When was the light time that a legislative body in this country honestly did something to benefit the little guy?
Recent history is replete with examples of Congress and state legislatures speaking out of both sides of their mouths. They routinely pass legislation that benefits only industry and the rich, while claiming that the rest of us will benefit as a result. The Wisconsin Legislature is now considering a bill that would require beer brewers to sell their products to distributors, who would then be the only ones allowed to sell to retailers. How, exactly, does that benefit me? Why is it in my best interest to make beer more expensive by writing the middleman into the law? We don’t make Nike sell their shoes first to a distributor, who then turns around and sells them to Wal-Mart. We don’t make it illegal for farmers to sell directory to retailers, so why should brewers be punished? Is there really that much of a threat posed to society if New Glarus Brewery or Lake Louie Brewing sells a few thousand barrels of beer directly to retailers?
Of course, that’s all driven by the distribution industry. They gave thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to the beer distribution industry last year and now they want what they purchased; they want their business written in to law.
The Wisconsin Legislature has dutifully bowed down by rushing the bill through a hearing, taking a vote less than twenty-four hours later in the Assembly, and scheduling a Senate hearing less than twenty-four hours later. Apparently, the threat posed by the sale of Tailwagger Barley Wine directly to retailers is one that brooks no delay.
In addition, the Wisconsin legislature seeks to make a photo ID mandatory for voting. For years, and years, and years, Wisconsin has had remarkably open and transparent voting procedures. All of those are made to work by hard working poll workers. Now, the Republican controlled Legislature has decided that too many low-income Democrats in Milwaukee are voting and the easiest way to prevent them from doing so is to impose strict voting regulations that increase the burden of proof on those voters.
This is a complete paradigm reversal. Before, all voters were given the benefit of the doubt. You were allowed to vote, and your vote was counted on the day of the race. Your vote could be challenged, but you couldn’t be prevented from voting. If it was later determined that you voted fraudulently, the matter would be referred to the District Attorney’s office.
Republicans want to rig the system so that you can’t vote unless you jump through a large number of hoops beforehand. Essentially, the burden will be on the voter to prove that they should be allowed to vote, rather than on the city, county, or state to prove that the vote cast by the voter shouldn’t count.
Congress has been no better. I’d challenge anyone of any political stripe to show me how the recent change in bankruptcy filing will help anyone but the credit card companies. There is no little guy alive, anywhere, who benefits from a law that discourages people to take a chance forming a business. I’ve worked for people who started their business by financing it on a couple of credit cards. Does the new law encourage that sort of risk-taking? Of course not. Given the documented difficulty of minority Americans to benefit from the so-called traditional banking system, those folks are often left financing their businesses with credit cards. They are now doubly at risk because the barriers into the traditional banking system haven’t been removed, and the safety net of bankruptcy has been torn asunder. How does the law help those people?
How does it benefit the little guy to lose his bankruptcy protection if he suffers from sudden medical maladies? Given the lack of universal health coverage in this country many people are stuck paying their expensive medical bills with their credit cards. One refrain thrown out again and again by the talking heads and the Republicans paid by the credit card companies is that this law will only hurt those living above their means. So if you get cancer or need emergency surgery and have to pay for treatment with credit cards are you living above your means?
The Medicare drug “benefit” generally showers benefits on drug companies and does little to help the elderly. It does nothing to help the rest of us.
In short, I’m tired of legislative bodies telling me that they represent the rest of us. They are bought and paid for by companies and special interests all across the nation. The least they could do is tell us the truth.