You may join me in the celebration of failure--a celebration I have been urging we look forward to for a very long time. Do not listen to the hand-wringing and whining about the implosion of the Catfood Commission II. This is a great thing. It is fabulous.
Let us also pause, for a moment, to tote up the damage done by the utterly moronic obsession with the phony debt and deficit "crisis". Let us consider how the "bi-partisan" political system--egged on by an astonishingly brain-dead traditional media establishment--wasted countless days and months while millions of people twisted in the wind of destitution, unemployment and despair.
I could choose from a slew of media reports dribbling out yesterday and today--virtually all of which are wasting an enormous amount of space and bandwidth bemoaning the death of the Catfood Commission II. But why not stick with the usual drivel from the paragon of economic conventional wisdom, The New York Times:
On Sunday, just one week after both sides had begun to feel hope, several members of the bipartisan panel conceded that their weeks of negotiations had failed. In the end the two sides could not agree on a mix of tax increases and spending cuts and — perhaps above all — on the fate of the tax cuts originally signed by President George W. Bush, which are now scheduled to expire at the end of 2012.
While the panel’s failure was in many ways foretold — President Obama and the House speaker, John A. Boehner, failed to reach a similar deal only this past summer — the deadlock offers fresh evidence for everyone frustrated with Congress, including its own members.
“It was a huge opportunity missed,” Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, a Democratic member of the committee, said in an interview on Sunday. Representative Jeb Hensarling, Republican of Texas, who headed the committee with Mrs. Murray, of Washington, agreed. “As a nation,” he said, “I am not sure how long we have to put America on a sustainable path.”[emphasis added]
Because it's Monday, let me start with the positive. We should rejoice for one central reason--the Bush tax cuts expire, by law, at the end of 2012 (they were extended past the original deadline). Translation: tens of billions of dollars more will come back to our society from the wealthiest one percent to do what we need to do to heal the wounds left over from the past 30 years of gross, economic robbery. Yes, the task now--and not a simple one--is to continue to build a movement in the streets to stop the Democrats from capitulating next year on taxes (and I put aside, for the moment, the wild idea that the pre-Bush tax levels are still way too low for the wealthy) and extending them even further.
Okay, now back to the past.
There never has been.
We've spent months and years jousting with a phantom while the country burned.
Burned over the past 30 years from a sustained robbery of the wealth of the country.
Burned while millions of people were struggling to pay their bills--not just the millions who ended up out of a job because of the criminal conspiracy on Wall Street. No, this has been an economic inferno for decades--low wages, no pension, disappearing health care.
All this was right there to seen. It was no secret.
But the voices of sanity, who lived in the fact-based world of real people and basic economics, were drowned out by a corrupt political system and a truly incompetent media establishment, all of whom were in thrall with the so-called "free market" and the dangers of the debt and deficit "crisis".
It was phony.
They sold their minds to billionaires like Pete Peterson--the #1 funder of the deficit-debt "crisis" industry--and marketing-friendly named organizations like "Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget" who became the go-to public scolds about the phone debt and deficit crisis.
Consider Peterson for a moment. He is treated by the dolts at CNN or the other regurgitators of press releases as some infallible god. No one--not a single person on the august editorial boards of The New York Times or Washington Post--ever challenged Peterson. I have no evidence, that Pete Peterson is a liar. I think it’s something worse—he believes in the kind of world where Social Security is a crutch for the weak, that debt is a bad thing and that the religion of the “free market” is something to worship more than God. And the media totally bought this--hook, line and sinker.
Without pointing out that he made his fortune climbing over the backs of others and inflicting misery on countless human beings. That is essentially the history of Blackstone, the private equity firm which, when it went public in 2007, made Peterson a very rich man. Blackstone is a wrecking machine: buying up companies and immediately trying to wring every penny out of the place, mainly by tossing workers on to the unemployment line.
And how do they do it? By piling up massive amounts of debt!
But, it has been an article of faith among virtually every traditional media outlet--believe in Peterson and his apostles--largely because most journalists do not read, they do not think for themselves, they buy the conventional wisdom and, most important, far from being "objective", they believe in the "free market".
If the president loses the election in 2012, he will be able, in my opinion, to partly blame himself for listening to the voices of austerity. He has fueled this dangerous and economically foolish obsession with the deficit by creating the Catfood Commission I--to which he appointed as the two chairs not opposite opposing views but two corporate hacks--Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles--who stroked each others knees, day after day, with their gleeful little good-buddy routine and finger-wagging warnings to everyone else about the disaster the nation would face if we didn't embrace austerity for the people.
And if Chris Van Hollen can't figure out what to do and whines that “I am not sure how long we have to put America on a sustainable path", he should simply resign from Congress. Because the answer is not that hard (I'm tempted to add "you political hack moron" but it's Monday):
• Jail the crooks on Wall Street, institute a Financial Transaction Tax and shrink the financial industry down. For thirty years, Wall Street drained the foundation of the American Dream, figuring out ways to rip millions of good-paying jobs out of the soul of the country, using leveraged buyouts to boost stock prices and enrich CEOs under the cover of the “free market” and “efficiency”. Get rid of these leeches.
• Raise taxes significantly on the wealthy--the economy will BE BETTER. For thirty year, both parties have slowly, but surely, picked apart a progressive taxation system, shifting the burden of providing for a decent society on to the backs of the poor. As I wrote in 2008 in the opening sentences of “The Audacity of Greed”: The United States of America has just lived through the greatest looting of money in its history, a vast robbery that began in the late 1970s and has stretched to the present day. The perpetrators of this grand robbery didn’t just steal a few possessions, or a bit of cash. Instead, they drained the economy of trillions of dollars, in the process skulking off with a vast fortune that defied imagination while leaving millions of people without jobs, in poverty or without their life savings”.
• Save a few trillion dollars by giving up on running the world. For thirty years, political leaders have sent our brave men and women into dumb and immoral foreign military catastrophes—for the sake of oil and sometimes lesser reasons—that have cost us trillions of dollars, not to mention hundreds of thousands of human lives and the shredding of the country’s image around the world. Even in the absence of active military conflict by the country’s troops, billions of dollars were, and are, poured into a wasteful, bloated military complex—which often, then, forgets the veterans who carry the day-to-day burden in the field and, then, return home with shattered bodies and damaged minds.
• Stop passing extremely destructive trade deals. For thirty years, corporations have shipped jobs abroad, moving millions of good-paying jobs to places where human slavery cost pennies.
• Save TWO TRILLION DOLLARS by attacking corporate welfare, partly by killing the health insurance industry and giving the people a single-payer system--which will save us hundreds of billions of dollars.
And, above all, jobs, jobs, jobs. End the obsession over the phony debt and deficit "crisis". Spend more money.
And Occupy Wall Street.