is in a whole lotta trouble, but I’m not telling you anything
you didn’t already know.
unleash the so-called free market, and then once that free
market has destroyed millions of lives and livelihoods,
government must come to the rescue to save the system from
itself. And once the oil company despoils the oceans with
millions of gallons of black goop, or the criminally greedy
mining company allows its workers to perish in an unsafe
mine, government must intervene to restore a regulatory
framework and rein in corporate excess. And yet, the guardians
of the status quo would seemingly fight reform, even if
it meant bringing down the entire country.
standoff in the Senate over the extension of unemployment
benefits is a perfect example of the depths of the problem.
To be sure, they did pass
unemployment benefits for the 2.5 million people whose
checks ran out in May. But there will be another standoff
in the months to come. And the fundamentals of the political
dysfunction will be the same.
a normal world, helping out distressed families in a virtual
depression is a no-brainer. It is the right thing to do
from a moral standpoint, but it also makes good sense to
use unemployment benefits to help stimulate
an anemic economy. But Congress, particularly in
the Senate side, is being held hostage by a minority party
that clings to a failed economic philosophy known as trickle-down
economics. This is the theory that if you give the wealthy
more money in the form of tax cuts, subsidies, corporate
welfare and the like, those benefits will trickle down to
the lower rungs of the population, and everyone will be
happy and prosper in the end. Remember the Reagan years?
In simpler lay terms, trickle down is also known as theft.
is what the $1.6 trillion in Bush tax cuts have amounted
to—theft of the middle and working classes, the poor, and
everyone else at the bottom. The top 1 percent now owns
percent of America's wealth, and the top
20 percent owns 85 percent. This gross disparity was exacerbated
by horrendous policies such as the Bush tax cuts, of which
half went to
the top 5 percent of U.S. households, while the bottom
60 percent of Americans received a mere 15 percent of the
leftovers. No investment, no economic growth, no jobs—just
highway robbery, the way it was meant to be in the first
Republican party faithful care little about the lives of
everyday people. But they do care about their corporate
benefactors. They claim to care so much about deficit reduction
that they do not want to extend unemployment benefits, yet
they want to extend the very tax cuts that wrecked the U.S.
economy. Three GOP-inspired policies— financial ruin, the
senseless yet costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and tax
cuts for the rich—put us in this mess that turned a Clinton-era
surplus into a $1.4 trillion deficit.
yet, we’re in a recession, a Great Recession, and perhaps
even for another ten years. This year, foreclosures could
million or more. Still, conservatives are
on the deficit reduction bandwagon. The Obama administration,
having learned nothing from the lessons of history, is drinking
the Hooverade as well, saying there is ”no
great appetite” for aid to the states. Now that’s just dumb. Stressing
deficits over job creation is suicidal in a broke economy.
This strategy speaks to an administration that, however
brilliant and accomplished, expends too much energy appeasing
its adversaries and protecting those of its advisors who
rate in the mediocre-to-incompetent range, even as it throws
people under the bus amidst rightwing
of good people, it is speculated that the Treasury Secretary
Timothy Geithner will use his authority under the newly-minted
financial reform and block
Elizabeth Warren as head of the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau. Perhaps he doesn’t want anyone to learn
where the bodies are buried, in a metaphorical sense, and
he knows the Harvard law professor will protect consumers
allow banks to continue their abusive practices.
For an administration that has backtracked and settled for
second best when faced with the prospects of great reform
(i.e., single payer and the public option in the healthcare
debate) this would be the last straw. But time will tell.
the meantime, when presented with viable options to fix
our problems, there is this tendency for America to take
the road to ruin. You have no choice but to come to this
conclusion when you look at this country’s military spending.
While other nations seek to achieve economic and technological
superiority, the United States aspires to win the Cold War.
Expensive, deadly and pointless, America’s exploits in Iraq
and Afghanistan, at a price tag
of $1 trillion, have amounted to the second
most expensive military action after World War II. And with hundreds of military
bases around the world, the U.S. spends
far more on its military than any other nation, and about
as much as all
other nations combined, for that matter.
to our dysfunctional politics, America treats a dysfunctional
and racist movements as legitimate. We walk a fine line
when dealing with the Tea Party—pay too much attention and
we give them more publicity than they deserve, but ignore
them and we fail to learn the lessons of our troubled racial
history. But in any case we must ”repudiate” them.
actually a movement, the Tea Party is little more than a
corporate lobbyist-supported project
of the GOP, with a pseudo-populist overlay.
Their aversion to taxes, to government spending, social
programs such as universal healthcare, and their visceral
hatred of a black president, have their origins in the Republican
Southern Strategy. Lee Atwater taught them well, though
he repented on his deathbed. Taxes, big government, social
programs, all of these were code words for fear of black
people, when it was no longer acceptable to use the “N”
word. Atwater was able to finesse the racist sensibilities
of the Dixiecrat legacy in order to secure Republican victories.
The strategy worked, but the moderates left the policy and
the base remained. Some of the base has aligned with white
supremacists, militias and jingoists, with a hate group
helping to write Arizona’s
anti-immigrant law, and white supremacists
donating money to defend the law. These are the
folks who are providing the energy in the Republican Party
today, and some conservative politicians hope to harness
this energy, racism and all.
the question is, why does America allow dysfunctional politics
to result in horrible, even suicidal policies? The question
is not rhetorical, I really want to know.
Executive Editor, David A. Love, JD is a journalist and human rights
advocate based in Philadelphia, and a contributor to The Huffington
Media Project, McClatchy-Tribune News Service,
In These Times and Philadelphia Independent Media Center. He also blogs
Salon. Click here
to contact Mr. Love.