Honoring Dr. King

Got an email from my senior Senator today:

Each year, we honor the memory of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We honor his struggles and his triumphs. We honor his work to stand up to racial injustice and to help America move one step closer to her founding promise of equality.

But when Dr. King was taken from us, he was engaged in another struggle – a struggle that was no less challenging, a struggle that he believed was essential to America’s soul.

It was the struggle to end poverty. And it is a struggle that is still with us today.

For years now, we have heard the claim that America is broke, that we cannot afford to invest in our children and that we must tell our seniors to try to get by on less. We face a world in which those born in wealth will have plenty of opportunity, but those born in poverty have little chance to escape – a world in which people work their hearts out and barely hang on.

That is not the promise of American life. That was not the America of Dr. King’s dreams. And that must not be our American future.

In 1967, Dr. King told us what it would take to combat poverty. He said:

[W]e are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

We are now engaged in a great debate over poverty and inequality. And as Dr. King argued, “true compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar.”

Our success as a community will be measured not by the riches of a few, but by the success of many.

There are some people who say that there is little that we can do, and perhaps less that we can do together, as a country. Dr. King had a response to them. He said, “[t]here is no deficit in human resources; the deficit is in human will.”

In this, the richest and most powerful country in the world, we can expose the symptoms and causes of poverty, just as Dr. King’s nonviolence “exposed the ugliness of racial injustice.”

In this, the richest and most powerful country in the world, we can come together to build an economy that works for all our children, just as Dr. King’s movement helped make “justice a reality for all God’s children.”

“In the final analysis,” Dr. King said, “the rich must not ignore the poor because both rich and poor are tied in a single garment of destiny. All life is interrelated, and all men are interdependent.”

The struggle may be fierce, the climb uphill, the obstacles tall. But in a democracy, we, the people, get to choose our destiny, and we can choose a country that lives up to America’s founding promise and achieves Dr. King’s dreams.

52 replies
  1. 1
    Roger Moore says:

    true compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar.

    It’s having the tough love to let that beggar starve until he finally sees the light and decides to get a real job./wingnut

  2. 2
    The Dangerman says:

    According to some people, the national debt is a national crisis….

    …just not enough of a crisis to raise taxes on the wealthy.

  3. 3
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    “It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

    “[t]here is no deficit in human resources; the deficit is in human will.”

    “the rich must not ignore the poor because both rich and poor are tied in a single garment of destiny. All life is interrelated, and all men are interdependent.”

    All three of these quotes are just amazing to me. And it’s a good reminder that King had his head on straight about the roots of this shit and how ‘colorblindness’ without real practical shifts in the institutions just meant shifting the blame back on those beaten down.

    Unfortunately, like I said before, it seems far too much of the country has decided this is a holiday for which we celebrate the re-mainstreaming of blatant out-and-out racism and it’s ok because the President is near.

  4. 4
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    OT but Noisemax is at it again:

    Dick Morris: GOP Has Shot at Senate

    All we need now is a similar prediction from Bill Kristol, and the Senate is a mortal lock for the Ds.

  5. 5
    KG says:

    @The Dangerman: hell, it’s not even raising taxes on the wealthy, we won’t consider treating capital gains like regular income or eliminating some tax breaks… hell, we won’t even have a real discussion about spending – not just the amount spent, but where and how we spend it.

  6. 6
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik:

    “[t]here is no deficit in human resources; the deficit is in human will.”

    This, right here, is a central issue of our time…as crucial to our long term survival as climate change or questions of war and peace.

    This country has the resources at hand to provide every last American, all 300 plus million of them, with a basic diet, basic health care, basic permanent shelter, and functional, simple clothing.

    There is no reasonable, rational, or logical excuse for not doing so.

    The problem is that a very small minority hoards the overwhelming majority of the resources for…what? To shore up their fragile egos? To give them some sort of warped sense of moral superiority? To inflict pain because they can?

  7. 7
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    @KG:

    And while we have plenty of discussion, it’s usually focused all on how to squeeze more blood from that poverty stone while asking that the top tier gets even more support because otherwise the economy will suffer some undefined cataclysm of lack of deference to our betters.

  8. 8
    beltane says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: He must be responding to the liberal Rassmussen poll showing the Dems up 5 in the generic ballot http://www.rasmussenreports.co.....nal_ballot

  9. 9
    The Dangerman says:

    @KG:

    …treating capital gains like regular income…

    That one and estate taxes are two of the most heinous of our tax policies; I understand families “losing the family farm”, but having wealth perpetuate itself through generations without being taxed is crazy

  10. 10
    gbear says:

    NRA says MLK mightstill be alive today if only he’d had more guns.

  11. 11
    Chris T. says:

    @KG: Nor dealing with the legalized tax evasion system that is provided by tax havens (largely in Manhattan and London, though the Caymans tend to get all the press).

    (Been reading “Treasure Islands”, which details the methods by which large multinationals pay essentially nothing in taxes despite enormous profits.)

  12. 12
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Thomas “I was a Marxist before Marx was born!” Jefferson, well known Islamosocialist, is the guy who introduced the Estate Tax n the first place.

  13. 13
    GregB says:

    To hear modern conservatives talk of Dr. King, you’d think he was in Memphis to be the keynote speaker at an Ayn Rand conference.

  14. 14
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @GregB:

    Nailed it.

    Yup, that’s what they’re trying to sell.

  15. 15
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Make you wonder what the Founding Fathers would have thought about him, doesn’t it?

  16. 16
    RaflW says:

    @KG: I’d say we don’t even need to get Cap Gains to regular income. Just returning to mid-80s to late-90’s rates around 28% would be a huge step in the right direction. I’d even see 20% as an important policy victory (that no one seems to be demanding – which is crazy).

    Prior to 2004, a 15% rate was unseen in 50 years – including the very prosperous Clinton era.

    The move to taxing Cap Gains at 15% deeply encourages the perverse incentive to far over-overcompensate holders of capital, and to give the shiv to worker productivity gains. It also really presses the income gap accelerator.

    Now, carried interest? That should be taxed as full, undoubted income, 39.6%.

  17. 17
    Tommy says:

    @GregB: Oh they used to think he was the worse person in the world. Then the world and the United States came to see he was kind of a stud. I think it was 1992 that the last state, AZ, refused to honor MLK Day.

  18. 18
    Ash Can says:

    That’s beautifully put.

    And it makes me notice something that’s been a defining characteristic for all the right-wing/Republican efforts to co-opt MLK I’ve seen today: a distinct lack of direct quotes from the man himself.

  19. 19
    kindness says:

    Who is your Senior Senator?

  20. 20
    Tommy says:

    @GregB: Oh he was in Menphis for the striking workers.The Memphis Sanitation Workers. Maybe mostly black, but first and foremost for the workers. Stuns me folks seem to forget this.

  21. 21
    Tommy says:

    @kindness: Dick Durbin. I guess that means you know who my younger Sentaor used to be ….

  22. 22
    joel hanes says:

    For years now, we have heard the claim that America is broke

    but the nation as a whole is much wealthier than it was in the 1960s,
    when many of us felt that anything was possible.

    The holders of that wealth have decided to secede from our society, and to use their money to secure the political power to make sure that no one suggests taxing away that money for the common good (as we did from the 40’s to about 1980).

  23. 23
    Violet says:

    @Tommy: It’s not “forgetting” they’re doing.

  24. 24
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @kindness:
    @Tommy:

    I think Anne Laurie’s Senior Senator is one Elizabeth Warren.

  25. 25
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Are we still doing book chat (This Town) tonight?

  26. 26

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    I think that small minority is not the issue. The issue is the near-majority who want the poor to suffer, hate (to the point of frothing zeal) the idea of helping anyone, and back the rich precisely because the rich are sticking it to everyone.

    This is Reagan’s legacy. I went back and watched some movies from the 80s, and I was shocked by the pervasiveness of the attitude that the weak deserve to suffer. We have been a long time without messages like the OP. They are a signal that the message of the 80s is dying, no matter how hard it thrashes as the noose tightens.

    @joel hanes:
    America is only broke because asshole conservatives want it to be. America is the average man who is suffering. As go his finances, so go the government’s.

  27. 27
    Tommy says:

    This is what MLK means to me …. freedom!

    I was watching a movie again today, I watch it when I need hope.

    It is called Dreamland. A documentary film maker goes and spends a day with like 7 folks that live in Calfornia. Base jumpers. Skateboraders. Mountain climbers. Sufers. Dot com folks. A guy that spends his entire life living in trees.

    Spends a day with them and asked them to do what they do. Flims for only a day for each person. It is stunning beyond words.

    The entire movie you have Liz Phair playing a song, and learning how she spends a “day.”

    Most not online, but you have this:

    http://www.aptonline.org/catal...../DREAMLAND

  28. 28
    Ash Can says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: One of the things that horrified me the most about Reagan was the extent to which, and the enthusiasm and openness with which, he punished all the groups of voters who didn’t support him — the poor, women, people of color, the young, etc. If there had been no Democratic legislature to rein in the most egregious of his actions, heaven only knows what would have happened to our economy and society.

  29. 29
    Chris says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I’ve always loved this notion that all the poor people’s problems would be solved if they simply got out of bed one morning and a lightbulb went off in their head going “I know! I’ll get a real job!”

    Because, you know, “a real job” is something you can totally acquire just by snapping your fingers even at the height of a recession.

  30. 30
    Tommy says:

    @Ash Can: And the conditions he did it. Folks like to thing Reagan was this “nice” person. Nope, not even close. Now it might not work well in the tea party today, but he was a mean and dishonest person.

  31. 31
    mdblanche says:

    @beltane:

    He must be responding to the liberal Rassmussen poll showing the Dems up 5 6 in the generic ballot

    And that’s just what Rassmussen has to say. It would be so nice if a less biased pollster would also do a generic Congressional tracking poll. I see the Republicans are doing even worse now than their previous low just after the shutdown. It looks like Republicans might just have a bit of an enthusiasm problem. Democrats probably aren’t one to talk about that either but it looks like the worst of the website-induced slump is over.

    @Tommy: A horrible president but a great actor.

    “Sincerity – if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

  32. 32
    Tommy says:

    @Chris: Let me see if I can explain.

    I used to make $225,000 a year before the dot com thing. I had an MBA. Experience. Worked my butt off. Then things went into the shitter. I should note I didn’t work for any of those dot.com companies, it was a guilty by association.

    I ended up working a job at a 7/11 type store, just to eat. My favorite line, cause I was driving a nice VW, was “what are you doing this for? You rich fuck!” I think people thought I was a “welfare mom.”

    They seemed to not understand things in the world had changed.

    If I had spent a ton more, which I didn’t I’d be in a terrible place. I owned my car. I had almost no debit. Times were just hard and I took the job I could find. It was hard.

    I am sure harder for others.

    So when I hear folks against unemployment I want to scream. They know not what they talk of. That if I needed it, and I didn’t, I would have just starved. Maybe everybody isn’t like me. Blessed with a lot of things others don’t have!

  33. 33
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    David X. Machina should be pleased.

  34. 34
    GregB says:

    Also, being from NH, I remember that it was a badge of honor among the far right conservatives to not honor King with a holiday. NH created Civil Rights Day and it wasn’t changed until MLK until 1991 making it the last state to have that named holiday.

    This was when NH was the most Republican state in the union and opposition to King was supposedly based on his anti-war and advocacy for the poor.

    Arizona should also be singled out for their intransigence with their putz of a Governor Evan Meacham and pud of a Senator John McCain.

  35. 35
    Roger Moore says:

    @Tommy:

    Stuns me folks seem to forget this.

    It’s been put down the memory hole. Even people who hated the man while he was alive and are working to undo his work are willing to give lip service to civil rights while they try to conceal his pro-labor and anti-war work. I think it’s part of a concerted scheme. By boosting talk about civil rights, they are trying to claim that his work is done, justifying undoing civil rights legislation and letting them try to reimpose Jim Crow. At the same time, talking only about civil rights lets them ignore inconvenient talk about all the unfinished business of labor rights and world peace.

  36. 36
    Chris says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    I went back and watched some movies from the 80s, and I was shocked by the pervasiveness of the attitude that the weak deserve to suffer.

    Anything in particular come to mind? I’m just wondering because I tend to go for 80s TV and movies a lot, so I’d probably know what you’re referring to.

    (Unless you mean “Wall Street,” where the villain was mistaken as the hero by all the yuppies).

  37. 37
    JoyfulA says:

    @Tommy: And family. I’ve had some really hard times, but I’ve always had family I could beg or borrow from (I didn’t) if I was desolate. Most broke people don’t.

  38. 38
    Roger Moore says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    I think that small minority is not the issue.

    Yeah, pay no attention to the men behind the curtain who are whipping up the hate. Only pay attention to your fellow 99%ers while the 0.01% laugh at us all.

  39. 39
    Chris says:

    @Tommy:

    Graduated undergrad in 2009, so, very similar experiences here – coming up on five years of un- and under-employment in my case. It’s not just jobs, though that’s a bitch (and minimum wage ones haven’t been especially easier to get than white collar ones, in my experience). Society’s doors in general are shut to you on pretty much everything that doesn’t involve spending money yourself (grad school still welcomes with open arms – too bad scholarships and even work study have all been shut doors, too).

    The best I’ve had were the temp jobs, none of which, however, ever led to anything more solid.

    For all that, I too am in a fairly good place (relatively speaking) thanks to family that’s been able to help through the rough spots. Never had to be on food stamps, for example. But I know one friend who was on it in DC for a while – to the tune of $30 a month. How the fuck you’re expected to survive on that, I don’t know. On one pasta dinner a day, I guess.

  40. 40
    Tommy says:

    @Roger Moore: My parents are not what you’d call liberals. The word “nigger” might have been used in my household more than a little in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s. My brother and I, which I like to think were kind of progressive, explained that wasn’t “cool.” My parents have come full circle. Pro gay marriage. Voted for Obama, which would be a first for them in 50+ years ( a non-Republican). I even feel I could date a women of color and my parents would be “cool” with it.

    This means a lot to me, cause well the world is a changing …..

    And I don’t have kids but my brother does. A little 4 year I am so close with and I hope she doesn’t have to deal with all the shit I did. She can just enjoy herself. She has an uncle that has her back (as so do her parents BTW).

  41. 41
    Tommy says:

    @Chris: I graduate undergrad in 1989 :). Grad school in 1992. Not so sure if the experiences are the same :).

  42. 42
    Chris says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Has anyone ever written a book comparing the post-civil rights narrative to the post-abolition narrative? Seems to me that there’s a lot of similarities. A hasty concession that yes, of course slavery/segregation was bad, followed immediately by a lot of garment-rending about how horrible it is the way they were ended, with blacks terrorizing poor hardworking whites everywhere and being given cover by the race traitors in the federal government, how our white guilt has taken us much too far in the other direction, how the original abolitionists/civil rightsers would totally be on our side and agree with the measures we regretfully have to take to curb this reverse-racism…

  43. 43
    Chris says:

    @Tommy:

    I meant with the recent economy sucking. But yes :D

  44. 44
    kdaug says:

    @The Dangerman: No, Dangerman. It’s dangerous.

    Ask yourself – after Sam died, what have the Walton’s produced? What net gain?

    (And I’m old enough to remember when the slogan was “Made in America”.)

  45. 45
    Anne Laurie says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Yep! Just put up a reminder in a new Open Thread…

  46. 46
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I think it’s part of a concerted scheme. By boosting talk about civil rights, they are trying to claim that his work is done, justifying undoing civil rights legislation and letting them try to reimpose Jim Crow. At the same time, talking only about civil rights lets them ignore inconvenient talk about all the unfinished business of labor rights and world peace.

    Bingo. Or, as the kids say, QFmfT.

    Like Reince Preibus, claiming Rosa Parks had “ended segregation”. Sure, maybe there was a civil rights issue once, back when there were still Southern Democrats, but not any longer, praise the Lard!

    The forms of their dishonesty changes, but they remain liars.

  47. 47
    Roger Moore says:

    @Anne Laurie:
    Once you learn to see it, the anti-regulation lies almost always fall into the same pattern. When new rules are proposed, they are the worst thing every, will destroy our way of life, etc. When they’re newly imposed, there’s lots of grumbling about the pain of obeying the law and lots of attempts to work around the spirit of the law to keep doing things the way they always have. Once that has been going on for long enough, the lack of massive, overt violations of the kind that caused the rule to be imposed in the first place is held up as proof that the need for it has passed and the whole thing can be repealed now that everyone has given in and started following it (whether they’re actually obeying or not).

  48. 48
    Botsplainer says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    The problem is that a very small minority hoards the overwhelming majority of the resources for…what? To shore up their fragile egos? To give them some sort of warped sense of moral superiority? To inflict pain because they can?

    They’re hoarders who collect numbers on ledgers.

  49. 49
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @kindness:

    I believe that would be one Dr. Elizabeth Warren. I got the same email, although I’m not one of her direct constituents. I’m pretty sure my junior senator (who I helped get elected in 2008, along with one each Barack Obama) shared my email address with her.

  50. 50
    KS in MA says:

    @Chris: “Has anyone ever written a book comparing the post-civil rights narrative to the post-abolition narrative? Seems to me that there’s a lot of similarities.”

    I think it may be not so much a matter of narratives as a matter of the generations who fought against slavery, and for civil rights, having exhausted themselves in the fight. They didn’t have enough stamina to pursue the fight further, and there weren’t enough younger, fresher people to pick up where they left off. (That’s such a gross oversimplification, I’m sorry I even said it.) It might also be fair to say that assassinations, in 1865 and 1968, played a role in discouraging those who might have continued the fight.

  51. 51
    billB says:

    I can fix America in five minutes. Minimum Wage = 25 Bucks an hour. Maximum Net worth 10 million Bucks. 100% tax over that. YOU do not need more.
    Don’t like it, get the heall out of OUR democracy. As the goddess Liz W said, you did not build these roads, you did not make this great country, we all did.
    AND while I would like to see the back-side of those whores, the Koch-Suck bros, I also mean those liber-princesses in silicon valley too. If you btches don’t want to participate in Democracy, then get the FCK out. APPLE I am looking at you, pay taxes on the golaaaaaaamn fortune you are making on asian-slave labor.

  52. 52
    Chris says:

    @billB:

    Preach it.

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