Those Good Old Days When Poverty Was Healthy And Americans Were Free

Those Good Old Days When Poverty Was Healthy And Americans Were Free

The radical right — which is running the House of Representatives and half of the Senate — has embraced so many John Birch policies that I can hardly keep count. Let’s take a look at a few important examples of Birch ideas in today’s GOP.

Slashing food stamps, eliminating the social safety net, and gutting unemployment compensation are right in line with the views of Robert Welch, founder of the John Birch Society.

Welch, who wrote extensively about American history (his version of it), heralded the turn of the 20th century (1900s) as the golden days of the United States.

He was delighted that in those great years, the US had not been poisoned by the abominations of the New Deal. Businesses could do as they pleased without those pesky labor unions or minimum wage laws. No one had ever heard of pollution, women’s rights or civil rights. And, best of all, the government was tiny and no one paid those dreaded income taxes.

Listen to Welch’s description of the first decade of the 1900s. “The spirit of growth, of adventure, and of opportunity permeated the very atmosphere which everybody breathed.”
“There was still plenty of poverty in many areas, of course. But it was a HEALTHY KIND OF POVERTY, where every man took for granted that relief from dire want was entirely his own problem and responsibility. . .. And even the poverty was thus offset by the enormous blessing of freedom.” (John Birch Society Bulletin, July 1976).

Today’s GOPers are hell-bent on returning us to those glorious days when healthy poverty was everywhere and the government had no authority to do anything. In those halcyon days, the rich ruled and everyone else scratched whatever living they could.

Robert Welch called Social Security “a gigantic embezzlement.” His words are echoed today by such anti-social security men as Charles and David Koch, Rick Perry (GOP governor of Texas), Ron Paul (Libertarian darling and former GOP congressman from Texas). A whole gang of Republicans dream of privatizing Social Security–making the bankers happy and leaving Americans at the whim of Wall Street. As usual, the right wing of the GOP is now parroting the views of Robert Welch and the John Birch Society.


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In 1964, Robert Welch wrote about the necessities of life. “While food, shelter and clothing are necessities for an individual in a civilized community, the guarantee that he will always have them is not.”

Pay attention to drumbeat against food stamps and unemployment compensation and you’ll hear Robert Welch in a new suit. He’s Paul Ryan, Steve Stockman, Tim Heulskamp, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mitch McConnell. Of course, these men will never need food stamps or unemployment compensation. They are, like most of our politicians, financially prosperous.

Today’s GOPers are hell-bent on returning us to those glorious days when healthy poverty was everywhere and the government had no authority to do anything. In those halcyon days, the rich ruled and everyone else scratched whatever living they could.

This new breed of Republican is as radical as the John Birch Society and even more dangerous. This time around they have media support and corporate money-lots of it.

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