Helen Thomas Is Back, Welcome Back Helen!
I had the great privilege to meet Helen a few years back here in Michigan and have swapped emails with her a few times when she was the only voice asking tough questions in that White House briefing room, particularly during the Bush years but even into the Obama administration. Helen is awesome and I don’t believe at all that she is antisemitic. The comments that got her in deep shit were certainly “inartful” and reactionary, I too get pissed at the Israelis who bomb children (lovely cluster bombs…is that a toy, boom) and kill innocent people indiscriminately. I don’t blame her for lashing out, the Israeli government is fucking brutal.
In her first column back in the Falls Church New-Press, Helen writes about the recurring idea of privatizing Social Security and gives a great historical lesson for us. Here is an excerpt from her column…
The difference between the Great Depression and the current Great Recession is “spirit” – during the 1930s Americans cared about each other. They flocked to Washington – teachers, social workers, doctors and nurses – selflessly offering their services.
Next door to us, a family with six children lived on a $13 (equivalent to $163 today) per week welfare check. Somehow they survived and kept their faith. Along came FDR who told the stricken people, “You have nothing to fear but fear itself.” The power of hope restored confidence in the country and in its leadership.
We were happy to emerge from the depression, but many Americans at the time believed we rebounded economically because of the looming clouds of World War II. The world by this time was swept up by the “isms.” The U.S. was divided between the interventionists in World War II (on the side of the allies) and the non-interventionists – they were the isolationists – who disappeared at the start of the war on Dec. 7, 1941.
President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law in 1935 to cover the elderly, and eventually through amendments, widows, orphans and the disabled. Payments are split 50-50 by the employer and the worker. What has been missing in our current society is compassion and creativeness. Think of the bargains the President had to strike to renew the biggest (Bush) tax cut to the richest Americans, this in exchange for an extension of unemployment compensation for the millions who lost their jobs – some deal! That’s the compassion part.
I’ve long felt that the 1980’s and the Reagan revolution turned America into a land of selfish, I’ve got mine-you get yours-rat bastards. It became acceptable to be selfish, to stop caring about those less fortunate, to grab all you can get and fuck the rest. I know I’ve written this before but I had a great conversation with a very wise 17 year old exchange student from Germany back in the 1980’s and he said the difference between America and Europe (particularly when it comes to covering everyone with health insurance) was that the culture in Europe is one where people actually care about their friends, neighbors and fellow citizens. If someone is sick, they actually want them to be better. They don’t think only of themselves, but of the greater good of all in the society. He went on to say that because of everyone being taken care of, people are less stressed, friendlier and they live in a much nicer environment. Doesn’t sound very much like America now, does it?
Glad to have you back Helen. Still kicking ass at 90 years old.
H/T to the Raw Story