Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Perspectives - Part II


What does politics look like, when ideology becomes the driving factor vs. policy decisions that regard all citizens as valuable actual or potential contributors to the common good? Well, it looks pretty much like what we have now!

When the every man for himself, to each his own mindset drives our political system it makes it easy for people who make $35,000 a year to support the interests of those who make $35 million, because continued contributions to safety net programs like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, endanger the prospects of those making $35,000 to earn $35 million. In the meantime, those making $35,000 a year notice that doesn't go as far as it used to, so the people making $35 million provide the scapegoat - those making less than $35,000!

So those who earn $35,000 rally behind the mantra 'Starve the Beast'! and the catchy axiom, 'I want government so small that it can be drowned in a bathtub!'.

Well, we're there (can't you hear the gurgling?)!

What does that mean for our country's future? According to John Atcheson who writes for CommonDreams.org, it's not very pretty. Read his full column here...

"Starving the beast has been the biggest bait and switch con game that has ever been perpetrated on the American people.  And the most tragic."

"As Paul Krugman pointed out, Republicans offered popular tax cuts so that they could later cut popular government programs “as a necessity.” Oh, we’d love to continue providing low cost, effective medical care under Medicare, but you see, the country just can’t afford it … Of course we can’t. Billionaire hedge fund managers and Wall Street traders pay less in taxes than their secretaries. And most corporations pay little or no taxes."

"Starve the Beast was coupled with a clever campaign to make government appear to be a collection of bumbling bureaucrats who wasted tax money for pure pleasure. Long after it became politically impossible to stereotype racial and ethnic groups (with the possible exceptions of Muslims) it was – and is – quite acceptable to characterize government workers as shiftless, lazy and incompetent."
"As a result, once the Republicans succeeded in cutting government revenue to the bone and beyond, it became impossible to raise taxes – who wants to give any more of their hard earned money to a bunch of lazy bureaucrats?"

"Never mind that most big government programs are far more efficient than their private sector equivalents. That’s a mere fact. Can’t let that get in the way of starving the beast."
"Bait and switch. Divide and Conquer."

"So, after starting with a surplus in 2000, Republicans used two wars, two rounds of tax cuts, and a giant giveaway to big Pharma, to get the country racking up debt like a drunken sailor."
"Along comes the Bush recession, and the debt accelerates, and the Republicans declare the debt to be an “emergency” and right on schedule immediately attack popular programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Student loans –and virtually anything that doesn’t help the uber rich or the corporations suddenly must be cut if we are to stay solvent."

"Never mind that cutting Social Security to balance the budget is like attacking the mailman because your car doesn’t work. It has nothing to do with the budget – but again, that’s a mere fact. When you’re drowning the beast, facts don’t matter."

"So OK. The beast is drowned. Keynes is dead. Now what?"

"Well, if past is prologue, welcome to the next Great Depression."

"See, the dirty little secret is that we never had a debt “crisis.” We had a jobs crisis."

"While Republicans were arguing about the faux “crisis” and the press and Obama joined them, we got a series of disturbing economic signals. Consumer confidence was down, manufacturing was off, May and June’s job numbers were pathetic. In fact, if not for a hiring binge by McDonald’s there would have been a net job loss in May. That’s something to hang your hat on: McDonalds accounted for what little job growth there was. What’s next, America gets saved by an uptick in Wall Mart greeters?"

"Look. This whole drown the beast strategy has been nothing more than a stealth tactic for instituting an extremist version of a laissez faire, market uber-alles policy designed by and for the Plutocracy."

"And to be sure, it’s worked great for them. Today, the richest 1% owns 40% of the nation's wealth, and the top 10% owns nearly 75% of it."
"The rest of us? Not so much..."

I'm not sure I view the future as pessimistically as Atcheson. But my hope that saner minds in positions of responsibility will prevail soon are not as strong as it used to be.

There are people who don't understand that the drowning the celebrate is not someone else...it's all of us!

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