Metal Chains or Chains of Debt, A Chain’s Uh Chain

Metal or Debt, A Chain’s Uh Chain

Vice-President Biden is known for putting his foot in his mouth.  For example, saying the GOP wants to “….put y’all in chains,” to a heavily Black audience may not have been the least controversial way to get his point across, but there is substance behind his gaffe. While I don’t know if he was trying to fan the flames of racial friction that already exists in the race for the White House, but the policies Romney and Ryan tout do indeed have racist elements.

Consider the communities hardest hit by the mortgage, financial and subsequent economic crisis: Black communities have disproportionately suffered, with Black homeowners losing the largest percentage of wealth from the financial crisis, reducing Black wealth to historic lows and creating an even larger gap in wealth between Black and Whites. Black communities already plagued by lack of resources have faced municipal budget cuts which led to cuts in service and public sector layoffs, fewer jobs and higher crime.    While perhaps Biden could have chosen his words more carefully, he draws upon the reality of the matter:  Republican economic plans will only make things worse.

And this fits in nicely with what I believe to be a goal of some of the 1% to rule the 99.  It appears the general object of the financial sector and big business is to tie as many of us as possible to eternal debt and eliminate benefits to the poor and working class. They want the government no matter the size to protect and help expand markets abroad while maintaining a hands-off or extreme laissez-faire approach to their interests here at home. It is a multi-faceted effort to ensure that, over time, the poor and middle classes will be little more than serfs.

The unprecedented attack on public sector workers is an attempt to drive down wages and benefits in the name of profits and competitiveness across all sectors. The attempt to marginalize unions is an effort to increase the leverage of bosses and owners over employees and workers. Fewer benefits and a skimpy public safety net greatly reduce workers’ employment choices. This places more people at the mercy of employers because fewer people will risk losing their jobs. Healthcare is one of the chains in this formula of bondage because only a few of the employed will have coverage which increases the power of the employer. An example of this power is the threat of losing coverage due to a so called pre-existing condition. In most states, private insurance companies can refuse to insure adults if they have a pre-existing condition. The Affordable Healthcare Act made it illegal to refuse coverage for a child under 19. In 2014 the protection will be extended to all ages. Until then if hard working Sara Citizen is unhappy in her job with coverage and has found a better one with coverage she may be reluctant to leave the sucky job because she has Multiple Sclerosis.

The mortgage crisis serves as the starkest example of the attempt to chain millions to debt. A May 2012 CNN Money article states 16 million people owe more on their homes than they are worth. Banks expect home “owners” to pay this difference of which in most cases is tens of thousands of dollars between the value and what they owe on the home. With this arrangement the bank will make tens of thousands of dollars in interests on the loans as they usually do and harvest the difference in value. This in effect makes the homeowner a sharecropper of sorts or a serf for the banks. For most of the term of the loan, the owner who is really a buyer has little equity in the home. He or she is making the land really owned by the bank productive because the owner/buyer is working to pay the bank and take care of a house to maintain value in property he or she may never really own. During the life of the loan most buyers will have paid the value of the property to the banks many times over. The home owner/buyer is also the same taxpayer who bailed out the banks, pulling them out of the abyss they dug and now fill with the money they make from people continuing to pay the interest on their underwater homes.  Debt is a kind of chain that can only be broken by paying it off or going into bankruptcy. Most people want to be “responsible citizens” and resist declaring bankruptcy, instead doing all they can to pay off the manufactured debt.

Republicans claim that Wall Street and business have been chained by government interference. However it is clear, good for the country and the people who live in it or not, Wall Street and corporations will do whatever it takes to make a profit. Biden had it right.  The hands off policies peddled by Romney and Ryan will lead to more debt and fewer choices for working class and poor people. Don’t let the hype distract you from the truth of his gaffe. Metal or debt, a chain is a chain.

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About Michael T. McPhearson

Currently Michael is executive director of Veterans For Peace and co-chair of the Don't Shoot Coalition, A Saint Louis based coalition that formed in the aftermath of Michael Brown's police killing death in Ferguson, MO. From August 2010 to September 2013, Michael worked as the National Coordinator with United For Peace and Justice. He is a former board member of Veterans For Peace and as well as Executive Director from 2005 to 2010. He works closely with the Newark based People’s Organization for Progress and the Saint Louis centered Organization for Black Struggle. Michel also publishes the Mcphearsonreport.org expressing his views on war and peace, politics, human rights, race and other things. Michael also launched Reclaimthedream.org website as an effort to change the discourse and ignite a new conversation about Dr. Martin Luther King’s message and what it means to live in just and peaceful communities.