The deficit fear mongers are right: America is facing a deficit that threatens to cripple our economy and foreclose on the futures of millions of Americans. They just have the wrong deficit. That's the reality we'll address at America's Future Now!: America faces two deficits, and must decide which is most important to address now. Prioritizing one will enable us to address the other in the long term. Prioritizing the other will eliminate hope of addressing the first one at all.
In other words, we face a choice between a better future for all Americans, and oblivion. Right now, our political leaders are choosing oblivion. Here's how we're going to pay for it.
In the same day that the Senate approved nearly $60 billion in additional funding for the war in Afghanistan, the House cut $24 billion in aid to states and voted to allow COBRA extensions for the unemployed to expire.
Thousands of people who are already set to lose unemployment benefits when an extension expires next week will also lose COBRA benefits, because Congress cannot justify the cost of helping Americans who are in need. But we can come up with another $60 billion for the war in Afghanistan, without so much as a mention of how we're going to "pay for it."
Here's how we're going to pay for it. Unemployed and poor Americans are being cut loose. Any of us who fall into one or both of those categories can expect our fates to be consigned to the same oblivion.
Democrats also abandoned a larger version of the war funding bill that included funds to prevent the layoffs of 300,000 teachers.
Here's how we're going to pay for it. Our children, and our young people are being cut loose.
The deficit hawks won this round. And to give you an idea of how much ground was ceded to them, they won without having to answer a question that no one in the Democratic caucus or the White House forced them to answer.
They won the argument by continuing to answer, "So what?" And congressional Democrats apparently accepted that answer, and accepted it without forcing the deficit hawks to answer another important question: Who will be hurt by deficit reductions?
That's how we — middle and working class Americans — are going to "pay for it."
The austerity demanded by deficit hawks will lead to little more than the complete divorce of job creation from economic growth, and even the permanent downsizing of the economy. The real economy, that is.
What deficit hawks won't say to Americans in so many words is this: Millions of you will be forced to accept a lower standard of living, not just for yourselves, but your children, grand children, and beyond.
If you want to know how low, go to your closet, your pantry or simply look at your electronics. Check the labels and note the countries where they're made. Then look up the standard of living for workers in those countries. Look of the rate of economic inequality. Quite simply, that's where we're heading without a change of course.
In The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein writes about how Indonesia among other countries were introduced to globalization via a free-market fundamentalist makeover — called "the Asian Miracle" — by the IMF, which demanded that in order to receive much needed loans countries make deep budget cuts, leading to mass layoffs and the absence of services at a time when citizens were reeling from the shock of their sudden introduction to poverty and hunger. In Indonesia, workers who could afford to buy fish and rice were reduced almost overnight to surviving on rice alone. Basic services — formerly public enterprises — were privatized, and prices quickly rose above the what the newly jobless and poverty stricken could afford. In some countries, laws against massive layoffs were repealed so that foreign corporations about to take over the privatized industries could slash overhead as much as they wanted. In others, minimum wage requirements were repealed, making it more difficult for those who did have jobs to sustain themselves.
Sound familiar yet?
Joblessness is not an individual phenomenon, no matter how it is experienced. The currently unemployed, if they remain so long enough, will accept lower wages and fewer benefits than they had before, as a mater of survival. Young people will then be forced to settle for even less, if they can find work at all. Education will become pointless for many, as well as so far out of reach as to be a dream. Those compromises will be passed on to generations after them, and the consequences will be far reaching for them and their families.
For many, the downsizing of hopes, opportunity, and the end of economic mobility will be permanent, as will the stratification that results.
The deficit cutters are not "starving the beast." They are starving the people government is supposed to serve, weakening them to the point that they cannot demand changes from it.
It makes one wonder what our elected officials are waiting for before they finally act to relieve Americans' economic pain.
What's being all but destroyed, is the social contract and the concept of a common good. It's among those contracts that the crisis has made rewritable It's also that which Josh Marshall describes as a set of "social bargains that explain why it is that the overwhelming number of people are content with the fact that some people make $45,000 a year and other people make $45,000,000 a year." But that's not all that's being destroyed. What was left of that contract after being whittled away for the last few decades, was worn way even further by privations (mentioned above) endured by citizens who have watched hundreds of billions of dollars being handed over, with few if any strings attached, to the very corporate entities who helped cause the current crisis and profited handsomely in the process.
All that's needed is a little more time, and that's what conservatives in Congress and the media are doing: running out the clock, and betting that if nothing is done to relieve Americans' current economic pain, the effect of all the previous shocks — whether delivered by chance or design — will set in, and with it resignation.
Doing nothing means sitting and watching the ripple effects of joblessness spread in our communities, and across the country. Simply put, the more people there are out of work, the more people will be out of work, as demand plummets even further, especially if unemployment benefits run out.
But that is what this Congress has chosen.; Yet Congress said no to benefits that would come cheaper than the extension of the war in Afghanistan that we're still not "paying for."
If people in America's hometowns don't have jobs, small businesses, don't expand or or even start up. On top of the jobs lost is a layer of jobs not created. On top of that is a layer of opportunity lost due to services cut because cities and states don't have enough working people to fund them. On top of that is the lost opportunity to invest in the education and health of our children.
If we follow this rate, we won't have to worry about building a new economy. We won't have anyone capable of building it and sustaining it. Nor will we have to worry about returning to the old economy, because we will be headed for something far worse.
What we -- Americans and our elected officials -- need to understand is that there is a point of no return. Americans have translated Manifest Destiny into a mythology that has us on an ever upward climb, when at the top of the stairs is nothing but a steep drop. If we don't change course, we won't be able to build from even from there.
The only way to go, then, is down.
That's how we are going to "pay for it." And that's how our children, and their children, are going to "pay for it."
For the complete article:
Henry Ford: " It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and money system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning."
Bank Failure Update: Five more banks failed Friday, our total this year is 78, twice the rate of last year. Last year totaled out at 140.
Hang onto your ass for it may be all that is left you!
Good Luck KAK
Thanks for sharing this insightful article. I cannot justify, in my own mind, upping the ante on spending in Afghanistan when so many people in our country are on the verge of financial ruin. The need for Food Stamps, for example, has risen 40%. We are considered Socialists for wanting to feed the poor and yet those of wealth continue to live the good life in total "oblivion." There is a seeming lack of conscience here.
June 3, 2010 at 10:18 AM
Cher, there is a total lack of conscience here. Defiant Republican obstructionism is on display once again and I do hope the public sees it as this. Unfortunately the too afraid to make a wrong move Democrats will tackle the deficit quandry with over caution and an attempt at a nonexistant bipartisanship, fools, they prove to be gutless fools.
I think the word "conscience" is also the crux of the furthering of the Afganistan war. When we leave Afghanistan, when ever it is, the war or drug lords will continue to battle for power, anything we have set up will imediately be destroyed. This being the case, we are better off getting out sooner than later. The problem is Obama, I think, knows we did wrong by the people of Afghanistan and conscientiously stays as a show of face and as a saving of face to the American people. Economically we are crushed, we cannot afford these wars and they are yet to be paid for. Leaving Afghanistan is so much more an economic issue than any kind of face saving issue. Pride is crushing us as deeply as economic blight. We wrongly invaded Afghanistan and the weight of guilt is keeping clear thought from the forefront.
June 3, 2010 at 09:24 PM
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I am a gazebo/deck builder who bought a motorcycle to try to give up the workaholic lifestyle and live again. Very politically interested and very sick about the past criminal administration that has dragged this country down the tubes.