Mike Vasser: War on the weak
July 6, 2016
"War On The Weak" is the title of an April 18, 2011 Newsweek article by Jonathan Chait. It is well documented in the article that Paul Ryan, the Republican House Budget Committee Chairman, as well as the Republican right wing, look to Ayn Rand and accept her view that capitalists — not the workers — are the producers of all wealth, and the workers, not the capitalists, are useless parasites.
This may explain why Ryan is proposing saving trillions of dollars from Medicare by imposing huge cuts on anybody who retires starting in 2022. At the same time, he proposes extending the Bush Tax Cuts and would cut the top rate for individuals and corporations from 35 to 25 percent. Ryan insists that we ensure that America's safety net does not become a hammock that lulls able-bodied citizens into lives of complacency and dependency. His budget proposal slashes Medicaid, Pell Grants, food stamps and low income housing. These support programs benefitting poor people constitute 21 percent of the federal budget, but represent two thirds of the proposed cuts.
Temple University political scientist Joseph Schwartz, a decided anti-Randian, whose books include "The Future of Democratic Equality: Reconstructing Social Solidarity in a Fragmented United States," states: "What is attractive to conservative elites about Rand is that she gives them permission to gut social welfare, including popular programs like Medicare and Social Security."
Schwartz said that the 18th-century philosopher Adam Smith, who is cited as a hero by most free-market advocates, worried that without limitations, the market would become inhumane and that the market could not be allowed to define all human values. Adam Smith said that even a competitive capitalist economy must be based on non-market values of empathy, caring, and selflessness. How else are we to raise our children?
"Even rugged individuals would not prosper if they don't have a decent legal system and public school system," he said.
Fortunately, there are sane, reasonable members of the House of Representatives and Senate that have a more balanced view of how to deal with the serious federal budget deficit. The extremist political philosophy of Paul Ryan and right-wing Republicans can still have a negative impact if compromise includes amendments and riders to legislation reflecting this philosophy. We must be diligent in expressing our support to those who will battle for us to assure that no one segment of society bears an unfair burden in the effort to reduce the budget deficit.
Mike Vasser lives in Grass Valley.