Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Kick the Can, Pass the Buck

Kick the can, pass the buck, it seems to be the Congressional way. I could be wrong of course but is that not what just happened? It’s true they kicked the can six months farther than Republicans wanted, and Social Security and Medicare are “off the table” (temporarily), there are purportedly going to be cuts in the Pentagon budget (maybe, we’ll see), 900 billion spending cuts will apparently occur, with 1.8 (I think) to follow (get that, to follow). Most everything else is going to be turned over to a committee (another committee!), that is nothing more than passing the buck. Congress is too unwilling to act on what needs to be done, and do not want to come under any criticism for doing anything, so what better way than passing it on to a committee. This committee (a “super congress”) will consist of 6 Democrats and 6 Republicans (a virtual guarantee they will be unable to agree on anything), who are supposed to decide our most important problems that will then be returned to the Congress as a whole for an up or down vote. In my opinion (such as it is) this is little more than “baying at the moon.” This committee approach is dangerous as there is no guarantee what might happen to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or anything else. When such a committee is formed they should be instructed that these programs, especially Social Security, are strictly off limits.

It appears to many that President Obama caved again, and in some ways I guess he did. He managed to get the debt ceiling business shelved until after the 2012 election, and he did manage to get Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid taken off the table, and some supposed cuts to the Pentagon, so in that sense I guess he managed something, but there is to be no increase in revenue, none whatsoever. This is completely ridiculous, it appears that tax breaks for the wealthy and welfare for corporations are so sacred they are untouchable. This is absurdity magnified to the nth degree. First of all they can well afford it, indeed would doubtless not even miss it, if they had to give up a bit of (to them) chump change. Second, the argument they cannot be taxed because they are “job creators” is already known to be completely false. They are not going to use their additional money (or any money at all) to create jobs, they will use it as they always do, to make more money. In order to make more money they will ship jobs overseas where labor is less expensive and invest in more technology to replace workers that can easily be replaced with machinery. This is how we got here in the first place and there is no reason the private sector, whose primary goal is profit, will act any differently. They are certainly not going to create jobs out of the goodness of their hearts (if they actually have hearts). The idea that the private sector is going to create jobs if they do not have to do so in order to increase profits is simply a pipe dream.

As I have said before, and I believe I am right about this, there are no longer enough jobs to keep everyone gainfully employed, unless that is, the government becomes the employer of last resort. When a single man with a chain saw can replace several traditional loggers, or robots can assemble cars, or a farmer with a tractor can replace dozens of farm hands, and so on, the world no longer needs so much human labor. If there is going to be anything even approximating full employment it will have to come from some form of government intervention (horrors, the dreaded, awful, unthinkable, worse-than-death socialism, of a sort). The obvious best solution for the moment will be to spend liberally on superstructure (that is badly needed in any case), on new sources of energy, and on education. But now that we are so hopelessly (according to Republicans) in debt where will any money come from to do anything like this? Thanks to this surrender to the Tea Party, nowhere. Unemployment will rise, unemployment insurance will not, jobs will be lost instead of created, most everyone will suffer (other than the obscenely wealthy and the more profitable than ever corporations). In the immortal words of Oliver Hardy to Stan Laurel, “This is a fine mess you’ve got us into.”

I don’t know what is wrong with Democrats, they seem to lack both backbone and convictions. They just cave in to the most outrageous demands even when the public is on their side, led by President Obama who is either unwilling or unable to resist any giveaway he can find. This is tragic. Apparently the Democrats have never heard or paid attention to the very old phrase, “The best defense is a good offense.” The demands of the Republican party, along with their complete lack of cooperation and blatant attack on the Obama Presidency, are so outrageous, if Democrats would mount an all-out offensive against them there is little doubt the American public would cheer and be behind them by a large majority. They seem to enjoy being constantly on the defensive, accepting the abuse, turning the other cheek, giving up even without a fight. Part of this, I fear, is because they are sucking from the same teats as Republicans, are basically with them in this gigantic scam, transferring money from the middle class to the wealthy at every opportunity, having abandoned long ago even the concept of the “public good.”

What is truly tragic about where we are is that no one seems to have any idea what to do about it. It is a mess of our own making, compounded by a disaster, surrounded by inertia, impenetrable, beyond human comprehension, too big not to fail, bought and paid for by unknown “persons,” hiding in the background, who are not truly persons at all. I suggest you start cultivating a taste for gruel and chitlins.

“Workers of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains.”

Attributed to Karl Marx but not found in any official translation.

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