Money follow values: The GOP are signalling that they’ve skimmed all they can with their $2.3 trillion 2017 tax scam and that sneaky $170 billion tax break for the rich in the CARES Act and they are now SERIOUS about deficit spending. (If you haven’t called your legislators on the tax-break travesty yet, go here.) While corporations and CEO’s are pocketing millions of our dollars, the GOP and White House officials are figuring out how to make us regular folks pay for their grift. Ideas for the next relief package include triggers for automatic spending reductions in safety net programs, as well as a proposal for desperate Americans to cannibalize their own Social Security benefits. No free lunch for those who’ve never had a free lunch. (Note: No government proposals yet for the wealthy to use their own savings to pay employees…)
The dollar numbers being thrown around are so large, it’s easy to lose track of what’s at stake. For this round of “Would you rather?,” we’re issuing you $500 million dollars to spend. This represents the low bid to paint Trump’s wall black, or a rough estimate for FEMA burial funds for 100,000 applicants. Further explanation of your choices are below in “Deeper Dive.” If you’re the people we think you are, this script will work for your legislators.
Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] and want Rep./Sen. [___] to know that I don’t want any of my tax dollars wasted on painting Trump’s border wall. I would also like to know why FEMA hasn’t been cleared to help families of COVID-19 victims with funeral costs. Or their Disaster Legal Services program. Like we were actually a civilized country suffering from a disaster.
Rep. Julia Brownley: email, (CA-26): DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
or Rep. Salud Carbajal: email.(CA-24): DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Who is my representative/senator?:https://whoismyrepresentative.com
Would you rather – A) Paint Trump’s border wall black
Remember when Donald Trump declared a #FakeNationalEmergency to build his destructive, ineffective, murderous, campaign-slogan of a wall?
- The wall that needs hundreds of large storm gates left open for months to prevent devastating floods?
- The wall that can be defeated with drones, $100 saws and the traditional medieval enemies of walls – ladders, tunnels, and catapults?
- The wall we’ve wasted $11 billion dollars on along with construction grift that personally profits Trump’s re-election campaign? The most expensive federal infrastructure project in US history?
Now he wants to paint it black. Actually, what he wanted to do were crimes against humanity: moats stocked with snakes and alligators, shooting migrants in the legs, and electrified fencing with sharp top spikes. But inspired by a black marble counter at one of his golf clubs’ which became too hot to touch on a sunny day, he wants the wall painted flat black. To burn people who touch it. On a hot day. In summer.
- Painting (2) coats of acrylic paint = $500 million.
- Premium powder coating = +$3 billion.
Important technical notes: The steel does not need paint for weather protection, and painting it black would increase heat absorption by only 10%. The coating will fade and lose even that small increase, and have to be reapplied in 10 years. Forever.
As for deterring climbers, its heat transference can easily be defeated by inexpensive gloves. Also by winter. Spring. Fall. Morning. Dusk. Night. Rain. Shade. Ladders. May we suggest that this vanity project be funded with Trump’s re-election campaign funds, like the wall itself should have been?
Or B) Use those tax dollars to help families bury their “warriors?”
For a man who said “I like people who weren’t captured” about war hero John McCain, it’s no surprise that Trump doesn’t “see” the dead – the casualties in the war against COVID-19, as anything more than an embarassment and reproach to him personally. He flies no flags at half mast in their honor and now is even denying their numbers. Therefore, it’s no surprise either that FEMA has not started to help fund the burials of this disaster because, per an official’s statement, “The approval of programs in response to a disaster declaration request is made at the discretion of the President.” In an April 28 memorandum, he authorized FEMA to provide crisis counseling services but said that authority “shall not be construed to encompass any authority to approve other forms of assistance.” Also missing – FEMA’s Disaster Legal Services program.
“Cannon fodder”: “The people of our country are warriors,” Trump told reporters Tuesday. But as one Wisconsin judge was unlucky enough to state on camera, he is also aware that most of the dying is being done by minorities, not the “regular folks” who voted for him. Or the rich.
Adam Serwer of the Atlantic wrote “The frame of war allows the president to call for the collective sacrifice of laborers without taking the measures necessary to ensure their safety, while the upper classes remain secure at home.But the workers who signed up to harvest food, deliver packages, stack groceries, drive trains and buses, and care for the sick did not sign up for war, and the unwillingness of America’s political leadership to protect them is a policy decision, not an inevitability…The president’s language of wartime unity is a veil draped over a federal response that offers little more than contempt for those whose lives are at risk.”
…And whose deaths are ignored: As of April 25th, FEMA had committed less than $6 billion in disaster relief for the coronavirus pandemic, and it has $80.5 billion in available disaster relief funds. After three hurricanes in 2017, the agency paid out $2.6 million to cover 976 funeral cost requests – appoximately $2,700 per approved application. But months into the coronavirus pandemic, families of COVID-19 victims have been forced to turn to religious centers and GoFundMe campaigns, similarly to how we, the citizens of the world’s richest country, pay for medical care in “normal” times.
Assuming that funeral costs are more expensive during a pandemic and to make the math easier, let’s assume $5,000 per funeral. (Current US death count = 81,157)
- 100,000 funerals of fallen “warriors” at $5000 each = $500 million.
- 600,000 funerals of fallen “warriors” at $5000 each = +$3 billion.