James Clingman | 12/15/2010, 11:12 a.m.
Riding the Bench in the Economic Super Bowl
On the national scene, money is being tossed around by the billions and sometimes by the trillions, from the Washington political elite to the super-wealthy and corporate bigwigs via tax breaks and bailouts. The national deficit is around $1.5 trillion and the national debt is $14 trillion. Banks and other financial institutions, in addition to pharmaceutical and insurance firms are livin' large. And, the big boys on Wall Street are gearing up for their annual blockbuster bonuses, the average of which is $1 million per employee! Money, money everywhere, and not a dollar for us. It's the economic Super Bowl, folks, and we are sitting on the bench.
We have been relegated to permanent underclass status, as Dr. Claud Anderson told us we would become, if we did not act. We have little influence, much less any real power in political and economic circles. In this current economic Super Bowl, even when we get a little ahead, the political referees are always there to throw the penalty flag on us for being off side or, in other words, for being out of our place.
Take the recent approval (finally) of the Back Farmers' lawsuit against the USDA; despite it being settled in the 1990's, it is still being held up, even though the perpetrators of that misdeed were found guilty. Black farmers and their families still suffer as a result of blatant discrimination by the USDA, and yet folks like Representatives Michele Bachman of Minnesota and Steve King of Iowa are railing against the settlement as "pure and complete fraud" and "slavery reparations."
This guy Steve King said, ""The fraudulent claims might be, well, Johnny, yeah, he was raised on a farm, but he wouldn't help his dad, he went off to the city and became a drug addict. But now his daddy's died, and Johnny wants the $50,000 that comes from the USDA under this claim." King's and Bachman's words go deeper than just a negative reflection on themselves; they also speak volumes about those who elected and re-elected them to the U.S. Congress.
So much for those two idiots. We have billions of dollars going to corporate interests and lobbyists while veterans of war are denied a measly $250 check? Active duty soldiers are given a measly 1.2 - 1.9 percent pay increase. Senior citizens, for the second consecutive year, will get no cost of living allowance in their Social Security checks. Senate Republicans reject the proposed $7.4 billion health care fund for the 911 emergency workers, some of whom are now dying of lung cancer as a result of their heroism. What a bunch of guys we have in D.C., huh? Money, money everywhere, but not a dollar for vets, seniors, and "heroes."
Yes, for a select and relative few the economic Super Bowl is well underway; and for many of us, the best we can do is watch the game, either from the bench (with no hope of getting in), the sidelines, the stands, on television, or we can read about it after the game is over. There will be no losing team in this Super Bowl; the celebration will go on for months in both camps. Dollars will continue to flow into their coffers while we, the Proletariat, remain at the mercy of political court-jesters manipulated by the hidden hand of the greedy and corrupt.
Understanding that in poker you have to play the hand you were dealt, I also understand that a good bluff works ever now and then; no need to fold every bad hand. The latest boondoggle for the super wealthy, in the form of tax breaks, is yet another illustration of the continuous and disgraceful kowtowing to a few folks who already have more money than they could ever spend in two lifetimes. In juxtaposition, this latest compromise is also illustrative of an old saying that goes something like this: The measure of a country is in how it treats the least among its citizens.
The sheer hypocrisy being displayed by politicians vis--vis those revered as war heroes, veterans, the long term unemployed, and senior citizens is sickening, shameful, and beyond comprehension. The politicians' complete lack of compassion and concern for those who need help the most can only be characterized as reprehensible - and that's putting it mildly.
But the Super Bowl is underway, folks. And while most of us cannot afford the price of admission, the game will continue nevertheless. When will it end, you say? No one knows for sure, but one thing is certain: It will end. The clock will run out and the celebrations will come to an end. The more important question is: What will we do in the meantime? My recommendation is what it has been for years on end: Organize our own economic Super Bowl; select our own team members; make our own rules; create and execute our own collective economic initiatives.
We must stop being economic benchwarmers waiting to get into a game in which we have no chance of playing.
James E. Clingman, an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati's African American Studies department, is hosts the cable television program, ''Blackonomics,'' and has written several books, including his latest, Black Empowerment with an Attitude - You got a problem with that? Visit his Web site, www.blackonomics.com.