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Hard to Remember

July 18, 2011

“I read the new today, oh boy”: following the so-called “deficit reduction negotiations, ” whose clichés, deceptions, and misleading talking points have dominated the news for weeks, is  frustrating and  frightening. I see no reason for optimism about the American  people’s interests or welfare  in the next several years. 

It’s hard to remember, amid the endless, melodramatic  blather about “we’re broke! We can’t afford teachers. We’re bankrupt!  We can’t afford health care. We can’t afford to honor pension contracts. We can no longer afford Social Security. The only solution is  to slash taxes on thr rich again and slash government spending dramatically!”

It’s hard to remember that America is wealthier than it has ever been.

The per capita wealth of America is larger than ever.

If it doesn’t feel like it, it’s because the wealth has been radically redistributed upwards.

Billionaires and corporations are richer than ever. There has been no recession for them. Corporate America is racking up record-shattering profits every quarter. Cash  reserves of both big and small businesses are greater than ever.

For all the talk of “shared sacrifice” the rich have yet to be asked to make any sacrifice.

We have never been better able to afford what we need. As a nation, America is richer than it has ever been, richer than any country in world history.

Hard to remember that  in the face of the nonstop avalanche of propaganda designed to distract people from the underlyign rreality.

Hard to remember that the religion of supply side economics has been repeatedly refuted by history, or that austerity budgets in Europe seem to be making everything worse, not better. Slashing government spending in a recession predictably worsens it. It may lead to an outright Depression worse than that of the 1930s.

Hard to remember that if the Bush tax cuts had not been extended (or better yet, never  enacted) the trumped-up deficit “crisis” wouldn’t exist.

Hard to remember that if we could put people back o work and  had something close to full employment,  the deficit would melt away, as the proportionately much larger deficit at the  end of World War II did. Far from being a cruel and crushing burden crippling the next generation, it ushered in the greatest increase in prosperity ever seen, Millions wer able to rise out of poverty. For the first time,  “working class” was no longer a synonym for “poor.”

Hard to remember that the Obama Administration’s half-hearted, timid, watered-down, inadequate stabs at reform not only failed– but by failing discredited the very idea of reform, of any adequate government response,  in the eyes of millions of voters.

I wish I saw more reason for hope but I don’t. My sense is the  eventual compromise package of slashing vital services will be marketed by the Administration as “Hey, it could’ve been worse! We didn’t actually abolish Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security outright, after all. Just made some….adjustments….”

And millions of beaten-down, demoralized, discouraged, frightened people will say “I guess we should be glad for anything we have. They are right. It could’ve been worse….”

That is my fear. What is yours?






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