Category Archives: austerity

Is This What You Really, Really Want?

 
 
 

The Republicans have become little old stingy men in the nation’s pantry counting the rice grains and reporting back that the cupboards are bare. They chant the word “debt” and the word “deficit” as if these were the only important words in America. They do not accept the reasoning that judicious spending could stimulate the economy and that this would make the “debt” and the “deficit” loom less large. They do not accept that we could all be in this together. We the people have become the enemy.

Republicans are saying that corporations were chased away by greedy workers (in unions) and by too many regulations, both environmental and financial. I guess they don’t live next door to one of the dirtiest lakes in America, full of heavy metal waste from industries like Solvay Process, Allied Chemical and Honeywell like I do. I guess we are to blame for getting upset when corporations dirtied our air, our ground, and our water. We aren’t even supposed to notice this or complain about it because that’s the kind of stuff that made industry leave us. We are supposed to believe what the oil industry says about global climate change because we all know what liars scientists are.

It is unfortunate that the next new thing; that new invention or innovation that will require us to flood factories with workers, has not been invented yet. If we perfect more and more robotics to do the work people used to do we may never see the day when factories will once again cover America and employ Americans? We may have to pay people not to work the way we pay farmers not to grow crops or raise cattle or chickens?

I get the point of the Conservatives and Libertarians. They do not want to support people who don’t work. Everyone is not suited to be an entrepreneur however. We could use more plumbers, more electricians, more computers repair people, although we often don’t bother with repairs anymore. We could use more people who understand computer coding and programming. And we could certainly use more people who can secure our computers, which apparently leak data like sieves. We still need farmers, and grocers and truck drivers. Medical workers are always in demand from lightly trained workers to extremely well-educated practitioners. Some training money might help make more people employable.

I don’t know if people really understand that Republicans are already cutting the federal government through the sequester and by refusing to pass any laws, even appropriation laws. They are serious about ending safety net programs and they are just moving ahead with cuts with or without our permission. Remember all those poor factories workers who lost their pensions when their factories closed. Soon that will be all of us. The GOP already separated funding for food stamps from the Farm Bill and they intend to pass the Farm Bill without the traditional funding for food stamps. They intend to get rid of the SNAP program and to let hungry Americans rely on churches and charities. They have voted 40 times to repeal health care and now they may listen to a few extreme voices in their party who want to refuse to raise the debt ceiling or pay America’s debts until Obama agrees to kill health care. They would like to kill all federal health care.

Do you really want to get a voucher for school for your children and a voucher for health care? What if schooling and health care costs more than the amount of your voucher? What if the costs keep going up? Do we want to trust private companies to educate our children? Our schools are far from perfect but are we sure this is the way we want to go? Once we lose all our safety nets how easy will it be to get these programs back if we need them, when we need them? I wouldn’t want to have to hold my breath while I waited for another Great Society. How poor will we all get?

The Republicans want to end birth control and abortion. There will be more of us. How long will it take before we are at each other’s throats? Have you stockpiled some weapons in case we need to have a revolution? I hear that Republicans have lots of guns stashed away. Will you end up on the poor side or the well-off side? The odds of ending up poor are getting better and better.

I really think you ought to give this all some thought because the GOP is already succeeding in pulling the rug out from under us. There are millions of us who should be standing on the rug anchoring it in place. If we were all paying attention that rug could not be yanked away even though the floor beneath it is slippery. You better jump on the rug soon or that warm rug we all paid for will disappear and you and I will be on that cold, slick floor until the economic cycle turns everything topsy-turvy once more (which could take a very long time.)

The Democrats have not exactly been towers of strength, but we had better vote for them in 2014 and in 2016 because at least they don’t blame us for everything and they don’t want to privatize everything. I think we can trust that the Democrats will not pull the rug out from under us. By the time all of us wake up in the empty pantry without the rug and wishing we could smell the coffee, it may be too late.

This blog post is also available at www.brissioni.com
 

 

We Are Addicted to Novelty

We are becoming shallow people who are addicted to novelty. Out with the old, in with the new, whether the shiny new thing we admire will be good for us or not doesn’t really seem to matter. Four years ago Obama was new. Everyone was so excited. Now Paul Ryan is new and apparently people are shaken momentarily out of their lethargy. Maybe he will continue to fascinate our fickle tastes for a while or maybe our interests will wane when he starts making our brains freeze and our eyes glaze over by talking technical budget stuff and showing us his charts.

Paul Ryan has been around for the past four years. If anyone in the House of Representatives has been most responsible for the partisan divide it has been Paul Ryan. He wields a lot of behind the scenes influence with Republicans. I believe that he stopped the deal that Obama and Boehner had worked out, the deal that might have prevented our credit from being downgraded. He will tell you that Obama failed, but Paul Ryan did everything he could to prevent us from seeing if Obama’s approach would have worked. He is the “new guard” who exerts a powerful sway over the old guard. He is more conservative than the conservatives. He has brought them into line with a passionate belief in his dogma and his mathematical understanding, with which he dazzled them. Are we really going to fashion America’s future after an Ayn Rand plot? Now I’ll have to reread the darn book, The Fountainhead, again. Maybe I’ll just read the summary on Wikipedia. I don’t expect to be as spellbound by it as Paul Ryan. But he is “a lean and hungry man” and he has obviously either convinced the Republicans that he is all that; or they had Romney pick him for VP so they could get him off their backs.
I just could not disagree with anyone more that I disagree with Paul Ryan. Of course, I get my economic advice from Paul Krugman who also could not disagree with anyone more than he probably disagrees with Paul Ryan. Ryan believes in austerity for everyone but the wealthy. He espouses drastic cuts and very small government. He buys into the rugged individualist, pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-boot-straps mumbo-jumbo that the good old boys believe is the essence of the American psyche. It may have been appropriate when there were only 300,000 Americans and most of America was frontier, but not so much when we number 313+ million with no new frontier except space. He mistakes harshness for wisdom. He wants America to get a martyr complex. Paul Krugman does not agree that pure austerity is the way out of the current economic downturn. He writes for the New York Times opinion section, although he has been on vacation recently. When he comes back you should read his articles so you have something to balance against what Paul Ryan has to say. I still hope, even now that we have my worst case scenario, that we will not go there.

Correction: Apparently Paul Ryan like Atlas Shrugged rather than The Fountainhead. My bad. I’ll probably have to revisit both.