We are facing a serious problem as a society. The problem is whether we will approach our fellow citizens as equals, with equal opportunity for a decent, secure life. Will we also look on our less fortunate fellow Americans and offer them a hand up?
Or will we turn inward, striving to maximize our lifestyle at the expense of our fellow citizens? We see that attitude now in the actions of Wall Street, health insurance companies, oil companies and, frankly, almost all Republican politicians who work for them rather than the people who elected them.
We are at an important crossroads in the life of our country. In the 1930s, faced with a similar disaster, we elected a President who brought us all together. In the 1930s we understood, or felt, that we would not let any of our citizens fall behind. Movies and the written word, which was so much more a part of our world, would be filled with stories of those with wealth and property helping those without. Our government was reorganized to become an assistance of last resort.
The question is how we will face our current economic crisis and what kind of society we will have after this difficult economic period has passed. Will we reach out to our fellow citizens or will we turn inward to our base fears and become centered on our own lives, leaving others to their own devices?
The first approach is that of Liberal politicians who would bring us all together as one nation of individuals all working together for the best possible lives for ourselves and our children. The second approach says that in this free land we must be free of any restrictions on our ability to gain as many material possessions as possible, with as little possible involvement by government in our lives.
And why is distinction important?
Because we are not coming out of this recession soon. We have an unemployment rate of about 9.5% which equates to about 15 million people unemployed. If we bring that down by the government’s predicted 4 million in two years, we will still have 11 million people unemployed in 2012. That number has serious implications
The reason that the deficits are so high is that, when the entire economic structure collapsed, money began to flow from the government to individuals and money ceased going from a very large number of individuals to the government. The biggest cause of deficits is not spending. It is the drastic drop in revenues into the treasury.
Given the confusion about the polls, the Neoconservative control of much of the media and the lack of education among the average American working family, there is a possibility that government will become even more polarized. The new Supreme Court ruling means that corporations will now be able to target individual campaigns and literally buy candidates and buy the election. So, if a Senator or Congressperson in a given area can influence a situation about EPA regulations or advocate for a corporation on a mine or a timber-cutting clean up problem, they will be able to do so. The money directly from Corporations can make a huge difference in certain campaigns. Some campaigns will already be fairly well settled, because of the way districts are drawn up. But some campaigns will be influenced by media and in those campaigns corporations may now make direct contributions.
If that happens, those very same people who corral the votes for Republicans will expect at least four years of tax cuts for the rich, cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Education. They will continue spending on the military through their military contractors. We may even see another war. As we saw with Bush and Cheney, who avoided military service, these Conservatives have no compunctions about sending the young men and women of the lower classes off to purely discretionary wars and death. Even more dangerous, we could see the increased presence of private armies, like Blackwater on American soil.
That is the prospect if we do not decide now that we can all live together. Many Republicans do not want any part of this. Many of them are from the South, descendents only two or three generations from the young men who fought foolishly and arrogantly for the Confederacy, who lost and who never got over the humiliation of a grinding defeat. These are the descendents of the anti-Semite, anti-Catholic, anti-African American segregationists and members of the KKK.
You can see what they are from the states that the Neoconservative Republicans represent. North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, and Louisiana. Yes, there are some Southerners who are truly independent and some are truly patriotic. But more often they don’t like government because it gives welfare and affirmative action to “Negroes” whom these segments of the Southern population consider an under class. That is where they want them to stay.
And what about their patriotism? There is an old military tradition in the south. In the 1930s and early 40s, the military was a good place to go if you were from the South. It was all white. You could carry a gun, got three good meals a day, and in the South, there was still nothing that resembled an economy. After the Second World War many southerners stayed in the military, and the Southern contingent, the Dixiecrats as they came to be called, saw to it that military bases were kept and new ones built in the South.
The fact that you find the Army to be beneficial to your pocketbook so you support the military does not make you a patriot. Being in favor of going to war, even if it is wrong, even if it reduces our image around the world to nothing but a gang of arrogant, oil-hungry bullies is not patriotism. It is stupidity.
We have to decide what we want to be as a society. Do we want to rid ourselves of bigotry and racism? After all, this is what challenges our society. The tea party rallies were not about health care. They were simply an extension of the 1930s when the KKK and the anti-Semitic groups burned crosses and broke windows and scrawled racist epithets on the walls of buildings. Today it is simply carrying racist banners.
So we’re going to have at minimum a four year Recession. Unless any moderate Republicans join with the Progressive Democrats and Independents to form a coalition to force the financial community and Congress to help small businesses to create jobs in a massive way.
Here’s where we are fiscally. We owe $12 trillion. We get right now something less than $2 trillion annually in all revenues, primarily from the income tax. Basically, the difference between what we need to run the government as it is right now and what we get in revenue (actually pointed out by several Republican congressmen in the last few days while trying to defeat the health care reform) is about $230 billion.
Of course that is not what we need right now, because those same congressmen voted for huge tax cuts, then allowed the government to spend enormous sums on wars and other things, and at the same time walked away from the real estate and Wall Street fraud, causing the worst Recession in the country’s history. The entire economy collapsed.
So this year we will spend about $1 trillion. Our economy has a problem. We need more revenues and we need to cut back on some things. The Republicans are adamant that we not increase taxes. So if you vote for any Republican you are voting to add more years onto the Recession or to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans’ benefits.
Even though the “patriotic” Republicans are concerned for the military, they haven’t forgotten that once a man retires or is so wounded he is no longer good for service that he or she is less valuable to them. Remember it was not the Republicans who restored the atrocious conditions at Walter Reed and other veterans’ hospitals under Bush. It was the Media and the Democrats. Who knows how long it would have lasted otherwise?
If you want to bring the economy back to where it was and change the country back to a place where people can be trained to make a good living. We need to start creating more revenues and we need to restructure our domestic manufacturing. Here are a couple of examples of policies we could adopt.
1. Tax the top income earners, those with incomes over $300,000 per year at a 70% marginal rate. Then, allow them to invest any portion of that over a certain amount into approved domestic job-building businesses. On that portion, they will be eligible for a tax rate of only 15% or the prevailing capital gains tax when they sell their stock. Otherwise the entire income is taxable at the appropriate rates in the code.
2. Create incentives for companies to build factories and hire workers in the U.S. Create even stronger disincentives for them to create factories and hire workers abroad.
Make this a ten-year program. If it works, which it will, to set the economy back on a fiscally sound basis, then it can be offered for renewal. If not, then adopt a more fiscally oriented program, which the Conservatives would probably be only too happy to create.
The problem is that it won’t fail and no one will want to change it. This is why, just like health care reform, the Republican lackeys of the international oil cartel, the huge international manufacturers, the corporate media, and the health, timber, mining, and financial industries will fight tooth-and-nail to prevent it from happening.
Is this too harsh? Think about health care. After immediately stating that they would not participate at all in developing health care, and declaring that they would make the defeat of health care President Obama’s “Waterloo,” the Neoconservative Republicans voted in a bloc against every single aspect of health care reform legislation.
When the House and Senate passed bills and were ready for signing by the President, only then did the Neocons come up with a health care bill that has basically only two provisions. The first protects doctors from medical liability, from being sued if they kill or maim a member of your family through negligence. And the second protects the prices of the drug companies. That is basically the Republican health care reform bill.
They are, as Representative Anthony Weiner accurately pointed out, simply in the pockets of the hospital, health insurance and drug industries. The health care industry spent about a half-billion dollars trying to kill health care. It didn’t work.
The health care battle frames the future debates. Will we become a country of selfish, greedy people, like the Wall Street crowd and the health care CEOs or will we become a country with a strong middle class who can own homes without losing them and have good health and send their deserving children to college.