No, America Doesn’t Actually Need “Sacrifice Zones”

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No, America Doesn’t Actually Need “Sacrifice Zones”


EDITOR’S NOTE:&nbspThis article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com.

In the American ethos, sacrifice is often hailed as the chief ingredient for overcoming hardship and seizing opportunity. To be successful, we’re assured, college students must make personal sacrifices by going deep into debt for a future degree and the earnings that may come with it. Small business owners must sacrifice their paychecks so that their companies will continue to grow, while politicians must similarly sacrifice key policy promises to get something (almost anything!) done.

We have become all too used to the notion that success only comes with sacrifice, even if this is anything but the truth for the wealthiest and most powerful Americans. After all, whether you focus on the gains of Wall Street or of this country’s best-known billionaires, the ever-rising Pentagon budget, or the endless subsidies to fossil-fuel companies, sacrifice is not exactly a theme for those atop this society. As it happens, sacrifice in the name of progress is too often relegated to the lives of the poor and those with little or no power. But what if, instead of believing that most of us must eternally “rob Peter to pay Paul,” we imagine a world in which everyone was in and no one out?

In that context, consider recent policy debates on Capitol Hill as the crucial midterm elections approach. To start with, the passage of the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) promises real, historic advances when it comes to climate change, health care, and fair tax policy. It’s comprehensive in nature and far-reaching not just for climate resilience but for environmental justice, too. Still, the legislation is distinctly less than what climate experts tell us we need to keep this planet truly livable.

In addition, President Biden’s cancellation of up to $20,000 per person in student loans could wipe out the debt of nearly half of all borrowers. This unprecedented debt relief demonstrates that a policy agenda lifting from the bottom is both compassionate and will stimulate the broader economy. Still, it, too, doesn’t go far enough when it comes to those suffocating under a burden of debt that has long served as a dead weight on the aspirations of millions.

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