Friday, April 15, 2011

American Poverty: A Simple Solution

Republican lawmakers are considering a bill in the House of Representatives, called “Remaking the Majority Act,” that would repeal the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery. The repeal initiative was inspired by a report that concludes 25% of American children live in households with an income below the poverty threshold.

One longstanding Republican legislator commented, “We tried lowering that so-called poverty threshold. That would have gotten a lot of folks out of poverty right away, and at no cost to taxpayers. Right now, they have that threshold set at $22,350. We tried for $15,000. Now, for a family of four, that’s poverty. But, $22,350? C’mon, that’s not so bad.”

The purpose of the repeal initiative, according to key Republican lawmakers involved in drafting the bill, is to level income disparities and put an end to the “divisive class warfare” that has tormented the best citizens of our nation, our most successful entrepreneurs and executives who earn more than $1 million a year. This highly productive top 1% of US earners holds in excess of 90% of our nation’s wealth, which leaves the remaining 10% faced with dire economic circumstances. To compassionately alleviate this troubling condition, Conservative authors of the repeal bill suggest that any able-bodied head of household or single person who is unemployed or earns less than the defined poverty threshold should be freed from the burden of wage-earning. Imposed by a new government bureau, binding contracts would require persons deemed incapable of securing adequate income be rendered into servitude.

Rather than be subjected to the vicissitudes of a fickle labor market that many are incapable of navigating, these unfortunate souls would answer to designated corporate work-holders. In return for ongoing labor, the work-holders would provide the indigent and their dependents with all of the requirements of a healthy and fulfilling existence: food, shelter, education, health care, recreation, and cremation. By way of extending hope for those bound into servitude, if the bound servant’s performance proved exceptional as judged by the work-holder, the work-holder could then take the role of “angel,” release the bound person from servitude, and provide them with a grant to establish them in corporate, wage-earning society. Once established with wages deemed adequate by their employer, the worker could purchase the freedom of their spouse and offspring (on layaway if they like). And from there, of course, the sky is the limit.

Otherwise, if the individual failed to evidence sufficient initiative, they would remain bound to the work-holder for perpetuity, as would their dependents.

Republican lawmakers involved in drafting the “Remaking the Majority Act” were quick to assert that the bill is not rooted in any bigoted, or racist predilections. Although the bill has been called a sanction for slavery, the authors note that historically slavery was tinged with a racial component, and their bill is not. This absence of a racial component along with consistent reliance on earning metrics for determining program eligibility -- the equal opportunity nature of their bill, as enthusiastic lawmakers call it -- is a key distinction. Further, their bill is intended to provide essential economic assistance at a time of vital need. Finally, their bill would alleviate much of the troubling burden of political tension between the poor majority and the wealthy micro-minority, tension which threatens to undermine the sacred Constitutional freedoms of our most productive citizens, the wealthiest one percent.

The “Remaking the Majority Act,” Republican lawmakers say, would re-define the earning majority in this nation as a more prosperous subset of citizens with closely aligned economic interests. To accomplish this, the bill would remove from published income statistics those who are “less eager to work for a living,” those who earn the minimum wage (which this bill would abolish), and thus drag our median income statistic down. Finally, the bill would spare the misguided, who fail to share the beliefs and earning potential of the new prosperous majority, from the encumbrance of voting for local, state, and federal representatives.

As one lawmaker put it, “These folks don’t want to be troubled with voting. Most of them have never voted in their lives. Now, they won’t have to worry about it. And they won’t have to worry about feeding their kids or keeping a roof over their heads. We’ll do that for them, too. All we ask is that they do the work they are asked to do, when they are asked to do it. It’s a win-win situation for the work-holder, and the worker.”

When asked whether the “Remaking the Majority Act” does in fact replace freedom with slavery, and what the consequences are for failure to comply, the lawmaker replied, “Well, of course there will be those radical lefties who want to call this slavery, who say the bill tramples Constitutional freedoms, but that’s just not so. These insolvent people created their own misfortune. Yes, folks who don’t comply with the wishes of their designated work-holders might get knocked around a little, but they’re free to go at any time. They’re free to go to one of the new, privately operated debtor’s prisons, that is, away from their wives and kids, who’ll end up panhandling on a street corner somewhere. But that’s their choice. And that’s what freedom is: alternatives. So, I’m not buying that loss of freedom argument. Who’s really free, anyway?”

The “Remaking the Majority Act” would provide the economic certainty our great corporations need to prosper and yield ever-growing dividends to their affluent, capitalized shareholders. Most importantly, the lawmakers say, it would provide a lifetime of security to malcontented legions incapable of pulling their own weight in a democratic, Darwinian, free-market society.

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