Risk takers and job makers

By Michael H. O’Donnell

When Republican politicians call rich people “risk takers” and “job creators,” my mind trips back to a scene from “Full Metal Jacket.” The movie was a powerful look at the Marine Corps during Vietnam – segmented into the hell of boot camp and actual combat when the Tet Offensive let America know this war was turning ugly.
Following another nasty battle with the Vietcong, a marine pokes the corpse of a propped up dead enemy soldier and proclaims, “We’re life-takers and heart breakers.”
It had a nicer ring to it than simply stating the obvious. We were strangers in a strange land sent there with a mission to take charge with overwhelming financial support and sheer firepower. The moral high ground became obscured in the smoke of artillery rounds.
The Megabucks Men behind the GOP campaign for control of the national soul seem to have embraced this scorched earth approach.
But rather than filling the “enemy” full of holes and shooting them full of lead, Republicans are trying to shoot arguments about the concentration of wealth in this country full of holes and they’re filling it with something softer than lead.
It was amazing to watch Ohio Gov. John Kasich claim victory over economic hardship recently on the Fox News network and label a push to raise taxes on the rich an evil Democratic attack on job makers and risk takers. He went on to say how counterproductive to the well-being of a nation it is to create a divide between people.
“Let’s not dwell on the haves and have-nots,” is the message.
Someone needs to take the good governor to the corpse that used to be Uniopolis, Ohio so he can poke it and talk about job makers.
He was bragging about how he managed to balance the state’s budget and reduce taxes at the same time. So how did he do it?
One of the things he did was gut funding for small towns like Uniopolis and funding for services like police and responsibilities like public education. Many police departments across Ohio eliminated jobs for half their officers. Uniopolis laid off its one part-time cop and the city maintenance guy. It shut off the street lights and literally ceased to exist.
Statewide, Kasich pushed a 20 percent cut in state spending for public education and sliced $470 million in support for nursing homes. He attacked labor unions for guaranteeing wage levels for state construction project workers and tried to eliminate collective bargaining for all public employees.
Cutting all these “costs” allowed the Ohio governor to reward the risk takers and job makers with more money in tax cuts for the wealthiest.
If this sounds like a mirror image of Idaho the past couple of years, it’s no surprise.
Gov. Butch Otter and his fellow Republicans embraced the same strategy for balancing the budget here. Money for education and public health services became as scarce as diamonds in a spud field. Teacher unions and wolves shared party popularity and austerity for the poor and middle class became the key to success.
When a few bucks started surfacing this spring after the worst of the economic downturn had passed, Republican lawmakers passed it on to the risk takers and job makers. Idaho’s wealthiest people and corporations got a tax cut.
Funding for projects that directly help the poor went begging.
Republicans justify the economic cruelty by quoting their patron saint Ronald Reagan, who once said, “No poor man ever gave me a job.”
Of course no poor man ever canceled your health insurance, shipped your job to Indonesia, poisoned your water or killed your children in a war overseas to pad his wallet either. Those are activities best left to risk takers who let ordinary folks take all the risks.
Don’t get me wrong, I love entrepreneurs and family businessmen. These people really do take risks and create jobs in America. More importantly they share risks and create partnerships of ideas and dreams. They are not the folks at the top of the food chain. It’s sad they often become the foot soldiers for those who do dwell in lofty multinational bank accounts.
Many admire the people who sit on boards of directors who would crush them like a gay grape if it serves corporate greed. Monopolies hate competition and free enterprise much more than the most wild-eyed of liberals.
What they do like is control and slave labor. It worked to fuel the economy of the Confederate States and still does the trick in the most oppressive of nations.
Big money controls politics and viciously fights any political moves to control it.
Money is green and to steal a line from “Full Metal Jacket,” the super-rich are “jolly green giants walking the earth with guns.”

Michael H. O’Donnell is the assistant managing editor of the Idaho State Journal.