They really don’t care if you live or die and they prove it every day
By David DeWitt
Let me be blunt: The elite class that rules the world doesn’t really care if the rest of the population lives or dies.
That is not hyperbole. It is a fact of history and it is a fact today. The elite owners of the world and its wealth are not concerned about the wellbeing of the underclasses—most especially the proletariat but certainly much of the middle class as well.
They never have been and they never will be. In order to best proceed through this lifetime, this is an important thing to recognize, as disturbing as it may be.
In fact, with the current overpopulation of the world, the 1 percent that controls 50 percent of the wealth in the United States, for instance, is doubtlessly aware that the more wealth they hoard the better off their own long-term prospects, even if it’s at the expense of everybody else.
They will not be giving anything back and they will deploy every weapon in their arsenal to protect, secure and continue to expand their interests. And all that wealth gives them a lot of weapons.
Moreover, psychologists have proved again and again that the more wealth one hoards, the greater the sense of entitlement in that individual and the greater the amount of subsequent unscrupulous behavior, as reported by PBS’ News Hour. To anybody who’s lost at monopoly, this should not be surprising. Simply recall the glee in your bankrupter’s affectation as he or she cleaned you out.
And make no mistake, the research has proved that poverty has a crucial influence on mortality rates.
“The investigators found that approximately 245,000 deaths in the United States in the year 2000 were attributable to low levels of education, 176,000 to racial segregation, 162,000 to low social support, 133,000 to individual-level poverty, 119,000 to income inequality, and 39,000 to area-level poverty.”
So the greater that wealth disparity grows, the more people who literally die as a result.
Let’s now take a walk through the latest evidence on our grifter paradise.
Since the great recession of 2008, wealth disparity in America has widened more than ever before because of the steep decline in the value of residential homes and stagnant wages for the lower and middle income groups. This was explained recently by a member of the Federal Reserve Board in a speech covered by Forbes this spring.
A study conducted by professors at the University of Michigan, and published by Stanford University, bear his assertion out.
Meanwhile, as everybody else has been suffering, the nation’s top CEOs have upped their incomes by an average of 16 percent just over the last two years, a recent New York Times article shows.
“In other words, it’s still good to be king,” the Times quipped.
As for the rest of us, 76 percent of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, 27 percent have no savings whatsoever, and 46 percent have less than $800, as reported by CNN.
More than that, the number of Americans working no-benefit, minimum-wage jobs continues to grow and grow.
“The food services industry now accounts for 7.6 percent of all jobs, up from about 7 percent pre-recession, and about 6.2 percent around 2000,” reports The Atlantic‘s Jordan Weissmann. “And, in all likelihood, they’ll account for even more in the future. The BLS projects that food services will be among the fastest growing source of jobs for Americans with no more than a high school degree — right behind retail and home health aides.”
And just recently, from The Atlantic, McDonald’s itself released an insanely out-of-touch budget planning guide for its employees that not only requires 80-hour work weeks from the proletariat but demonstrates willful ignorance about actual living costs ($20 a month for health insurance? Who the hell are they kidding?)
CNN gathered some actual budgets from actual employees, including a 21-year worker for the company, that show just how thoughtless, condescending and wrongheaded the McDonald’s “planning guide” truly is. I should also mention here that McDonalds’ pretending that its workers all get 40 hours of work a week minimum is absurdly disingenuous.
Meanwhile, nevermind minimum wage, or a living wage, schemes are afoot to wipe out paying any wage. Robots have become a popular solution in Asia to replace fast-food workers altogether, as reported by MyNorthwest.com.
Still though, some are pushing for a living wage in America.
Washington D.C. City Council has decided that $12 an hour would do. Working 40 hours per week, that’s an annual income of just under $25,000 per year before taxes with no vacation, personal or sick time. And that’s about right, actually. That’s about the bare minimum amount of annual income required for just existing without assistance in the U.S. today.
According to the Center for Poverty Research:
If a minimum wage worker is employed full-time (forty hours per week for 52 weeks), that worker would earn $15,080 annually. In 2012, the poverty threshold for a single individual was $11,945 and the poverty threshold for a family of 4 with two children under 18 was $22,283.
Thus, a single full-time minimum wage worker has an income above the poverty threshold but if a full-time minimum wage worker is the sole source of income in a family of four, that family’s income is only 65 percent of the amount required to meet its basic needs.
So we see there is a difference between the minimum wage and an actual living wage in 2013.
And guess who hates the idea of paying people a living wage?
Everybody’es favorite! Walmart, the company owned collectively by the richest family in the country and one of the richest in the world. The Walton family has nearly $108 billion worth of wealth and represent Nos. 11, 14, 16 and 17 on Forbes’ latest billionaires list.
Their employees, on average, make $8.81 per hour, which for 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year would add up to $18,324.80 before taxes.
And they ask for more?!?
Well, because a living wage is apparently too much to ask, Walmart promised recently to close all locations in D.C. if the living wage legislation went through in the city, which it now has 8-5, as reported by the Washington Post.
This promise came despite the fact that paying employees a living wage would only cost customers an extra 46 cents per visit to the store if the brass passed all of the cost along to the consumer, according to PBS contributor Neal Rodriguez.
And meanwhile, an updated report by the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce has further revealed that due to Walmart’s low wages (because a living wage is too much to ask) employees at a single 300-person supercenter rely on anywhere between $904,541 to $1.7 million in public benefits every year.
So how can I say that these elite classes really just don’t care whether members of the working class live or die? Well, as we’ve seen, they patently refuse to pay a living wage and use scare tactics and intimidation to avoid it. Wealth inequality grows and wealth inequality kills.
And let’s now take a look at another family of billionaires: Mssrs. Charles and David Koch, who are tied at No. 6 on Forbes’ latest list, each worth about $34 billion.
They run a little group known as Americans for Prosperity whose raison d’etre is essentially to defund and dismantle as much of our government as possible, which, in practice, would cause not a little bit of hardship and death. Again, this is not hyperbole. It would be the real-world consequence of eliminating the social safety net, as they are very actively seeking.
The brothers Koch, as revealed by The Nation, also pour massive amounts of money into an organization known as the American Legislative Exchange Council.
This is an organization that systematically pushes regressive and dangerous hard-right legislation in each of our various states, including Ohio.
It is the organization responsible for Senate Bill 5. It is the organization responsible for the recent assault on women’s collective uteri. It is the organization responsible for gutting and assaulting government services in states including but not limited to Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, Florida and North Carolina.
Most recently, Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation that blocks local governments from implementing paid sick leave legislation, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel.
So if you work a low-wage, no-benefit job in Florida, and you have the misfortune to experience a medical emergency, you’re shit out of luck.
Another penny pinched is another penny grifted at the expense of the vulnerable.
Meanwhile, the brothers Koch themselves recently released a hilarious, void-of-reality commercial claiming that an annual income of $34,000 puts a worker among the wealthiest 1 percent in the world.
So just quit your whining, McDonald’s worker, you’re much better off than an Amazonian tribal indigent.
Charles Koch then turned around and opined to the Wichita Eagle that we’d all be better off if we just eliminated the minimum wage entirely.
You know what it takes to be a brother Koch? It takes brass balls to be a brother Koch.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the brothers Koch don’t particularly like being called-out on their machinations. So they systematically try to destroy journalists who do so.
But alas, as the Great One once sang, “When you ain’t got nothin’ you got nothin’ to lose.” Come at me, bro.
And here’s some evidential icing on the They-really-don’t-care-if-you-
The Republican U.S. House of Representatives (also known as the House of 234 deeply-disturbed sociopathic maniacs) recently voted to cut funding for lead-removal in half.
Of course, as Mother Jones‘ Kevin Drum notes, lead removal programs mostly benefit poor people and non-whites, two groups the majority party “has made it extra clear lately that they don’t care about.”
Will wonders never cease! I believe not.