Monday, April 30, 2012
Tavis Smiley's & Cornel West's "Poverty Tour"
I attended a free lecture Saturday evening, “The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto with Tavis Smiley and Cornel West”
The preface delivered by the event coordinator said the audience was attending a lecture. So, I attempted to reset my brain, empty its cache and prime my information processing abilities to receive new ideas. Both men have superior and admired bodies of work that precede them, so I was excited in my anticipation.
The men’s lecture was delivered in a cohesive argumentative structure that would be admired by Aristotle himself. They posed a hypothesis, supported it with facts and statistics, gave examples that illustrated the facts and brought all together by revisiting the hypothesis. I sum up their presentation, as a treatise on the Oligarchy they find exists in America. Again, Aristotle would be proud of their discussion on what he initially pioneered as Plutocracy, a synonym for rule by the rich.
Whereas extreme poverty is a reality in this country that touts itself as the wealthiest country in the world, it was not mentioned with any force in the previous Presidential election and has not been engaged as a significant talking point in the upcoming election. Whereas there exists many lobbyists for Wealth interests on Capital Hill (i.e. oil, gas, coal, pharmaceuticals, military-industrial complex), there are only a few lobbyists that purport to be for the interests of the common man.
West and Smiley paint Barack Obama as the politician that promised change from the Oligarchy that exists to a more equitable financial status quo for America, but hypocritically accepts support from the wealthiest 1 percent. The Plutocracy spins this financial realignment effort as the “redistribution of wealth” which is a precursor to Socialism or more so Communism. West and Smiley find evidence of the Oligarchy in America by the rapidly disappearing middle class and the failure of the minimum wage to be a living wage. Obama has pandered to the students and middle class that finds them under financial siege but backslides with monies from special interests that keep college costs high. Also, these are the same special interests that Obama says should be paying their fair share in taxes. Albeit, a campaign spin to pledge that they pay their fair share in taxes, they are definitely paying a lion’s share of support for Obama’s campaign.
In retrospect, the lecture supplies political fodder to Republicans and Democrats alike. If you can get to this in your city or acquire on Podcast, this is something that can add to your intellectual arsenal.
(Reviewed by JRS)
at 9:27 AM