I almost can't stand watching or reading the news these days and have delayed posting on this blog because it seems there is a need to repeat the same suggestions over and over again. Don't cave to the right. Don't cut important social welfare programs that have enabled this country since the 1930s to treat its elderly and vulnerable populations with respect. Quit trying to strip unions of power--they are one of the important ways that ordinary people can emplower themselves to demand a share of the prooductivity profits their labor has produced. Quit repeating the garbage free market mantras suggesting that the wealthy investors and managers are entrepreneurs (they're not generally) and that allowing such gross accumulation of wealth as our current CEO pay of 3-400 times the salary of average workers (earning in a half day what a worker earns in a year) is somehow necessary to a good economy in a democratic political system. Allowing the owners and managers to continue to reward themselves with grossly oversized compensation and profits packages so that they can maintain their 20,000 square feet marble palaces with kitchens that only a caterer needs (and that the denizens of the house hardly ever use on their own) is just one of the excesses of the brute capitalism that the 'tea partiers' and other right-wing economic policy gurus are supporting.
This free market, brute capitalism where workers are expendable and the entire economy is forced to support the accumulation of wealth at the top is what we have in fact pushed on (and sometimes assisted in imposing on) developing nations in the past . Think Argentina--where the Chicago Boys oversaw the decimation of the economy and the imposition of austere conditions on the majority so that the economy could be 'remade' to suit the owners of capital (including foreign investors and multinationals). Think Brazil, where in the 1960s we helped their military coup against a leftish president in order to support the ability of US multinationals to continue exploiting Brazilian resources.
But now the right is so invigorated, through its ability to bamboozle the American people and elect a majority of economic extremists in the House who either don't understand history well enough to know that they are speaking gibberish, or don't care. They are determined to undermine the meagre social welfare system of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, with constant untruths about 'bankruptcy' and similarly misleading statement on almost every issue. Presidential candidates who make up facts are toasted by the purportedly 'leftleaning' mainstream media (this assertion itself a made-up fact used to continue to bamboozle the people).
The most outrageous spectacle of all is the pontificating dogmatic right in the House and Senate, threatening to cause a U.S. default on the debt ceiling issue in order to pursue their ideological dream of a 'pure' economy. Their economic model is a disgraced one --the free market, corporatist model that ensures that the small, wealthy investor class is doing well and that Big Business gets what it wants but doesn't give a damn for ordinary folks, whatever verbiage about caring for workers, and ordinary people with mortgage difficulty, etc. they spout.
Truth is, folks, you don't get an economy working well for ordinary people when you (i) make pledges NEVER to increase taxes, (ii) reject cuts in the grossly overlarge military expenditures this country makes in order to secure the world's resources for its multinational enterprises (that then lobby for close to zero taxation on their obscene profits from that secured wealth), or (iii) try to solve all perceived fiscal problems by taking it out of the hide of ordinary folk, thus stifling the real economy (the one where workers work in businesses that serve local people and that work generates profits that are shared with workers and owners in a way that leads to expansion of the local economy based on the broad-based workers' participation in it) and at the same time bringing the kind of class warfare that the Friedman school has long waged on Latin America and other Third World countries right here to America. The result of those kinds of policies is concentration of income, wealth, and influence at the top, with ordinary folks in the middle class struggling just to stay even.
The idea that you cannot tax natural resource extractive industries more (by taking away the tax expenditures subsidies that literally hand them outsize profits on a silver platter) when they are making windfall profits is absurd. The idea that you cannot reimpose a decent estate tax on the estates of the wealthiest 2% in the country, to assist with meeting the heartfelt needs of the struggling middle and lower classes, is pathetic. The suggestion that you cannot increase taxes on financial transactions and increase capital requirements in banks to stifle the too-rapid innovation and liquidity within the financial institutions that underlies the crisis we just went through (and the worse one we will suffer within the decade if we don't enact even stronger reforms than already in Dodd-Frank) reflects the dogmatic fixation on service to the wealthy investors and financiers that permeates the right-wing in Congress.
Folks. we can't let them do this. Congress is supposed to serve the people, and this 'tea party'/right-wing extremism that was reflected in Newt Gingrich's 'contract on America' and John Boehner's contract with the investor class is the worst of class warfare.
There was a time when the neo-imperialists and corporatists didn't dare do the same thing in America that they were pushing for, and secreting doing in Third world countries. Exploiting the environment without a care for the pollution that ordinary people suffer in their daily lives. (Think of the Banana Republic attitudes of United Fruit and the Latin American oil enterprises conducted by US multinationals.) Supporting militaristic regimes with a right wing flavor and a taste for torture and imprisonment of radical left thinkers. (Think Chile, Argentina, Nicaragua, Guatemala, etc.) Labeling governing concepts that pay a lot of attention to the needs of ordinary people as 'subversive' and 'socialist' in order to bring up myths of communistic monsters that hide under the bed and eat the economy. (Think Cuba and Brazil, especially, and Chile, and now Venezuela.) All these tactics exist to keep ordinary people in their place as workers who get a pittance of their productivity profits and are "flexible" (meaning can be fired upon short notice by private equity firms flipping companies for their own (preferentially taxed) profits) while the military can control the resources and make good deals (for US multinationals and the military leaders, not for the people of the exploited country). Read Chomsky's "Year 501" for a (somewhat rambling) account of the neo-liberal corporatist agenda in Latin America.
But now those same ultra corporatist, class-warfare policies are being implemented right here, in the open, with brazen disregard for our historical social contract, for the plight of the poorest and most vulnerable amonst us, all in the name of keeping the 'investor class" and Big Business (generally one and the same, since the investor class is mostly the owners and managers of Big Business) happy.
They paper it over with talk, as Joe Lieberman does in calling for cuts to Medicare, for 'bipartisanship" or they claim the US is living beyond its budget because it doesn't pay its bills. But of course they don't really care about that, since the budget put forward by the Republican House majority carved a multi-trillion dollar hole. IN other words, they don't pay attention to their own rhetoric. They just want to use the (absurd in itself) requirement in the US that we have a debt ceiling extension vote as an opportunity to blackmail the American people to get concessions on their favored targets--the programs that ameliorate, somewhat, the brute capitalism of the American economic system after forty years of reaganism, friedmania, and the rest of the Chicago School garbage that has been treated as "God's truth" so long by politicians that they don't even realize, perhaps, that they are letting a bunch of mathematicians who like to escape the real world into made-up formulas decide the policies for the nation.
Big Business has had its enablers in place for four decades--Grover Norquist, the Koch brothers and their 'tea party' followers, the various propaganda tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the rest that have spent millions to brainwash Americans into thinking that the failed 'free market' ideas of Milt Friedman and Alan Greenspan and Wall Street are the only way to go. It has a majority on the Supreme Court willing to be extraordinarily activist in overturning precedents on class action lawsuits (a way for ordinary people to empower themselves against Big Business) and free speech (a way for corporations and their owners/managers to control the political debate through the use of their overwhelming dollar power). And that right-wing majority is serving its masters well, while Big Business's minions in Congress continue to roll over to make sure that the right-wing panacea of deregulation, militarization, tax cuts, and privatization contines apace.
The US debt burden is high, but we are not Greece or Ireland or even Portugal. We have a strong economy. We have our own monetary system, unlike the Euro nations that are facing much higher debt burdens and can't individually control their monetary flows. Austerity measures like the IMF has imposed on Latin America to satisfy foreign investors (not the natives of those countries) and like the Euro world is now imposing on its own members are not needed here (and probably are the wrong answer there as well). Those measures are driven again by the failed corporatist economic model that assumes that the entire world should be run to satisfy the wishes of financial institutions, big money investors and the big multinational corporations that they own and manage.
The world should be run to satisfy the needs of ordinary people. Banks should be stripped of the power to create a world-wide crisis with their haystacks of derivatives that catch flame much too easily. Big Business should make do with lower profits, paying their workers more and their managers (and owners) less and paying their fair share of taxes. Hedge fund managers should pay tax on their "carried interest" compensation like ordinary people, and private equity firms should be subject to much more red tape that makes it much harder to buy companies and take them private in order to fire their workers. In fact, consolidation and mergers among big businesses should be made much more difficult through new limitations on the tax-free restructuring provisions. Unionization should be strengthened, in order to give ordinary Americans something with which to have leverage over the hierarchical authorities that undermine economic growth by concentrating everything on the investor class.
Let's start a letter and call-in campaign to every Republican legislator in the coutnry, telling them that we are sick and tired of being treated as lambs led to the slaughter in order to place endless platters on the tables of the rich. Tax policy should be based on what works, not on ideological dogma that has been the underlying cause of catastrophes and crises worldwide.