CORRUPTION WATCH-“Am I my brother’s keeper?” asked the world’s first murderer. This week the United States Senate GOP answered Cain’s question, “No, we are not our brothers’ keepers.” In adding a tax bill amendment which would repeal the Mandate from ObamaCare, Senate Republicans affirmed that we are not responsible for each other’s welfare. For the GOP, “each man is an island.”
The ObamaCare Mandate requires everyone to purchase health insurance or join a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO, like Kaiser Permanente). The reason for the Mandate is that health care is expensive and we all need to contribute to health care’s costs all the time – not just when we need it for ourselves. If I do not pay my fees to Kaiser Permanente while I am young, there will be no Kaiser Permanente when I am old. While accurate, that reasoning is actually self-centered. The morality behind the Mandate is that we all are our brothers’ keepers. Every day millions of Americans need health care, and that is why we have a perpetual need for a strong health care system, requiring constant funding by everyone.
The deeper question is, what type of society do we create if we adopt a social ethic that says we need only take care of ourselves – and if others die on the streets…then that’s their problem. This brand of ethos is what has plagued Los Angeles, where over 22,000 rent-controlled units have been destroyed since 2001, driving thousands of poor onto the streets to potentially suffer and die. Meanwhile, the city has given literally billions of tax dollars to billionaires to subsidize luxury projects.
While the Bible revels in the fantasy that predators will suffer, this is not the reality in modern day America. We elected a self-admitted sexual predator as President, knowing that he had also repeatedly gone bankrupt in order to cheat his workers, a tactic he has called “being smart.” In January 2015, the federal courts revealed that the California state courts suffered “an epidemic of misconduct,” noting a huge increase in minority incarcerations. But, what do we care if judges intimidate witnesses and manufacture evidence to harm the innocent? Like the riff-raff lying in the gutter, those people aren’t our brothers, are they?
While California’s population increased 34% from 26,440,000 million in 1985 to 35,560,000 million in 2005, the prison population increased from 50,111 in 1985 to 168,035 in 2005 – a 235% increase! After that, federal courts began ordering California to address over-crowding by reducing its prison population. Not only is America the industrialized nation with the highest incarceration rate, we are the only industrialized nation without universal health care. The predatory victimization of the weak lies at the root of each statistic.
Predators like Donald Trump have befriended judges who blessed the cheating of his workers and suppliers by sanctioning his ersatz bankruptcies. Similarly, Obama gave literally trillions of tax dollars to the Wall Street criminals who crashed the economy in 2008 and then devised the “Too Important to Prosecute Doctrine.” Meanwhile 90% of all productivity gains went to the top 1%, while average Americans went bankrupt and saw their jobs flow overseas.
The Harvey Weinstein Phenomenon
In the midst of our rapturous attention to “predatordom” has arisen the Harvey Weinstein Phenomenon. And why is it that, after all these years of the casting couch, Hollywood has turned against its moguls?
Because they couldn’t reach Donald Trump. The right wing has always been much deeper into predatory behavior. It is the religious right wing that insists on the death penalty and the right to own assault weapons no matter how many innocent people are gunned down. This time, the revulsion with Trump, himself a sexual predator, was more than the Left could tolerate so they attacked a stand-in: Harvey Weinstein. As the number of Weinstein accusers increased, they were welcomed and then more producers were named. How can we attack Weinstein and ignore director James Toback and Brett Ratner or actors Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K.? No one believes Hollywood’s cleansing has run its course.
Likewise, no one should be surprised that the right wing in Alabama still supports Judge Roy Moore. Authoritarianism is embedded in the Deep South where the master-slave, aka the predator-victim relationship, is the social norm. The strong victimize the weak and the weak are expected to shut-up.
A House Divided on Predation
In 1858, Abraham Lincoln said that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” Can we continue as a nation when one-half of the population is heralding predators as their icons and the other half finds their existence intolerable?
Will the Harvey Weinstein Phenomenon run its course, allowing America to return to its predator ways with high incarceration rates, little or no health care for the poor, the 1% gaining more wealth while everyone else becomes poorer, with Trump’s ridicule and victimization of minorities continuing and most of the nation laughing off the President’s own predator behavior?
(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney and a CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at: Rickleeabrams@Gmail.com. Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.