Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Decline and Fall

Over the last year, it has become apparent to anyone with a brain that our democratic republic is in considerable danger. The lunatic fringe has taken over the Republican party-- a mishmash of Ayn Randism, Christianist social policies, and hyperbole. Unaccountably, working people keep voting for these Republicans -- who represent the moneyed classes, and who actively work to deny the franchise to anyone not white and Republican. With a Congress of millionaires who enrich themselves shamelessly at the public trough, is there any surprise that Corporations are people too?

Now we've learned that the bank bailout was much bigger than we thought. While people lose their homes, bank executives and their stockholders live high on your dollar.
The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret....The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue.

Saved by the bailout, bankers lobbied against government regulations, a job made easier by the Fed, which never disclosed the details of the rescue to lawmakers even as Congress doled out more money and debated new rules aimed at preventing the next collapse
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Now we see that the Republicans have no objection to raising taxes as long as it's on working people:
Every blessed once in a great while, all artifice is stripped away, rhetoric collapses under the weight of its own absurdity, and we get to see things as they really are. Such will be the case later this week when the Senate tries to vote on extending the payroll-tax holiday. The Republicans will oppose it—that is to say, the Republicans will support a tax increase on working Americans. And why? Because the Democrats want to pay for it with a small surtax on the very top earners. So the choice couldn’t be more direct: which is more important, giving the middle class a tax cut or protecting those who make more than $1 million a year? Republicans are making it clear.
Now we see a suicidal path that sacrifices the basic American economic bargain:
For most of the last century, the basic bargain at the heart of the American economy was that employers paid their workers enough to buy what American employers were selling.

...New data from the Commerce Department shows employee pay is now down to the smallest share of the economy since the government began collecting wage and salary data in 1929.

Meanwhile, corporate profits now constitute the largest share of the economy since 1929.

...Corporations don't need more money. They have so much money right now they don't even know what to do with all of it. They're even buying back their own shares of stock. This is a bonanza for CEOs whose pay is tied to stock prices and it increases the wealth of other shareholders. But it doesn't create a single new job and it doesn't raise the wages of a single employee.

...A basic bargain was once at the heart of the American economy. It recognized that average workers are also consumers and that their paychecks keep the economy going.

We can't have a healthy economy until that bargain is restored.
To keep this unholy alliance going, Republicans are actively trying to suppress Them from voting. You know, Them. The poor, the brown, the students, the young. Those who are "takers". Republican Congressman Paul Ryan makes it explicit:
We're coming close to a tipping point in America where we might have a net majority of takers versus makers in society and that could become very dangerous if it sets in as a permanent condition.
This political view is unsustainable. If you don't have people who can make and buy things, you don't have much economic activity. Eventually, that's bad even for the well-off. But in a party where science-denial and rejection of the reality of climate change are doctrines, you can't expect that much foresight.

Anyone who votes for a Republican is voting for the past: the Gilded Age, or the wild '20s, when the rich got richer and the working class suffered. Our infrastructure is crumbling and some cities can't pave roads or light the streetlamps, but the party on Wall Street is ongoing. It's a vote for selfishness, against community, against social fabric, and it's profoundly unChristian.

Now what are we going to do?

10 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

It, I see you are documenting the atrocities, and they are legion. Good for you. Still, it's beyond depressing to read all about it.

WV: regata

A regata for the rich. Who will win the race amongst the already rich to get richer the fastest?

JCF said...

Meanwhile, guess who this year had record profits? Tiffany Jewelers!

Oh what fun it is to be the 1%...

Counterlight said...

Excellent post.

As in the First Gilded Age, in the Second, the federal government plays the role of middlemen.

Anonymous said...

Eisenhower, a Republican I might ad, in his farwell address said, "Beware the military-industrial complex." No truer words have been spoken.

The really sad part is just how many Americans have been duped by the greed of not corprations, but CEOs, Venture capitalists, bankers and the like.

The "teaparty" will not be satisfied until all middle class people are just like them -- poor and foreclosed, working part-time, no overtime, no pay to speak of, and little to no education.

JCF said...

Off-topic:

MadPriest is having more health crises in his family (in-laws). Please pop over to "OCICBW" to show him & Missus MP some love.

it's margaret said...

"Christianist social policies" --is Christianist a term for fundamentalist Christianity? --because if not, I would say that my Christianist social policies are fairly well aligned with yours.... if so, who coined it? --curious minds want to know.

IT said...

Hi Margaret,
Andrew Sullivan among others has used the term "Christianist" to delineate politically/socially fundamentalist "Christians" from those who, you know, actually listen to Christ? Similarly, he and other use "Islamist" to distinguish miltant fundamentalist Muslims from those who are just trying to lead a faithful life.

You ain't a Christianist, any more that Fred Phelps is a Christian.

I think it's important to call out those who hide under a cross to commit violence (social, economic, or, yes, spiritual) against others. Hence "Christianist".

it's margaret said...

Huh... interesting. Thanks IT. I have seen it used for a while --but didn't know of its origins.

Guess I ain't a Christianist. No way. No how.

wv: phrei
I am phrei!

it's margaret said...

Writing in 2005, the New York Times language columnist William Safire attributed the term (in its modern usage) to conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan, who wrote on June 1, 2003:

I have a new term for those on the fringes of the religious right who have used the Gospels to perpetuate their own aspirations for power, control and oppression: Christianists. They are as anathema to true Christians as the Islamists are to true Islam."

The liberal bloggers Tristero and David Neiwert used the term shortly after. Sullivan later expanded on his usage of the term in a Time magazine column.

Uses of the term can be found dating back to the seventeenth century, but these are unrelated to its modern meaning.

From Wikipedia. Thanks again IT --new mental thread for me.

dr.primrose said...

Good commentary, The view from the 1 percent, on the Episcopal News site, by a priest named Tom Ehrich. He says in part:

Now that the financial industry and major corporations have successfully lobbied Congress to make more people poor and to keep them that way, they are discovering the downside of unbridled greed: people are too broke to buy their products.

Heavy discounts were necessary to stimulate sales on Black Friday — a stimulus that lost steam as the big shopping weekend proceeded. Now further discounts will be required. That bodes ill for retailers, as well as for their suppliers.

It’s one thing to own Congress, but it’s something else when consumers refuse to buy. They’re staying home, maybe shopping online; they’re not investing, not saving, not selling their houses, not feeling confident about their own jobs.

In a freer free-market economy, competitors would emerge to resolve these problems. But corporate giants do everything possible to stifle competition. Consider Verizon’s bid to buy $3.6 billion of unused wireless spectrum to prevent anyone else from having it.

Thus we see the demise of modern capitalism, brought down not by socialists or fringe elements, but by the capitalists themselves.

Their self-defeating behavior — like that of any addict — has led them into the delusional belief that they can have it all. They can kill prosperity, stifle competition, rig capital creation into an insider game, undermine countervailing forces — and yet somehow the great market will continue to shower wealth on them.

The problem is, when the only ones who have money are the ultra-wealthy, those who actually make the economy work — small business, merchants, job-creating employers, innovators, government agencies — are starved. Despite the relentless right-wing drumbeat on tax policy and government spending, the villain in that starvation drama is the greedy 1 percent.