Getting Real

We liberals get so frustrated that others don't see what to us is a key truth: while the left blames billionaires and powerful corporations for corrupting politics and undermining progress, the right distracts us by ridiculing the poor, minorities, women and the unemployed. We are outraged at the role of money in politics and the corruption it brings. We shout about the Koch brothers and their influence. In return we hear that there are equally powerful campaign donors on the left (George Soros, Hollywood celebrities and who else?) and that working people are tired of "the takers" who expect others to pay for their healthcare, daycare, groceries and housing. We on the left are more concerned with "the takers" on Wall Street and those who vacation on the Riviera than the ones sleeping on the streets in Compton.

Seems that this stalemate could benefit from a little additional reality. Don't you ever wonder how costs might compare between social and environmental programs versus expenditures that benefit particular multinationals or the military? Well, I did. Here's what it looks like. Links are provided for the fact-checkers among you.

Cost of…
Compared to cost of…
Food stamps
Foreign tax credits (2/3 manufacturing)
Medicaid for 49 million Americans
$283 billion
Iraq War (2003-2010)
Infrastructure investments proposed by President Obama
Offshore corporate tax loopholes for just TWO well-known companies (Apple and Microsoft)
Pell Grants for needy college students
Doubling of incarceration rates since 1990 (rates per 100,000 people)
Cuts in education spending
Carried interest special tax breaks for banks
Non-military foreign aid
Oil industry subsidies
Total state spending for public colleges
Afghanistan War (2001-2014)
Federal funding for mass transit
Big agribusiness subsidies (90% to top 10 agribusinesses)
Cost to increase wind power to 20% of total electrical needs (now at 4%)
Federal payments to for-profit colleges
$32 billion (2011)
TANF (formerly Welfare) for 4.3 million needy Americans
CIA budget growth in past 15 years
US contribution to all United Nations programs
$3.4 billion
Tax shields for Wall Street banks for risky derivatives
Difference between what Social Security takes in and pays out annually (not including savings of $2,873 billion in the reserve fund)
$28 billion
Social Security revenue lost because of the $107,000 cap

So for my conservative friends, this is why we think our nation could do a better job of building infrastructure, investing in education, averting disastrous climate change and protecting the health and welfare of our most vulnerable. I for one can't see much benefit for you or me from anything on the right side of the chart above but can get much more excited about maintaining or improving the programs on the left.

So can we talk about real possibilities now?