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Easily, one of the best NYT op-eds I've read in quite awhile. Here's the final sentence in the piece...

...Progressives are now dependent on the fragile possibility that inequality and socioeconomic immobility will push the social order to the breaking point and force the political system to respond.

And, here's a little more; but, I hope--emphatically--that folks will take the time to read Edsall's entire column...

Is the Safety Net Just Masking Tape?
By THOMAS B. EDSALL
New York Times (Op-Ed)
December 18th, 2013 (edition)

It’s easy for liberals to explain away setbacks to programs and policies that they favor—ranging from infrastructure investment to food stamps to increased education budgets—as the result of the intransigence of the Republican Party, with its die-hard commitment to slashing government spending on nearly every front.

But that explanation is too facile…

…The economics of survival have forced millions of men, women and children to rely on “pity-charity liberal capitalism.” The state has become the resource of last resort consigning just the people progressives would like to turn into a powerful force for reform to a condition of subjugation — living out their lives on government subsidies like Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and now, Obamacare.

In many respects, the safety net has worked to hold society together, and it has the backing, explicit or implicit, of Democratic elites. This system also has the support of much of corporate America, especially of major low-wage employers like McDonald’s and Wal-Mart. These companies are themselves subject to brutal market competition and use government programs that benefit their employees as a means of sustaining inadequate wages and fringe benefits.

The call of Konczal and his colleagues on the progressive left for an empowerment agenda — for structural economic reform — faces roadblocks far higher than many people realize. The loss of a political movement (economic liberalism) and its political vehicle (a stable progressive coalition) has put the left into a position of retreat, struggling to protect besieged programs that are designed explicitly for the poor and which therefore lack strong public backing.

The shift of the Democratic Party from economic to “pity-charity” liberalism has put the entire liberal project in danger. It has increased its vulnerability to conservative challenge and left it without a base of politically mobilized supporters...

If there's one particular line of thinking that I believe Edsall's leaving out of the equation--other than making one or two vague references to Democratic Party minions of their corporate overlords--it's the reality that the state has turned a technologically advanced, military-industrial-surveillance complex inwards to quash domestic dissent/social protest to successfully undermine the left. So, while I've witnessed many ConservaDems here vacuously/falsely bitch and moan about the lack of a succinct agenda being the primary cause for the so-called failure of the Occupy movement, the reality was/is completely to the contrary.

Long story short, back in the mid-20th century (i.e.: when J. Edgar Hoover was running the FBI, etc.) the state didn't have the technological "power tools" and the militarized police force--let alone a consolidated media class whose primary business now is not to objectively deliver the news but to propagandize the egregious actions of the corporatocratic state--that they have today.


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I read Edsall's op-ed as I was taking a break in the middle of prepping another post for publication here. I'm going back to that for a bit, but I'll return in the comments.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Wow, looks like a cogent piece (12+ / 0-)

    I think Edsall  has articulated my own creeping sense as of the last few years that we (not just the US) are coming to a genuine crossroads- if not already there.

    Off to read; thanks bob.

  •  It does make one wonder (6+ / 0-)

    the way things are going most of us will have to find a billionaire to be our safety net. We can only hope our feudal Lord will be kindly. I kinda want someone like Franz Joseph Hayden's benefactor.

    In the article Konczal talks of solutions. Higher taxes on the plutocrats is right at the top.

    Way back when as a young college student I was exposed to a lot of talk about imperialism from groups like SDS etc.. I still remember the chant--fuck you capitalist, imperialist pigs. Back then I didn't really know what it meant. Vietnam just seemed wrong and it was more a moral issue to me. Now after studying some history about all the various empires I see the fact that our country is an empire. It's in decline, it is unaffordable besides being immoral. I bring this up as just shrinking and consolidating the empire would free up a ton of money that could make us stronger.

    Edsal talking about how we become less generous in tough times is spot on. In my own life due to shrinking expectations I no longer give to the food banks which the supermarkets have made such great effort to make it easy.

    music- the universal language

    by daveygodigaditch on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 11:27:33 PM PST

  •  Wow. Worth the read. I'll not quote from it (9+ / 0-)

    for copyright reasons, but it sums up the situation pretty realistically.

    A summary of my understanding: the safety net and full employment go hand in hand as the core liberal agenda. But the Democratic establishment has pretty much abandoned the full employment part. Which means when people are financially insecure, history shows they become meaner toward the have-nots. This makes it harder to maintain the quality (such as it is) of the safety net as time goes on.

    The article ties into my sense that the Dem leadership basically accepts the Republican Four NightMares of Supply-SIde: Free Trade, Trickle-Down, Deregulation, Privatization.

    All of these can have no real-world result but the destruction of the general quality of life. We have the proof after 30 years of practice. Yet, TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership Totally Pissing on People) remains a high priority.

    We've heard 'compete in the global marketplace' a hell of a lot more than about a massive federal jobs program. And it ain't no Republican forcing Dems to not talk about that sure-fire crowd-pleaser and vote-getter all the time.


    Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

    by Jim P on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 11:37:52 PM PST

    •  Also sense that Dem leaders like Elizabeth Warren, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobswern, Betty Pinson, tardis10, bumbi

      … who aren't on board with supply-side economic policy, in their turn still do fully accept the imperial logic of U.S. planetary dominance and the "technologically advanced, military-industrial-surveillance complex" needed to police it.

      The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

      by lotlizard on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 02:31:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  things Konczal recommends (5+ / 0-)

    Edsal notes what Konczal thinks we should do to provide growth that will increase workers' leverage (which I will paraphrase because I don't want to directly quote too much from a relatively short piece):  
    -Full employment.
    -Higher inflation target to make monetary policy work better
    -Government spending to ensure the Federal Reserve can do its job
    -More active role for the government in public investment.
    -Replacement of means-tested programs with programs providing universal benefits

    I wish those corporate Dems who are just confused/overly impressed by the Very Serious People and not outright bought off would hurry up and get a clue.

  •  The "safety net" all along has been nothing (3+ / 0-)

    but the minimal efforts some public officials exert to keep themselves from falling out of office. Safety nets are for reckless behavior. The citizenry is not reckless.
    Why do we not get that public officials are in office only for themselves? Because they've been hired to serve. It strikes most people as totally incongruous that people would hire themselves out as servants and then act like lords. Also, to believe that, people have to accept that they've been lied to from the start and that's a hard pill to swallow. Pride objects.

    Since the steward's job is to manage and dispense resources on the master's behalf, an unjust steward is one who dispenses resources to and on his own behalf or, as an alternative, hides them to keep them "safe." To get the gist of both, it's probably a good idea to read the parable of the unjust steward and the parable of the talents in tandem.

    Why do the Cons get the relationship between masters and servants wrong?  Because, for the most part, they seem to be people who get the proper order of things wrong. They put the cart before the horse and themselves before their masters.
    "Public servant" is not an honorific; neither does it refer to ostentation or a show. Being a spectacle is not to serve. Though that's what Boehner and Ryan et al seem to think.

    Where does the Tea Party fit in? Tea Party people are convinced that the fellow who buried his talent did the right thing and aim to emulate him. They don't get stewardship either.

    Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

    by hannah on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 02:51:53 AM PST

  •  Edsall nails it (0+ / 0-)

    A superb column by a respected NYTimes contributor.  

    This gives me hope.  For years we've been forced to expend our energies defending the programs we worked hard to implement over the years.  It's time for us to go on the offensive.

    Konczal is absolutely right, we must make full-employment our primary goal, which would relive pressure on the safety net programs, and once the middle class is solid and confident once more it will be easier to get them to support programs for those still left in poverty.

  •  h/t to New Minas (0+ / 0-)

    Bill Moyers nails it

    The burning question for a lot of people including myself is when will the scales fall off the eyes of at least a sizable minority? When will that moment of "aw shit" occur to the tribalism gang who just want to belong? And yes, the odds against us being able to make changes decrease with every bit of military equipment the ptb move to local police departments. But you know it wasn't easy when the FIRST labor movement began. It was damn bloody and brutal THEN.

    It seems that all my life we have been bombing someone, teaching them a lesson. Every day I understand more deeply how violent we are. Violent to others and violent to ourselves. - Robert Olmstead

    by glitterscale on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 04:31:32 AM PST

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