An informed audience – at least one not sated with propaganda — would turn off the constant stream of demonization of the so-called “takers” perpetrated by Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity — the whole Fox News crew. If Fox were “fair and balanced,” their pitches of poop at the poor and the vulnerable would give equal time to pillorying rich takers, including themselves. Case in point, recently, the GOP cut billions in food stamps while providing giveaways to rich farmers. Fox blessed the former but said nothing negative about the latter.
Who are bigger takers than those who vilify the poor and beleaguered, while victimizing the anxious, fearful, and deluded who watch The Fox News network or listen to right wing rants elsewhere? Who is more despicable than those who exchange money and fame for misinformation and lies?
Rather than use their audience, shouldn’t they inform them? Keep them enlightened about how our democracy is failing? Wouldn’t that be a public service, one that shares knowledge and resources? Then we could actually call them “fair and balanced,” and “givers” rather than the “takers” they seem to be.
There are plenty of examples of “takers” if you look beyond the information provided by Fox News and the corporate media. Do a little research of your own. For example, Al Jazeera on “Fault Lines” aired a story about Virgin Galactic’s Space Port in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The $212 million spent for the space port was not paid for by Richard Branson whose Virgin Galactic is the main tenant of the space port, but 2/3 by the state of New Mexico and 1/3 from construction bonds backed by voter taxes, mainly through sales taxes, of Dona Ana and Sierra counties. Prior to that, federal taxpayers gave Branson’s SpacePort a grant of $1.4 million seed funding in the 1990s through Congressional earmarks.
The details of the Al Jazeera report were lacking and their criticism of the welfare granted to Richard Branson was too one-sided, but the fact is that these kinds of subsidies happen all the time for huge projects, for example, sports complexes in most major cities (Atlanta’s Braves stadium is one example). Taxpayers often foot the bill for such facilities. Usually through compromised government representatives, there is the promise of paybacks like jobs and commerce, but empirical evidence shows the returns are usually less than the burden imposed on taxpayers. For the New Mexico taxpayers, the tax imposed is regressive and participation in the benefits, usually involve inflated prices, prices not affordable by average taxpayers.
Take the Space Port in New Mexico. A suborbital ride on SpaceShip Two costs $250,000, which none of the struggling taxpayers in Dona Ana and Sierra counties can afford. Their representatives promised perhaps over a thousand jobs when the taxpayers, many hungry for jobs, were exhorted to approve the tax hikes. At most there will be 150 jobs, most going to outside contractors. Residents may catch a glimpse of celebrities who paid for the ride, like Justin Bieber, Tom Hanks, Angelina Jolie, and Brad Pitt, and some might even wave at Space Port visitors.
If you look beyond the jaundiced news – right wing and corporate media sources alike – corporate welfare can be discovered. Grants to the vulnerable, many the disabled and children, is small compared to corporate welfare. The Koch Brothers present themselves as crusaders against the welfare state, but evidence points to their own welfare state. Reports show that they are recipients of $88 billion in welfare.[i]
“Subsidizing the One-Percent” by Philip Matera is a report done in February of 2014 that lists many Fortune 500 companies getting welfare, including Boeing, Intel, Nissan, Alcoa, and General Mills[ii]. Regular information, prominently displayed, is needed to tell the story of what is really dragging down America, and it isn’t a few social service programs.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is just one of the stories. Entrepreneurial projects do sometimes bring commerce and jobs as a return for tax money, but programs like Food Stamps, economic stimulus, Head Start, infrastructure and such are direct investments in people that accrue national economic benefits.
The goal should always be what benefits the most people and what advances the cause of our country. Certainly welfare for the rich does not. With their subsidies, thanks to their packed Supreme Court, they have more to spend in order to lobby the Tea-Party-dominated GOP against our interest, thus blocking programs of investment in the people. In contrast, real government investment in our people gives consumers the purchasing power to really bolster the economy.
Corporations are not people, though we could make a case that David Koch is Koch Industries, seemingly bent on destroying climates and the well being of Americans. It does seem like the action of a spiteful person. To this end, the Koch brothers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars seeking to take away health insurance from the uninsured, something for which the law of the land provides. In several states right now, by all appearances they seek to kill clean energy by pushing to impose fees on solar energy users. Their Americans for Prosperity has been busy harassing the poor by promoting drug testing for welfare recipients, even after declared unconstitutional in Florida. I must say, these are the actions of two individuals delegating the dirty work to overzealous hired agents, working under the wholesome-sounding name of Americans for Prosperity, a tax-free organization our taxes subsidize as well.
The blight on our land seems to be promulgated by corporations like Koch Industries that take taxpayer handouts and use them against us. We are already familiar with Wall Street banks that took our bailouts and in effect used them to lobby against the people.
I for one feel stupid to be a taxpaying part of subsidies given to the rich who don’t need them, but who use them against the interests of Americans, indeed, against humanity.
Do others feel that way?