americans have an effective tax rate lower than the 1950s and lower than the vast majority of their fellow citizens today. It is a fact that those who the Republicans have deemed “job creators” are doing very, very well despite the perceived economic climate when, in fact, very few jobs have been created. It is also a fact that if we do not raise the debt ceiling we will only worsen our economic climate. In fact, the Republicans (who I will remind you controlled the White House and both houses in Congress for six years) raised the debt ceiling ten times. Ten times they raised it, and now they are playing politics with the one time when it looks imperative that we raise it again.

The Suffering American People

The fact is most Americans are suffering. Why aren’t our Republican friends worried about tax breaks for the 90%? Our roads and bridges are crumbling. Why aren’t our Republican friends talking about improving America’s infrastructure? We are paying 20-40% to export our goods to countries like India and China, while only charging them 2-4% to import them to America. Why aren’t our Republican friends concerned about trade inequity?

Rep. Jared Polis actually proposed legalizing and taxing online gambling and marijuana as a solution. Why aren’t all solutions being considered? Why do we have to have things one way or the other? Why can’t we have spending cuts AND tax increases? Surely if one of these solutions will get us out of our current financial situation, utilizing all of them will get us out faster.

While it is not a fact, I think that both parties have failed us. Unfortunately we do not have a strong 3rd party. Until we do we must vote for the “lesser of two evils” so to speak. If you take out your own long held political beliefs, look at the facts, remember that social issues are not really in the realm of a limited government, and vote for who actually has a plan and agenda to help you, then you will very clearly know who falls into the “greater of the two evils” category.

Steven Colbert Super PAC Shenanigans

people-politico-steven-colbert-super-pacUsing the Supreme Court’s decision on Citizens United, Steven Colbert, of the Colbert Report on Comedy Central, has legally and legitimately started his own Super PAC.

Over the last several months, he’s been working to form his own Super PAC in order to show that he can use the Supreme Court ruling in order to push his own political agenda. Steven Colbert is a comedian and his show is brilliant. What’s frightening about this stunt is that it goes beyond satire—he is showing the public exactly how anybody can do this. Because his program is a comedy show, he is not being taken seriously, except by those who truly understand the horror of what he is able to accomplish.

www.colbertpac.com

What is the Supreme Court’s Decision on Citizens United?

Effectively the Supreme Court ruled that corporations and businesses have the same rights as an individual United States citizen, and that no caps or limitations can be applied to the amount of money they can contribute politically because it limits a company’s freedom of speech.

This ruling has effectively given them the ability to amplify their influence on candidates. Companies with millions of dollars to spend to further their own agendas will absolutely take the opportunity to do so, in many respects drowning out or outright buying votes for their corporation and PACs.

What is a PAC (Super PAC)?

PAC Power: Inside the World of Political Action Committees

PAC Power: Inside the World of Political Action Committees

PAC stands for Political Action Committee. A Super PAC is just the bigger corporate type of PAC. A PAC is a committee that can be formed by anyone having some kind of political goal or agenda. Anyone can donate to a PAC, and this donation is undisclosed. This can be a donation of 1 cent to 1 billion dollars. Since this kind of political spending does not have to be disclosed it is a perfect and legal way to hide contributions to any PAC that supports your cause or that you yourself have created.

Why is the Citizens United decision and the formation of PACs so detrimental to our democracy?

For years, in fact for 100 years, a Supreme Court ruling has limited the amount of money corporations, lobbyists, and other interest groups can dump into the political system, whether for advertising, campaigning, or directly supporting candidates. The reasoning was that the country and the justices felt that it is important to limit these contributions so that companies and special interests didn’t drown out the will of the people. The people, even those that lobby for corporations, all have a vote and already have significant power when determining elections, without the overbearing influence of multi-million or even multi-billion dollar campaign ads, smear ads, propaganda and all of the other ways that voters and elections are influenced.

Now, with the ability to form PACs and Super PACs, the floodgates have been opened for these special interests to pour in as much money as needed to keep the legislation and politicians they want in power. There is a correlation between the amount of money put into an election and the results of the election. The influence was once limited, now it is not.

This decision by the Supreme Court is a new one and we are yet to see the full extent of what unlimited lobbying will do. I cringe to think about the damage we, our country and even our world might endure when faced with such forces as the petroleum industry, which literally has tens of billions of dollars PER MONTH it could potentially sink into campaigns. $10,000,000,000 a month to buy an election, and those that contribute can remain completely anonymous. How can the normal citizen even have a chance to combat such overwhelming funds, coming from questionable sources? And that is exactly the idea of PACs.

So I appreciate what Steven Colbert is doing. He has legitimately created a Super PAC, with his admitted intended use of the money to be completely frivolous. He has clearly stated that he wants a Super PAC so he has more money to have fun. And he actually got his Super PAC, and there are many people giving money to the PAC as we speak!

I think what Steven Colbert is doing is great. He is making Super PACs very public and showing what kind of sham they really are. He is illustrating the kind of shenanigans that he and anyone else could do, with their own PAC. There’s no accountability, there is no transparency, if the source of the money is anonymous. Transparency is one of the biggest wishes the American people have for their government. A government for the people is the very foundations that our democracy has to have to function properly. It was never meant for the corporation or special interests with the biggest coffers to have the biggest influence on our elected officials and the bills that become laws.

I hope you are all shocked and appalled that this is even possible. If you haven’t gotten to that point yet, watch below and try to understand the insane and horrible consequences that the ruling on Citizens United can, and probably will, cause our democracy. Our government is not supposed to be able to be for sale. But right now, it is.

Viacom Stops Steven Colbert PAC

Forming the Super PAC

Viacom Sends Letter About Super PAC

Viacom Does Not Want Colbert to Start Super PAC

FEC Questions Colbert ‘s Super PAC

Filing for Super PAC

Colbert’s Hearing on His Super PAC

Steven’s Victory Forming His Super PAC

So there you have it. He gets his Super PAC. If he can do it, so can anyone else. I know this is supposed to be a joke. The problem is, the joke is on us.

1 4 5 6