Article 43


Tuesday, February 02, 2021

What is freedom?

images: right wing freedom

The Freedom Billionaires & the GOP Are Selling Americans Is Deadly
Will Americans wake up to how bizarre and toxic this rightwing ideology actually is?

By Thom Hartmann
February 2, 2021

What is freedom?

Earlier this week, a group of “freedom fanatics,” shut down the Covid vaccination operation at Dodger Stadium, slowing down the process for hundreds of people before the police stopped them.


They’re the same type of folks who argued that New York’s lockdown was an unconstitutional violation of their freedom, and spent much of 2020 proudly refusing to wear masks because “freedom.”

They even occupied the Michigan Capitol with assault weapons because, they said, Governor Whitmer’s efforts to prevent Michiganders from dying of Covid were ASSAULTS ON THEIR FREEDOM.

As NBC REPORTED, that invasion was preceded by months of events like one where: Dozens of demonstrators took to the Michigan Capitol in Lansing for a rain-soaked protest Thursday - the third such event in the past month demanding their “freedom.”

Billionaire-funded rightwing groups and the Republicans they own spent most of last year telling us that wearing masks, social distancing, and closing some businesses to prevent spreading a deadly disease infringes on our “freedom.”

A RedState headline referenced “Covid Tyranny,” while over at Newsmax their headline was, “No Masking Biden’s Disdain For Freedom.”

Back in the 1930s, wealthy rightwingers argued that FDR’s proposed Social Security program was a socialist plot to destroy America’s freedom.

Ronald Reagan made a similar argument in the early 1960s against LBJ’s Great Society proposal to start a single-payer healthcare system for seniors called Medicare.

“If Medicare passes into law, the consequences will be dire beyond imagining,” Reagan said. “One of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children’s children, what it once was like in America [before Medicare] when men were free.”

For the last 40 years Republicans and the billionaires have used a massive media machine to tell us that Democratic socialist programs like unemployment insurance and the minimum wage diminish Americans freedom.

They argued a decade ago that Obamacare was a direct assault on our freedom. The rightwing organization Freedomworks helped organize Tea Party protests back then, and promoted “Open America” protests across the country against lockdowns last year.

Republicans in the Senate today want to cut Covid relief and oppose any sort of anti-virus measures because, they say, they diminish American’s freedom and discourages our “incentive” to get back to work making billionaires richer.

They’ve been selling this grotesque notion of freedom to us for decades, but Americans are starting to wake up to how bizarre and toxic this rightwing ideology actually is.

What is true freedom?

Back in 1933, Franklin Roosevelt, in his inaugural address, pointed out that “a necessitous man is not a free man.”

- If you’re unconscious and on a ventilator because Trump told you wearing masks was for wimps, you’re not free.

- If you’re hungry and can’t buy food for your family, you’re not free.

- If your landlord threw you out on the street and you’re homeless because you lost your job and can’t afford to pay rent, you’re not free.

- If you’re sick and afraid to go to the hospital because you know THE BILLS WILL LEAVE YOU BROKE and homeless, you’re not free.

- If you need to go to college or trade school to get a better life but can’t afford it, you’re not free.

WHEN A KANSAS MAN DIED OD COVID recently, his family said he became infected because rightwingers “refuse to wear a piece of cloth on their face to protect one another.” After all, wearing a mask infringes on freedom, right?

Mr. Farr’s obituary read: “He died in a room not his own, being cared for by people dressed in confusing and frightening ways. He died with covid-19, and his final days were harder, scarier and lonelier than necessary. He was not surrounded by friends and family.”

But, Republicans would argue, he was free!

The billionaires and their Republican puppets tell us that real freedom, in fact, means a small number of people being able to concentrate hundreds of billions of dollars in their own money bins while the children of one in seven American families today go to bed hungry.

America’s billionaires and their Republican puppets tell us that the real meaning of freedom is bigger tax cuts for billionaires and more deregulation, poison and pollution for everybody else.

It’s literally been their governing philosophy since the Reagan Revolution, and everything from Bush’s CLEAR SKIES INITIATIVE that empowered polluters, to TRUMP’S putting an oil lobbyist in charge of the EPA and a coal lobbyist in charge of our public lands at the Interior Department bears this out.

They’ve managed to convince millions of working class Americans that freedom essentially means the right to die in debt, to remain uneducated, and to be hungry and even homeless while working crappy jobs at $7.25 an hour to make the billionaires richer.

But it’s a lie.

Real freedom requires a foundation that allows people to step away from struggling for survival and toward meaningful activities in life. It’s the soil in which a functioning civil society and a healthy free enterprise system are rooted.

The experience of nations all over the world shows us that freedom grows most rapidly and best flourishes over the long term in societies with a strong middle class and a strong social safety net. Just take a look at northern Europe, Australia, South Korea or Taiwan.

And that middle class grows with education, a job that pays a fair wage, and access to healthcare that doesn’t bankrupt you: things that are guaranteed as rights by virtually every developed nation in the world - except America.

The foundations of freedom are paid for by taxes: good schools and colleges, hospitals that aren’t run on a for-profit basis to rip people off with “surprise billings,: and jobs with pay and benefits that allow for a decent life.

Billionaires and their Republican shills want us to think that raising the top tax brackets on people who take in more than $400,000 a year (Biden’s proposal) will take away our freedom. In fact, raising those tax brackets is what built the American middle class between 1940 and 1980, when the rate paid by the top bracket was 74% to 91%.

America needs a healthy conversation a debate, even - about freedom.

Will we continue to hold the notion that being free means getting lousy pay, no union, being broken by healthcare expenses and putting our kids to bed hungry?

Or will we realize, as most of the developed world figured out decades ago, that for a society to be free its richest people must help fund the essentials of life for all those working people and consumers who turned them into billionaires?

Freedom doesn’t mean you “have nothing left to lose.”

It means standing tall on a foundation of essential security and safety: A home, job, and freedom from fear of sickness.

It means a political system that responds to the will of the majority of the people. It means the American Dream that 40 years of Reaganism has left in shreds and tatters.

We must return to freedom. And FDR - whose picture now hangs in the Oval Office - has SHOWN US HOW TO GET THERE.



The Economic Bill of Rights

January 11, 1944

Often referred to as the “Second Bill of Rights”

Excerpted from FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT’S MESSAGE TO CONGRESS ON THE STATE OF THE UNION. This was proposed not to amend the Constitution, but rather as a political challenge, encouraging Congress to draft legislation to achieve these aspirations. It is sometimes referred to as the “Second Bill of Rights.”

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people - whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth - is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however - as our industrial economy expanded - these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all - regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.


Posted by Elvis on 02/02/21 •
Section Revelations • Section Dying America
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