Wednesday, August 03, 2005

ATTACK heart of failed GOP economic faith

Deregulation, privatization, low taxes on the wealthy and corporations, anti-unions (both domestic and foreign)--which of these has been a success for average Americans?

Deregulation has led to Enron and related Wall Street scams. Unless you are in the top tier of investors, you can't know if the information you are getting on companies you are invested in or thinking of investing in is accurate.

When energy was deregulated, the prices shot through the roof and rolling blackouts resulted here in California, and the Northeast blacked out through corporate indifference to maintaining infrastructure when it wasn't required by law.

Letting corporations decide how to deal with environmental and labor concerns on their own has had equally disastrous results.

Privatization has been an even greater disaster. In principle (like communism) it should work beautifully: the profit motive should encourage efficiency and cost savings. In practice, there are two fatal flaws:

  1. The buyer and consumer of the services are not the same people. If the congressional committee or agency picks a low bidder who provides a crappy product or no product at all, they don't feel the effects, and the public doesn't even necessarily connect the dots back to that decision-maker.
  2. The contracting process is easily corrupted by campaign contributions and the revolving door. The first is self-evidently true. If someone makes a political donation, they will get special consideration. The second is a more insidious and deep-rooted. When you look at the history of businesses like Bechtel and Halliburton that have had their corporate officers like George Schultz, Cap Weinberger, and Dick Cheney go back and forth between Cabinet secretary positions and their corporate boardrooms, it's obvious they aren't taking a break to donate their services to our country--they are pursuing corporate profits by other means. Cheney's deferred compensation from Halliburton simply brings this out into the open.
Low taxes on the wealthy and corporations have been pursued since the Reagan era despite the vast majority of economists repudiating "trickle down" economics (a term right wing propagandists contort themselves to avoid while still defending the concept). What we have have lost in public services like education far outweighs the few low wage jobs that might be generated for extra caddies and cabana boys at country clubs.

Their anti-union policies have been the equivalent of an Iraqi IED, blowing countless Americans out of the middle class and into the Walmart class of working poor. Their trade policies not only undermine unionization here, but in the countries at the other end, freeing their governments to be even more brutal in stopping their workers from banding together to demand a living wage, and those are the people that we will call terrorists and spend hundreds of billions to kill when they get so desperate that they come here and blow themselves and a couple of Americans up too.

In the economic realm, doing what is morally right is also practical and in the security interests of the United States. We don't have many Europeans come over here and blow stuff up because they are relatively happy with their lives. Our own political system is more stable when we have a broad middle class, as is our economy when people make enough money to buy the products they make as even nazi-loving Henry Ford realized a hundred years ago.

The GOP economic platform benefits very, very few Americans, and you could almost list them by name and count them on your fingers and toes.

No one in Washington is saying this because this policy is bought and paid for with political donations and revolving door jobs for most Republicans and many Democrats.

For most of human history, there has been one economic model: those with the most money or brute force took from everyone else and reduced them to servitude and survival level poverty. For brief time in the United States and for a bit longer with more success in Europe, we tried another model, nurturing a broad middle class, giving all a chance at education, owning a home, and participating in the democratic process.

While there was a communist threat, the corporate world and the wealthy pretended to ally themselves with the middle and working class. But now that that dragon is slain, they have turned and pointed the long knives, still hot and dripping with blood, at our hearts.

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