Republicans may specialize in bombast and decibel rich shouting, but they speak in calmly reverential tones when it comes to their most sacred mythological gods: the job creators.
In the republican landscape you might as well call them aristocrats or even lords, or perhaps more accurately demigods, from whom all earthy treasures flow (well, trickle, theoretically). In actuality, job creators is the identity Republicans have creatively conferred on what otherwise are known as the upper 2% of income in the United States, a sort of nom de wealth intended to shelter their proportionally obscene, and historically unprecedented chunk of the GDP produced by all Americans.
In Republican moral terms, now having fully assimilated Ayn Rand’s Objectivism and the Austrian School’s warped class division between virtuous producers and crudely unworthy hoi polloi, these Americans not only have the greatest amount of money, they also have, according to this moral philosophy, the greatest amount of virtue and the highest human value, and in fact, are naturally far superior to their fellow citizens. If the disdain expressed for the middle-class that is transparent in all of Republicans’ political and governmental actions seems puzzling, the embrace of this Libertarian world view is the explanation.
If you’re looking to dress up a high roller protection program, corporate whimsy and unaccountability, reckless financial behavior, an unforgiving, negligent and callous public sector and an 18th century sized government for a 21st century world, then this “philosophy” is your rationalizing ideology, and even more, your would-be moral escape hatch. Except the immorality of it is inescapable.
Both the goal of recreating a feudalist or neo-aristocracy in the United States under the rubric of conservatism or Objectivism or Libertarianism, as well as the means for doing so, involves the denigration of many of America’s citizens, in particular the stigmatizing and demonization of its working class and poor, and is by any religious or secular gauge of right and wrong deeply and irredeemably immoral.
Republicans may promote the idea that their goal is prosperity for all, but their actual policies have produced evidence of no such prosperity whatsoever, and in fact, are conspicuously and explicitly designed to serve the interests only of a fractional segment, and a very powerful one. And this misrepresentation of objectives is an acutely mendacious deception, no matter how carefully and thoroughly persons on the right compartmentalize their behavior as “only politics” or elevate their own moral stature in their own eyes to such a level that their behavior is unassailable: they know better and in fact are better, therefore that which they do is justified. Deny it though they will, this behavior nevertheless is flatly immoral.
One of the foulest prongs in the ongoing systematic attack on the public sector is the attack on the American public school, a conservative crusade that corresponds directly with the integration of public schools in the fifties and sixties, and the migration of conservative southern Democrats into the Republican Party, which at present they essentially control. The public school system that arguably made the greatest contribution to both the winning of the Second World War and unprecedented middle class prosperity in the Post-War era, was turned upon viciously once the laws of the land fully relegated “separate but equal” in the classroom to the proverbial historical dustbin. Like all things governmental, once American education was perceived as expanding to serve the needs of a racially diverse America, this bitter conservative segment of the American population wanted nothing to do with it whatsoever.
For the record, the American right, comprised of conservatives from the old Democratic Party and conservative Republicans opposed voting rights and civil rights legislation, opposition clearly open to harsh moral judgment, though even then, Conservatives used the cover of “philosophy” with code language like “states’ rights” to cover the moral seaminess of their motivations.
Conservatives’ topsy-turvy morality in the selling of “deregulation” is especially revealing. According to this morally depraved assessment, it is the regulators and the regulations designed to protect the health and safety of the many against the harmful practices of the very few that are the insidious threat, rather than the profiteers who disregard the health and well-being of many affected citizens in order to guarantee every available penny of profit. Both the attacks on these protective regulations and the deception used to promote them are manifestly immoral. Harm to the many in order to magnify the riches of the few can be evaluated in no other way. It is unadulterated immorality.
Michele Bachmann and other conservative demagogues in the House of Representatives have had an especially banal hissy fit about, of all things, government regulations requiring more energy efficient light bulbs to be produced in the future. Here again the conservative interest is only in the profitable status quo, to which human economic and scientific progress are secondary to the profits of General Electric. Unlimited profits and corporate unaccountability trump the desire for the rest of us to ensure a healthier environment and to buy an efficient product. A five times more efficient light bulb saves the American people $12.5 billion a year in energy costs.
Conservatives will claim that only when businesses are free to behave entirely as they choose and inoculated from accountability, will the market guarantee progress. Though they love to cite theories, in practice it’s easy to see with one’s own eyes that when advancement is at odds with the profitable status quo, whether it is light bulbs, green energy or safer and more efficient automobiles, industries often suppress competitive pressure, and in fact devote their efforts to nullifying demand in the market for a more efficient product by simply refusing to produce it. If it is determined the wasteful, expensive and inefficient product will retain more profitability than the advanced product, they will cite their freedom to continue manufacturing crap. So naturally they resent government action that insists on behalf of the American people as a whole, that a better product must become available.
In this topsy-turvy conservative version of morality, intervention by the government on behalf of the many is the evil deed, regulating the few on behalf of the interests of the great majority un-American. The systematic practice of this moral inversion, not to mention the distortion of Americanism and American history by the Republican right is itself undeniably immoral. In fact, the rule of thumb is that there is a direct correlation between the volubility with which Republicans assert Americanism or grand theory, and the level of perniciousness of that which they are attempting to get away with.
Along the same lines, if a company’s product should happen to kill you, government regulation is not the answer, because you have the hypothetical right, hypothetical of course because you’re actually dead, to no longer purchase that product, and hence, enforce rectitude though “market pressure”. The string of deaths one assumes eliminates the customer base, the company ceases to exist, and no one is left to buy the product. I guess you should ask not what your country can do for you, but simply die, and allow market forces to do their important work. You can sue the perpetrator of the deadly product of course, though if the company retains a crackerjack legal team and manages to keep litigation costs lower than the cost of producing a safer product, then the company’s legal team will trump your market force. On the bright side, if it’s a crappy mortgage or worthless investment product, you only lose your house or your bank account in order to activate the magic of market forces rather than your breathing privilege.
Likewise, according to this moral inversion, consumer financial protection is an abomination, concern for consumers subjugated to the conservative, “a sucker is born every day,” ethos: if the seller can swindle you, and if he has the power to influence legislation that protects or enhances such an ability, the truly American view is that the customer indeed is only a mark, and government has no business preventing the swindle from taking place. Quite the value system, that.
One of the more intensely immoral components of this conservative war on the role of government in advocating for, and advancing the public good (a concept the existence of which the right will deny) is the one waged against middle-class insurance programs American citizens cherish for their effectiveness in cushioning the deprivations and humiliations of age. The claim that we cannot afford Social Security and Medicare as they are currently constructed is a pure lie. We are a wealthy nation, and the programs operate as other, private insurance programs do, with beneficiaries paying in early and collecting benefits later on. Social Security long has operated with an enormous surplus that funds through loans to the treasury the entirety of the federal government. While exorbitantly rising health care costs (which Republicans refuse to address, in deference to the profitability of private hospitals and insurance companies) cause costs of Medicare to become inflated, the program itself is highly effective and highly efficient.
But because the few are of such vast means they do not need these insurance programs when they are old, we are told it is an imposition for them to participate in such a system; or we are given the lie again that the programs are unaffordable, though low taxes for wealth and capital, and all manner of subsidies are of course affordable according to this view. This is a crass and indecent set of values.
This snake oil morality is particularly hard on the poor. In fact, no small amount of effort by the American right over several decades has been expended to stigmatize and demonize the poor, even, they will never remind you, the temporarily down on their luck who receive most of America’s public assistance. The American right will preach, or more likely insinuate that poverty is due to the lack of moral worth and human value on the part of the poor themselves; or claim, with an Orwellian touch, that the programs harm rather than help. Again, this is pernicious immorality by any traditional religious or secular measure.
The American right will tell you that only purely voluntary, individually, or privately implemented charity is allowable as an expression of humanity, and that once we as a society implement programs that provide succor for those neediest among us through government, then these expressions of humanity suddenly are transformed into an inimical force. Naturally, the great infringement in the view of this “philosophy” is the request for taxpayer support from America’s wealthy, whose Republican protectors take righteous umbrage at any suggestion of a fair or proportionate contribution.
They won’t tell you that all across the Western world, until the creation of the modern welfare state, even America’s modest version, punishing conditions for large swaths of citizenry within wealthy nations existed, conditions demonstrable by voluminous historical and economic data, if not all manner of written and oral history. The American right may assert some bogus moral or constitutional purity in returning to those earlier times, but they cannot assure you of course that the same harsh and punishing conditions for a large number of vulnerable Americans would not return along with the “conservative” purity. Because they would. This is a damnably indecent and immoral aspect of the American right’s agenda.
Likewise damnable is the lie that there is either virtue or effectiveness in the private American health care system in which life and health are available only if you can afford them; and that the only Americans whose quality of life is of concern is the executives and stockholders of private insurance companies. The noted inversion of morality by conservatives occurs in this case in very sharp relief. Universal systems in place in 32 of the 33 wealthiest nations (we’re the exception) which are very significantly less costly and provably more effective in health outcomes for their populations, these are the systems guilty of economic perfidy according to this perverse morality, rather than the protection of the profitability of the American status quo despite the needless suffering, deprivation and death that status quo is guaranteed to sustain. The extraordinary sums of money that pour into the accounts of Republican politicians who ensure this status quo only adds to the moral depravity of it.
But back to those very precious and delicate job creators. Of course the most condemnable vice of the job creators is that they simply do not create jobs. Since the job creators received their most recent gift of even lower taxes during the Bush administration fewer jobs were created during a presidential administration than during any presidency in modern times. Of course, the tax cut windfall to the wealthy wasn’t really designed nor expected to create jobs, it was designed and expected to increase pre-tax and post-tax income as a proportion of GDP for the wealthiest Americans…excuse me, job creators. Naturally median family income remained stagnant, though those in the top 2% saw their accumulation of the rewards of GDP rise sharply, the only Americans whose incomes rose as the result of an expanding economy attributable to the productivity of all Americans.
In fact, the job creators, almost literally rolling in more additional treasure than they had any idea what to do with, rather than either creating jobs or making constructive investments, in fact poured it into the fast-buck derivatives market, bankers, hedge fund managers and high-flyers of every sort behaving so recklessly (nefarious regulation having been stripped away) they collapsed the entire economic system. This collapse of course landed hardest the lower one happened to fall on the scale of incomes, the lowly working man and middle-class American suffering the loss of home, livelihood and life savings, not the job creators. Of course, for the American right, rather than the unaccountable actions of the wealthy resulting in punishing conditions for everyone else being designated as morally deplorable, it is initiatives designed to tighten regulations that insert accountability into the system, and prevent such future calamities for which they reserve their scorn. There is no credible defense for this explicitly corrupt system of values.
Still, the job creators are a fragile bunch. Though most of their money is taxed at the capital gains rate of 15%, rather than twice that amount like the fellow or gal working for a paycheck, the American right has placed a barrier around our wealthy class, and hung up a sign that reads: “Hands Off the Wealthy Job Creators,” erecting a virtual wealth protection program meant to guarantee huge deficits, and they hope, and with the assistance of a great deal of false propaganda they are happy to provide, result in the subsequent dismantling of the safety net as “unaffordable.” This is an indisputably immoral agenda, no matter how smarmily it is bathed in the light of “free markets” or “small government” or whatever euphemism is being used for a pinched and penurious order in which a ruling stratum of wealth comprised of a small number of Americans dominates all areas of life for a large subservient population.
Tyranny of wealth and power under the names conservatism, Objectivism or Austrian economics do not make it any less tyrannical than it was under the previous names. And the calculated lying, misrepresentation and propaganda that attempts to convince Americans it is otherwise only exponentially compounds the dark immorality of it.