Disappointments. Failures. Lost opportunities, and lost elections. None of it mattered. For whatever reason--call it relentless optimism, perhaps--I half-expected that even after the midterms, things would be better, from the point of view of political strategy. I half-expected the cadre of people in the White House and the lame ducks in Congress to realize that they had preemptively conceded, negotiated and triangulated themselves all the way to some staggering midterm losses, and that maybe a change of pace was in order. I half expected those same people to realize that if we are to avoid President Palin, or Romney, or Huckabee, or even Pence or Thune, that the process or re-engaging allies who had grown somewhat less than enthusiastic ought to be on the agenda.
We didn't get that. We got the opposite instead.
We got a so-called Deficit Reduction Commission that adjourned without even proposing a recommendation because its slavish devotion to cutting Social Security benefits and shifting the tax burden even further onto the middle class was too much for the liberals to take. And the President did come out aggressively pushing for something. Unfortunately, that something just happened to be an anti-growth, anti-middle class freeze in cost of living adjustments for federal employees, all in the name of deficit reduction. Now, it's not my typical style to be this blunt, especially regarding a sitting Democratic President--but the proposed COLA freeze, along with the attempted mobilization of Organizing For America to promote it, has to count among the most tone-deaf moves this Administration has made heretofore. But it, as well as the nonbinding proposals of the Deficit Commission, indicate quite clearly that the era of shared sacrifice is at an end, and that we are beginning to enter an era of corporate-based plutocratic neofeudalism. After all, if a Democratic administration with a sweeping mandate and a huge organizing base, combined with Democratic Congressional majorities the likes of which will not be seen again in some time, cannot slow--much less reverse--the gradual shifting of the burden of taxation onto an ever-shrinking middle class, then who can?
I don't relish coming to this conclusion. I try not to be a nattering nabob of negativity. But facts have to be submitted to a candid world. 8ackgr0und N015e recently recently posted a diary with a startling graphic and a shocking conclusion:
The figure running down the page shows the 50 largest American corporations (based on market capitalization). The green bars show the cash on hand. The red bars show the debt. The companies are sorted based on the amount of cash they have on hand, in descending order.
Scroll down the page and you will see virtually all of the names are ones you recognize. That makes sense. These are huge corporations that dominate the global economy. That's why they are household names.
Added together, these companies hold about $3.7 TRILLION dollars in cash. That is a little more than the entire United States government spent last year. In other words, these 50 companies have enough cash to do everything the federal government did last year, and still have $500 Billion left over. That includes fighting two wars.
Included in that total is the largest corporate cash hoard of any US company: $800 billion for Goldman Sachs. Just to put $800 billion in perspective: in $100 bills, that amount of money would form a stack nearly 543 miles high. If accumulation of even more wealth in the hands of the wealthy truly did create jobs, then Goldman Sachs would be restoring prosperity to the American economy on its lonesome by now. Corporate profits are growing at a record pace, and the stock market is in fine shape as well these days. And despite that, the only fiscal remedies deemed acceptable by the DC village include cutting social security benefits, raising the retirement age, instituting the aforementioned pay freeze, or the findings of the supposedly bipartisan Deficit Reduction Commission whose key recommendations, as mentioned, are primarily based on shifting the responsibility of paying for America further down onto the middle class.
There is no more notion of shared responsibility among many of our nation's elites. They have successfully managed not only to purchase policies that enhance their ability to accumulate an even higher percentage of the nation's wealth; they have also managed to create a political environment where one party (and a significant portion of another) is so dedicated to preserving that accumulation that they will sacrifice everything else--including nuclear security--to continue it.
In the previous incarnation of feudalism, at least the lords had an obligation to be the military protectors of the land. These days, they don't even have to do that--they just profit from the wars that lesser mortals fight. In previous societies, stark degrees of wealth inequality result in social unrest and even revolution. But I suppose that like George W. Bush, our current crop of elites is counting on being dead by the time history--or the masses--comes to judge them.