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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Useful Idiots
     It's always mystified me, how right wing nut jobs with more car derelicts and washing machines in their front yards than blades of grass stubbornly cling to the delusion that trickle up and trickle down economics works. Because self-styled conservatives think, for want of a better word, in frames and when you compartmentalize your thinking in rigid frames, no force on earth can move you to rethink, reappraise or reform your mode of thinking.
     Since the Southern Strategy of 1972, poor southern voters were convinced by the criminals of the Nixon administration that whatever the liberals wanted was inherently evil and was akin to Socialism and Communism. Then when Reagan began his rise in 1980 (by kicking off his campaign with a dog whistle speech in Philadelphia, MS, where four civil rights workers were brutally murdered with virtual impunity), the divide created by Nixon and his henchmen was officially turned into a schism.
     It was Reagan, in the first year of his presidency, who'd dramatically lowered taxes on the wealthy by citing a theory pioneered by Milton Friedman and other acolytes in the Chicago School of Economics and that theory was called "Trickle Down Economics" (which his own Vice President George HW Bush called "Voodoo Economics").
     The whole idea was so patently absurd and arrogantly flew in the face of established economic history and theory that one who has more than two neurons to rub together is amazed that it had gained any traction ever, let alone still being a driving force behind Republican economic policy today. Essentially, Trickle Down Economics boils down to this:
     Let's make the "job creators" in this country so obscenely bloated that some of it is bound to trickle down into the waiting, gaping mouths of the proles like crumbs falling from the beard of Henry the 8th to his bowing and scraping servants. This is rife with lies: #1, when the wealthy get tax breaks, they simply sock the money away in an offshore account so that even the interest cannot be taxed. None of it gets trickled down. Another ridiculous fallacy is that everyone in the top 1% is a "job creator". This plainly doesn't apply to wealthy individuals like right wing talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, hedge fund and vulture fund managers in the financial sector and so many others.
     To sum it up, history over the last 32 years has taught those still willing to listen and learn that the post Reagan economy can be summed up thusly: It's not a trickle up system but a geyser and then there's the trickle down effect, minus the trickle.
     Under the fiscal cliff deal, the personal income tax rate on those making $425,000 or more has been capped at 39.6%, still well below the 90% it was set at during the Eisenhower administration. And even with a 5% increase on capital gains taxes, they're still capped at an absurdly low 20% with none of the loopholes (such as the stock option one that got Facebook a nice fat $429,000,000 refund courtesy of John and Jane Q. Public) even being addressed let alone closed. Plus, the much-ballyhooed Fiscal Cliff deal made the Bush tax cuts permanent for everyone not in the top 1%.
     Meanwhile, the Obama administration is still jockeying for position trying to claim credit for wanting to cut "entitlements" such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
     A quick look at the graph above will tell you when things really began to turn sour for the American worker. Usually, private earnings by the working class accounted for roughly half of the nation's GDP or Gross Domestic Product. After eight years of economic sodomy by the Bush administration and four years of largely do-nothing policies under Obama, it's fallen to under 47%. Note, also, that right around the nanosecond Bush took over the White House in 2001 at how dramatically workers' earnings began to diverge from corporate profits (which was recently reported to have skyrocketed by 18.6% or $1.75 trillion since 2011). After a dramatic dip in corporate profits and a middling increase in workers' wages the year Obama took over, corporate profits then skyrocketed again while workers' earnings began another slide downward.
     And still we keep hearing from the MSM and liberals alike that since the Dow Jones Industrial Average is now at over 14,000 and counting, the recovery is still well underway and we hear sarcastic kitchen table punditry from these same people about how Obama is the worst Socialist ever. But the plain fact is Obama's attitude toward industry and the banking industry is more in line with the fascists of 1930s and 1940's Germany than the Socialism of Karl Marx.
     What these sneering, self-appointed pundits conveniently forget as they tweet, text and write content on their Apple iPads and iPhones is that those massive corporate profits have come at the expense of American jobs. American industry, as is well-known, had decided during the Bush years to ramp up individual profits by outsourcing and offshoring American manufacturing jobs overseas, making America "a nation of shopkeepers," as Napoleon had once described the British. Corporate profits are also heavily indebted to the massive loopholes invariably friendly to private industry that have no problem headquartering either physically or on paper (such as Apple, which has tax-dodging subsidiaries in Ireland and is notorious for having Foxconn run their suicide-plagued sweatshops in China that "employ" children as young as 14) at the same time they have their expensive products made by Chinese slave labor.
     The American worker has been getting the shaft, often without lube, and those of us who are still employed are treated to a regimen of hatred, scorn, suspicion and outright cruelty by corporate titans and small business owners alike who are showing their true colors thanks to a permanently high unemployment rate. In seemingly impunitive violation of labor and workplace safety laws, corporate behemoths such as Amazon, Wal-Mart and other pathologically grasping corporations determined the squeeze the last bit of work and use out of their workers are allowed to roll back worker rights to the days of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and before that while the Obama administration turns a blind eye.
     What media and liberal pundits also forget is that there is no longer a single economy uniting Wall Street and Main Street: Since the repeal of Glass Steagall, the FDR-era law that forbade traditional bankers from risky speculation, the economy of the United States has been neatly bifurcated so that you have Wall Street and its ocean of capital and then the boarded up shops of Main Street that used to employ local labor until the metastasizing of Big Box stores such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Home Depot.
     And the bankruptcy laws have been designed to always favor corporations and not individuals who didn't tend to get into financial trouble with risking speculation and gambling away other peoples' money. When Congress (led by Vice President and then Senator Joe Biden, a man who never met a corporation he or his adopted state of Delaware didn't want to incorporate) passed the despicable and sarcastically-named Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, it made it virtually impossible for private individuals to file for bankruptcy protection while doing absolutely nothing whatsoever in the way of closing those loopholes for corporations whose white collar crimes had caught up to them.
     Hostess executives nakedly stole pensions that workers had been kicking into for decades, put them all out of work after submitting to the unions a "proposal" they knew the union wouldn't accept then closed up shop and parted out the company to the highest bidder. It's beyond obvious that Hostess executives wanted to cash in their chips and never had the slightest intention of keeping those people employed.
     And when other American corporations decide to lay off their labor force and farm out the same jobs at starvation wages to Third World countries such as the Philippines or Bangladesh, we have our intelligence and pragmatism insulted by them insisting that, even when the outsourcing occurs during a time of record profits, they have to do so to "remain competitive."
     It's screamingly obvious at 300 decibels that neither party of the government and private industry harbors the slightest iota love for the American worker that had made both great for two centuries. We live in an environment in which the organized labor movement, while it may not be on life support, is certainly wheezing. Criminally disingenuous corporations insist workers forfeit benefits, lose their pensions, take pay and hour cuts or face the consequences. And the defanged labor unions either have to capitulate to save jobs that never should be endangered to begin with or face the audacious scorn of anti-union conservatives as with the Hostess debacle. As if they actually care about American jobs beyond their own.
     Homemade conservatives can be defined in two words: Useful idiots. Because they've been conditioned to think that whatever liberals want for everybody is pure evil and is Socialism and Communism, that they just want to tax everyone to death and take money out of their pockets. These memes are whispered in the ears of these goobers by the same multinational, multibillion dollar companies who put their wives, brothers, offspring or even themselves out of work. The Tea Bagger movement, as many of us know, is a not a grassroots movement at all but one funded from the start by the Koch Brothers, Dick Armey's Freedom Works and ALEC.
     And now that we're having our first serious debate about the minimum wage for the first time since Congress and Bush administration grudgingly raised it for the first time since Reagan, we're hearing the same bullshit from lobbyists, Republicans and other useful idiots about how incrementally raising the minimum wage to $9 by 2015, by which time the Consumer Price Index will have risen by 9-12% and essentially turn that $9 ph into today's $7.25 ph, will spell the doom for private industry and how it will have no choice but to outsource more American jobs to sweatshop countries. The tepid "reforms" of ObamaCare are being blamed by these same grasping sociopaths for laying off and cutting the wages and hours of their workforce.
     As Occupy Wall Street taught us last year and the year before that, such selfish-based thinking is not only institutionalized but viciously and arrogantly defended by police departments who themselves had had their pensions stolen or siphoned by the same Wall Street oligarchs whose interests they protect. There is simply no way out of this mess short of an asteroid the size of Texas hitting the earth and bringing about an extinction level event.
     Because as long as corporations are allowed to own everything and exert so much unchallenged power over the lives of rank and file human beings, as long as we keep the current political systems in place on this planet, nothing will ever change this corrupt system that refuses to even sacrifice one crumb to the waiting masses below them.
     The human race is, to put it simply, too stupid and greedy for planetary stewardship.
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Anonymous darms said...
Here's your meteor - http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-most-terrifying-graph-youll-see-all.html

Blogger jurassicpork said...
Have you noticed that Digby doesn't do comments, anymore? What's up with that?

Blogger Bob said...
Watched economist Richard Wolff with Moyers. Never see this guy on Meet the Press. His supposed "Marxist" views include the truth the the destruction of unionism was deliberate, ruined wages, dashed hopes, & disarmed the American people from the one real weapon we had to fight corporatism. Hell, sometimes I think American auto companies designed shit cars in the Sixties & Seventies so union workers, just assembling them as told, could be blamed as overpaid slackers.