Showing posts with label Robert Reich. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Robert Reich. Show all posts

Monday, December 06, 2010

A Chronic Lack

The fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans these days is one very simple core belief: the middle class drives our economy. Either you believe this or you don't. If you don't, you live on Fantasy Island. There are less people spending less money so we are stagnate and unemployment remains high. It's really quite simple when you think about it. The solution of most on the right (libertarian, conservative, whatever) is to give the rich more money whether it's through tax breaks or charity vis a vis corporate welfare or Tea Party "grass roots" organizations (© The Koch Brothers).

Many of our nation's companies have already accepted this new normal. Remember the Citigroup document? This is but one example of hard evidence that the middle class is all but gone. So, when will those of you in the middle class wake up and realize that you are the solution to our economic woes? More importantly, when will you see that there is one party that is decidedly against that solution and one that is trying to realize it?

Robert Reich, the Secretary of Labor under President Clinton, wrote a brilliant piece last week on Sarah Palin and the angry middle class. I won't comment on his thoughts on Ms. Palin. That's not allowed, of course, because I'm "obsessed." You can add that rule to the lexicon of BIG NO-NOS in our little Lewis Carroll looking glass prism of unreality. You know which one I'm talking about, right? The one where all criticisms of George W. Bush are manifestations of psychosis and ignorance, denial, redefination, and counterattack/competing victimizations are perfectly normal when discussing race.

Instead, I'm going to talk about the other stuff he put in his column, regarding the middle class, which was far more insightful. Case in point...

The anxiety began three decades ago when the median male wage that had been rising for three decades began to stagnate. Families responded by sending wives and mothers into the paid workforce, working longer hours, and then, finally, going deep into debt.

Three decades ago? Hmm...who has been saying that lately? Me.

So, why is the middle class (and many of you) so angry?

According to the right-wing narrative, the calamity that's befallen the middle class is due to the cultural and intellectual elites who run the mainstream media and direct the government, dispense benefits to the undeserving (immigrants and poor blacks), advocate multiculturalism, and dominate popular culture (supporting abortion and gay marriage).

Remember Alinksy's last interview in Playboy? He saw all this coming in 1972.

The right would give them scapegoats for their misery -- blacks, hippies, Communists -- and if it wins, this country will become the first totalitarian state with a national anthem celebrating "the land of the free and the home of the brave." But we're not going to abandon the field to them without a long, hard fight -- a fight I think we're going to win. Because we'll show the middle class their real enemies: the corporate power elite that runs and ruins the country -- the true beneficiaries of Nixon's so-called economic reforms. And when they swing their sights on that target, the sh-- will really hit the fan.

Alinsky died that year and clearly his battle was lost. Many in the middle class--many of YOU--have accepted the right's narrative, as defined by Reich, as gospel.

So, if we can get past this lie, what is the real problem? Reich knows.

In reality, the bad economy is likely to continue for most Americans beyond seven years -- maybe for 10 or more -- because of a chronic lack of aggregate demand. So much income and wealth have now concentrated at the top that the broad middle and working class no longer has the buying power to get the economy going again.

Folks, this is the one and only reason why I am as upset as I am. It's not because I'm envious of those who have more money than me. I'm not 10 years old for crying out loud. It's because I am so enormously frustrated at those who can't accept this simple fact that Reich has so eloquently summarized. The working class of this country has no buying power any longer. They are being gouged out of every dime they have by people who DO NOT NEED THE MONEY. Until this changes, our economy is going to suck. Big time. In order for that to change, the wealthy are going to have to alter their lifestyles.

The real problem lies in our economic structure: the yawning gap between Wall Street and Main Street, the incentives operating on large corporations to pare American payrolls and expand abroad, and the demand for short-term profits over better jobs and wages for most Americans.

In "Inside Job," former Fed Chair Paul Volker calls Wall Street CEO salaries "excessive." No shit. They are quite literally ruining this country's economy.

So, what should we do?

The real solution lies in changing that structure: making taxes more progressive, investing in education and infrastructure, and having a national economic strategy for good jobs and wages.

In other words, the platform of the Democratic Party. The three ideas listed here are anathema to any conservative or libertarian even though they have been proven to work in the past, time and again. They worked for FDR. They worked for Harry Truman. They worked for Dwight Eisenhower (a pinko Commie by the standard set by today's right with his 9o percent tax rate). They worked for Jack Kennedy. All of these men had a progressive tax platform, invested in education and infrastructure, and had sound economic strategies for good jobs and wages. Even Bill Clinton had this in the beginning and then he began to succumb to the lure of that ol' siren song of deregulation and look where that led us.

I understand that many of you are control freaks who can't admit when you are wrong but you are completely in error about this one. Worse, by not supporting these very clear solutions, you are exacerbating the problem. Why this leads to more bile and mouth foaming heaped at me and the Democrats is beyond me. Is it hubris? Adolescent power fantasies? I guess I'm really not certain.

But if you look at history, this sort of blindness produces a kind of state that I know that none of you want. So, get with the fucking program, pull your heads out of your asses, and start supporting solutions. Even if you have to admit that you are wrong and that someone else with a different perspective might know what's in your self interest.

People like me do this every day. It's called reflection.

And it's what saves civilizations.