As one year comes to a close and another begins, people often look back at events to reflect and perhaps resolve to improve their lives or change their behaviors in the coming year. In 2013, the Do-Nothing-at-All Congress— led by the nose by Teapublicans– continued its war on the poor– fighting for cuts to food stamps and unemployment and fighting for austerity for the 99%, while disingenuously padding the pockets of their corporate benefactors.
As Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs teaches us, people must satisfy their basic needs before they can become fully self-actualized, before they can reach their full potential. To put this simply, if you don't have food, water, and shelter, your time, energy and resources will be spent obtaining those basic needs. Until you have security and the necessities of life, you will not have the luxury to worry about trifles– Christmas gifts, video game releases, wine selections, fancy coffee, designer-label clothes, insignificant social snubs, political differences– in other words, "white people problems".
Since our country is governed by the Congressional millionaire's club, it's no wonder that they can't relate to the poor (or even the struggling middle class).
The richest man in Congress is California Representative Darrell Issa, who has a net worth of $335 million. How can he know what it's like to live in poverty? Has he ever tried to live on the food stamp allotment of $4/day? Has he ever had to choose between buying food or buying medicine? Has he been evicted? While members of the Millionaire's Club occupy themselves with fundraising, satisfying the needs of the 1%, and climbing the ladder of success and power toward self-actualization, millions of Americans struggle to meet basic needs, at the bottom of Maslow's hierarchy.
Keeping Americans desperate by off-shoring jobs, depressing wages, and promoting fear and division among those of us in the bottom 99% enables the upper class remain in power. As long as we allow them to manipulate our government with money, too many Americans will continue to live on the edges of society; too many children will go hungry; too many people will live on the street.
Progressives fought the good fight in 2013— pushing back against cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment, and Food Stamps– while promoting fiscal responsibility, a humanely balanced budget, military spending cuts, peace, and revenue generation through higher taxes on the wealthy and the Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street trades.
We will continue that fight in the coming year.