Thursday, July 14, 2011

The End of the Empire

Under President George W. Bush, the debt ceiling was raised 7 times. There was no fanfare. No Congressional standoff. It was not a big, international news media story for months. In fact, many of the same Congressmen who have become preening deficit peacocks are the same people who voted for that debt ceiling increase all seven times. Charlie Bass is one of those newly minted peacocks. He never voted against a bloated defense budget, or military appropriations bill. He never voted against increasing the debt ceiling, and never voted against any Bush budget. During the 4 years that he was out of Congress, he developed a very particular sense of amnesia, one that has managed to erase any memory of all those votes; thereby eliminating the need to take any responsibility for his role in the mess we’re in today.

Despite the massive hype, the deficit and the debt aren’t actually the most important problems we face. Unemployment is by far the most important problem that needs fixing. Over 25 million people are out of work. That hurts the economy far more than the deficit, because, obviously, people who aren’t working aren’t spending. There are millions of houses sitting empty, growing mold, because there are millions of people who can’t afford to buy them – because they’re out of work. This should be the national priority, not all of this endless nattering about the deficit by a bunch of childish individuals, most of whom need to be fired. Mitch McConnell says he doesn’t see anything getting done as long as THIS president is in the White House. That means that a bunch of overgrown and overpaid boys are refusing to do what’s right for their districts and the country, because they’re intent on playing king of the hill with the guy in the White House. If they bothered to look at how the folks back home feel about this, they might be concerned with saving their jobs instead of behaving like blockheads. Both Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass have approval ratings that have gone below mere single digits, and into the land of the minus.

Polls show that the folks back home are opposed to cutting Social Security and Medicare. John Boehner often talks about what “the American people want.” He knows what he wants and what his funders want. He knows what rich white folks want. Other than that, he has no idea. He’s so insulated from reality that he might as well be on another planet, one populated by a weepy, orange race. He and McConnell have repeatedly shown that they have no intention of compromising or working with their fellow legislators. They want what they want, and that’s all there is to it. The best interests of the top 1% are being well represented. The rest of us can just go stand in a bread line.

What’s wrong with the economy and the country isn’t going to be fixed by cutting programs that keep the elderly from eating cat food. If the deficit peacocks were serious, they’d be insisting that we get out of the countries we’re occupying, cut the defense budget in half, and start investing in America. Our politicians love to talk about “American Exceptionalism.” It sounds pretty until you realize that the only things the US is number on in any more are weapons sales and military spending. While we cling to the last gasps of our dying empire, the rest of the world is eclipsing us in education, health, and infrastructure. If these folks really were the patriots they claim to be, they’d be insisting we invested in our own country, instead of pouring money into failed nation building in the Middle East. Sadly for us, they aren’t at all what they claim to be. Their sole interest is representing the wealthiest segment of the population. When the Supreme Court ruled that money equals speech it wasn’t difficult to see what would be coming next. As Bill Maher said recently, “government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.”

It’s the teaconomists who are the most destructive force. While real economists are clear that defaulting on US loans would result in some dire consequences, teaconomist Michelle Bachman says that’s just not true. Given a choice between the Nobel Prize winner and Bachman, whose personal economy came largely from gummint farm subsidies and gummint subsidies to her husbands “pray the gay away” counseling practice, I’ll take the Nobel Prize winner. Teachelle says, “We won’t raise the debt ceiling.” Her party says, “We won’t raise the debt ceiling unless you give us everything we want.” Suddenly, if they get what they want, raising the limit is okay. That tells you all you need to know about the seriousness of these negotiations. This is clown school. They’re playing chicken, and haven’t yet begun to understand that if the US does default and there are dire consequences, they’re going to be taking the blame for being recalcitrant children. Obama’s a fool to try to negotiate with hostage takers and terrorists – and that is what today’s GOP has become. If he makes a deal with them, they learn that they can have tantrums and get their way. It’s just like dealing with a 3 year old in a supermarket. If you cave into a tantrum, you’ve created a monster.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, some 20 percent of the population is either unemployed or underemployed. With many states facing budget shortfalls, cuts are being made that eliminate jobs. Teachers, librarians, firefighters, cops, and other public sector employees are getting pink slipped left and right. The teaconomists of the GOP howled that the lousy employment numbers were Obama’s fault. The complicit media blamed the deficit. The teaconomists are under the impression that gummint jobs aren’t REAL jobs. Millionaires create REAL jobs, which is why we can’t raise their taxes. Of course, the unemployment numbers aren’t aware of these fine distinctions, so that when unreal teachers and cops lose their jobs, the silly unemployment system counts them. Surely those Bush tax cuts will kick in and save us all any day now. Just because they haven’t worked in over a decade is no reason to lose faith now. These same folks are still under the impression that Reagan-style supply side policies will work one day, too. The only way it works is if you’re one of the top 1% wage earners. Everyone else just gets trickled on, with the stream growing ever weaker, the lower down the income scale it goes.

The whole system has broken down to the point where it probably can’t be fixed. The teadious anti-education, anti-science, anti-everything except tax cuts for the wealthy, ideology of the right isn’t going to bring us into a productive future. We need strong people with a vision for what that future might be, ready to work on implementing it. Instead we have clownish cartoon characters, playing to the silly gossip media. Are those tumbrels I hear in the distance?

“If monarchy is corrupting - and it is - wait till you see what overt empire does to us.” Daniel Ellsberg

Published as an op-ed in the July 17, 2011 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper.
© sbruce 2011

1 comment:

DissedBelief said...

You summed up exactly the frustrations many of us like minded are seeing with our eyes and ears. The holier than thou, preachy pro-life, patriotic hypocrites squabbling in the sand box can only be products of their own failed education and political/economic policies. And we see the end results. Idiots who have nothing to bring to the table but the rhetoric "no no no". Yesterday I happened to luck out by hearing a Diane Rehm interview with the facist fanatic Grover Norquist (bosom buddies with another cad Jack Abramoff). One listener called in and termed Norquist a "traitor" to which Rehm denied him a voice and to her credit cut him off. However, this listener was correct. Norquist and his ilk are traitors of the highest order. That they dare feign to being patriots is insulting to those of us who live moral, ethical and truly idealistic lives, aspiring to doing the right thing and paying what taxes are required of us to keep our country, neighbors and communities on track. This crowd has reversed our nation back to the ox wagon and their constant screeching about the constitution is laughable. Thanks to them, we're on the skids. Our President may have made many mistakes and certainly attempting to compromise with idiots is one of them. Norquist has stated many times in the past that his party will only be satisfied when they are "the only party" and therefore dictatorship is at their feet. So much for democracy.