Friday, August 5, 2011

Republican Games and the Trashing of the U.S. Economy

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich has a critical perspective on the linkage between the Republican political games over the debt ceiling and the state of the real economy (i.e., your job, your income, your mortgage, the profit of your business, the appearance of your main street). Curiously, the gamblers all Republicans love (known as "Wall Street") lost big as soon as Obama caved in to the Tea Party extremists. Watch today's DOW Jones figures. The recession did not wake up very many people in the U.S. Will the double dip, now showing on your favorite main street, finally teach us our lesson?

Welfare for the Rich. One reason for the U.S. economic mess is that the rich are cheating everyone else. Check out how much billionaire hedge fund managers pay in taxes. Just as we give welfare to Big Oil, we also give it to Big Finance. Did you really think they got that rich just by working hard? If my income had been taxed at the rate paid by hedge fund managers, I'd be rich now too.

Employment. In April, unemployment fell in most U.S. cities. In May unemployment rose in 210 U.S. cities; in June, it rose in 345 cities. Meanwhile, July job growth almost matched population growth. (U.S. population growth requires at least 125,000 new jobs per month to stay even.) Pundits saw the near tie as "progress." One pundit reportedly called the U.S. economy, the world's largest still (I think; though China is catching up), "not dead." Well obviously. If it were "dead," the U.S. government would no longer be paying out retirement checks to retired Federal workers (using all that cash so kindly loaned to us by...the Chinese).

Euroschlerosis. With whole European countries sounding more and more like the Lehmans and AIGs of Recession I, the double-dip seems more and more likely. Keep in mind that there is only one global financial system (unless you count North Korea and Myanmar as having their own). In fact, as every U.S. worker and homeowner knows, Recession I never ended; it just keeps transforming itself in interesting ways that just leave the average person poorer and poorer. (Remember, U.S. wages have now been stagnant for more than a decade.)

Bait and Switch for Dumb Voters. John Atcheson explains how Republican leaders have tricked the very uneducated American public:

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.

OK, I will offer a partial apology to the American voter. I admit it is very hard to persuade oneself how insistent supposedly patriotic Republican politicians are on wrecking the society's circumstances in order to enrich themselves. But really, after the $3 trillion war against Iraq, the trashing of the Gulf of Mexico, the endless trillions of above-board and under-the-table Wall St. bailout (evidently totally somewhere around $12 trillion), the recession, and the lack of government reform of our financial system, it is about time you started focusing. The U.S. is probably the world's richest nation in terms of resources, but we are throwing it away at a rate that will in fact put us into another depression. And the last time we had a depression, it came with camps of the unemployed, fascist police attacks on the poor, and a brush with communist revolution. You really don't want to go there.

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