Transcript: Thom Hartmann: The Big Picture: The "Takers" vs. the "Makers". 25 May '11

Any good war effort needs an effective P.R. strategy. A campaign to specify just who the enemy is - and why they should be defeated - how else do you rally support? So when it comes to the Republican war on the working class - who do you think they turned to for help with messaging?

Fox News - well, Fox Business Channel actually. All this week - Fox is running segments named "Entitlement Nation: Makers versus Takers"….take a look:

LOU DOBBS: All week this week, Fox Business presenting a special series called "Entitlement Nation, Makers Versus Takers," on the nation's growing dependence on government handouts. Peter Barnes and Ashley Webster here with two reports tonight. Peter, let's begin with you.

ANDREW NAPOLITANO: And the feds give away more money than they collect in taxes. The money is doled out primarily in the form of entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Not only are these problems unconst -- or, these programs unconstitutional, as the federal government is not authorized to take money from one group and give it to another, but they make Americans dependent upon big government

DAVID ASMAN: Kicking off tonight, for several weeks now, Scoreboard has been featuring a segment called 'Makers and Takers,' which we think embodies the great divide in this country between the folks who actually make things, and those who actually take what others make.]

Right…they say there’s a war going on in America - a war that pits the rich - or the makers - against the poor - the takers.

And Republicans accuse Democrats of playing class warfare??

First off - the premise of this war is completely absurd - as if rich people are having ANYTHING taken away from them today in America. Their tax rates are at historic lows - with the richest Americans - billionaire Walton heirs or Paris Hilton's or hedge fund managers sitting on their butts by the pool collecting their dividend checks in the mail and paying only 15% in taxes - far less that what you and I pay.

Can you name one thing that any of these folks are actually MAKING - other than a boatload of money? Today - the richer are richer than they’ve ever been since right before the Great Depression.

The wealth inequality is greater than it’s ever been since right before the Great Depression.

The "makers" - as Fox calls them - have never had it so good in America…so why does Fox make it look like they’re under assault by so-called “takers”? It’s simple - Republicans need to re-brand Paul Ryan's radical budget plan that privatizes Medicare and destroys our social safety net in America.

It’s all about politics - and singling out an enemy.

Ronald Reagan was the first to single out poor people as the enemy with his “welfare queen” campaigns - and today - Republicans have picked up the same message with their "takers" meme. As though the millions of people who lost their jobs and homes thanks to banksters on Wall Street crashing our economy REALLY WANT to be on welfare.

As though they ENJOY the stigma attached to welfare - they enjoy scraping pennies together to feed their family - they enjoy not being able to buy their kids Christmas presents.

What kind of warped view of America do these right-wingers have when they argue that tens of millions of Americans are nothing but moochers?

I don't know about you - but I don't see that when I look at my country. These people don’t enjoy poverty and welfare.

People who’ve fallen on hard times want to get back on their feet again - they just need some help. And as Franklin Roosevelt said - the best welfare program is a job.

But guess what? The “makers” aren’t making any jobs…in America at least they’re making millions of jobs overseas - but barely any here in America.

And the policies that DO create jobs - like closing tax breaks that ship jobs overseas - Republicans filibustered and Fox News bashed.

The problem in America is not that the takers have taken too much from the makers. It's that the "makers" have taken too much from everyone else - screwing all of us - without really making anything.

But this "makers" versus "takers" war isn't anything new. Ayn Rand referred to the conflict as "producers" versus "looters" - rich industrialists versus workers and the poor.

Despite her disturbing ideas - Ayn Rand is a hit among Republicans - in particular - Paul Ryan...take a look:

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI): Ayn Rand more than anyone else did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism... So if Ayn Rand were here today I think she would do a great job in showing us just how wrong what government is doing is... It’s that kind of thinking, that kind of writing that is sorely needed right now.

Paul Ryan also makes his staff read Rand's books, so please don't burst his bubble by pointing out that Ayn Rand herself went on Medicare when she became eligible.

And now Fox is taking this same radical philosophy and devoting an entire week to promoting it.

So let's tell it how it is. The real "makers" in our society are the people creating demand by buying things.

Remember what George W. Bush said after 9/11?

"Go shopping!"

Even Bush understood that the real "makers" in our society are the consumers and the wage-workers, not the guys out playing golf on a Wednesday.

Even people on Social Security or unemployment are "makers" because they're spending every penny they get, and their consumer spending is what drives the economy.

This isn't a nation of makers and's a nation of makers with a couple thousand millionaires and billionaires looting what's left.

As the richest man in America, Warren Buffett, pointed out, there IS a class war in America - and his class is winning it.

They are the real takers - and at least Buffett is honest enough to admit it and even work to try to change it.

If Fox is going to focus-group for the Republican Party and the nation's billionaires, the least they could do is take the word "News" out of their name.

That's The Big Picture.

Thom's Blog Is On the Move

Hello All

Today, we are closing Thom's blog in this space and moving to a new home.

Please follow us across to - this will be the only place going forward to read Thom's blog posts and articles.

From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"With the ever-growing influence of corporate CEOs and their right-wing allies in all aspects of American life, Hartmann’s work is more relevant than ever. Throughout his career, Hartmann has spoken compellingly about the value of people-centered democracy and the challenges that millions of ordinary Americans face today as a result of a dogma dedicated to putting profit above all else. This collection is a rousing call for Americans to work together and put people first again."
Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO
From Unequal Protection, 2nd Edition:
"Beneath the success and rise of American enterprise is an untold history that is antithetical to every value Americans hold dear. This is a seminal work, a godsend really, a clear message to every citizen about the need to reform our country, laws, and companies."
Paul Hawken, coauthor of Natural Capitalism and author of The Ecology of Commerce
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Thom is a national treasure. Read him, embrace him, learn from him, and follow him as we all work for social change."
Robert Greenwald, political activist and founder and president of Brave New Films