All Men Are Created Equal?

That’s what our Declaration of Independence stated. But it wasn’t true. In fact, African-Americans were considered three-fifths of a person and held in slavery for nearly a hundred years longer. Native Americans were slaughtered and herded onto reservations in order to steal their land. Chinese-Americans were virtually enslaved to build our railroads. And women were denied the right to vote for nearly 150 years.

Even today equality still does not exist.

People of color are many times more likely to live in poverty and to be imprisoned. Gay and lesbians are only now beginning to win equal rights to marry those they love. Women are paid less for doing the same work as men. And, according to some, the plight of the wealthy is even worse. They claim to be victims of their own success and good fortune – that they are victims of class warfare. Some have even likened their plight to the Jews prior to the Holocaust.


The wealthiest one percent of our population owns an overwhelming percentage of the wealth in the US yet, thanks to loopholes, they pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes. They invest large portions of their wealth in offshore tax havens. They use their wealth to buy influence and access to government. They are even treated differently by our courts. The Supreme Court ruled that money equals free speech, so they can speak more loudly than anyone else. (In fact, the Koch brothers are now using their money to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.) And if they break the law, they are seldom punished.

You may remember the case of the Texas teen found to be suffering from “Affluenza.” Despite the fact that he killed four people as the result of drunk driving, he was “sentenced” to an exclusive, and expensive, rehab facility.

Now there is the case of a duPont heir who was given probation for raping his three-year-old daughter because the judge decided that he “wouldn’t do well in prison.” Wouldn’t do well? Who does? When have you ever heard of a case in which a court was concerned that a poor person might not do well in prison? Some celebrate Sheriff Joe’s “Tent City” which imprisons ordinary citizens in tents without heat or air conditioning; with no toilets or running water; with punishments of bread and water; with two vegetarian meals a day (Sheriff Joe recently decided that even his notorious green baloney sandwiches are too expensive and cutting into the profit margins of his wife’s food service business). Has any court ever voiced concern that a convicted felon might not do well there? No…more like HELL NO!

Prisoners in Tent City have died from the heat without repercussions to Sheriff Joe or the facility. Yet no court has worried that other prisoners in the facility “wouldn’t do well.” Such concern is only voiced for the very wealthy on the rare occasions their highly-paid attorneys fail to get them acquitted.

All men created equal? It was a nice sentiment by Jefferson and the Founding Fathers. But it’s still only a dream.

Families In Deep Doo-Doo.

It seems that nearly every week, a new study is released that shows the growing income disparity in the United States. Recently, an Associated Press survey found that 80 percent of adults in the US face near-poverty and unemployment at some point in their lives. Another study by the International Human Rights Clinic at New York University’s School of Law found that 1 in 6 (50 million) Americans face food insecurity, including 17 million children.

Now, the medical journal Pediatrics has published a study measuring the psychological impact on mothers who are unable to afford diapers.

The study, “Diaper Need And Its Impact on Child Health,”  by a group of Yale researchers, found that 30 percent of mothers have struggled to pay for diapers and more than 8 percent of low-income mothers reuse soiled diapers! Not surprisingly, the researchers concluded that the lack of clean diapers “seriously affects maternal stress, child health, and child development.”

So, in the richest nation on Earth, a large percentage of our people can’t tend to the needs of either end of a baby!

We have millions who can’t afford the most basic necessities despite working full-time jobs. We have tens of thousands of homeless – many of them families and veterans. And, instead of passing laws to raise the minimum wage; instead of eliminating tax loopholes that encourage companies to ship manufacturing jobs overseas; instead of passing bills to help create jobs here at home; House Teapublicans plan to cut $40 billion from our food stamp programs over the next 10 years.

It will be difficult since the House has only 9 scheduled work days between now and the end of September, but I’m certain they’ll find a way.

Oh Boy!

Each day, approximately 370,000 babies are born into our world. Some of them will become world-renowned scientists. Some will become democratically-elected leaders. Some will work to end disease and hunger. Some will work to end poverty. Most will simply work to survive.

Of all these babies, only one captured the attention of US and European media. Only one boy, with the incredible good fortune to be born into a life of extreme wealth and privilege, caused young women to swoon; aristocrats to break out their best bottles of bubbly; and ordinary adults to interrupt their own lives in order to await news of the delivery and the baby’s gender.

No single event could better demonstrate the problems we face.

This is not just a matter of ordinary citizens being captivated by celebrity. This baby, his parents and most of his ancestors have done nothing to earn celebrity status. They are not accomplished at music, acting, sports, science, medicine or politics. They have no lengthy list of accomplishments. They are merely expert at collecting and spending money, and living like royalty.

What lies at the heart of their celebrity is the romanticism of every young girl wanting to be a princess; of every adult wanting to know what it’s like to be King or Queen.

This, after all, is the real talent of the privileged: Making you believe that you somehow benefit from their wealth and power. Making you believe that if you continue to support them, they may eventually recognize you. Making you believe that you will eventually share in their good fortune.

Of course, it never happens.

This phenomenon is at the heart of all class warfare. It’s what keeps all of the wealthy and the privileged in power. Corporate CEOs convince shareholders that supporting their enormous salaries will lead to higher share prices. Multinational corporations convince voters that cutting regulations will lower prices and create jobs. Billionaires convince voters that offering them tax breaks will improve the economy.

The reasoning is as phony as the societal value of monarchs (the gem-infused bloodlines, not the butterflies). But naive voters accept it and continue to make the rich richer and themselves poorer.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can level the playing field for all of the babies born into the world. We can vote to improve our own fortunes rather than those of the privileged. It begins by recognizing a “prince” for what he really is…just another baby.