Click here to go to the Home Page Deconstructing Progress - The Other Side of the Tracks - By Perry Redd - Columnist

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We are at a pivotal moment in American history. It seems we are at that point quite often, and we are. It�s simply because the people of this nation are varied, numerous and fickle. BC Question: What will it take to bring Obama home?They cannot come to a consensus on what the country should look like at any given time. Why not, you ask? Because the burning desire to get rich takes on many forms. The lust for riches is a shape-shifting beast. You can never know its true identity from election to election, so America swings between two extremes: the Democrats and the Republicans.

It�s such a shame that we operate and exist that way in this land of democracy. Our core values and beliefs look so attractive, so inviting - on paper. In theory the concept of working hard and prospering is a plate that very few can pass up. That�s why we have so many immigrants in this country. Everyone wants a piece of the American Dream.

But everyone won�t get it. You know why? Simply because we shift between the two extremes: the desire to progress as a country and the desire to get rich. What I have come to learn is that the two are incompatible. Much like the admonition of Jesus: No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. That�s pretty much where we are in this nation. We�re torn between Democrats and Republicans - with no middle ground.

The latest political flare up is an interesting one, because the two extremes are so transparent. The election of 2010 saw us lean toward the money side of our collective character: we must cut spending to make us prosperous. That sounds good, until you see the shredded mess left on the floor�the poor, the under-employed, the unemployed, the homeless, those on the brink of foreclosure, the scared-to-spend of America - the Americans who are residual damage left on the floor. The Republicans gave America the taste of making corporate interests rich - making the rich richer. And guess what? Remember the Republicans said it was about jobs. They didn�t create any more jobs than the previous leadership.

Jobs and the debt ceiling - the amount that the federal government can borrow without approval from Congress - dominate economic policy discussions as well as the national conversation, and it�s an ugly discussion too! Job growth is too slow to lower the unemployment rate, and the Republican majority in the House of Representatives is threatening not to raise the debt ceiling unless the increase is tied to massive spending cuts.

The thing about the Republican view of spending cuts is that it only hurts the people that need money most. Like paying off any debt you have, you can do faster it if you have more money - sort of like a raise. That�s why the Democrats� view of generating revenue has to be on the table. Just the thought of not increasing the tax rate on the wealthiest segment of our taxpayers, and not assessing corporations - especially during this time of crisis - is an unacceptable proposition.

It is true - and even I, as a progressive - would agree that spending has to slow. But what Republicans want to cut is un-American. To take away from the most vulnerable in our society, is unconscionable. Drastic spending cuts could slow the economy and job growth even further. That makes no sense if you�re for propelling the country forward. What they don�t want to cut - spending on simultaneous wars - is the largest part of the problem. How does one think that Americans are going to keep going for that?

Leaving the debt ceiling in place, though, would also result in sharp spending cuts in addition to massive financial market disruptions and higher interest rates for some time to come, so they say. The business community is understandably worried about Congress�s inability to come to an agreement on the debt ceiling that protects economic growth, and they are putting off hiring in this time of heightened economic uncertainty. Oh, that really helps the economy, right?

The disruptions caused by the debt ceiling debate add to concerns over future economic growth. Families still struggle with massive amounts of debt and high foreclosure rates, large swings in oil prices this spring and summer further disrupt business and families� spending plans, and widening trade deficits could put the brakes on future economic growth. If families don�t spend, then merchants suffer.

Why we�re in debt anyway is a mystery beyond solution. The country with the greatest percentage of the world�s Gross Domestic Product - the richest country in the world - should never be in debt. The fact that America is, only indicates that we�ve concentrated too much of that wealth into the hands of too few people.

Cutting spending is not a bad thing, but it becomes a bad thing when you cut what�s necessary and spend on what isn�t. That�s a principle of any family budget. That destroys growth. The progress made over the fifteen years prior to Bush 43 has been frittered away. We�ve deconstructed the gains made, thus a way of life that we once boasted. This family - American family - no matter how dysfunctional, can reconstruct that progress if we all pitch in. Abolish tax cuts for corporations, raise tax rates for the richest 8% of Americans and police spending. That�s how we�ll reconstruct progress. Columnist, Perry Redd, is the former Executive Director of the workers rights advocacy, Sincere Seven, and author of the on-line commentary, �The Other Side of the Tracks.� He is the host of the internet-based talk radio show, Socially Speaking in Washington, DC. Click here to contact Mr. Redd.

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July 21, 2011 - Issue 436
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