Republicans: “In God We Trust…and Fuck Poor People.”

The Pennsylvania State Capitol was designed in...

The Key to Ending the Jobs Crisis?

As we all know, the United States of America is in the midst of a major economic slump.  People are losing their homes and unemployment remains high, hovering around 9% (ignoring of course the millions of people who are either underemployed or have given up looking for work).  This economic turmoil led to massive victories for Republicans a year ago.  They now control the House and have almost eliminated the Democratic majority in the Senate.  They were elected due in large part to their promises to fix the economy and get people back to work.

This dedication to job creation was summed up by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), who made this bold declaration at the beginning of the current Congressional session:

“Each day, we will hold ourselves accountable by asking the following questions: Are our efforts addressing job creation and the economy; are they cutting spending; and are they shrinking the size of the federal government while protecting and expanding individual liberty?  If not, why are we doing it?”

While I certainly don’t agree with most of Cantor’s ideas regarding spending cuts, and would debate him as to the needs for shrinking government, I did have a certain amount of respect for his rhetoric.  He seemed like he was speaking for a party that was determined to get things done, however terrible those things may be.  He and his GOP brethren apparently recognized the need to address the needs of the working (and not-working) people of this country.  These were the words of a party that was done playing games and was ready to get down to business.

Well, as it turns out, the games were just beginning.  In the year that they have been in office, the GOP has not introduced a single bill aimed at creating jobs.  And, they have also consistently resisted any Democratic efforts to address the jobs crisis, voting against President Obama’s jobs plan as a whole, and again and again as it is split into increasingly smaller parts.

But, this week marked a new pinnacle for the GOP as they continued to ignore the poor and unemployed people of this country that they swore would be their top priority.  House Republicans, specifically Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), have introduced a bill reaffirming that “In God We Trust” remain the official motto of the United States.

Even if we ignore the fact that “In God We Trust” has already been the official national motto since 1956, and that it was reaffirmed in 2002 (and again in 2006), the fact that this is what the Republicans in Congress are choosing to spend their time on, especially after their vow to work on the jobs crisis, is completely ludicrous.  Even President Obama weighed in, according to an article in the Washington Post:

With all that time on their hands, President Obama said, the lawmakers should be moving on aspects of the American Jobs Act.

“In the House of Representatives, what have you guys been doing, John?” Obama said, calling out House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

“You’ve been debating a commemorative coin for baseball. You’ve had legislation reaffirming that ‘In God We Trust’ is our motto. That’s not putting people back to work,” Obama said. “I trust in God, but God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people back to work.”

Despite the protest from the President, it seems that even many members of his own party approved of the bill.  It passed by a vote of 396-9, meaning that this idiocy is about the only thing that Congress can reach a consensus on lately.  But, at least Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), one of the nine who voted against the measure (including 7 other Democrats and a single Republican), was able to see through all the bullshit:

Why have my Republican friends returned to an irrelevant agenda? And yet here we are, back to irrelevant issue debates, the kind of thing people do when they have run out of ideas, when they have run out of excuses, when they have nothing to offer a middle class that is hurting and that has run out of patience… This is simply an exercise in saying, ‘We’re more religious than the other people, we’re more godly than the other people, and by the way, let’s waste time and divert people’s attention from the real issues that we’re not dealing with,’ like unemployment.

Forbes apparently thinks that the motto can provide a little boost to the downtrodden, saying, “Our citizens need that kind of hope, and that kind of inspiration.”  I wonder if he is aware of the irony of trying to inspire people who don’t have any money with a motto that appears…on money.  Besides, wouldn’t a truly godly person spend a little less time shoving his religion on everyone, and a little more time actually trying to help out people in need?  I think what would really give the people some hope is a jobs plan.  Maybe they should be working on that instead.

The Distraction of Hero Worship

The big news today in the world of business was the announcement that Steve Jobs is resigning as the CEO of Apple.  Fanboys and investors alike erupted in cries of disbelief, and the price of Apple stock fell more than five percent immediately following the announcement.

News of Jobs’ decision spread quickly on Twitter as well, with most treating it like a blow from which Apple (and their loyal iFollowers) would not be able to recover.  But, let’s be honest.  Jobs has led Apple to the pinnacle of the tech world, and he would not be resigning if he had any doubts that the company would carry on just fine without him (even though he will remain as Chairman of the Board).  But, there was one voice of reason among the crowd (there may have been others, but none that I saw).  Mike Elk (@MikeElk), a writer for The Nation and In These Times expressed his concern that one man leaving his job was garnering a far greater amount of attention than the thousands that are forced out of their jobs every day without the safety net of massive adulation and billions of dollars.

Elk released a series of tweets reminding people of Apple’s poor worker’s rights record, outsourcing of manufacturing jobs, and the suicide of many workers in Apple’s Chinese factories.

A few tweets from @MikeElk

But, people don’t want to hear about such things, preferring to treat Jobs as a deity of the tech world, the almighty creator of the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad.  And, they refused to tarnish their perception of Jobs by peaking behind the curtain at the byproducts of Apple’s rise to power.

I must make a confession here.  I do own an iPhone, as well as a Mac laptop.  But, a company can simultaneously make good products and treat their workers horribly.  As much as Jobs and Apple should be celebrated, they should also be criticized, as their good works do not erase the evils they have done.

This isn’t to say that Jobs is not a newsworthy figure, or that his resignation won’t have an impact on both Apple and the financial community.  But, it is nice to have a reminder that there are other things that matter, that there are other people whose jobs (or lack thereof) are equally as important.  Jobs has been plagued by bad health, and I wish him well, but again, at least he has the ability to get the best medical care that money can buy.  Others are not nearly so fortunate, and it’s important that we remember them.  Thanks to Mike Elk for reminding people of what truly matters.