The "Freedom" America's Billionaires Are Selling Is Killing Us

Thom plus logo America's rightwing billionaires comfortably hang out on their massive estates, giving instant Covid tests to their live-in servants, while using the word "freedom" to describe their lifestyle in the rightwing media they own or support. The headline yesterday over at Newsmax reads, "No Masking Biden's Disdain For Freedom" and one at RedState references "Covid Tyranny."

Wealthy right wingers have been telling us this sort of thing for years: that "socialist" programs and regulations that help or protect average people diminish America's freedom.

Freedomworks and their followers in the Tea Party argued that Obamacare and Medicare destroyed American's "freedom" to choose not to have healthcare or get any support or benefits from the government when they get sick.

Mitch McConnell and Republicans in the Senate are refusing to pass Covid relief because giving unemployed people money diminishes their "freedom" and discourages their "incentive" to look for a job.

Trump's press secretary said, this morning on Fox News, that states like Oregon should not be allowed to enforce public health measures: "That's not the American way. We don't lose our freedom in this country, we make responsible health decisions as individuals."

Republicans have a bizarre notion of what that word "freedom" means. But Americans who don't have live-in chefs and pilots for their private jets are more inclined to agree with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who pointed out in 1933, that "a necessitous man is not a free man."

If you're hooked up to a ventilator and can't breathe, you're not free.

If you're sick and can't afford to pay for healthcare, you're not free.

If you're hungry and can't buy food for your family, you're not free.

If your landlord has thrown you out in the street because you can't pay your rent, you're not free.

If you're afraid to hang out with your own family because you don't want your at-risk relatives to die from coronavirus and your government is refusing to do comprehensive testing and contact tracing, you're not free.

The majority of Americans, polls show, want a different kind of freedom than that described by Mitch McConnell and his Republican colleagues in Congress.

Average Americans overwhelmingly want a national healthcare program so that nobody will ever again go bankrupt because they got sick, a situation that happens a half-million times a year in America and never, ever happens in any other developed country in the world.

They want free education through college or trade school, and quality primary schools, so every young person who didn't grow up on a billionaire estate can also achieve their full potential without bankrupting their parents or spending decades in debt bondage.

They want food and housing to be rights, not privileges, as Franklin Roosevelt proposed with his "Second Bill of Rights" in 1944.

Right wing billionaires insist that "freedom" means the right to die in debt, to remain uneducated, and to be hungry and homeless while working crap jobs at minimum wage to make the billionaires richer.

They say "freedom" means the right of a small number of morbidly rich people to suck up all the assets and resources of society, leaving almost nothing for the working class. Unemployment benefits and the minimum wage, in their universe, are the opposite of "freedom."

They argue that the real meaning of "freedom" is more tax cuts for billionaires and more poison and pollution for everybody else. If your air or water are contaminated by industry, you should just suck it up because "freedom."

And now they're telling us that "freedom" means not just the right to kill other Americans with corporate pollution, but that "free people" have the "right," without consequences, to infect other Americans with a deadly, debilitating disease.

As a result, people who watch billionaire Murdock's Fox News, read billionaire Zuckerberg's Facebook, or follow rightwing websites funded by the billionaire Koch network walk into stores without masks and plan holiday get-togethers, spreading Covid all around the country.

The billionaire idea of "freedom" is literally killing us.



dorfman 3 years 31 weeks ago

"They argue that the real meaning of 'freedom' is more tax cuts for billionaires and more poison and pollution for everybody else. "

The kicker here is that law and Supreme Court decisions give rich people the "freedom" to buy elections and elected officials, and thus to have the laws changed to give them ever more money (tax cuts) and power (fewer regulations on pollution and finance). They use their money to buy more power and their power to bring themselves more money. That's the vicous circle that has to be broken,

rostasi 3 years 31 weeks ago

"Freedom" for these people always refers to their own personal delusion of "freedom"
rather than cumulative ideas of freedom that works for the human collective. Their ingrained
solipsisms need to be ignored as much as possible in the same way that you would ignore
a child who constantly screams, "Mommy! Watch this!" It's difficult, but it can be accomplished.

lalex's picture
lalex 3 years 31 weeks ago

As Thom mentioned on the broadcast this morning, there is a decided difference between "freedom to" and "freedom from". Here is where our Bill of Rights mostly emphasizes the "freedom to's". So what is "freedom from"? An example is in the preamble of the United Nation's Declaration of Human rights which states,"human beings shall enjoy (the) freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people."

So if another person's perceived freedom to, for example, not wear a mask during COVID infringes on my right of freedom from fear, logic dictates this then is not a right of the person not wearing their mask to do this.

There is a wonderful short 'Deans Letter' from 2017 by Sandro Galea, MD, DrPH, Boston University School of Public Health at which illustrates this better than I ever could.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 3 years 31 weeks ago

Barack's statement (sort of under his breath) that the bill of rights is a set of negative rights put my brain into a run loop. After a couple of years I came up with this.

The framers of our constitution (AKA our founding fathers) were all about freedom. Yet, in the constitution the word freedom does not appear once; nor does the word liberty, except in the preamble. The appearance of liberty in the preamble enforces the belief that the framers were all about freedom. The essential right that the constitution provides is the right of “We the People” to make up the rules for the society. The people get to define the rules that guide the society. They decide on the rules that define the market place, property ownership, the economy, etc.. Oh yea, "we the people" get to create the rules about wearing a face mask. The only rules we do not get to define are those restrictions put on us by the Bill of Rights. For example, we the people, do not get to make a rule about the freedom of the press. Hence, the right of freedom of the press is a negative right.

alis volat's picture
alis volat 3 years 30 weeks ago

Thom is so great at defining a problem. I would say all of this is in the percentages. The ones that Bernie brought to our attention and others. Those others are the percentage of society that will steal when given the opportunity, the percentage that have magical thinking, the percentage with low self esteem, the percentage that suffer from untreated trauma, the percentage.....

One of the big "slap in the face" moments I just saw was a nurse on the front lines describe people literally dying while saying that it couldn't be happening to them because the virus was a hoax. I don't think there is a starker example of the damage misinformation and little or no leadership can do. There is honor in fighting against both, and we need to teach our youth it takes politics to do it.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 3 years 30 weeks ago

I let my thinking on all problems revolve around "The Spirit Level" by Richard Wilkenson and Kate Pickett. They might say something like income inequality provides the soil for misinformation to grow. Also, the value of those percentages is strongly correlated to income inequality. It seems that the Green New Deal would solve so many problems we are not aware of.

vetinla's picture
vetinla 3 years 30 weeks ago

Damn it Thom, another discussion about Socialism without mentioning MIXED ECONOMIES.

This isn't rocket science. Democratic Socialism = Mixed economy.....

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 3 years 30 weeks ago

The greening of The New Deal is a mixed economy.

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