Thursday, August 01, 2013

Obama's Better Bargain and Our Perverse Politics

From the Nation courtesy of facebook:

But is this what the country has come to? Consider the context, and it’s stunning.

Unemployment is still at crisis levels, and is recovering more slowly than during any previous recession. In fact, throughout the recovery more unemployed workers have been leaving the labor force than have found work. Eighty percent of US adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least part of their lives and half of the US population is currently considered poor or low-income.

Meanwhile, corporate profits are sky-rocketing to all-time highs, and the Wall Street stock indices are booming at pre-crash levels. Corporate America has so much cash it can just stash over a trillion dollars overseas and just park it there until given a chance to bring it back.

Inequality—the gap between the have and have-nots—is widening to historic and alarming levels (the top 1 percent own 40 percent of the nation’s wealth, while the bottom 80 percent hold 7 percent of it). It’s actually accelerated faster during the economic recovery and Obama’s presidency, as corporate profits bounded back and most of the regained jobs have been at the lowest wage rung.

In this context, Obama’s proposal is, in a word, insane. Through the repatriation levy, he’s essentially resorted to bribing an already-fattened corporate sector with even more money (savings from not taxing massive overseas income), in exchange for taking a fraction of that gift and steering it towards some job creation efforts.

More here.

This is what I was getting at in my post a couple of days ago where I went on for a while about how and why some 80% of Americans will either be in, or face, poverty at least once in their lives.  Three decades of Washington embracing Republican economics, which includes the Democrats, has put this nation firmly in the control of corporations, Wall Street, and the fabulously rich.  Our leaders necessarily serve the rich.  Not us.  And they're locked into it.  They can't get out.  They don't WANT to get out because they believe in what they're doing.

I mean, it's very likely a weird psychology.  Most of these politicians, no doubt, honestly believe that giving the obscenely wealthy everything they want somehow magically translates into greater prosperity for the nation.  But this big speech from Obama indicates that some of them, at least, are starting to see that the seams holding together the fabric of society are slowly splitting.  Given their belief in conservative economic magic, it's probably extraordinarily difficult for them to reconcile what they see happening with their understanding of how things ought to be happening.  Thus, the President's impossible proposals for strengthening the middle class.

I use the word "impossible," because, as the Bible says, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other." (Matthew 6:24)  That is, Washington politicians cannot give the wealthy everything they want while at the same time strengthening economic prospects for most Americans.  The two concepts are diametrically opposed.

But the elites just don't get it.  That is, they don't want to get it.  They know who funds their campaigns, and they know what would happen to that funding if they suddenly decided to understand.  So we're totally trapped.  The government is the only thing that can change this awful dynamic which continually takes from average citizens and then gives to the rich, but one can only become part of the government by making a Faustian bargain with the rich.  

I'd like to believe Obama and the Democrats can get us out of this, but they're all too crazy to do what needs to be done.  They believe contradictory ideas.  And, I suppose, that's the way it has to be, given the situation.  We're screwed.