Have you ever heard the story of the time American Airlines, I think about 30 or so years ago, saved $40,000 for the company by eliminating one single olive from every salad served in first class? It’s one of those things that seems like an urban legend until you look it up and lo and behold, it’s real — whoever came up with that definitely got promoted.
As well they should be given a more important job: The process of finding and eliminating wasteful spending is tedious, time-consuming, and requires a discerning eye for what can be done without and what is absolutely necessary. People who can do this are crucial to any business.
That’s why it’s so confusing to me, since Republicans have long wanted to run America “like a business,” that the GOP doesn’t employ anyone to do this stuff. Or rather, they do, but sort of a perverse version of that role: Someone not to cut costs, but to shift costs around until they’re barely felt in some areas and disappear from other areas so completely that you forget you ever spent money on those things.
Let’s call it taking the olives out of the business class salads and putting them in the first class martinis.
It’s never been as apparent, however, as it is now. The Trump administration has proposed the most draconian spending cuts imaginable — think eliminating Special Olympics funding, or cutting Pell Grants to fund NASA, which was eliminated almost entirely — while proposing massive new spending that would more than eat up the savings obtained through cuts. Like, say, a wall on the border with Mexico.
It seems like punishment, like Republicans just want things that don’t appeal to them or their base to simply stop existing. But with the latest proposal from Trump, it’s clear that it’s more than that — it’s an actual effort to harm a certain segment of the population.
Since handing off immigration policy to noted white supremacist Stephen Miller, the Trump administration has made any number of racist proposals — and it started almost on day one. All the way back in January of 2017, one of Trump’s first executive orders was to force federal agencies to write new rules excluding anyone who isn’t a citizen from privacy laws in the United States, all so that immigration agencies could then be forced to release personal information — full names, addresses, etc — in press releases about people who had been deported or even detained by law enforcement.
Imagine if you ended up on COPS or Live PD or some show like that and you were pulled over and not even given a ticket, but that then your full name and address flashed across the screen.
The point is, the administration has proven many times over that their immigration policies are intended to harm, not to save money or to protect American citizens, or for any purpose other than to punish brown people for touching anything that isn’t theirs.
The new proposal, which would eliminate Social Security Disability payments for anyone whose English skills are so limited that they’re not employable at a traditional job, has the same goal: To punish brown people. Not even necessarily undocumented immigrants, either.
Current rules require the government to consider education as a factor in determining whether or not someone is “disabled” enough to warrant the measly benefits that the government pays for those totally unable to work. One of the considerations for education, again, under current rules, is “proficiency in English.” Trump seeks to eliminate that consideration.
That doesn’t just hurt Spanish speakers, mind you — it harms native English speakers who just aren’t very good at it, too. Those people are casualties, however. The real goal is to turn non-native speakers into salad olives.
The part that’s always left out of the American Airlines story is that the money it saved them wouldn’t buy the fuel to send a 737 one way from Seattle to New York. It’s the same with this manipulation of Social Security funds: It would save the government $5.4 billion per year. That’s a little less than one-sixth what the government gave away in tax cuts to the ultra-wealthy this year.
But hey, at least brown people won’t be able to scrape by, right? That was always the goal.
Featured image is a screen capture.