Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Austerity 2

Austerity riots in Greece

"The issue that is most important and most on people's minds is jobs." -Gov. Rick Perry

"Kids all across the country are feeling the sting of budget cutbacks as the average payout for a lost tooth plummets from $3.00 to just $2.60. That’s a net revenue decrease of nearly 14% in just one year. In addition, the number of kids getting completely flown-over by the Tooth Fairy has gone from 4% to 10% in the past year, leaving 5 in 50 kids with no tooth-loss compensation." -Angela B, Care2

No tooth-loss compensation! What has this country come to?! The freaking Tooth Fairy can't even afford to do business as usual, and I'm not even sure if he's an American.
Or even if he's a he, for that matter.
As I mentioned yesterday the country is currently experiencing a manufactured debt/spending crisis due to a hugely successful right wing public relations campaign sponsored by Republican billionaires and ex Bush administration hacks like Carl Rove and Gretchen Hamel.
"Earlier this week, Politico published a piece outlining the vast disparity in the ad war over the debt ceiling. Republican-aligned groups have run over $21.2 million in attack ads highlighting Democrats as irresponsible drivers of the national debt, and elevating the debt ceiling as a top priority. Meanwhile, groups on the left have spent about $30,000 on ads calling out Republicans on the debt, with one hitting lawmakers for “recklessly risking default.” Some Democratic leaning groups have even run ads casting Democrats as better at cutting than Republicans." -Lee Fang, Think Progress
It appears that the Republicans have once again framed the debate in this country and the Democrats, including President Obama, buy into it. Debt, debt, debt. Spending, spending, spending. That's all that's being talked about, and no one in the media, even the progressive media, are challenging the common wisdom, which, as usual, is completely wrong (with the exception, as always, of Thom Hartmann).
The economy is obviously sluggish. Unemployment is high... not only that but jobs are hard to come by as well! Wall Street and businesses are hoarding cash and transferring jobs overseas. We're facing a slide back into a double dip recession.
So what's ailing the United States if it isn't the national public debt and runaway spending, and who is courageous enough to buck the manipulated majority view and openly talk about it?
As Governor Perry stated above, the American people seem to think it's job creation, and not deficit reduction. A recent Gallup poll asked 1,016 adult people what they thought was the greatest problem facing the country. 27% said it was unemployment/job creation, and 31% stating the economy in general. Compare that to just 16% for the deficit. Other polls consistently display similar results.
So why is Congress focusing on spending and debt reduction rather than what the American people care about and what is currently adversely affecting a large portion of them? Job creation, after all, is what got the Republicans the majority in the House last year.
Here's the simple answer. The Republicans don't give a rat's ass what the American people want, or need, that's why. The only time the Republicans care about what the American people think is before elections, or when they are attempting to shape public opinion through lies and false advertising, such as the daily dribble on the Fox Propaganda Network. Besides, if the Republicans actually did something to help the American people as far as employment goes, or to improve the country in general at the present time, Obama will get credit for it, making it easier for him to win a second term. They sure don't want that.
Am I being too cynical and quick to judgment? Too misanthropic perhaps?
Yes, and delightedly so!
My good friends (I've never actually met them, but feel like we'd be good friends if I did. I'm very likable) Nobel laureate, Paul Krugman of Princeton University and former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, among other economists, say it's jobs and economic growth as well.
Here's what Robert wrote about it (and the debt ceiling "crisis") a couple of weeks ago.
And Paul has something to say about it as well, giving us a lesson on the current austerity measures employed in Europe:
Wikipedia tells us: "In many cases, austerity measures have been associated with significant decline in standard of living. A case in point which was being watched by many was that of Greece. The financial crisis—particularly the austerity package put forth by the EU [European Union] and the IMF [International Monetary Fund]— was met with anger by the Greek public, leading to riots and social unrest. On 27 June 2011, trade union organizations commenced a forty-eight hour labor strike in advance of a parliamentary vote on the austerity package, the first such strike since 1974. Massive demonstrations were organized throughout Greece, intended to pressure parliament members into voting against the package. The second set of austerity measures was approved on 29 June 2011, with 155 out of 300 members of parliament voting in favor. However, United Nations officials warned that the second package of austerity measures in Greece could pose a violation of human rights."
I ask you dear readers, has a national program of economic austerity ever worked? Journalist Mark Ames doesn't think so.
"Take a look at just about any austerity program over the past century, and the record is always the same: economic destruction, political destruction, and violence. Take Venezuela, for example: Ever wonder why Venezuelans chose Hugo Chavez? What made Venezuelans so radicalized that they’d to turn to a Fidel Castro groupie to save them? Austerity is what happened, austerity cooked up in Washington by the same financial elite that we’re now facing today."
I've looked at countries that have imposed austerity measures in Argentina, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Romania, and Portugal, and I have to agree with Mr. Ames, all that seems to happen are spending cuts to social programs which affect the majority of citizens, a lessing of the standard of living, high unemployment, a sluggish economy, and a generally pissed off populace, which at times express themselves through desperate, violent measures, which at times prompts a similar response from the government against their own citizens. One could say, as Mr. Ames does, that strict programs of austerity, coupled with high unemployment and inflation, brought about the rise of the Nazi party in the 1930s, paving the way for the ascension of Adolph Hitler into power, and the onset of World War II.
So why are austerity programs used over and over?
Because we listen to the nonsense of Republicans, or in other countries, the IMF, or the World Bank, whose goals are not to improve the lot of the population within those countries, but rather to drain them of cash and natural resources. They like to revise history to make it seem that balanced budgets achieved through spending cuts that affect the middle and lower classes exclusively will save the day, but as Bill Clinton demonstrated in the 1990's, raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations, having them pay their fair share, is a much better, fair, and economically sound way to gain budgets that are balanced, or draw a surplus.
But then we elect Republicans back into office who immediately screw everything up again. That's what they do.
What should we be doing, instead of punishing ourselves economically for years and years? Considering the nation's infrastructure, things like roads, bridges, the electrical grid, all need to be refurbished and modernized. We need to spend. We need to do more than that even. We need to spend, spend, spend, and spend some more... to get this economy moving again. We need to send Grover Norquist on a one way trip to Antarctica. We need to balance trade, not free it. We need to break up the banks and media giants, so they work for the people for a change. We need to raise taxes on oil companies and banks, and all the other wealthy people who have had it so good since Ronald Reagan and Bush Jr. took office. We need single payer health care. We need a whole lot of stuff that we're currently not doing or getting... but need to if we wish to reclaim America.
The Republicans will bitch and cry, they'll shout from the rooftops. They'll claim on Fox that everything is going to hell while reality proves otherwise. That's what they do to. That's what they're good at. We just need to stop listening to them.
Perhaps it's time to take a lessen from our brothers and sisters in Greece, and strike off into the streets and, as Thom Hartmann so ably puts it, "raise hell."
Although the Greeks lost that particular battle, it's never too late to win the war.

1 comment:

  1. No, this is how you do it

    The political parties in this country will never work for you. They are both exactly the same. This article is ridiculously irresponsible.