Iconoclast:

  1. a person who destroys religious images or opposes their veneration

  2. 2:  a person who attacks settled beliefs or institutions

iconoclastic play\(ˌ)ī-ˌkä-nə-ˈklas-tik\adjective
When I was in 5th grade, our teacher asked us to find one word per week that we didn’t know and share it with the class. Extra points were given for words that no one knew. I asked my mom to help me, and she found me this word in our dictionary. I wrote it on the blackbard the next day, along with the definition, and was proud to see that no one knew what it meant. Even now I find it’s a little known word – but it seems to be apt right now, when I think of what’s going on with the Democratic party in the US.

I’ve been a Democrat since I could vote, and I think voting is one of the most important things we can do. I  live in France, so people often ask me why I bother voting for the US president? That’s a no brainer; whatever goes down in the US goes down the world over. America is still the biggest influence on world affairs, and I learned my lesson in a very bitter way when Bush was elected and proceeded to ruin the entire world in 8 short years. If the world could have voted, he never would have been elected. Over here in Europe, there was consternation. In the Middle East, despair. You can’t whitewash the destruction the Bush administration wrought upon the rest of the world. So yes, I vote.

This year, the Democrats lined up a pretty strong field. Two soon rose to the top, Bernie Sanders, a grizzled Senator who was a self-declared Socialist (that word doesn’t worry Europeans, our strongest economies are Socialist) and the wife of a deeply admired ex-president, Hillary Clinton. Hillary’s accomplishments were just as dazzling as her husband’s in many ways. Bernie seemed like a curmudgeon, stuck on the same track as he hammered relentlessly against the economy. My first élan was towards Hillary, after all, she’s a woman and therefor a minority in the world of politics. I admire her. I didn’t care for her so much when her daughter got married and my train was fully two hours late because the Clintons had it slow to a crawl when it passed their venue, so as not to make too much noise. But I’d forgotten that. Until I started paying attention to Bernie.

You see, there is a problem with the US right now, and it’s starting to infect Europe. The 1% is becoming so wealthy that never, in a thousand years, will the middle class catch up. Read that again. the 1% hold more money than 50% of the entire world, and we cannot catch up. Not only can we not catch up, but the difference will only get worse, because once you have amassed such a huge amount, you don’t have to do anything but put it in protected havens and let it accrue. You don’t have to work, nor your children, or grandchildren for another thousand years, because a billion dollars is one million dollars a year for a thousand years. How can you even begin to imagine spending that?  Well, you don’t. But you have influence. You vote against taxes, because that would diminish by a few years your thousand year trove. You are so far removed from “regular” poeple, you cannot imagine not being able to afford rent, medicine, school…and you really don’t care. There is a huge lack of empathy that, if this were a science fiction novel, would be blotting out the stars.

So back to the Democrats. Bernie represents the rest of us. Hillary is part of the 1%. She stopped a freaking AmTrak train for her daughter’s wedding, for god’s sake. How many of us can do that? So I have no confidence that Hillary can do anything to halt or even slow the next feudal age. The sponsors for the Democratoc conventions reads like the Who’s Who of Republican Wet Dreams. You know what’s the best original idea in politics today? Making politicians wear suits like NASCAR drivers, which display their biggest corporate sponsors. Democrats and Republicans alike would be plastered with logos. So is it any wonder that many of these same businesses get massive favors from the government at taxpayers’ expense? DC spends upwards of $100 billion on corporate welfare annually, not to mention huge one-off expenditures like the bailouts. And remember folks – a Billion dollars is a Million dollars for One Thousand Years. So try to wrap your heads about ten billion. Let’s try to imagine what logos Hillary would wear.

Let’s try to imagine the richest, most influential country in the world offering free healthcare and education to its citizens, instead of free trips to Afghanistan and Iraq. Yes, travel broadens the mind, but when you’re shooting at someone it limits conversation.  Let’s try to imagine the Democratic party representing the poor and middle class – the majority of Americans. It’s a stretch, I know – but try to imagine someone on your side, who says “we don’t care what sex you are, your color, your age, your religion – we just want you to have the basics – a job, a home, an education and healthcare.” What else do you want? That’s it. A basic job that lets you pay for a house for your family, healthcare that lets you visit the dentist once a year and get medicine when you get sick. Oh, and if your kid is bright, a good education, and if he’s handicapped or kind of stupid (but you love him anyhow, damn it) he can still go to a school and be the best he can be. How much could all that cost for everyone? Well, it costs less than the Military budget. Oh shit. I just told a Big. Bad. Secret. Yes, the military costs more than giving everyone education and healthcare! And we still think we have to drop bombs on people living in mud huts. Aren’t we clever.

So here’s where the iconoclast in me comes out. Screw the rich. Screw the Military machine. Screw corporations. Screw tax havens. Screw Bill Gates, who is part of the problem, along with Trump, the Clintons, and Coca Cola. Did you know that there are only a couple corporations out there making everything in your supermarket? How many products do you think Nestlé makes? How convienient that it’s located in Switzerland. Here are some more figures fo those who bleat that big companies mean lots of jobs. Nestlé employs 339,000 people worldwide. That seems like a lot. Here is how much the company is worth: US$239.6 billion. Wow, just think. Every single person who works for Nestlé could be a millionaire. Oh but most of those poeple are working in third world countries. The average salery for a worker for Nestlé with 9 years experience is USD$ 11,000 per year in India. Kind of far from the million dollar mark, eh? And Nestlé is not your benevolent uncle. It has been accused of using child labor, worse – slave children. When these big companies aren’t hoarding money in tax havens or using slaves, they are fixing prices, polluting with impunity, and stripping forests and oceans. And we let them.  Here are some places I think we should actually bomb: Nestlé headquarters in Switzerland. Monacco. The British Virgin Islands. Delaware. Here’s what we’re bombing – countries that don’t even have an army to bomb us back. Aren’t we brave?

So yeah, I’ve decided to vote for Bernie. He hasn’t said much about the rest of the world, he’s mostly been saying how much he’d like to fix up things in the USA. He hasn’t claimed he’s going to get rid of America’s enemies or shut all the Muslims up in prison, but he’s said he wants to make education and healthcare free. He wants those big companies and people that earn more than they could spend in a thousand years to pay fair taxes. He hasn’t even said anything much about women’s rights or black people’s rights or gay people’s rights – because he probably figures that once people have decent jobs and education and good healthcare, then probably all those people will start feeling better about themselves anyhow. What he’s concerned about it the beginning of the feudal age, where we are all about to become serfs.

In the US, inequality is back to where it was before the Great Depression, and the richest 1 percent captured 95 percent of all income gains since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent got poorer. Remember what I said about Nestlé paying USD11,000 a year in India? In 2014 it was found that the billionaire class in India had increased twelvefold, enough to eliminate poverty in that country twice over. What if the powers that be in India had decided to impose a cap on capital gain, and had taxed everything over a certain sum by 90% and used that money to eradicate poverty? Do you think that Nestlé could have continued to offer USD11,000 salaries? Do you see why the rich need the poor and why big corporations are pressuring officials to keep you poor? Our wages have stagnated for 30 years now. Do you see why I am hoping the Democratic party burns to ashes after this election, because like every good iconoclast, I’m willing to tear down a belief or institution in order to build something else back up.

 

Advertisements