John McCain is right.
Everything’s going along just fine!
After all, how couldn’t it? The conservative paradise that has been worked toward by the Republicans for forty years has finally come to fruition.
Like Tom DeLay’s ‘perfect petri dish of capitalism’ in the Marianas, bit by bit, conservative economic policies have replaced the hated New Deal, and all the crummy old prosperity that came along with it. Phil Gramm, John McCain’s go-to guy on the economy, drove the last nail into the coffin by repealing the Glass-Steagall Act, which prevented commercial banks and private investment banks from getting involved with each other.
And then Gramm has the gall to call us a “nation of whiners.”
Yeah, Phil, I guess we better just shut up and take it. If Phil Gramm had his way , we would not even be allowed to complain about being mugged, rolled and left in the alley for dead.
No taxation, deregulation, and speculation. Wages have been lowered, while prices rise higher and higher. Privatization, the magic cure-all for everything that government used to do, has permeated every nook and cranny of our system. After all, anything government can do, private enterprise can do better! So instead of giving tax money to wasteful government agencies to use on the people’s behalf, why not give it to business instead - to use on their own behalf!
The central tenet of the corporations in this country has been:
Externalize costs; internalize profit.
Translated: We, Big Business, take a risk. If it fails, the taxpayer pays for it. If it succeeds, we keep all the profit.
Heads we win, tails you lose.
Simple and beautiful.
Although the sub-prime mortgage bubble and the wild, arcane speculation are in the spotlight right now, the plain truth is that we, the American public, have been stolen from until there is nothing left to steal - even our children’s financial future has been stolen after they squeezed us dry.
Our labor is stolen from us for less than its real value, and then we pay twice as much tax on what we get for our labor - wages - as the investor class pays on dividends - money that makes itself.
But consumer spending is the engine that drives the economy, and when working people are too poor to spend, the car comes to screeching halt. This is what created the housing bubble and the speculation frenzy - the desperate attempts on the part of the corporate class to keep the public in the dark about the fact that there was no real money to spend - that we were flat broke. Thanks to low wages, high prices, and predatory credit card interests that bought a license to steal from Congress in 2005 with the Bankruptcy Bill, and the evisceration of unions, along with a justice system that always sides with the corporations against the individual, we have now come to the end of the ride.
We were broke a while back, so the housing industry artificially pumped up house prices, knowing that most Americans had no choice but to borrow against the ‘value’ of the home. When the alternative is bankruptcy, and even that alternative has been made onerous enough to deter all but the most determined - when the alternative is being foreclosed upon and turned out of your house with nowhere to go, is that really a ‘choice’? I don’t think so.
After 9/11, we were urged by the President to “go out and spend!” It is no coincidence that we have no savings. It’s not possible to save when you're just hanging on by your fingernails, like so many of us are these days.
There is no such thing as 'job security'. My parents' generation could make long-term financial plans, including saving, because if you had a job and did it well, the odds were that you would stay in that job until you retired. The luxury of knowing how much money you would have coming in for years ahead is one that is all but gone today. Now, if you're lucky enough to have a job that you've stayed in for a long time, you're more likely to be fired right before retirement, so your company doesn't have to pay your pension, and you can be replaced by someone younger who they can pay half your salary to.
This is an excerpt from my new book THE PRICE OF RIGHT: How the Conservative Agenda Has Failed America, which will be in bookstores this week:
Free trade is more than a way of doing business. It’s a philosophy; it’s an ideology. A philosophy with no empirical validation whatsoever. Though it’s supposed to work well for everyone because it works so well for multinational corporations and the investor class, it’s actually managed to be disastrous to most nations. It’s a belief system, like Ayn Rand’s Objectivism. Like any ideology, the theory matters more than the actual outcome. And being that the benefits are so huge for those whose hands are on the wheel of the ship of state, the corporations and investor class will continue to shoehorn this dangerous, destructive ideology into the national dialogue, and do whatever is necessary to silence any other voices that may threaten their place at the trough, regardless of the ultimate threat to America’s economy.
This race to the bottom will eventually take the corporatists down with the rest of us. Our economy cannot stand the strain of continually borrowing as if we’re playing with Monopoly money. When the consumers are too poor, who will buy consumer goods? When we reach our debt limit, what will happen when China and Saudi Arabia call in their chits? The more we borrow from other countries, the worse our national credit rating, which means – you guessed it! – higher interest rates on our debt. And on whose backs will this rising debt fall? Not the wealthiest, and not the corporations – George W. Bush and friends have seen fit to slash the tax rates for these folks. Combine our rising deficits, disappearing jobs, a grotesquely expensive invasion of another nation that has turned into endless war-profiteering black hole with no fiscal oversight, and tax cuts for those who already receive the bulk of the bounty of this nation, mix with greed and power, and shake well.
Then stand back, and get ready for the explosion.