Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Government Is The Problem" Is The Problem


Written by a man much more knowledgable than me, this article encapsulates the points I've been trying to make here for years:

....Thirty years ago, a newly elected Ronald Reagan made a fateful judgment: “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.” Taxes for the rich were slashed, as were outlays on public services and investments as a share of national income...

Reagan’s was a fateful misdiagnosis. He completely overlooked the real issue — the rise of global competition in the information age — and fought a bogeyman, the government. Decades on, America pays the price of that misdiagnosis, with a nation singularly unprepared to face the global economic, energy and environmental challenges of our time.

[...]

... Twice before in American history, powerful corporate interests dominated Washington and brought America to a state of unacceptable inequality, instability and corruption. Both times a social and political movement arose to restore democracy and shared prosperity.

[...]

Following our recent financial calamity, a third progressive era is likely to be in the making. This one should aim for three things. The first is a revival of crucial public services, especially education, training, public investment and environmental protection. The second is the end of a climate of impunity that encouraged nearly every Wall Street firm to commit financial fraud. The third is to re-establish the supremacy of people votes over dollar votes in Washington.

In addition to pointing out the error of a recent counterfactual comment here about corporate taxes,* it makes clear what the issue of income inequality is really about, as I've said as well: it's about having the means to do what needs doing if our country is to have a future. The writer seems a little more optimistic than I am about an incipient progressive era; but at least there's a conversation happening in some circles.

Demagoguing OWS as some sort of lazy hippie movement, wanting something for nothing, is easy; and god knows it works on those of teabagger mentality. But it's foggery. Ragged, often embarrassing (to me, at least), the protesters are nevertheless making an important point: we can't go on like this; where "this" is the unwillingness of so many Americans to help pay the tab for living in this country, combined with their willingness to cut funding for the future in order to pay for their selfishness.

And, no, it's not about being against corporate profits or individual wealth. They're what makes the world go 'round. Without wealth and profits, ain't no money to spend on our salvation. But since the Reagan era the trend is perverse and unsustainable: profit without payback; demonizing government as an excuse to accumulate money at the top while income for working people remains flat, the middle class shrinks; and while providing for the needs of the country becomes financially impossible.
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* I've said before and I'll say again: I have no idea what a proper corporate tax rate might be; and I gather that in the US, even if it's lower than it's been in a long time, it's higher than in most other countries. What that means, I don't know. But it's also true that the nominal rate seems to be paid by very few corporations, and many of our largest ones not only pay no tax at all, but manage to get tax "rebates" from the government. Most, I think, agree that's wrong. Except, of course, teabaggRs, who've opposed any efforts to close the loopholes that allow such travesty.


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