The "Freedom" Billionaires & the GOP Are Selling Americans Is Deadly

Thom plus logo Will Americans wake up to how bizarre and toxic this rightwing ideology actually is?

What is freedom?

Earlier this week, a group of "freedom fanatics," shut down the Covid vaccination operation at Dodger Stadium, slowing down the process for hundreds of people before the police stopped them.

They called it an "Anti-lockdown Freedom Rally and March," saying "We're not going to stop until we get our freedoms back."

They're the same type of folks who argued that New York's lockdown was an unconstitutional violation of their freedom, and spent much of 2020 proudly refusing to wear masks because "freedom."

They even occupied the Michigan Capitol with assault weapons because, they said, Governor Whitmer's efforts to prevent Michiganders from dying of Covid were assaults on their "freedom."

As NBC reported, that invasion was preceded by months of events like one where: "Dozens of demonstrators took to the Michigan Capitol in Lansing for a rain-soaked protest Thursday - the third such event in the past month - demanding their 'freedom'..."

Billionaire-funded rightwing groups and the Republicans they own spent most of last year telling us that wearing masks, social distancing, and closing some businesses to prevent spreading a deadly disease infringes on our "freedom."

A RedState headline referenced "Covid Tyranny," while over at Newsmax their headline was, "No Masking Biden's Disdain For Freedom."

Back in the 1930s, wealthy rightwingers argued that FDR's proposed Social Security program was a socialist plot to destroy America's freedom.

Ronald Reagan made a similar argument in the early 1960s against LBJ's Great Society proposal to start a single-payer healthcare system for seniors called Medicare.

"If Medicare passes into law, the consequences will be dire beyond imagining," Reagan said. "One of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children's children, what it once was like in America [before Medicare] when men were free."

For the last 40 years Republicans and the billionaires have used a massive media machine to tell us that Democratic "socialist" programs like unemployment insurance and the minimum wage diminish Americans' freedom.

They argued a decade ago that Obamacare was a direct assault on our freedom. The rightwing organization Freedomworks helped organize Tea Party protests back then, and promoted "Open America" protests across the country against lockdowns last year.

Republicans in the Senate today want to cut Covid relief and oppose any sort of anti-virus measures because, they say, they diminish American's freedom and discourages our "incentive" to get back to work making billionaires richer.

They've been selling this grotesque notion of freedom to us for decades, but Americans are starting to wake up to how bizarre and toxic this rightwing ideology actually is.

What is true freedom?

Back in 1933, Franklin Roosevelt, in his inaugural address, pointed out that "a necessitous man is not a free man."

- If you're unconscious and on a ventilator because Trump told you wearing masks was for wimps, you're not free.

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

- If your landlord threw you out on the street and you're homeless because you lost your job and can't afford to pay rent, you're not free.

- If you're sick and afraid to go to the hospital because you know the bills will leave you broke and homeless, you're not free.

- If you need to go to college or trade school to get a better life but can't afford it, you're not free.

When a Kansas man died of Covid recently, his family said he became infected because rightwingers "refuse to wear a piece of cloth on their face to protect one another." After all, wearing a mask infringes on freedom, right?

Mr. Farr's obituary read: "He died in a room not his own, being cared for by people dressed in confusing and frightening ways. He died with covid-19, and his final days were harder, scarier and lonelier than necessary. He was not surrounded by friends and family."

But, Republicans would argue, he was free!

The billionaires and their Republican puppets tell us that real freedom, in fact, means a small number of people being able to concentrate hundreds of billions of dollars in their own money bins while the children of one in seven American families today go to bed hungry.

America's billionaires and their Republican puppets tell us that the real meaning of freedom is bigger tax cuts for billionaires and more deregulation, poison and pollution for everybody else.

It's literally been their governing philosophy since the Reagan Revolution, and everything from Bush's "Clear Skies Initiative" that empowered polluters, to Trump's putting an oil lobbyist in charge of the EPA and a coal lobbyist in charge of our public lands at the Interior Department bears this out.

They've managed to convince millions of working class Americans that freedom essentially means the "right" to die in debt, to remain uneducated, and to be hungry and even homeless while working crappy jobs at $7.25 an hour to make the billionaires richer.

But it's a lie.

Real freedom requires a foundation that allows people to step away from struggling for survival and toward meaningful activities in life. It's the soil in which a functioning civil society and a healthy free enterprise system are rooted.

The experience of nations all over the world shows us that freedom grows most rapidly and best flourishes over the long term in societies with a strong middle class and a strong social safety net. Just take a look at northern Europe, Australia, South Korea or Taiwan.

And that middle class grows with education, a job that pays a fair wage, and access to healthcare that doesn't bankrupt you: things that are guaranteed as rights by virtually every developed nation in the world...except America.

The foundations of freedom are paid for by taxes: good schools and colleges, hospitals that aren't run on a for-profit basis to rip people off with "surprise billings," and jobs with pay and benefits that allow for a decent life.

Billionaires and their Republican shills want us to think that raising the top tax brackets on people who take in more than $400,000 a year (Biden's proposal) will take away our freedom. In fact, raising those tax brackets is what built the American middle class between 1940 and 1980, when the rate paid by the top bracket was 74% to 91%.

America needs a healthy conversation - a debate, even - about freedom.

Will we continue to hold the notion that being free means getting lousy pay, no union, being broken by healthcare expenses and putting our kids to bed hungry?

Or will we realize, as most of the developed world figured out decades ago, that for a society to be free its richest people must help fund the essentials of life for all those working people and consumers who turned them into billionaires?

Freedom doesn't mean you "have nothing left to lose."

It means standing tall on a foundation of essential security and safety: A home, job, and freedom from fear of sickness.

It means a political system that responds to the will of the majority of the people. It means the American Dream that 40 years of Reaganism has left in shreds and tatters.

We must return to freedom. And FDR - whose picture now hangs in the Oval Office - has shown us how to get there.

-Thom

Originally posted on thomhartmann.medium.com.

Comments

cuz's picture
cuz 32 weeks 4 days ago
#1

Thank you, Sue, you made it happen.

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 32 weeks 4 days ago
#2

Why are we so thick?

deepspace's picture
deepspace 32 weeks 4 days ago
#3

FDR - the opposite of ...Trump! Oh dang, sorry.

"- If you're unconscious and on a ventilator because Trump told you wearing masks was for wimps, you're not free." - from above [italics mine]

Don't worry, be happy

rostasi 32 weeks 4 days ago
#4

cuz: Do you ever have anything constructive to add?

Helen Steely 32 weeks 4 days ago
#5

One thing that the so called conservatives gave us in Penna was the gift of stand your ground and I would suggest that if you find one of the GOP harrassing you for wearing a mask let them know that the right of self defense includes liberal gun toting Democrats. We have a lot of them in Penna and not all of them hunt. We have licenses to carry for self defense. That is equal rights in Pa. Since the WACK O's want to carry guns on the floor of the house and senate a friend of mine suggested that Mrs. Pelosi carry a .45 instead of her gavel one day. It might make the likes of my representative, Scott Perry think twice. LOL

Tom1945 32 weeks 4 days ago
#6

When we were children the phrase would often be said, in response to a command to do something, "I don't have to. It's a free country." A child can be excused for not understanding the meaning of "freedom" but what is the excuse for mask-denying adults?

deepspace's picture
deepspace 32 weeks 4 days ago
#7

Rhetorical question, answer: Selfish dumbassery is not an excuse; it is a requirement. Maybe that's literal.

Riverplunge's picture
Riverplunge 32 weeks 4 days ago
#8

You know that you are free to not wear a seat belt.

And the car insurance is free NOT to cover your hospitalization.

You are also free to work in dangerous places and drink alcohol.

And the insurance company is ONCE AGAIN free not to hospitalized you.

Make it free to carry a gun.

As long as the end of the barrel is aimed at yourself.

And you are free not to wear a parachute.

And we all know how that one ends

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alis volat's picture
alis volat 32 weeks 4 days ago
#9

Roosevelt appointed the first woman cabinet member, Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins. She was The Woman Behind the New Deal (a book by Kirstin Downey). There is a poignant passage in the book describing Secretaries Perkins and Ickes looking out an office window watching old, apparently starving, women going through the garbage. They pushed Franklin as far left as they dared, and of course, human rights champion Eleanor Roosevelt helped. When people approached FDR for solutions concerning the programs, he was famous for sending them to Frances. Lucky for us, she really loved the American people and worked her ass off. Her picture should be in the Oval Office as well.

Biden has his own place in history for picking Vice President Harris. She is a hard worker too. He also has some compassionate people for his cabinet picks. Throw in the fantastic Dr. Jill Biden, and I think we have a good prescription for what ails us. Joe said he would level with us. We need the truth more than ever.

Labels are a problem; we should create the socio-economic system that brings liberty and justice for all. It will need constant work because things are invented and times change. Also when you know better, you should do better. President Biden seems to have learned a great deal. He listens. Isn't that refreshing? I wonder what issues those older grand-daughters and grand-son have to discuss with him about the world they want to live in.

Let the pushing begin!

Legend 32 weeks 4 days ago
#10

Trump was upset that his first set of impeachment lawers wanted 3 million upfront. This is despite the fact that he has raised 170 million for his defense. Who knew that telling lies and inciting a riot could be so profitable?

jollyjaws's picture
jollyjaws 32 weeks 3 days ago
#11

I'm sorry but I'm liberal also.
There is a fine line between stupidity and common sense
Both parties are corrupt. Both have billionaires manipulating them.
There is no valid reason that civil liberties and those who want to wear masks can't coincide. It is a danger to let a government tell us how to live our lives and what is frightening or scary or fearful. 9/11 gave us fear so does this virus and it brought more control more spying on us
and destruction. We give up our freedoms regularly for this government. We still keep believing it's ours.
The reality of our lives is that both of these parties are against us. The trick in the situation is recognizing it.
Either way we are being toppled. Behind closed doors the men that promote their on our side having agenda that they give to us from their masters.
The Republicans are blatantly obvious. Billionaires have bought them and they were told to move the country towards fascism. To fear the populace about socialism at its dangerous as compared to how dangerous fascism is in its black and white death march like in Germany.
FDR saved America with programs. Those programs just like every other thing can be corrupted and they are. Pharmaceuticals that Rob us insurance companies that Rob us. Everything this government does robs us.
Suggesting in this article that the Democrats are saviors is complete crap. Their facade is nicer it suggests helping others and giving money to the disenfranchised. However it also is corrupt.
Everyone needs to know that the owners of the world are moving humanity toward enslavement in world order.
How easy it is to create a virus and make the world bend over for the rich and the elite and the corporations.
if we can't wrap our heads around that then we deserve to lose our freedoms.
Under the Republicans we lost our freedoms with Patriot act that all of our Congress has renewed over and over again. Obama brought us NDAA.
When we recognize that both these teams are puppets for the elite and their job is to destroy America ever so carefully so the citizens don't wake up.
This virus is a pandemic for the entire world because world order is what they want.
has anybody read about global reset that they're doing over in Switzerland behind closed doors?
When we think one of these sides is better than the other we are absolutely inane.
If people want to wear masks they have that right and so do people who don't want to. No person who wears a mask is going to get it from a non-masker.
Remember at the foundation of the country when people said give me liberty or give me death. Now it's give me a mask and make me bend over. people willing to give up their freedoms don't deserve it.
there is still evil in the world and it it has mastered how to manipulate sheep who don't read and don't see what's going on around them. How naive to think that we have one side of this that's the good side??
Wake up!!! Biden was chosen to win and get in.
It makes the people feel that they have a democracy still.
We have no idea about the elections cuz we have no paper trail so the election could have been manipulated toward Biden. For sure it was manipulated toward GW between 2000 and 2008. Remember that? Remember hanging chads and Kerry saying he was going to fight till the end to determine if there was fraud in that election and never did.
The masters of the chess board know how stupid we are.
This virus was created for just this purpose.
Let's think about stimulus packages when we're 26 trillion dollars in debt plus. that giving money away that's worthless is going to save the Titanic from going under.
I'm on social security and I don't want to stimulus.
I have money coming in why should people with money coming in get more money? This is the insanity that is destroying us. Give the money to people who have no money coming in who have been kicked out on the street.
We are doomed because people have no clue that this kind of deception is going on right in front of their face.
911 was a deception. Controlled opposition and control of the media and lies have been going on since the world began. America is going to fall because we cannot recognize evil. It didn't go away it went underground and our government brought it over here after world war two and put them in the system and diseased us.
If I get a virus I will get ill and go through a process of sickness. The propaganda that the media has given us about this virus and celebrities coming forward and suggesting a loan together and not being selfish and on and on is manipulation. There is evidence that nurses have come forward and said they were told to have every illness that's flu-like to be considered covid. People have gotten misfirised and gotten better without a vaccine and it's ludicrous what fear will do to people. With 9/11 you look and see what we got for our fear and the Boogeyman that the government gave us.

cuz's picture
cuz 32 weeks 3 days ago
#12

Good morning Jollyjaws, what a post you put up. I have been trying to communicate what said so brilliantly since I joined this forum. The general public on BOTH sides of the political aisle is being manipulated by a select few Republicans and Democrats that are just searching for more power and control. I just finished my second re-watch of the American version of Netflix's House of Cards. How it parallels what is going on right now is astounding. Warren Buffett and his oil hauling choo-choo railroad vs. a modern pipeline is one of the recent and obvious examples.

Prepare yourself to be jumped on by a number of people here that are fixated on just one political side and attack over and over when their leaders are questioned. There is no room in their heads for listening to alternative opinions you know. I suspect you will read the word troll a lot in the coming hours.

There is hope, cable news channels are in a rating freefall. Maybe with some luck, the Facebook and Twitter crowd will tire of shouting at each other and both suffer a huge loss in followers and people will start using alternates to Google.

Good luck to you,

Fins to the left, fins to the right

thomHshow's picture
thomHshow 32 weeks 3 days ago
#13

After years of contemplating it, I finally have realized the fundamental flaw of the founders of this country: They did not create a "Bill of Responsibilities" to go with the "Bill of Rights".

I suppose they could not imagine a time when over half the population would simply not understand why they began the Constitution with "WE THE PEOPLE...".

I can't name the 10 Responsibilities - nor should any one person.

Three things of high importance to me are: Care for the commons, Responsibility for paying the common bills (otherwise known as taxes) in proportion to your ability to pay, and a Responsibility to be truthful.

Most of the things that would be listed in a Bill of Responsibilities would be "common sense", or common courtesy. Unfortunately, the last 4 years show that our leaders will not always be "men of good faith", or even people who understand or believe there is such a thing as common courtesy.

It was almost 400 years from the reign of Nero until the Fall of the Roman Empire. On the other hand, it was almost exactly 11 months from the signing of the Munich Agreement until Hitler invaded Poland to start World War II.

Do we need a minor correction, or is this the beginning of the end?

Either way it is a test to see if WE "can long endure".

deepspace's picture
deepspace 32 weeks 3 days ago
#14

Response to #12: Trolls are those who continuously post transparent falsehoods and unsourced nonsense, what they euphemistically call "alternative opinions." Sometimes under the guise of liberalism but upon closer scrutiny, their rantings and ravings mostly skew to the far right, including right-wing conspiracy theories, Republican talking points, and libertarian delusions of "big guvmut," which are Wall Street's main talking points. Go figure.

If left unchallenged, their crude lies and largely deliberate misinterpretations of objective reality fester and spread. For instance, it only took Trump less than three months to convince most Republicans that Biden did not win the election fair and square. And look what that Big Lie did to our nation!

When trolls are called out for their bullshit, as they should be, they reflexively play the victim as if they are the reasonable ones being wronged, rather than simply recognizing and accepting outside reality. That is true Trumpian-style mind rot through and through.

This is the real divide in American politics -- between those who seek truth and justice and those who succumb to misinformation, disinformation, and mal-information. Anyone paying a modicum of honest attention knows full well that it is the Republican Party of late and its wingnut dead-enders, hands down more than any other players on the scene, who are the most responsible for the destruction of our democracy. "Bothsidesism" is just another uninformed fallacy.

By the way, (a bit of authoritarianism leaking out?) Democrats don't have "leaders"; they have elected representatives. Read the Constitution.

Legend 32 weeks 3 days ago
#15

+++++

OnaM's picture
OnaM 32 weeks 3 days ago
#16

I like the idea of a "Bill of Responsibilities" but think it should go much deeper. We need to include rules like the Ten Commandments, do not kill others; to obtain land, minerals, oil, etc. no one has the right to violence, and we must teach empathy as our basic core value.

Unfortunately, I believe this is the begining of the end, but I will fight to deny it.

vetinla's picture
vetinla 32 weeks 9 hours ago
#17

Good rants on this thread, but, why people have a problem wearing a mask escapes me.

For me it's JUST a matter of prudence. I'm not offended by it , nor am I offended by stopping at a stop sign. Our freedoms are not limitless, they are modified when we can possibily harm others by non-compliance.

You might be a moron to make safety issues a political football.

rostasi 31 weeks 5 days ago
#18

The resistance to wearing masks has nothing to do with analytical thought with those people.
It's a purely emotional response to their self-righteous delusions.

Thom -Talk 31 weeks 1 day ago
#19

What is Freedom?

Freedom without responsibility, is tyranny.

How to spell tyranny? TRUMP

Thom -Talk 31 weeks 1 day ago
#20

As far as not wearing a mask - I do not want to die for Donny? I wear a mask to protect myself, my family and others. I also wear my mask to keep from overwhelming the two very large hospital systems that are 15 minutes from my home. It is just logical, and for me and my family, not political. I stood in line for polio shots, as a child. I was from a very small town, and my best friend’s brother was stricken with polio. He was, in what they called an "iron lung". He had the old heavy metal leg braces and life was pretty difficult for him. He died a young man, because of the lasting effects of the polio virus. It seems unconscionable to think that 50+ years later we somehow got dumber about such things?

Doctors and nurses have been wearing masks for years. I don’t see them dropping dead, in the halls of the hospital??? No one should believe all the myths! If you truely do have a respiratory problem, you possibly should be wearing a mask anyway.

A virus does not care about your politics, or color of your skin, of if you are from a crowed city, or a very small farming community. It does not care if you are important (ask Trump) or poor. But that does make a difference in the kind of healthcare you get!

Thom -Talk 31 weeks 1 day ago
#21

No shirt

No shoes

No service

No mask? see above

Scott D Linde 31 weeks 12 hours ago
#22

I'm retired now, but I still remember my grandfather explaining to my parents why he always voted Republican. He said, "Republicans have all he money and I want some." Trickle down never worked for him and it's not working now.

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