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  • Top Posts

The Whipping of Beggars -with iPhones. 

The American Health Care Act gives a whole new meaning to the word American. It reminds me of Freedom Fries, remember that meme?  Leave it to Republicans to put a creative spin on Orwellian language that makes the rest of the country cringe with embarrassment. 

John Oliver gets into the weeds and explains just how many people will get screwed by this bill while the top .01% walks away with an additional $197,000 that they’ll never even notice. 


That reminds me of this passage from Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies about how Thomas Cromwell tried to get an infrastructure bill through parliament so that the poor wouldn’t riot in the streets when they couldn’t feed themselves: 

“In March [1536], Parliament knocks back his [Thomas Cromwell’s] new poor law. It was too much for the Commons to digest that rich men might have some duty to the poor. If you get fat, as some men do who profit from the wool trade, you have some responsibility to the men turned off their land, the laborers without labor, the sowers without a field. England needs roads, forts, harbors, bridges. Men need work. It’s a shame seeing them begging their bread, when honest labor could keep the realm secure. Can we not put them together, the hands and the tasks?

But Parliament cannot see how it is the State’s job to create work. Are not these matters in God’s hands, and is not poverty and dereliction part of his eternal order? To everything there is a season- a time to starve and a time to thieve. If rain falls six months solid and rots the grain in the fields, there must be Providence in it. God knows his trade. It is an outrage to the rich and enterprising to suggest that they should pay an income tax only to put bread in the mouths of the work shy. And if Secretary Cromwell argues that famine provokes criminality, well, are there not hangmen enough?

The King himself comes to the Commons to argue for the law. He wants to be Henry the Beloved, a father to his people, a shepherd to his flock. But the Commons sit stoney faced on their benches and stare him out. The wreckage of the measure is comprehensive. “It is ended up as an Act for the Whipping of Beggars”, Richard Rich says. “It is more against the poor than for them.”

plus ça change…

Don’t expect Donald Trump to try to make this bill better. For one thing, he doesn’t know how. He’s not a politician or a policy expert. And that’s what Trump voters apparently wanted. Someone with zero expertise on a very complicated issue. They should be delighted to finally actually get what they voted for. 

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