Friday, August 26, 2011

Shock Doctrine 4

Reagan and Bush began the process.
We've seen how the Reagan administration was responsible for arming Osama bin Laden and his Mujahideen during the 1980s. We've seen how the Reagan administration helped set the stage for the brutal emergence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. And we've seen how the Bush administration, upon entering office, ignored dire warnings from the previous administration concerning Al Qaeda's desire to attack the American heartland, specifically with the use commercial aircraft (well before National Security Advisor Condolezza Rice (Muammar Gaddafi's sweetie) and President Bush went on record to say that no one could have imagined or predicted that terrorists would hijack planes and crash them into buildings, despite the warnings they received, Tom Clancy's, 1994 novel, "Debt of Honor," told of a Japanese 747 jumbo jet intentionally crashing into the Capital building during some kind of ceremony, killing most of the senior officers of the U.S. government, the President included. Interestingly in the sequel to "Debt of Honor," "Executive Orders," this attack would lead to the imposition of martial law, a prediction of the Shock Doctrine, as well as the weaponry used in the 9/11 attacks).
But what were the domestic goals of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and the Republican ideology of the time? Were they any different then they are now, and what were the inevitable adverse results of the implementation of these strategies to achieve these goals?
Republicans like tax cuts and deregulation (which is conducive to the Milton Friedman model of a market economy).
Hey, guess what, six months after entering office Reagan enacted the Economic Recovery Tax Act (ERTA) of 1981, a 23 percent across-the-board cut in personal marginal tax rates. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 lowered rates yet again. Public debt rose from $712 billion in 1980 to $2,052 billion in 1988, a roughly three-fold increase. By the time Reagan begrudgingly stepped down (by the time he left office he wanted to do away with the 22nd Amendment of the Constitution, limiting term limits for the President), he had expanded the U.S. military budget to a staggering 43% increase over the total expenditure during the height of the Vietnam war, and he wasted billions of tax payer dollars on a misguided attempt to build a missile defense system (Star Wars).
Cut taxes, increase spending and debt... sound familiar?
Unemployment soared after Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts. Joblessness rose to 10.8 percent after Reagan enacted the cuts, and it took years for the rate to get back down to its previous level. Meanwhile, income inequality exploded. Sound familiar?
Ronald Reagan increased the size of government tremendously. He promised to cut spending, “to move boldly, decisively, and quickly to control the runaway growth of federal spending,” but federal spending increased under his reign. He attempted to privatize Social Security in 1983.
The result of these policies and many more enacted under Reagan was to shift money from the American tax payers, the middle class; to Wall Street, the defense industry, banks, and the wealthiest in the nation.
Bill Clinton entered office in 1993. As always a Democratic President entering office after the Republicans have been in there for a while, it's their job to begin to clean up the mess. He did that leaving office in 2001 with an actual budget surplus. For those of you who don't know what that is, dear readers, it's like having money in the bank rather than owing it on a credit card.
Unfortunately, Clinton somehow got infected by Miltonism and enacted the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a trade agreement between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Ross Perot's "Giant Sucking Sound," of jobs leaving the country could almost immediately be heard, as it is today (as President Obama continues to pursue free trade agreements in Asia and South America, and more and more companies out source jobs overseas). We don't need, nor can stand free trade. We require fair trade!
By the way, speaking of Osama bin Laden, Clinton survived a little known assassination attempt believed to have been instigated by Osama in the Philippines in 1996.
And after Al Qaeda bombed our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, Clinton was the first to take offensive action against Bin Laden by ordering cruise missile strikes on suspected Al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan and Sudan. He ordered several missions to capture or kill Osama which obviously failed.
George W. Bush entered office in "2001, a Republican Spending Spree Odyssey." (George's dad, George H. W. Bush, had the unenviable task of cleaning up after Reagan, and was stymied in his efforts, much as President Obama is today, with Republicans in Congress who thought the budget could be balanced by a reduction in federal spending only, while the Democrats insisted on raising taxes) George W. cut taxes in 2001 and 2003. He started two unnecessary wars that were not funded, and didn't even appear in the budget. He let deregulation run rampant, and was most likely the worst president this country has ever had (hence the current popularity of Bush clone, another Governor from freaking Texas, Richard Perry. I shouldn't say clone... the two are somewhat different. As my friend Stephanie Miller said the other day on the radio, "Rick Perry is George Bush without the intellect.")
As we've discussed previously, Bush's ability to get the Patriot Act passed (with ease), and his wars of choice (plus his use of torture, extraordinary rendition, enemy combatants, etc.) is a direct result of, predicted and allowed by the Shock Doctrine, the shock being the attacks of 9/11. The only thing he wasn't able to do, his biggest regret he has said, was to privatize social security, or in other words, give trillions of our dollars directly to Wall Street. The reason he failed is because Americans would not let him get away with it. The American people woke up real fast when it was their own bottom line that was being offered to the bankers.
Deregulation of the major financial markets and interests on Wall Street are a continuation of Friedman's economic policies, which the Republicans have embraced, and which have never worked... that is for the country as a whole. It works real well if you are a Wall Street speculator, banker, or hedge fund manager, who can look to the American tax payers to bail them out when their policies, machinations, and greed inevitably force them to fail. As has been said before, these unscrupulous individuals love to "socialize the losses, and privatize the profits."
The unfortunate result is that the middle class suffers for the excess of those in the government who turn their back on the nefarious and illegal practices of big business.
Bush left the country in tatters, the worst economic shape since the Great Depression of the 1930s. This in effect was another "Shock," directed toward the American people, something that must be dealt with by using extraordinary measures that would not have been possible at any other time (the fact that the American people did not cause this crisis, which is global in nature, nor is it responsible for it, does matter at all, is never discussed, and completely ignored). Those who did precipitate the crisis are left unaccountable. The Obama administration refuses to investigate crimes that were committed, or seek damages. The Republicans in Congress, bought and paid for by multi-national corporations, and the wealthiest among us, protect those interests at all costs, refusing to raise taxes on the free loading rich. Indeed there is a movement afoot recently to make those now ineligible to pay federal income taxes, because they don't make enough money, to begin paying federal income taxes anyway ("Their fair share," they claim, in response to the talking point that 50% or so of Americans don't pay any taxes at all. This of course is patently false, as everybody pays some form of tax, be it payroll, social security, excise tax, etc., which affect the poor as a percentage of income much more than increased federal taxes on the wealthy would).
The Republicans have been successful in framing the debate within this country. I don't know why. They are completely wrong. They usually are. They are historically wrong. They wish to force austerity measures on the majority of people in this country in order to give more to the rich, who they can never appease enough.
A lot of people are beginning to figure this out and our taking action. The actions may be ineffectual at this point in time, but at least they are aware of the problem, and do not let the controlling interests in power get away with masking the real situation affecting their countries with deceitful rhetoric. Naomi Klein has written about this phenomena here:
Shock Doctrine in Practice: The Connection Between Nighttime Robbery In the Streets and Daytime Robbery By Elites
The right has created this last "Economic Shock." They have been at war with the middle class for decades. They have created the mortgage crisis. People are being thrown out of their homes because of them. They create a new class of working poor, or just poor, then villainize them (, and complain that they still have too many refrigerators. The United States is rated the 64th nation in income inequality. They proclaim to be the party of "family values," and "Christian Ethics, yet their deeds do not match their words.
20% of our children currently live below the poverty level. A bad economy is associated with higher crime rates, and more suicides. Young adults cannot afford college. Young men and women see the sex trade as a viable option in these times of economic distress. More unwanted pregnancies occur as a result of some forcing their politically motivated views upon others. On and on. What kind of Christian values lead to these kind of policies that lead to these results? I've read the Bible and I don't see it.
We need to take our country back. We need to become aware of what is happening around us on a daily basis, not only for ourselves, but for our children. We need, as Thom Hartmann so eloquently puts it, to "raise hell" (,! We need to let our elected leaders know what it is they need to do to serve us, and not those who are the biggest donators to their re-election campaigns. We need to get money out of politics all together!
And first off, we need to stop electing those who would see us die the slow death of destitution and misery, into office.
Time ebbs and flows. Things always change for the better or for the worse. What comes around, goes around. Karma.
But great change requires great effort to begin.
And we need to get started real soon.

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