What's past, as Shakespeare told us, is prologue.
So let's flash back only two decades to that defining achievement of President Bill Clinton's presidency: "[The] end of welfare as we know it." He was awfully proud of teaming up with Republican ideologues to reverse FDR's historic commitment of providing "Aid to Families with Dependent Children." While there were problems and abuses with this poverty-alleviation program, Clinton signed on to the right wing's fantasy that simply gutting it would magically make welfare recipients self-sufficient through "the dignity, the power, and the ethic of work."
But his faith in the work ethic lacked any actual ethics. Where were the jobs — much less decent-paying jobs — that were supposed to empower poor people? Bill had no plans for that, except a feeble request that major corporations commit to hiring a number of former-welfare recipients. Surprise — they didn't!
Now, fast-forward 20 years, with millions of poor people — especially single mothers — having no jobs, no cash earnings and no social safety net to protect them. Clinton's empty promise of jobs for the poor totally disappeared in the smoke of Wall Street's 2008 crash of our economy. Plus, he had handed the remains of our national poverty program over to states that are now run by right-wing politicos who've shriveled the benefits to Dickensian levels.
Thus, the United States of America — the wealthiest country in the history of the world — now has a "poverty program" that largely consists of the poor being homeless, selling their blood plasma for income and scrounging our alleys and highway medians for aluminum cans.
But now, Hillary Clinton says she would put Bill in charge of fixing our economy. Hello — he "fixes" our economy the same way a veterinarian fixes your dog.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.