“To the victor belong the spoils.”
Little did the Senator in 1831 know how far the Republican Party of 2011, even more corrupt than that of Andrew Jackson, would take those words. (We may yet see our own “trail of tears” march if the idiotic Tea Party members are not thrown out of office by the voters.) This time, the Republicans have given more money back to the very rich so that they can afford to buy the public places and public utilities that the Republican governors want to sell them.
It is the ultimate idea for those who would say to the American people “let them eat cake” while the privileged members of society eat caviar and steal our property. The Republicans in Utah want to take the 70% of the state that belongs to the American People and sell it at bargain prices to their friends. You may not use Utah regularly, just as you may not use parts of your yard regularly, but would you want a local neighborhood committee to sell it off to their friends? Not likely.
The Republicans want to sell the gold in Fort Knox. That’s a great idea. Let’s take it to a local pawn shop and see what we can get for it. The fact is that while the gold does nothing but sit there, as one logic-challenged Tea Party House member points out (actually no one has ever taught gold how to dance or do any other kinds of tricks, Representative) it is partially the basis for the strength of our currency, is a valuable asset, is doing something…in that it is partially backstopping our credit.
So we could sell off our assets to the people who are already rich enough to buy them and then they would have the assets. Does anyone believe that the Koch Family or William Mellon Scaife or the owners of BP, with their wonderful record of public concern, would be good shepherds of our natural resources? Or would GE, which has spent tens of millions of dollars on high-priced attorneys rather than simply cleaning up that portion of the Hudson River that they destroyed…would they be good and respectful landlords for your property?
The Conservatives, who have spent the last 40 years putting this country into debt…3 trillion bucks under Reagan, another two trillion under Bush One, then maybe a half trillion before Clinton could get some surpluses going, and then the granddaddy of all ignoramuses, Bush Two and his sidekick the Bionic Vice President, put the finishing touch on it, 7 trillion in 8 years plus a stock market crash leading to a deep Recession which is now costing us a trillion a year.
Let’s stop here for a second. The reason we are spending a trillion a year is because Bush already had a half-trillion a year deficit or more, which is how we got to 12 trillion. The Great Bush Stock Market Crash of 2008 caused 15 million people to be out of work and 6 million homes to be foreclosed on. This created a loss of 300 billion bucks in revenues and welfare or unemployment costs of the same amount every year after that.
So the way we got to a trillion dollar deficit each year, despite Obama’s cutting government revenues and freezing salaries for three years is this hole that Bush created. He already had about a half-trillion deficit each year, then this additional 600 billion was tossed on top of it. That’s a one-point-one trillion dollar annual deficit as far out as the eye can see.
Unless we create ten million jobs.
Obama, much brighter but no bargain himself, has not done what he should to fight these radical Right Wingers. They blocked every single job creation measure that would put the economy back on track (240 filibusters in one session…a record) and take people off the unemployment rolls. They blackmailed him into signing a renewal of the tax cuts for the rich. That would have paid for the employment in meaningful tasks for almost the entire workforce…ten million people… for a minimum of two years.
If President Obama and the Democratic Party had fought harder and made this a public issue, we would be out of the Recession by now and on our way to creating private industry jobs to replace those government jobs. Because we have an almost exclusively service economy, those government jobs would have put the economy back on track.
The Republicans want to convert the Interstate to toll roads. Is this what you want? Do you want to pay $10.95 to go from St. Louis to Kansas City or Kansas City to Omaha, or $21.000 to go from St. Louis to Omaha…in addition to $4.00 gasoline? Not many people think that is a good way to solve the economic problems of the country.
The government should not be in the electricity business…the Republicans say. Oh no? Well, before there was an Enron, there was a Northwestern Natural Gas company in Omaha Nebraska, a regulated utility. It was solid as a rock and that is why a bunch of high-rolling gamblers from Texas bought it and got the rules changed about how the government regulates utilities.
The eventual result was a company called Enron and $400 billion added to the debt in California though their speculation. With these Republican-backed crooked utilities it is always the same…more corruption, more speculation. They speculate on a sure thing because they know that the people have only one source of power and they use that leverage to loot society, especially the poor.
The poor are basically supporting the rich life styles of people like Kenny Boy Lay, the President of Enron, who made hundreds of millions on his scams and who took the coward’s way out rather than go to prison for his crimes. Meanwhile some of the poor died and states and local governments were practically bankrupted.
So, yes, government should be in the utilities business. It worked for all our country’s history up to 1980 and nothing—nothing—has worked properly since then. In those large areas where the people are dependent upon one service, like electricity or natural gas, for heat or for cooking…essentials for living their daily lives…government should run or heavily regulate any public or private non-profit organization that wants to provide that service.
We don’t need more jails. We need fewer people incarcerated. The number of people who are in jail because they are habitual, unredeemable sociopaths is no more than 20% of the total prison population. We need to substitute education, training and moral principles throughout our societal interaction. Prisons need to be places of redirection of energy and motivation, not places of permanent incarceration.
We have talked about the “imported American” problem in this country. The fact is that Africans were brought here as slaves, forbidden to have education, herded into ghettos, and then dumped…ignorant, unsocialised, unproductive and unwanted by the white population…onto society and told to make it like any other immigrant.
They deserve—are owed more but at least a minimum of two generations…not a period from 1970 to 1980…ten years in a span of several hundred…to be integrated into the economic life of this country. That has to happen. It must happen. The Republicans are by and large bigots. They will fight it every step of the way. They want prisons instead.
Let’s understand one thing. The Republicans in Wisconsin, for example, created a law that said that Governor Walker could sell off any state utility to anyone he wanted with no advice or consent necessary from any other person. The bill was left off the legislative agenda because it became a hot potato after the rebellion by the citizens against his union-busting policies.
But as long as there are Republicans in any state and as long as those Republicans are in power, they will try to sell off utilities to private industry or to their wealthy friends.
If you think it is radical to propose selling off America’s gold or Fort Benning or the Statue of Liberty, then you may consider the following equally as radical…but it is a deadly serious proposal.
What is one of our biggest problems? The import of oil from the Middle East. And do we have oil drilling going on now in the U.S.? Not much. We don’t have a lot of reserves and those that we have are not being used. So here is the idea. We should take back all those oil reserves that we now have leased to oil companies who do not want to use them. If they do, give them 12 months to take the leases that we do not want, and start drilling.
The subsidies that the U.S. gives to oil companies amount to $4 billion a year. If we ended those subsidies, and then began our own domestic oil production, we could develop an industry that would generate easily 2 million barrels of oil a day There are massive reserves and there are ample numbers of qualified drilling experts who could be signed on to both begin the process, establish the drilling teams and create a lightning-fast response to our needs.
We could either use existing refining facilities or build our own. The fact is that the government could waive some requirements to get the process moving. Every barrel that we drilled and sold in the United States, with the full net income going to the states and Federal government could be used to pay down the debt. We are talking about from between $60 billion to $100 billion dollars per year and a net switch in our balance of payments of the same amount.
There will be oil people who will try to say that it is too complicated, too difficult, too inefficient. They are wrong. Many independent experts say exactly the opposite. And we would benefit from all the revenue rather than having oil companies, as they do now, refusing to pay their royalties to the government.
If we had the government involved, we could then trust the environmental experts assigned by the government itself who could certify in places like ANWAR that the drilling was being done carefully and not in a way that would excessively damage the environment.
If this worked, we could do the same thing for coal. Simply take over those areas that we may now have leased to coal companies, begin to strip coal, do mountaintop removal where we actually did replace the soil and create new areas for recreation. Then we could convert to scrubber technologies around the country to begin to clean up the environment.
In the meantime, we would generate another $15 billion each year in revenues. If we reduced the military by 20% plus these factors, shut down Iraq and Afghanistan and raised taxes on those above $250,000 per year by ten percent only, we would balance the budget immediately, have to sell nothing and would eventually have surpluses for the next 100 years.
It is about time that we started taking care of Americans rather than merely rich Americans.