This is the eighth installment of a project that is likely to extend over a two-year-period from January, 2010. It is the serialization of a book entitled The 15% Solution: A Political History of American Fascism, 2001-2022. Under the pseudonym Jonathan Westminster, it is purportedly published in the year 2048 on the 25th Anniversary of the Restoration of Constitutional Democracy in the Re-United States. It was actually published in 1996 by the Thomas Jefferson Press, located in Port Jefferson, NY. The copyright is held by the Press. Herein you will find Chapter 7. You can find a complete archive of the chapters published to date on TPJmagazine.us as well as the Disclaimer, the cast of characters, the author’s biography, cover copy, and several favorable reviews.
A recent commentator had this to say about the book:
“I am in the middle of reading The 15% Solution. For some reason I assumed it was a recent publication. About 100 pages in, I looked to see when it was published. It was published in 1996. That absolutely shocked me. What it was saying then is exactly what is happening now. The race-baiting, anti-homosexual crap that takes one’s attention away from what is actually happening, and it was written about 15 years ago. Even the 14th amendment controversy is discussed in this book, as well as so much more ownership of the media, talk radio, etc. This is truly frightening, and if the Dems do not wake up and fight, I fear there is much worse to come.”
2005: The Morality Amendment (31st)
The 31st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (2005):
Section 1. Life begins at the moment of conception; the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed by any person, or public or private agency or organization; the fifth and fourteenth amendments to this Constitution apply equally to all persons, born and unborn; any artificial interference with unborn life is murder [p. 22].
Section 2. No educational institution may teach any approach to any aspect of human sexuality, outside of marriage, other than abstinence [p. 10].
Section 3. Engaging in sexual relations with persons of the same sex is a matter of choice; no provision of this Constitution may be deemed to provide preferential status in the civil or criminal law at the Federal, state, or local level to any person or group of persons based on their chosen sexual preference [p. 16].
Section 4. Neither the Federal government nor any state or local government may make any provision for support, financial or otherwise, of persons not supporting themselves, outside of an institution expressly provided for that purpose.
Section 5. The 16th Amendment is repealed. Within five years of ratification of this Amendment, Congress is required to repeal any and all statutes providing for the levy of either individual or corporate income taxes.
Although the changes made in the national ethic by the 31st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States were nothing short of revolutionary, their eventual adoption, given the electoral success of “The 15% Solution” should have come as no surprise to anyone. For example, in one form or another, most of the concepts embodied in it, as well as a good deal of the specific language had appeared in the 1992 Republican Platform (RNC). (The bracketed page numbers in the text of the Amendment above refer to the planks in that platform that specifically turned up in the Amendment.)
The 31st Amendment speaks volumes about the nature, thoughts, and goals of those who governed both the old U.S. and its successor state the NAR for most of the time from the beginning of the Transition Era through the end of the Fascist Period. With the 32nd (Balancing) and 33rd (Supremacy) Amendments, the 31st formed a “tripleplay” that had as much impact on the development of the nation subsequent to their adoption as the 13th (outlawing slavery), 14th (extending the due process guarantees of the 5th Amendment to the states), and 15th (voting rights for former slaves) Amendments had had in their time following the end of the First Civil War. Volumes have been written on the origins, implementation, and outcomes of the 31st Amendment alone. Offered here are a few comments on certain aspects of the Amendment that appear to be particularly important.
The Failure of the Religious Message
The 31st Amendment is primarily about certain content matters of personal thought and conduct that the Religious Right considered to be within the purview of religion, that is human sexuality. Given that content, it is fascinating that RightWing Reaction also “threw in” the banning of any noninstitutional “welfare” payments and repeal of the income tax. The given rationale for so doing was that both the provision of “welfare” outside of institutions for the “truly destitute” and the income tax were both “immoral” and so belonged with the other “morality” elements of the Amendment.
Some historians believe that the RightWing Reactionaries were simply in a big hurry to get their highest tax and fiscal priorities through the Constitutional Amendment process, and so chose the “tackon” method of doing so. Certainly, as did the Rev. Pat Robertson in his speech to the 1992 Republican National Convention, so this Amendment gave almost equal time to both the Religious Right’s version of “God’s word” and tax matters.
The Religious Right always considered the matter of what constitutes appropriate sexual conduct for human beings a religious issue, not one of personal belief and predilection. This Amendment says in very bold type that the Religious Right in the United States simply failed, and failed miserably, to get its message on sexual conduct across to the American people, and by so doing induce desired behavior changes.
The 31st Amendment was adopted about 35 years after the time of the so-called “sexual revolution” of the 60s and the Roe v. Wade decision of the Supreme Court. During that period, the Religious Right, of both the Fundamentalist and Catholic varieties, had been thundering one message on sexual conduct and its outcomes at the American people:
• Life begins at the moment of conception.
• Once pregnant, a woman has no say in the matter of what happens to the pregnancy.
• Elective termination of pregnancy even before the time of fetal viability is murder.
• Premarital sexual relations constitute a sin.
• Sex education other than that which teaches abstinence before marriage is inherently evil.
• Having sexual relations with a person of the same sex is one of the worst sins imaginable.
And the given rationale for all of these positions? They should be adhered to either because certain sections of that book known as the Bible says so or because “the Church’s teachings” (according to the Pope in Rome) say so.
During the Transition Era, Americans reported themselves as highly religious, Biblebelieving, heavily Christian, and regularly churchgoing (Ostling). Indeed, the country was covered with tens of thousands of churches of all religious denominations, but mostly Christian. In many, although certainly not all of them, the message preached was the one summarized above.
Especially since the late 1980s, with the explosion of RightWing Reactionary political and religious radio programming across the country, this particular version of the message had been thundered at the American people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And it had had little impact on behavior. It was a “lousy sell,” as they say in the retailing business.
Some Americans followed the precepts, of course. But in most cases where they did, it was not because as adults they had first practiced one way and then had been persuaded to change their minds. Rather it was because they had been religiously trained in that way of thinking from childhood. But most people who had not been so religiously trained simply did not accept the arguments of the Religious Right on sexual behavior or the rights of women or personal morality/responsibility or when life begins.
The Religious Right failed at salesmanship; they failed at persuasion; they failed at education. For example, the Catholic Church taught that both the use of artificial birth control methods and divorce were sins the commission of which required that the committer be cut off from any official Church relationships and functions (a process called “excommunication”). Yet millions of American Catholics routinely ignored Church teachings on both matters. Even elective termination of pregnancy was known to be fairly widely practiced among Catholics.
But even though the Church could not convince its own members to follow its “moral” teachings in all cases, it still wanted to use the force of law in an attempt to force everyone to do so (see also Appendix IV, “On Morality and the Uses of the Law” by Dino Louis.) In thus turning to the law, and the criminal law at that, in an attempt to achieve what it could not achieve through education, persuasion, and/or preaching, both the Catholic Church and the RightWing Fundamentalist churches revealed the fundamental weakness of their theological message. But their political message was clear: “If we cannot get what we want through the power of preaching and persuasion, we are going to get it through the power of the law.”
In the late Transition Era, when the Religious Right was not able to have freedom of choice in the outcome of pregnancy criminalized by means of the democratic process, some of its members held that they were justified in committing crimes themselves, including murder, to enforce their point of view. For example, consider the “Defensive Action Declaration” (The Freedom Writer):
“We, the undersigned, declare the justice of taking all godly action necessary to defend innocent human life including the use of force. We proclaim that whatever force is legitimate to defend the life of a born child is legitimate to defend the life of an unborn child. We assert that if Michael Griffin did in fact kill [Dr.] David Gunn, his use of lethal force was justifiable provided it was carried out for the purpose of defending the lives of unborn children. Therefore, he ought to be acquitted of the charges against him.”
But now, with a Congress and the requisite number of state legislatures dominated by representatives of the Religious Right, elected by a distinct minority of the eligible voters, a philosophy and ideology that the American people could not be persuaded to adopt voluntarily was imposed upon them. Those who would have used criminal means to achieve their goals now had the force of law on their side. “The 15% Solution” had struck again.
The Implementation of the Forced Birthing Policy
There were some amusing as well as terrifying practical outcomes of the adoption of this Amendment and its subsequent legislative implementation. For example, Section 1 was interpreted by Federal Courts dominated by RightWing Reactionary judges to ban the use of artificial contraceptives, as well as freedom of choice in the outcome of pregnancy.
Some religious zealots to the right even of the Christian Coalition wanted to ban the use of the rhythm method of contraception too. They argued that in the eyes of God, there was no difference between mechanical contraception and contraception based on counting days in the woman’s menstrual cycle. Both made possible sexual intercourse for mere pleasure rather than solely for procreation, a highly undesirable outcome in their eyes. While from the theological point of view they were clearly in the right, they eventually lost the argument to a political reality: there were, in the absence of an institutionalized State of violence (then yet to come), limits on what behavior changes could be imposed on a population widely resistant to them.
As noted in the previous chapter, violence encouraged by Federal policy had by 2005 driven out of operation virtually all public centers for elective pregnancy termination (EPT), even though it was legal right up to the time of the adoption of the 31st Amendment. And because it was legal, private (although increasingly secretive) elective pregnancy termination services had still been provided in many parts of the country until the adoption of the 31st.
The provision of these services had been greatly facilitated by the appearance on the market in the late 90s of several different pharmaceutical methods of elective pregnancy termination. The most wellknown of them was a FrancoGerman preparation called “RU486.” Of course, with the adoption of the 31st Amendment, the provision of surgically based elective pregnancy termination dropped off even further than it already had with the increasing availability of drug based procedures.
Even before the Amendment was ratified on Monday, June 13 by the 38th state to do so, Delaware, the development of an illegal black market in pregnancy termination drugs was well underway. In response to that development, the Law began to gear up too. For the supporters of the 31st knew that if 30 years of attempted persuasion had not worked on the American people (and it had not: the elective pregnancy termination rate varied little during that time), force would indeed be needed.
A statute adopted by the state of Louisiana in 1991, that aimed at ending freedom of choice in the outcome of pregnancy, had provided for the death penalty for performers of elective pregnancy termination. That law was declared unconstitutional at the time. On the first day of its session in 2005, the Louisiana state legislature reenacted it, providing that it would take effect on one minute after midnight of the day after the 38th state ratified the 31st Amendment. The Louisiana statute became the model for similar state laws around the country.
A leading Transition Era opponent of freedom of choice in the outcome of pregnancy, Randall Terry, referring to providers of elective pregnancy termination services, had once said (Abramsky): “When I, or people like me are running the country, you’d better flee, because we will find you, we will try you, and we’ll execute you.” In terms of the legislation adopted by many (eventually all) states, his words proved prophetic.
But catching the providers of elective pregnancy termination services proved difficult, especially since most such terminations were now drug induced. Thus the law enforcement effort soon turned on women having elective pregnancy terminations, even though the mainstream supporters of illegalization over the years had often declared that no such thing would ever happen.
Striking parallels between the old “War on Drugs” and what came to be known as the “War for the Preservation of Life” shortly appeared. For example, while underground laboratories to produce the elective pregnancy termination drugs domestically were quickly established, a good deal of the supply was smuggled in from abroad. Thus, a massive Government “interdiction campaign” was quickly geared up to try to “stop the manufacture of the killer agents at their source,” and “to close our borders to the lethal substances.”
However, the drugs in question occupied little space and thus were easy to conceal, while not cheap were not exorbitantly priced, and were in great demand. Thus, just like the campaign against the importation of cocaine and heroin, drugs with similar physical and economic characteristics, this effort failed miserably to achieve its objective, at a similarly great cost.
The historical parallels were striking. In prosecuting the 1989 iteration of the “Drug War” that had been going on under Republican Presidents since Richard Nixon (picked up once again of course by President Carnathon Pine [see Chapter three]), President George Bush and his “Drug Czar,” Dr. William Bennett, had decided that going after drug traffickers alone wasn’t doing the trick. They then turned on mere drug users, under a doctrine they called “User Responsibility” (Bennett).
That sort of thing became part of the “Life Preservation War” as well. “Interdiction” didn’t work any better for the small volume pregnancy termination drugs than it did for the small volume recreational drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Since in most cases, the elective pregnancy terminations were by now drug induced, the health care providers of the drugs were hard to find, and the EPT drug importers/wholesalers proved as elusive as the “illicit drugtraffickers” had. And so, the antichoice drive turned on the women themselves in a massive way, with results for the nation’s criminal justice system that could have been anticipated. They were not, of course, because the promoters of the Life Preservation War naively expected it to work for them without much enforcement. It did not.
There were still an estimated 1.5 million elective pregnancy terminations being performed each year. The regular law enforcement agencies already had their hands full with conventional crime. And so, just as there were special Federal illegal drug police in an agency of the Department of Justice (DOJ) called the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), there came to be a special Federal “Life Preservation Police,” also part of the DOJ. And because the criminal justice system was already overburdened, there came to be “Life Preservation” courts, prosecutors, judges, and “Life Preservation” prisons too, as well as defense attorneys specialized in representing persons accused under the “Life Preservation” statutes.
The operation soon became immense, even though it has been estimated that at its height only one in 15 of the women electing to terminate their pregnancies each year were caught and convicted (Van Ronk). Although the death penalty for elective pregnancy termination associated crime was on the books, it was little used, except for providers. On the average, patients convicted under the law were sentenced to terms of only five years in prison.
Nevertheless, in an overcrowded and ever expanding national prison system, by the end of the first five years of the program, an extra 500,000 prison beds had to have been built. That increased the total national prison bed complement by one third to a total of two million. (It had been over just one million in 1994 [Holmes].) The cost of building those beds was $50 billion in 1995 dollars, with an annual maintenance cost of $20 billion, to say nothing of the myriad other costs of law enforcement in support of the statutes.
Perhaps the saddest thing that came out of all this is that as far as is known, even over time the 31st Amendment’s very expensive criminal law enforcement program did not drop the EPT rate much at all. Although there are no hard numbers available, of course, it probably went up, as the antisex education and anticontraception provisions of the 31st Amendment took hold. That is, the rate went up until the governmental system of organized violent repression that became the hallmark of the New American Republics came into being following the NAR’s establishment in 2011. But that is another story.
On the content of the 31st’s Section 3, in the 1992 Presidential election campaign, VicePresident J. Danforth Quayle, a then important leader of RightWing Reaction, declared that homosexuality was “more of a choice than a biological situation,” and “I think it is a wrong choice. It is wrong” (DeWitt). The language of the 31st itself reflected a 1992 Amendment to the Colorado state Constitution, passed in a referendum by the voters, subsequently overturned by the courts. “Amendment 2” would have mandated that neither the state of Colorado nor any locality therein could pass any law, regulation, or ordinance which mandated a “protected status based on homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual orientation.”
Reflecting on the power of homophobia as a unifying political force for RightWing Reaction in the later stages of the US Transition Period, it is interesting to note, for example, the 1992 declaration by the Rev. Pat Robertson on this matter (RightWing Watch):
“As an issue in American politics, abortion is no longer current. The people of America overwhelmingly think that the slaughter of unborn babies is a good thing and they want no restraint on it. The ‘gay issue’ is, however, most promising.”
Although subsequent developments proved that denial of freedom of choice in the outcome of pregnancy would once again become a strong political rallying point for the forces of RightWing Reaction, as Robertson cynically predicted, homophobia did as well.
In 1995, for example, Rep. Robert Dornan, a RightWing Reactionary from Southern California, introduced a bill (104th Congress, H.R. 862) requiring that “no Federal funds may be used directly or indirectly to promote, condone, accept, or celebrate homosexuality, lesbianism, or bisexuality.” Required for implementation of this bill would have been a permanent investigatory bureaucracy assigned the task of ferreting the defined evil wherever it might be found (PFAW). (For a brief description of the ultimate outcome of the political promotion of homophobia, see Chapter 18.)
For politicians who were continually screaming about “getting the government off your back” when it came to helping the poor or protecting the environment, this sort of thing made it clear that they were not interested in “getting the government off your back” in general. Rather, they wanted to do so in certain arenas such as taxation of the wealthy and land and resource exploitation for private profit. When it came to personal freedom, the drive was exactly in the opposite direction, as illustrated so starkly by the “Life Preservation War.” (See also Appendix V.)
On the Philosophy of “Welfare”
Underlying the banning of “outdoor relief” and the repeal of the income tax was the RightWing Reactionary concept of “self responsibility.” An excellent summary of the latter from the late Transition Era was written by a City University of New York philosophy professor, Michael Levin, best know for his views on the “genetic inferiority” of blacks (Levin):
“Welfare rests on a logical fallacy and a myth. The fallacy is what logicians call composition, reasoning from properties of the parts of a whole to properties of the whole. I am responsible for my children, you for yours; in this sense we are all responsible for our children. But then this ‘we’ is surreptitiously interpreted to mean all of us collectively, so that ‘our’ children suddenly become all children together. Suddenly America must take care of ‘its’ children, and then, only a little less suddenly, everyone who can pay is paying for everybody’s children.
“Reinforcing this fallacy is the myth that We Are All In This Together, that we all share each other’s fate. We don’t. We are separate persons, families, clans and groups, pursuing our various ends. We can and should cooperate, and sometimes, not always, offer help in adversity. But we are all individually responsible for our fates, a responsibility that cannot be undone by forcing some people to pay for the heedlessness of others.”
That, among other things, the Preamble to the old U.S. Constitution established promoting the “general Welfare” as one of the primary duties of the federal government apparently meant nothing to Professor Levin. His personal predilections were in the opposite direction, and that, for him, was that. Interestingly enough, although through the amendment process the Republican Christian Alliance essentially destroyed the essential nature of the old U.S. Constitution, they never did amend the Preamble. They just pretended it wasn’t there, as had most Presidents, Republican and Democratic alike, from the time of Richard Nixon.
On Amending the Constitution, and the Specifics of “Welfare”
An Alex Poughton letter
March 17, 2005
I’m feeling a bit greener than usual today. And even though that green, the green of nausea, not of celebration, has nothing to do with either St. Patrick or the United Republic of Ireland, perhaps it is why I’m writing you on this particular day, to, my friend, continue with the analysis I started in last week’s letter on the 31st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Last week, I took on the church. This week I’m taking on the state.
But first off, I should note that the speed with which that formerly durable document known as the Constitution of the United States can now be amended is just incredible. To say nothing of the fact that the amendment process increasingly is being used to deal with issues that are rather more legislative than constitutional. Of course, the Administration, the Congress, and more than three quarters of the State legislatures are firmly in the control of the Republican Christian Alliance. Thus procedurally, it’s a piece of cake. But still, the process boggles the mind.
This Amendment was fully prepared and ready to go when the 109th Congress convened on Monday, January 3, 2005. It was given perfunctory hearings in both houses on the Tuesday and Wednesday of that week. Following a pattern that had been gradually introduced under House Speaker Newton Gingrich back in 1995, opponents in each House were permitted a total of 30 minutes for their testimony.
I recall that when in 1995 the Republicans were gutting two huge Federal programs providing limited health care cost coverage for certain persons, called “Medicare/Medicaid,” there were but one day of Congressional hearings in each House before the legislation was rammed through. This was at a time when many days of hearings were consumed with Republicans trying to nail Presidential assistants on precisely when one talked to another about the processing of some Presidential papers that were all eventually turned over to Congressional investigators anyway, part of the so called “Whitewater Affair” with which the Republicans had so fiercely harassed President Clinton (and his wife) during his entire time in office.
Since the outcome of the voting on the Amendment in the Congress was a foregone conclusion, it really didn’t matter how much or how little time opponents were given anyway. No report of even a peep of opposition appeared anywhere in the now well cowed American media. Three days after its introduction, on Thursday, January 6, the Amendment was passed with majorities well over the two thirds required in each House. It is now being estimated that ratification by the states will be accomplished in the shortest time on record for any amendment. The 30th Amendment (to remind you, the one that virtually banned legal immigration) was bad enough. Many thought that it was perhaps just a legislative idiosyncrasy. Now we can see clearly that it was not.
It is ironic that the Right in this country has clearly begun the step by step use of the Constitutional Amendment procedure as the primary means by which they will destroy the essential nature of the U.S. Constitution as it has been known for 200 years: a Constitution that on the one hand provides for the distribution of governmental power fairly evenly among three branches of government that, among other things, “check and balance” each other, and on the other hand provides a broad range of guarantees of individual freedom and liberty to each and every American. In this way, the Right is mimicking the German Nazis in their efforts to keep their program for the destruction of constitutional democracy perfectly “legal” (Deighton).
Turning to one other matter, the way the so called “welfare system” is treated by this Amendment is another prime example of the use of the Politics of Mythology I discussed in my letter to you of December 31, 2004 [Author’s Note: see Chapter six]. Broadly, since the 1990s the Right in this country has been declaiming against the “Welfare State.” They asserted either that the country simply couldn’t afford it, or that its existence was somehow the engine of national decline, or that it was thoroughly immoral, or some combination of all three. Well, as someone coming from the country that was one of the inventors of the modern welfare state (although ours is in a bit of mess itself right now), first I have to ask, “What ‘Welfare State’?”
Measured against the EuroJapanese model, it’s a myth, an absolute myth that one exists here, or ever has, even at the heights of either Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal or Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. Like “it’s a colorblind society,” that claim is just another part of the Politics of Mythology that the Republicans and their reactionary Democratic allies have spun for the last 15 years.
Just consider. There is/are: no comprehensive health care system or even provision of national health insurance; very skimpy support payments to the poor (and they are now being eliminated entirely); no childrens’ allowances (except tiny ones provided through the taxation system for employed workers making above certain minimum incomes—the poor don’t get them); skimpy and limited unemployment benefits; no national workers’ health promotion/disease and injury prevention program; no comprehensive child day care system; no government supported paid sick/disability leave; no free higher education with paid student allowances en suite; no new public housing (there has been none since the time of Reagan); no pension guarantees; few protections for unionized workers (the few of them who are left), and so on. By no stretch of the imagination is or was there ever a “welfare state” here.
And then more narrowly to “welfare” (support payments for the poor) itself. The way the Right talks about it, you would think it is the anchor dragging the country down. Although most of the people on the system are either children or their single mothers, the Republicans characterize welfare recipients as “lazy, shiftless, irresponsible, feeders at the public trough.” They blame the welfare system, not the socioeconomic factors that force people onto it, for everything from “high taxes” to the high illegitimacy rate.
Well, as you know, the people of this country have just about the lowest collective taxation rate of any industrialized country (which is one reason why they don’t have a “welfare state,” of course) (USBOC, Table No. 1376). As for the high illegitimacy rate, any single woman who would have another child just to get the measly $67.00 (in 1995 dollars) extra per month (Corn) would need to have her head examined. But then again, these RightWingers themselves are so money motivated that they probably can’t understand anyone who isn’t.
And in any case, a very perceptive Transition Era liberal newspaper columnist (a rare bird, indeed), Robert Reno, once pointed out that the U.S. illegitimacy rate skyrocketed during a time when “median state payments under Aid to Families with Dependent Children have, adjusted for inflation, fallen 45 percent in the last 25 years [emphasis added]” (1995). Some incentive!
The Right claims that “welfare fosters dependency.” Thus, they claim that ending it will end this awful state that envelops vast numbers of people. Well, back in the mid 90s “half of welfare recipients quit the dole within a year, 70 percent within two” (Corn). The system is supporting hordes of utterly dependent teenage moms, they tell us. Well, less than 1.2 percent of mothers on welfare are under 18. And as for the “welfare moms breeding like sows” image, “72 percent of families on welfare have only one or two children.”
Some more numbers (Rosenbaum [a])? As of 1993 (more recent statistics are hard to come by since the Federal socioeconomic and health data gathering systems were gradually shut down by Republicans beginning in 1995), 67% of the “moneygrubbing, freeloading” recipients of Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC) were, guess what? Children.
Despite the best efforts of the Right to paint the system and its beneficiaries black, fewer than 40% of them were black. The average family size of the “welfare monster” was 2.9 people. Almost half of the families going on welfare did so because of divorce or separation, but only 25% of poor mothers got child support money from the children’s father.
The total amount of money spent at the Federal level? In 1995, after having dropped steadily in real terms for the preceding 25 years, it amounted to about 1% of the annual budget. If “welfare” had been wiped out at that time, as it is about to be wiped out now, so doing would have saved not more than six week’s worth of the then annual budget deficit.
But do you want to know the most shocking figures of all? Fully 40% of poor children in what was then the richest country in the world, were not on AFDC (Rosenbaum [a]). In 1992, there were fully six million children under the age of six living in poverty, 26% of the age group, up from 3.5 million, 18% of the age group, in 1979 (just before the Reaganites came to power) (NCCP). Poverty, not welfare, now as then, is the problem of poorness here. It’s just that the Right Wing Reactionaries managed to wipe that issue off the political agenda when Reagan came to power and it has stayed off ever since.
That they were able to do that was as much a result of Democratic weakness as of Republican strength. As of 1995, the most recent year for which I could get figures, the general public’s position on poverty (not welfare) went as follows (LBO):
• 86% of Americans felt somewhat or very concerned about poverty. 84% agreed, 48% strongly, that “society has a moral obligation to try to alleviate poverty.”
• Over half believed the official poverty line was too low.
• 75% thought that reducing poverty would reduce crime.
• About 80% thought that poverty was not, as the reactionaries put it, part of an unchangeable “culture,” that government could change things, and “has a responsibility to try to do away with poverty.”
But no politicians were brave enough to follow that line. And the line has now lead to the abolition of welfare, except for the camps. Some welfare. Well, that tell’s the tale, doesn’t it? Until it’s time for the next tale, then, hopefully with a bit less verbosity, I remain,
A Curley Oakwood Radio Broadcast Transcript, June 14, 2005, Excerpt
Oh God, can you just hear the liberal nigger lovers moaning and groaning. “Oh no, oh no, our blessed welfare is dead. What will we do? How will we ever bring it back? How are we ever going to get anyone to vote for us ever again? And all those poor people. How they will suffer. They won’t be able to grub food from the white folks table, take the clothes off those evil peoples’ backs.”
Well folks, that’s just too bad. We feel your pain. But we’re going to let you moan and groan anyway. You’ve had it coming to for a long, long, time. Feel sorry for the poor? Hah! Those freeloading, money grubbers have no one to blame but themselves. If they can’t survive, that’s their problem, not ours.
Just remember, if a “poh’ folk” can’t take responsibility for himself, why should you and I have to take responsibility for him. I’ll tell you what. You want to know the truth? And you know we always tell the truth here. Here is where you get the truth. Unvarnished. With all the rough edges. But the truth!
Now people don’t like to hear me say this, and I really shouldn’t say it because some people’s feelings will be hurt, but I have to say it because it’s the truth and if nothing else you know that I am compelled, just compelled, to speak the truth. So I am going to let you in on the God’s honest truth. Well, I’ll let you in on it, that is, if you haven’t been listening before, because I have been saying this truth for a long, long time.
Poverty, my friends, is nothing but sin. It’s just immoral, folks. That’s why the end of any responsibility for paying to support, paying to reward, paying to maintain the sinners belongs in the “Morality Amendment.”
If you are poor you must be punished. Now I have to tell you. I’m no expert on this. I can’t tell you which came first, the chicken or the egg. I can’t tell you for sure whether it’s that if you are poor you are sinful and God punishes you by keeping you poor, or whether if you are sinful, God punishes you by making you poor. But either way it’s your fault and not my responsibility. And so finally, bloodsuckers, you’re on your own!
You know years ago one of my idols, Bob Grant, said that the good folks of this country were “shackled” with the welfare system, and that no one would ever be able to mount the “political courage” to get rid of it. Well, on this one I know you would feel good, real good, to be proven wrong, old buddy. We did it. With help from guys like you who got the ball rolling oh so long ago, we did it.
A Parthenon Pomeroy Diary Entry, June 19, 2005
We did it, we did it. We’re finally going to get sex straight in this country, and stop the baby killing hellocost (sic) at the same time. We finally got what we really need, and now the country will get on the right track. And that damned immoral, unfair, income tax too. Bill Buckley started on this one back in the 50s, I think. And we finally got there. Thanks, Bill.
This is going to fix things up all right. Taxes are gone. The faggots have to go back in their holes, where they can get in their holes to their heart’s content, for all I care. It’s only going to lead them straight to hell. And no more creeps on welfare. This is what we need to get America to where it ought to be, to what it can be, to what it always was and always will be. Thanks, God, and thanks Pat, too.
Pudge’s happiness at the demise of the income tax would not be too long lived. That measure had been sold to those Americans who were still players in the political process as “the end of taxation.” Of course, it was nothing of the kind (Kinsley). It was simply the end of any kind of progressive taxation, namely that those who make more have the responsibility to pay somewhat more, in order to ease the burden on everyone.
The Federal government still needed money, even if most of it by now was going to support the everpresent military establishment, the evergrowing criminal law enforcement complex, and interest payments on the national debt. And so, a (regressive) national Value Added (sales) Tax was quickly enacted. And local property taxes became ever more burdensome.
These developments had been previewed towards the end of the Transition Era. For example, following the Republican Congressional sweep of Congress in the 1994 elections, the Chairmanship of the House Ways and Means (tax origination) Committee fell to one Bill Archer of Texas. Coming from one of the six most affluent Congressional districts in the country, one that was once represented by former President George Bush, Archer’s constituents were typically “bankers and oil company executives” (Rosenbaum [b]). And his tax policies reflected their interests.
For example, Archer once said that his longterm goal was to “tear out the income tax by its roots and discard it and replace it with a new form of taxation” (Rosenbaum [b]). He noted that he would prefer a flat 15 to 20% sales tax to the income tax (as would, of course, his wealthy backers for whom tax payments would thus become a much smaller proportion of their total expenditures).
Pudge eventually got what Archer preferred. Pudge’s real tax burden went up, while that of the wealthy went down even further. However, he didn’t even notice. Doing the Right thing just felt so good.
Abramsky, S., “Taxpayers’ Revolt?” In These Times, January 22, 1996, p. 10.
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DeWitt, K., “Quayle Contends Homosexuality Is a Matter of Choice, Not
Biology,” New York Times, Sept. 14, 1992.
Holmes, S.A., “The Boom in Jails Is Locking Up Lot of Loot,” New York Times,
NWR, Nov. 6, 1994.
Kinsley, M., “The Flat Tax Society,” The New Yorker, May 1, 1995.
LBO: Left Business Observer, “Public Not Hostile to Welfare,” No. 67, December
22, 1995, p. 7.
Levin, M., “End Welfare, but Not for the Old Reasons,” Newsday, January 26,
NCCP: National Center for Children in Poverty, “Young Children in Poverty: A Statistical Update,” New York: Columbia School of Public Health, 1995.
Ostling, R.N., “The Church Search,” Time, April 5, 1993, p. 44.
PFAW: People for the American Way News, “On Capitol Hill,” Summer, 1995,
Reno, R., “Shoot Wounded Under Banner of Welfare Reform,” Newsday, February
RightWing Watch, Vol. 3, No. 3, Dec. 1992.
RNC: Republican National Committee, The Republican Platform: 1992,
Washington, DC: August 17, 1992.
Rosenbaum, D., “Notebook: Welfare: Who Gets it? How Much Does it Cost?”
New York Times, March 23, 1995 (a).
Rosenbaum, D., “A Zeal for Tax Cuts Now Has Power Too,” New York Times,
April 3, 1995 (b).
USBOC: US Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1994,
Washington, DC, 1994.
Van Ronk, D., The War on Choice: 19812021, New York: The Scattered Home
The original edition of “The 15% Solution” is available on Amazon.com and on BarnesandNoble.com. The 2004 print-on-demand re-issue from Xlibris is also available on Amazon.com and on BarnesandNoble.com. You will find a “Sub-Home Page” for the serialization at the lower right-hand corner of the Home Page for www.TPJmagazine.us. It contains such items as the Disclaimer, cast of characters, author’s bio., cover copy, and several (favorable) reviews, and will have a full archive of all the chapters as they are published over time. The serialization is also appearing on www.BuzzFlash.com, Dandelion Salad; The Greanville POST; and TheHarderStuff newsletter.
Jonathan Westminster and biography are based on a pseudonym.
Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor of 30 books. In addition to being a Columnist for BuzzFlash, Dr. Jonas is also a Contributing Author for TPJmagazine; a Featured Writer for Dandelion Salad; a Senior Columnist for The Greanville POST; a Contributor to TheHarderStuff newsletter; a Contributor to The Planetary Movement; and a Contributing Columnist for the Project for the Old American Century, POAC.