Oh my. Someone has set the budget on fire. In Washington, D. C., in Madison Wisconsin, in Columbus, Ohio, in Lansing, Michigan deficits are ablaze, and Republican fingers point in the usual direction: the safety net, teachers, healthcare workers, police and firefighters, unions, schools, infrastructure, oversight, safety and inspection, the sort of government waste of treasure better left in the hands of wealthy citizens for investment in credit default swaps, or to ensure retention of the CEO safety net, guaranteeing no long-suffering CEO falls through the cracks, and finds himself floundering on a salary only two-hundred and sixty times more than that of an average worker, rather than two-hundred and seventy times, because his stockholders were mightily peeved that corporate profits in the recent quarter grew twenty percent instead of thirty. Oh, the humanity. Bring that corporate tax break to the rescue, Scott Walker.
We’re entering roughly the fourth decade of this opportunistic Republican flim-flam, jacking deficits through the roof with Republican spending on Republican priorities (tax cuts, tax breaks, elective warfare, military largesse, subsidies and government contracts to and for the wealthy and big business) while blaming the other guy (everybody else in America) for the subsequent budget hole.
Lord knows aerospace companies need to eat too, and humanitarian that he was Ronald Reagan fattened them right up in the Eighties before crying, “Bust.” The “welfare queens” lighted the match and burned the money that time. Sky high oil company profits manage to hang on only by a slender thread of steel-reinforced Krazy Glue, so we reduce their subsidies only at our, I mean their peril. And struggling along paying 15% tax rates on the sweaty, bone-breaking labor of investing money, those poor financiers are crying “Uncle,” carrying so much money they’re toppling over. But every right-thinking Republican knows we wouldn’t be in the trouble we’re in if our middle-class wasn’t so pampered. Unions should just come right out and confess: “When our members’ wages go up, everybody else’s do too.” Unions? Those bastards!
Remember, the lower minimum wage is for your own good, all you kids out there. If that burger joint has to sacrifice that extra ten cents per hour it would have to pay, then the owner’s incentive withers like the world’s shyest virgin on his wedding night. So even though somebody has to make the shakes, if it costs an extra dime it won’t be you. Or anybody, according to him, if you can believe that.
I’m well past believing, though once I must have, that it is possible conservatives in America care about anything other than absolutist ideology, and power for them, and the ability of their powerful and entitled helpmates/operators to do as they please with impunity, unencumbered by values other than pure acquisition and retention of wealth through any means necessary. It’s plausible for conservatives to plead public intoxication on crackpot Ayn Rand Objectivism, nutty Austrian School Economics, conspicuously failed and manifestly non compos mentis Supply Side Economics, all with their requisite amoral, pseudo-Darwinian economic primitivism. But the result is the same: plowing the health and wealth of our society under drunken wheels. I’m sure a small, Eighteenth Century government was delightful when pre-industrial America possessed five million souls back in, you know, the Eighteenth Century. But now?
Maybe it’s just a run of ugly coincidence that conservatives have opposed anything and everything in the last 75 or so years that actually improved an ordinary soul’s life: the New Deal safety net, business regulations and protections, civil rights laws, Medicare, public education, environmental protection (another way of saying our health, safety and prosperity) minimum wage increases, reigning in credit card companies and banking practices, internet neutrality, and health care reform. If it’s going to slightly dent the profits of, or produce the slightest inconvenience to your boss, your local Republican definitely hates it. But what do you give the taxpayer who has everything? For the richest American, whose tax rates of the economic post-war boom were 91%, and which have been persistently whittled over the decades by two-thirds? Your local Republican would recommend a tax cut.
This is not the capitalism Adam Smith had in mind, it’s not the America the founders envisioned (most clearly detested and feared concentrations of wealth) it’s not the sort of society most Americans want, and certainly not one most Western democracies will tolerate. While it is true that a healthy society needs a reasonable balance when it comes to valuing labor and capital, the side of the see-saw seating the capital has plunged several feet into the ground by now, and the skinny labor dude is up in outer space.
The point of all this being: all hell has broken loose, declaration of emergency measures is in order, and the scapegoat is probably you.