While Ronald Reagan slept through his second term as president, two very different groups, with virtually nothing in common, joined forces and engineered the take over of the political party that gave us the Emancipation Proclamation, freed the slaves, created the EPA, negotiated SALT treaties, and did much more good for the nation.
On one side, you had the Grover Nordquist types, virulent haters of government and labor who believed that taxes were inherently evil and that government was something to be cut, then drowned in a bathtub. They proclaimed two faux saints, Ronald Reagan (who increased taxes and ran away from Lebanon with his tail tucked between his legs) and Ayn Rand, a semi-entertaining writer who every 6th grader should read – once. As an example of how a bad idea could actually be made worse. They never met a regulation they liked, and they never ceased attacking America’s working social net and protections. But for Bush’s astounding ineptitude and penchant for starting wars, they would have destroyed Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as most environmental protections by now.
On the other side, you had the worst hypocrites ever imagined, the Religious Right, led by the likes of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and other religious fringe lunatics. They were willing accept AynRandism so long as the tax cut Reaganuts accepted their position on abortion. Once they realized that Creationism was not be acceptable, even to the most conservative judges, they concocted Intelligent Design, which was anything but, they attacked science and rational thinking on many fronts, pushing their own into NASA in order to question the age and the beginning of the universe, stopped stem cell research, and forced us to accept abstinence as a global policy. Which increased the rate of teen pregnancies for the first time in a decade, along with the huge growth of STDs in high school. To counter those problems, they created federally assisted Purity Bowls, where daddy could claim ownership over his daughter’s vagina. Talk about perverts.
If you doubt their hypocrisy, I will provide you a list of reverends, ministers, and numerous GOP politicians, even the president of the College Republicans, for whom the Eleventh Commandment seems to be “Do as I sayeth, not as I do.” It is too long to include here.
Since the 1980s, together they planned and plotted, using billions from ultra-rich folks who accepted or endorsed either one or the other group. This collection of social misfits, religious freaks, and greedy thugs managed to root out moderates from the GOP over time, and forced those who survived their stalinist purges to move sharply to the right. (see generally, Arlen Spector).
As amusing as they were when they were a tiny minority, the damage they wrought since they actually held power is truly astounding. Every problem we face in today’s economy can be laid at their feet. (along with many toady democrats who could not find their spine if their lives depended on it). Their dream was nothing less than a completely free market economy, no government regulation or oversight, no taxes and no limits on their greed.
Like any short-sighted, irrational, experimental program, it was doomed to fail. The last time we tried this free-market experiment we earned the Crash of 1929, a result that we may soon view with envy. The biggest problem with “pure free market forces” is that we suffer the slings and arrows of “pure free market forces.” The rich become much richer, the poor lose their support nets, and the middle class is ground down as feed and fodder for the very, very top level robber barons and thieves.
No, this comparison is unfair. To robber barons. Even the McCormicks, Rockefellers, and Hearsts had a sense that their great wealth was something to be shared and invested back in society. They supported education, regulations, social investment, even progressive taxes – for the good of society. Not so, with today’s Wall Street thieves. To them, personal greed is all that matters, and to hell with the rest of country. To them, FEMA was something to profit from, to place in the unworthy hands of a horse lawyer, and to privatize. The predictable result? Katrina.
George W. Bush called them the ‘haves’ and the ‘have mores’ – his base. He cut their taxes, he stopped investigating their crimes, he protected them from regulations, and he gave them money. Billions. Tens of billions, even more. He even started a profitable war on their behalf.
The result? Middle class income stagnated and fell, in real terms, for eight straight years. Industrial deaths and injuries rose, despite the fact that Bush drove out millions of industrial jobs away from the States. Pollution increased, leading to lead in our toys and hormones, chemicals, and poisons in our food and water. The whole of our society seems to be on the edge of a cliff, ready to fall into an endless abyss. Our roads and bridges are collapsing and killing people, while our electrical supply depends on a design older than the average American. We produce less, except pollution, we import more, especially energy, and our future is murkier than a California mudslide.
This is the result of 20+ years of Republican rule and ruin. This is the result of pure free market idealism. This is the result of Bush, Cheney, Nordquist, Frist, Gingrich, Laffer and other pure free-marketers. Unfortunately, too many Americans again proved PT Barnum right, and bought into their tax cuts and faux dreams, much like a donkey is convinced to walk further because of the carrot always front of him, hanging from a pole.
Here are a few facts with which America needs to reacquaint itself.
1. Science, even for science’ sake, is good.
2. Religion and government must never mix. Religion has no business making government policy, and government has no business making religious decisions. Religions should be taxed, just like every other business.
3. Government regulations save lives, increase productivity, protect jobs, and work to benefit everyone.
4. National health care is a right everyone is entitled to.
5. If we help the unfortunate, we help ourselves.
6. Taxes, especially progressive taxes benefit all, while providing incentives for discovery and creation.
7. Our military should be for defense, not attack.
8. Labor is our friend. Labor is our future. Labor is us.
9. Living on credit is insane.
10. Multinational corporations that move US jobs abroad should be banned from selling any service or product within our borders.
Luckily, people are waking up to how badly we have been led and misled by the current GOP. Democrats won in 2006 (although it was hard to tell by their behavior. Impeachment’s OFF THE TABLE? The guy’s a criminal!) and won bigger in 2008. Now, if we could only replace Nancy Pelousy and Harry Reid with more capable, less corrupt and self-satisfied congresspersons, we might even have some measurable progress in President-Elect Obama’s first term.
People are also taking to the streets, which, in America, only happens when things are truly getting desperate.
Republic Windows and Doors, a Chicago manufacturer and installer, suddenly shut its plant, and because of Bank of America’s specific and direct orders, refused to honor its contract with its union, and refused to pay what it owed to its workers. Those workers now occupy Republic. I can’t wait for them to re-start production on their own. I suspect that they will find many buyers and supporters.
What is so ridiculous in this whole economic mess is that Bank of America received BILLIONS in tax payer dollars to prevent precisely this type of result. Instead, Bank of America continues to overpay its top execs and will provide them with huge bonuses this year. Bank of America continues to invest abroad, and Bank of America has done nothing to invest in the country where it was born, and from which it has greatly profited in the past.
Fried said the company can’t pay its 300 employees because its creditor, Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America, won’t let them. Crain’s Chicago Business reported that Republic Windows’ monthly sales had fallen to $2.9 million from $4 million during the past month. In a memo to the union, obtained by the business journal, Republic CEO Rich Gillman said the company had “no choice but to shut our doors.”
Bank of America received $25 billion from the government’s financial bailout package. The company said in a statement Saturday that it isn’t responsible for Republic’s financial obligations to its employees.
There is good grass roots news on the science front, too. Those ultra-religious idiots at the AFA and similar cults just had their faces slapped. Some moron at the Cincinnati Zoo decided that joining forces with a local Creationist Museum would be a great idea, allowing visitors at one location to visit the other.
The zoo pulled out of the deal Monday after receiving dozens of angry calls and e-mails about the partnership, which offered reduced prices to anyone who bought tickets to the zoo’s Festival of Lights and the museum’s Christmas celebration, Bethlehem’s Blessing.
Most of the protests echoed the same theme: the Creation Museum promotes a religious point of view that conflicts with the zoo’s scientific mission.
Some complained that the zoo, which receives public support through a tax levy, should not become involved with a private museum dedicated to the teachings of the Bible’s Book of Genesis. Others said a scientific institution shouldn’t link itself to a place that argues man once lived side by side with dinosaurs.
“They seem like diametrically opposed institutions,” said Dr. James Leach, a Cincinnati radiologist who e-mailed zoo officials about his concerns. “The Cincinnati Zoo is one of this city’s treasures. The Creation Museum is an international laughingstock.”
Zoo officials said they considered the promotion – dubbed “Two Great Attractions, One Great Deal” – a marketing deal no different than other cross-promotions they do with institutions like the Newport Aquarium or the Cincinnati Reds.
One might be tempted to ask what the Zoo officials were thinking, except that their organ in which most nonsexual thoughts originate seems to be atrophied or missing in action.
While the present is dreary, the future is limitless. But for us to survive that long, the people need to make themselves heard, after taking a cold, hard look at the religious cretins and greedy free-marketters who got us in this spot in the first place. Republic Windows, the Cincinnati Zoo, even Obama’s election – proof positive that we can do it. We simply need to demand some very serious changes. Oh, and as a condition for any federal loans or grants, let’s demand the immediate resignation of all CEOs and top execs in the Big Three Auto companies, Bank of America, CitiCorpse, and other Wall Street white collar crime organizations.
(An apology. Her name is not Pelousy. I promise never to deliberately use Pelousy in an article. I will refrain from calling her Pelousy in discussions. I will not succumb to such childish moves like identifying her as Pelousy. From this moment, when discussing Pelousy, I will spell her name correctly, and never again as Pelousy. Using Pelousy is simply wrong.)