“We’re Broke,” Say the Rich, and the Poor Must Pay


by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

A society built on racist lies and outright nonsense will believe anything. Therefore, it is no wonder that Republicans have achieved such “wondrous success by planting the words ‘We’re broke’ in the mouths of men and women who are transparently rich, and who in turn serve the interests of the super-rich.” Unfortunately, President Obama and other Democrats worship the same idols as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.


We’re Broke,” Say the Rich, and the Poor Must Pay

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Gov. Walker and President Obama are essentially the same political animals – both eager to devour working people and the poor.”

The American union movement may be headed for its Waterloo, a final debacle that could occur in Republican-ruled Wisconsin, but might just as easily happen at some later date in Democrat-governed New York. The social compact that unionists must forge in order to survive the desperate struggle with capital has always been skin-thin, ever vulnerable to shredding by issues of race, or issues that can be made to appear to be racial. This fatal U.S. labor weakness is capital’s great American asset – the source of the GOP’s popular base – second only to money, itself. In 2011, the union movement has been successfully niggerized, the ultimate American form of demonization.

Racism is the salvation of late-stage American capitalism. For hundreds of years, real facts of human existence have been routinely turned on their heads, and non-facts accepted as ultimate truths, all to justify white supremacy. A society so afflicted can believe literally anything. Thus, the Republicans achieve wondrous success by planting the words “We’re broke” in the mouths of men and women who are transparently rich, and who in turn serve the interests of the super-rich.

We’re broke” seems to be the universal Republican talking point, spoken everywhere the rich and their minions gather. It’s how House Speaker John Boehner (R-Oh) justifies his party’s draconian cuts that could lead to a federal shutdown before spring. This governmental brokenness coexists with December’s Obama-GOP two-year, $850 billion tax giveaway, 40 percent of which goes to the top five percent of income earners, while 25 percent will go to the top one percent, according to the United for a Fair Economy.

If Wisconsin is broke, it is because the GOP has chosen that it be so in order that multinational corporations can remain rich.”

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker won’t negotiate with Democrats over his bill to bust public employee unions because, “We’re broke and we need the money.” But just last month Walker shepherded through the legislature $140 million in new corporate tax breaks. So, if Wisconsin is broke, it is because the GOP has chosen that it be so in order that multinational corporations can remain rich. Such bald facts must be masked through the process of niggerizing the opposition who, says Walker, “think, somehow, a handful of the minority can hold people hostage.” With the flick of a few clumsy metaphors, Democratic Wisconsin senators, hiding out of state to avoid a quorum that would pass Walker’s anti-union bill, become inner city body snatchers while corporate executives walk away with $140 million of the people’s money.

Scott Walker’s campaign chest has never been broke. The billionaire Koch brothers see to that with generous contributions. The sinister energy industry siblings, bankrollers of the New Austerity, are anything but broke, with net worths of $21.5 billion apiece, according to Forbes Magazine.

None of the rightwing political funding outfits are broke, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has held that spending money is constitutionally protected speech, against which those who are really broke have no protections.

Certainly, Wall Street bankers aren’t broke; they’re doing better than ever, on the strength of derivative paper and near interest-free cash from the Federal Reserve – which, as printers and conjurers of U.S. currency, can never go broke.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that spending money is constitutionally protected speech, against which those who are really broke have no protections.”


The truly broke – as in “truly needy” – are the truly niggerized: African Americans, who ought to look those we-broke-talking rich people in the eye and say, like Tonto: “What you mean WE, White Man?”

United for a Fair Economy’s 2011 “State of the Dream” report, titled, “Austerity for Whom?” documents who has actually gone broke – or has always been broke – in America. “Blacks earn 57 cents and Latinos earn 59 cents on each dollar of White median family income…. Blacks hold only 10 cents of net worth and Latinos hold 12 cents for every dollar that Whites hold.”

We also know that today’s long-term unemployed, who are disproportionately Black, are broker for longer than at any time since the Great Depression.

We know school systems are starved for monies all across the country. Detroit’s system is so broke, the state has ordered that public school students double up, with classes at 60 kids, each. That will surely result in broken lives.

We know the Democratic Party has been politically broken, and is no effective defense against the GOP onslaught, because its leaders bow down to the same Wall Street gods as the Republicans. New York, a prime place of residence for the world-class rich (who don’t actually “live” anywhere in particular), is governed by a reputed “liberal” who wages relentless warfare on public sector unions. Democrat Andrew Cuomo demands a one-year wage freeze on public employees, whom he blames for all the state’s woes. At the same time, he would eliminate the highest tax brackets for the rich.

The Democratic Party is no effective defense against the GOP onslaught, because its leaders bow down to the same Wall Street gods as the Republicans.”

Barack Obama is twice as bad, having frozen federal employee wages (and torn up their contracts) for the next two years. As I wrote in BAR on December 1, 2010 (“Obama Moves Effortlessly to the Right”), Obama, Cuomo and the rest of Wall Street’s Democratic servants endorse “two central corporate axioms: that too-high worker pay and benefits is what’s wrong with the American economy, and that federal [or any public] spending is a drain on economic growth.” That is precisely Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s position. Obama also claims to think “we’re broke,” which is why he’s put Social Security and every other entitlement program on the chopping block – to throw into absolute poverty those who are now merely broke.

In failing to recognize that Gov. Walker and President Obama are essentially the same political animals – both eager to devour working people and the poor – the AFL-CIO, self-styled “progressives” and drunk-on-ObamaL’aide Black folks have set themselves up for catastrophic defeat. What has purported to comprise the Left in the United States is on the verge of being politically shattered, broken.

The only good news is, capitalism is broken, too.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].




I'm with you on this one. I was having a discussion with a friend of mine some days ago, when I commented that I was amazed at how both a financial system which two years ago was totally discredited and tottering on the brink of a (self-inflicted) collaspe, while its officers begged the big, bad government for handouts, and the Republican party whose laissez-faire political agenda largely enabled the financial system to self-destruct have both been resurrected and completely rehabilitated in the eyes of many Americans.

"How can something that has failed so spectacularly...?"

My friend cut me off, reminding me that the rich are richer than ever, large corporations and banks are wealthier and more powerful than ever before, and that the people whom the system, actually did fail, the poor, and those in the working and lower middle classes don't matter, and don't appear to have the power to make the system respond to them in positive ways. Capitalism at its most crass and venal is alive and well. Unfortunately, "we ain't seen nothing yet".

PEASEHEAD: thx; it's Sanda ---

It's Sanda. no y and no r.  On the rich: I like Matt Taibbi's line that none of the Wall Street crowd went to jail for the "big heist" (my words).

I don't argue that capitalism is not dying, just that even so, while on its way, we, the regular folks are being buried in the rubble as it falls and the rich keep cleaning up the $$.  Michael Parenti has an interesting article today on Znet.  www.zcommunications.org/znet  (I think is url)

Self styled Progressives?

What are you talking about, self styles progressives and purpoted to be the Left? They are progressives and the Left just as much as you are. I am more optimistic about the future of the American Left. The current conflict will reinvigorate it and the American Labor movement. The AFL-CIO isn't perfect but it has a lot of good people and is a large part of the movement to effect real change. The comparison between Obama and Walker is a slight exaggeration.


The above comment, '"What are you talking about self styled progressives" is a reply to your comments and not those of Glen Ford. Also in reference to the proceeding comments; capitalism is not alive and well but only appears to be so, because that is what they want you to believe.  Most of us watch too much Television and are demoralized by what we see, and so are unconscious victims of ruling class propaganda.  It consequently retards our ability to struggle.

Glen is right, capitalism is failing.  It has been failing, nothing has changed but our ability to see clearly the strategy of the ruling classes. Despite what claims they make of recovery and so forth, do you see any real evidence of it, either in the U.S or  around the world, when it comes to the conditions of poor and working class people.  The strength of capitalism and the ruling class is that they are able to mask the contradictions so as to enlist you and I into their reality, instead of maintaing what we know is the true reality.  So there you go1

beverly: thank you. Aging is great for women's spirit and

being old is great for "I don't care what anybody thinks" but physically, aging is not so good - but, humor goes last.  I wouldn't want to do my youth again but I do miss the body...And I have started the countdown to my real birthday, Feb. 29, 2012 as probably every other Leap Year "baby" started doing yesterday.  I'll be "legal" voting age - 18 birthdays, if  I "make it".

What are talking about self styled progressies

Self styled progressives means just that; those who continued to label themselves as "progressives' but  align themselves with the goals of neo Liberalism, an ideology which continues to obscure the contradictions between labor and capital and consequently leaves labor forever at the mercy of finance capital.  Self styled progressives" act as impediment to the advancement of working class interest because they refuse to  take seriously or accept with any conviction, the true implications of the contradictions between labor and capital.

"Self styled progressives" also continue to frame the debate around the deteriorating economic conditions of workers and the poor as basically that of the difference between the Democrat and the Republican party, at least for the most part, and  whether one is anti-union or pro union, which limits their vision and their options for solutions, which would ultimately, change fundamentally, the relationship of labor to capital. 

We must realize that the reluctance of many workers to fight for unionization not only has to do with the powerful forces which intercede to oppose those efforts, but the lack of trust and belief in  unions to work on their behalf, and represent their interest,  based on the concessions  most union make to capital. Workers are not dumb.  They see how unions really work in this country, and how union leaders ultimately align themselves with finance capital.  This was not the case when unions first begin gathering strength at the beginning of the twentieth century. Many union leaders, at that time, were not timid in emphasizing the contradictions between labor and capital. Unfortunately, their meritorious efforts were ultimately subsumed by bourgeois democratic forces, and thus set the stage for the constitution of the unions of today.

The unions as presently constituted, cannot rescue workers from their economic morass;  because they do not represent the class interest of workers, and workers are destined  to bear the brunt of the economic crisis because they  are not aware of themselves as a class, pure and simple.

You can not serve two masters.  If you want to label yourself as progressive, then, this has to mean taking an anti-imperialist stance, and opposing neo- liberal solutions which leave power in the hands of the capitalist class, for them to turn their wrath on workers and the poor at their discretion and force solutions upon the working class which ultimately benefit their own interest and leave the contradictions of labor and capital intact.

This is the difference between a "self styled progressive" and a true progressive; which one are you.  Because right now it looks very much like you are still straddling the fence.

In struggle

Throwing in my 2 cents (or 1 cent adjusted for inflation) lol

Great give and take thus far.  I agree with Hamadi and Bev that "workers ain't stupid" and they recognize that "Big Organized Labor" is simply an arm/vassal of "Big Capitalists."  Welcome to the Failed States of America!

America is probably incapable of reform because of it's Calvinistic impulses and inherent greed which springs from its colonial character, and it's fealty to it's true god, the god of American Exceptionalism.  I have family members that belong to the AFL-CIO who worked in John Deere plants and I assure you that they harbor no starry-eyed opinions of labor unions.  As my oldest brother says, "Big Unions are nothing more than Big Business" with it's "leaders" nailing down six figure salaries for screwing the workers.  But destroying unions in relatively easy in a social and cultural climate where "me'-ism" and indivduality rules the roost. (Remember, every prick in America wants to be a middle manager or a Reality TV star)

What Deere did in their last collective bargaining agreement was to sell out (to an extent) the younger workers so the older ones could maintain their medical and pension benefits into retirement; hence the creation of a 2-tiered wage scale.  These changes were ratified and spear-headed by older workers who made fantastic wages during their ENTIRE tenure there and who didn't give a shit that younger workers, many of whom were starting families, would get the short end of the stick.  The primacy of the individual will destroy what's left of the American commonwealth.  And the sad thing is no one knows this better than the political dupoly and it's intellgentsia and propaganda arm aka the MSM.  Divide and conquer comes easily in America. 

Thusly, the younger workers will typically say screw the pensions of older workers or have the arrogance to believe they can invest "in the market" themselves this puts Social Security under attack; conversely the older workers say screw the younger ones, "I've got mine, get yours," this makes the union irrelevant.  (This is the sine qua non of the Tea Party Movement aka Bush's Base, "get off me, you broke bastards, every man for himself and god for us all.") 

Lastly, capitalism is not as alive and well as many of yall think.  Capitalism is teetering which is EXACTLY WHY THESE MOFOS are robbing the working/middle classes.  If they can't rob us, then capitalism erodes steadily and rapidly.  Without the greatest theft (TARP, QE, QE2, FED discount window, asset buybacks, 100% par value bailouts) in the history of mankind, capitalism WOULD HAVE ALREADY IMPLODED!!  More and more individuals are also unabashedly calling out capitalism for the harmful system it is.  I've heard them on NPR, where once upon a time people would be fearful of saying such things. American socialists are indeed coming out of the woodwork.

 More and more countries and nations are eschewing capitalism because they recognize it's volatility and unsustainability.  Capitalism won't crumble over night or perhaps not in it's entirety, but there is a growing attitude that American-style capitalism is harmful, undermines meritocracy and is unsustainable and cruel.

And don't forget, lest history repeat itself (and indeed it will) that much of what we continue to call capitalism in America is nothing more than sophisticated ponzi schemes and casino gambling, it's not as if Wall St. changed overnight, nothwithstanding Obama's bullshit "Financial Reform Bill."  It's been back to business as usual.  The next time the shit collapses (and collapse it will) these bitches won't get a dime from the public and in fact might get a bullet or two.

Last but not least, don't omit the possibility of a "Black Swan" moment crashing this shit as fast as the Berlin Wall crumbled or the Soviet Union imploded.  Indeed the nesting or the birthings of that Black Swan moment might be something evolving out of the current ME unrest/revolution.  If oil prices hit $150 or $200 a barrel this summer, then I imagine we'll revisit the successes (or excesses) of capitalism, huh?




From The Real News Network- Feb 28 2011: 

Paul Jay: WI Gov Walker talked today about how one of the provisions of his bill will allow union members not to pay their dues, and they could use what he says will amount to almost $1,000 a year towards the new pension and health care benefits contributions he'd like them to be making. The unions respond that this is just another piece of trying to break the union altogether. In the battle in WI is the kind of publicity & TV ads, that attempts to split the workers in the private sector from the workers in the public sector, a lot of specific references to 3 plants, Kohler plumbing, Mercury Marine, & Harley Davidson, 3 big factories in WI where the workers took a 2-tier contract agreement, under the threat that the factories would leave WI if they didn't agree. So workers that are already there are going to make around $22.50 / hr & they have a 5yr wage freeze, new workers are going to start at $14.50 / hr. And then these people are being told, well, you should support WI Gov Walker so that public sector workers get cut as well, because then it will all be fair. What do you make of this split they're trying to engineer?

FRANK HAMMER, FMR. PRESIDENT, UAW LOCAL 909: The Corp / Biz Elites have been threating to taking our livelihoods away & sending them to non-union areas or overseas. That's been their leverage, especially with the free trade agreements that have been passed over the last 20 years [IE: GATT & NAFTA - So this is on-going since at least Reagan]. But they don't have that leverage on public workers. They can't move the WI's Gov't to North Carolina... Every time they attack one sector of the workforce they use that to bring along the other sector of the workforce & slowly but surely ratchet us all down to the level of mere survival... 

JAY: When I talk to un-unionized, lower-paid workers, they're  resentful about higher-paid, unionized private sector workers... Is this having an impact, that people resent the sort of job security that public sector workers have that private don't?

Hammer: Between public & private, one in eight or one in nine  are w unions. The vast majority of working-class don't enjoy the benefits of either private sector workers in unions or public sector workers in unions. Jealousy is really an amazingly destructive human emotion. Folks like the Koch brothers & all these anti-union institutions in the US are making use of jealousy to say, well, if I can't have it (I'm speaking as a non-union worker), then why should they have it? It's jealousy gone amok being stirred & manipulated by folks like the Koch brothers, who would like to do away with all collective organization of the working class as a whole. A friend of mine today told me they saw an article in The NY-Times quoting a UAW member from a Jaynesville plant who was laid off. He's unemployed- so he's supporting WI Gov Walker because he's feeling like, since I've lost my job & I'm now being asked to pay taxes to pay for what public workers now have that he doesn't have, then he feels resentment and doesn't want to do it. I think it's a question of unions reaching out to the non-union sector, reaching out to the community to explain that unions are the best thing since sliced bread, - the more of us that gather inside unions & work for our behalf, the better off we're all going to be. As long as we non-union workers gang up on union workers, we're all going to lose.

JAY: How much fault do you put towards union leadership for over the last few decades not being as vigorous about unionizing non-unionized workers as they could have been? Certain sectors of the working class got very privileged, while most of the other working class became totally unorganized. Maybe there's a bit of chickens coming home to roost here [Due to a Selfish / Darwinistic- I got mine so You get yours - Looking out for Number One - Survival of the Fittest Mentality]?...


Then there this from Feb 24 2011 DemcracyNow! broadcast where WI Gov Walker thinking he's talking to a Koch Bro says:  [I pulled out a picture of Ronald Reagan. And I said, "You know, this may seem a little melodramatic, but 30 years ago, Ronald Reagan," whose hundredth birthday we just celebrated the day before, "had one of the most defining moments of his political career, not just his presidency, when he fired the air traffic controllers." "To me, that moment was more important than just for labor relations or even the federal budget. That was the first crack in the Berlin Wall and the fall of communism, {thus he's equating busting unions w defeating communism - meaning people like him, 'I can't recollect'-Reagan, the FOXes, Koch Bros, OH Gov Kasich, etc- see any union member as a communistbecause from that point forward, the Soviets and the Communists knew that Ronald Reagan wasn’t a pushover." And I said, "This may not have as broad of world implications, but in Wisconsin’s history"—little did I know how big it would be nationally—Wisconsin’s history, I said, "This is our moment. This is our time to change the course of history."] - And also this: [IAN MURPHY: {as David Koch} "We’ll back you any way we can. But what we were thinking about the crowds was planting some troublemakers." - GOV. SCOTT WALKER'{sresponse}: "You know, well, the only problem with—because we thought about that. The problem with—or my only gut reaction to that would be right now the lawmakers I’ve talked to have just completely had it with them. {and} The public is not really fond of this." - And also This: [WI Gov Scott Walker: "I've got layoff notices ready, we put out the at-risk notices, we'll announce Thursday, they'll go out early next week...  we'll probably give five to six thousand state workers... at-risk notices for layoffs. We might
 ratchet that up a little bit too."] 

So newly elected Govs Walker [WI] , Kasich [OH]  & the Koch Bro phony Tea Baggers had going after Gov't worker unions in mind from the get-go. Further WI Gov Walker is apparently ready to use five to six thousand Wisconsin state workers as pawns in his political chess game- denying them the ability to feed their families- to use as leverage in his show-down w WI State workers' unions. We also see planting agent provocateurs to stir up trouble as an excuse for the storm troopers to crack down [IE: crack heads] -or- even as one IN official just said 'Shoot to Kill' WI protesters [sounds like what Boss Daley said during the 1968 riots after MLK assassination & Khadifi's orders to put down the current Libyan up-rising]- is standard operating procedure by the Fascist Gov'ts & the Power Elites. So why didn't so many working class white folks in WI & OH [& else-where] see this coming when they voted these guys in this past Nov? Could it be that so many of them where caught up in the FOX Noise Tea Bagger thinly disguised race-baiting [presented as anti-Obama, anti-AlQaeda] rhetoric - that they've been blind-sided??!! 

This is how the Power Elites pit the people against each other - to their advantage [& our dis-advantage]- the old Divide & Conquer Strategy. Pit- Black vs Brown vs white, - young vs old, - men vs women vs children, teachers vs parents vs students, - private sector workers vs public sector workers, - union workers vs non-union workers, - employed vs un-employed, - Christian vs Muslim vs Jew, etc, etc, etc [The Ole Willie Lynch letter tactics]... If we keep falling for this Ole Okee Doke [Rope a Dope] We're All Gonna Lose [IE: We're done for].



ON So-Called Socialism in The Bible & Liberation Theology

Many so-called poly-trickal hard-core right-wing GOP FOXes like to wrap themselves in the mantle of the Bible [& the flag] as they rail on & on about the evils of socialism. But the reality is most of them are really Social Darwinists- I don't care if they say they believe in Creationism or how much they hoop & holler about Jesus [generally thats nothing but poly-trickal posturing anyway]. But most so-called political leftists run from the Bible [as well as embrace Darwin's concept of evolution] so they don't how to neutralize these fake FOX type holy-rollers w the BIBLE [fight fire w fire so to speak].

So here is a few verses that might help:

I am my Brother's Keeper...- The greed for money [power & materialism] is the root of all Evil...- You shall protect & watch out for the fatherless, the widow & the old...- 

[And when you harvest your fields- you shall not strip it completely bare- but leave some so that the poor, needy & the sojourner don't go hungry...]   

[And they {the Apostles} were not fixated on there own personal stuff - but rather shared all things in common - according to their needs...]  

[And the Lord said: I was hungry but you refused to feed me, I was homeless & out in the street but you refused to give me shelter, I was sick but you denied me medical care, I was unjustly imprisoned &/or treated unjustly in prison because you denied me justice...  Verily I say... since you haven't looked out for the welfare of the least of [my people], then you have neglected & abused ME... And those who do so shall face condemnation...]

[And a rich-man came to Yeshua [aka: Jesus] saying- I believe in your teachings & I'm ready to get w what you're talking about. So Yeshua responded That's Great - but I've got one more thing to ask of you - Take all that excessive material stuff that you possess [but don't really need or even use] & give it to the poor & needy [who have far more need of it than you]. And the rich-man left from him rather upset because he was very rich. Then Yeshua said to his apostles- It is easier for a camel to go thru the needles' eye than for the rich to get into the Kingdom I'm talking about-(So what the heck did he mean by that- its impossible for a camel to get thru a sewing needle's eye - That seems like an utterly ridiculous statement- EXCEPT- Old Jerusalem was a walled city w several main gates. But it also had smaller passage ways which only 1 or 2 men could pass thru simultaneously- called Needle Eyes. So when traders w goods came to the city w only 1 or 2 camel loads instead of a whole caravan - instead of opening one of the main gates {especially during conflict} they stripped the camel down {naked so to speak} of all that stuff it was carrying & made it hunch down on its belly so it could crawl thru these narrow openings called Needle Eyes -&- Most rich folks aren't going to be willing to share their wealth w nor see & treat ordinary folk as their equals - Now do you see his point...]

Now people often refer to these scriptures as a call to so-called Christian charity - But- One could easily say they are referring to a type of Socialist Society - except that modern Euro concept of Socialism has removed the spiritual [IE: Biblical] essence from that ideology. So faux holy-rollers FOX Noise types get to call so-call socialism = communism which is supposedly godless- Except - what they are pushing is Social Darwinism [disguised as so-called Free Market Capitalism, Disaster Capitalism, Neo-Liberal Global Free Trade, etc] which is just as godless [IE: cut-throat / dog-eat-dog]- if not more so. But because most so-called leftists avoid publicly talking about concepts of Faith - even to defend their own political positions - they lose in this arena by default... Rather They spend too much time {pseudo}intellectualizing about issues- But most people [especially Black & Brown people] are not that kind of faux intellectual. 

I think Rev Dr ML King, Haitian Pres Aristide, & Arch Bishop Romero called it Liberation{for the masses}Theology!