Friday, February 25, 2011

Money Changes Everything

We've just been through another "historic" election cycle.  It seems since 1992 every election has been called "historic".  Electing Clinton:  HISTORIC!   The Republicans taking over in 1996 with their Contract on America:  HISTORIC!!  The contentious recounts in 2000 and the Supreme Court decision to usurp the Constitution:  HISTORIC!!!  Bush winning again despite having proven to be total douche:  HISTORIC!!!!  Obama swept into office on a wave of Republican hatred:  HISTORIC!!!!!  The empire strikes back in 2010 after the Democrats decide douchiness is the in thing:  HISTORIC!!!!!!

What ties all these things together are two items, both of which are related:  the economy; and federal budget.  Clinton won because of a bad economy.  The Republicans swept back into control of Congress because of Clinton's attempt to push through health care reform.  Bush took over because the economy had gotten weak again.  Obama crushed McCain because the economy had pretty much crashed.  And with no recovery, plus another health care plan to complain about, the Republicans once again were able to find something meaningful to run on besides "we're not liberal."

Let's look at the agenda of each side, all jumbled together, and try to figure out what's going on:

1.  Health care for all Americans.  Ok, so we have a noble goal here, but no matter how it is implemented its going to cost a whole lot of bananas. 


2.  Stopping illegal immigrants.  Supposedly this will reduce welfare and give jobs back to Americans, although most Americans have clearly stated that picking fruit for a few dollars per bushel isn't really their idea of a good time.  Plus welfare is only a tiny portion of today's budget mess.  Plus illegal immigration is down.  Plus if you actually promote good hiring practices, there's no reason illegals would be hired because companies would perform proper due diligence, which they clearly do not and the government looks the other way.

3.  Helping businesses.  Both sides claim they can help businesses.  Neither side has done jack squat on this matter.  On the one hand, conservatives keep boasting about tax cuts and deregulation.  Neither of them actually work, though.  Cutting taxes does not seem to increase employment when you look at years following such decreases.  And deregulation COSTS JOBS (Savings and Loans scandal; Enron scandal: sub-prime market meltdown of 2008; the Great Depression).

I'm not even sure if the liberal side has articulated a reasonable plan for business growth in America.  A patchwork of programs does not a plan make.  It does make an excellent quilt, though.

4.  Better schools.  By better schools, a conservative means "private schools".  Privatization is the great white hope of all conservatives.  Unfortunately it tends to have mixed results, particularly when it is performed by corporations interested in the bottom line to their stock holders.  Do we really want education to be in the hands of people worried about their portfolios and profit margins?  Really?  Really really???

On the other hand, a huge beauracracy that is top heavy and filled with regulations is not efficient.  You can blame that on both sides actually (No Child Left Behind ring any bells).  What happens when you have millions of dollars tied up in re-electing officials every few years?  You get the situation we are in now, where government is a mainly self-serving entity that gives corporate America the thumbs up, and pays lip service to the middle class and poor.

Look, facts are facts.  In the last 50 years, wages for the middle class and poor (adjusted for inflation) have declined significantly.  At the same time, wages for the richest 1% of Americans has increased hugely... in actually the same proportion.  In other words, the money that used to go to giving raises to workers has gone to giving raises to CEO's, execs, and the idle wealthy.  The corporate tax rate is the lowest it has been in over 60 years, yet we continue to hear how we must "cut taxes".  Millionaires' are lower then anytime since the late 1930's.

Money pours into the system, and Americans sit back and take it.  Many don't even realize how their power is usurped by propaganda and messages from those who want to put blinders on.  They will wrap themselves in the flag, in apple pie, in mom and convince us that bigotry, hatred, support for the wealthiest at the expense of the poor, hatred of service to one's community... that these are all good things.

Alas, my humor has failed me and I'm on a tirade now.  Not surprising, I tend to get this way when I think about these issues and how money has turned our political system into a huge joke.  So, until the next HISTORIC!!! election, bought and paid for by the letters M, and O, and N, and E, and Y.... I'm outta here....

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