There is no really grabbing way to introduce this article, except to say that you should read it. If history will absolve Bush, as nothing else will be able to, there will be more of the oft-heard comparisons to Reagan. Not sure why people feel that way, or would think it a good thing, but they seem destined to continue. I see Bush as more of the Modern reflection of FDR, using the same means and the same mechanisms to very different results. Since I can’t know either man’s mind, I won’t try to. But we can talk results.
Below the fold: a Trip from FDR’s New Deal to Bush’s New Deal for Death Heads.
First thing is to take a few gallons of hot air out of what is typically thought about FDR and the New Deal and Income Tax. Then we can look at Bush’s New Deal for the Death Heads.
Look, not everyone who got a job from the WPA during the depression was 100% competent, but it got us through until our ownership class could foment a good-sized war (even Hitler need financial backers) to reverse as much of the social spending as was possible, returning as much or more of that tax money to the nation’s ‘rightful owners’, the ownership class itself. Not an efficient system, but it kept the hungry quiet and patriotic while the powers that be did their thing.
The income tax and related social spending also introduced significant numbers of the little people into the business of government for the first time. Unfortunately it was as human resources, to be farmed for tax money, to be spent on the designs of the ownership class. Great luck if anything good got done in the mean time (love those tunnels and bridges!). While the income tax brought about our beloved social safety net and much of the infrastructure we enjoy in our parks today, it also ushered in a new golden age of corruption and institutionalized economic and social inequities. That was the devil’s bargain FDR, knowingly or unknowingly, made: Social spending now, when we most need it, in exchange for the creation of a massive money hose for the ownership class to use to permanently install itself. Of course they complain all the way to the bank, to throw off the scent.
The tension between the good and the bad of this New Deal has become the overriding political theme even in today’s America. American politics have been consumed with the battle for who gets to drink from the hose ever since.
Sometimes, this tension leads to debate about destroying this system (makes it possible to think that cutting taxes=100% always right, even when regressive). This will not happen, since no one in power wins in that scenario, so such talk by the representatives of the powerful is really just hot air or some weird manifestation of guilt.
What really goes on, and passes for debate on the subject of taxation, are the rival interests of ownership class elites who wish to dismantle and/or replace the bureaucracies their competitors set up when their Man held power (co-opting their associated corrupt income streams and valuable power). Just look at what is happening in the CIA or AMTRAK. It will happen again if a Dem wins, but we won’t be complaining then, right? It’s our corruption, afterall.
A big point is many in both parties have little or no interest in providing QUALITY SERVICE, just in the size of budgets and where the contracts go and how easily they can be funneled to an affiliate.
Perhaps an even bigger point is this: In a world of lesser evils, it is the DEMOCRATS, and the DEMOCRATS ALONE, who have made a PUBLIC COMMITMENT to helping the least of us and to forward looking leadership that seeks to establish and preserve high functioning institutions for the purpose of encouraging and actively (it would be nice to be able to say ‘sustainably’ here) expanding our economy while correcting for the inequities of The Marketplace.
Even if these promises were never intended to be delivered upon, they have the wonderful quality of self-fulfillment. Just saying the right thing from a leadership position will attract active and energized people to the right causes. It is my understanding that at least the rank and file of the Democratic party will continue to attempt to swing the tension between social spending and the elite’s tax feast even the slightest bit in the favor of all Americans, even the poor ones. Some of that is going to work. In a country of millions, a few percentage points less of this or more of that means thousands and thousands of lives uplifted or even saved.
Those of us who like the sound of all that have a real problem these days. Bush has simply decided to do the steps of this whole tax-regression thru war-making process simultaneously instead of sequentially and dropped the social responsibility end of the deal almost entirely. Worst of all, he bought us out by handing us all credit cards with money already run up on them:
Remember when he gave everyone a $300 tax relief check? That wasn’t your money just being returned. That was you taking a $300 loan, payments to be made in the future at a fantastically high rate. Just spending on the Iraq War alone has cost every taxpayer in the US over $2000 each with no end in site, and ever more of each of those dollars goes to defense or service contractors owned by guess whom. Not you. Guess who pays for all this eventually, when the accounting tricks run out? You.
So, the $300 is already spent, and then some. What about the DHS? This massive new bureaucracy seems to have no NEW function except to place Administration friendlies over more and more of the traditionally non-politicized parts of our government, as well as the usual battleground departments. Yet it costs each taxpayer over $300 per year (remember that number from somewhere?). And no one claims that the money is being spent wisely or returned when needed. Police departments across the nation are buying fleets of new cars instead of buying one or two new ones because the paint jobs would not match otherwise (reported to me firsthand by an officer).
Usama will also probably leave Wyoming alone, since they have been spending 7 times the security budget per capita than New York State. Apparently Devil’s Tower is a big target for ‘The Terrorists’. Who or what is from Wyoming and is so hard to secure? I bet Dick Chaney has some old buddies who are into Security over there.
The ownership elites that the Administration represents are continuing in their efforts to expand the sphere of their corruption despite record public disapproval. Nothing has stopped because of a poll result. Nothing at all.
This New Deal for Death Heads may forever tip the scales of FDR’s arrangement with our ownership class and return us to $1 a day wages, like the rest of the world, conditions they quite obviously prefer to do business in. The way to stop this is not just to keep speaking truth to power and trying to be coherent and right in that attempt, but also to attack the very roadmap we have all been using, as none of the roads lead to the Promised Land. The twin ideas that we must achieve ‘Security’ and make War on Terror are the very ideas that must be destroyed and replaced with ‘Defense’ and a Leadership by Example.
First, swear an oath never to use the word “Security” except about blankets and people wearing Yellow windbreakers at concerts. To speak of the role of the military and government in protecting our interests and safety, use the word ‘Defense’ instead. Why? Look up the two words.
“Security” is an emotional state and the method for attempting to reach that state: freedom from FEAR of attack or damage. Anyone who has been watching humanity for more than a few minutes, knows that this is a utopian state, a limit to be approached, but never attained. Fear is not always correlated with threat levels, to say the least. The Department of Fear Abatement is the perfect department to conduct an endless, ever expanding war, looking for bogeymen, in every phone log, under every bed, in every closet. Anyone who has been watching lately knows that Fear is all to easily to manipulate for nefarious purposes.
We can’t raise our children like this. We must stop the pursuit of Security and replace it with the act of Defense.
“Defense” is the both the method and act of preparing and responding to real and predictable threats. It requires the eventual elimination of threats. Finding a ‘cure’, if you will.
Homeland Security is to threats to our continued success as a nation what the stereotypical modern pharmaceutical company is to a deadly disease: driven by the pursuit of short term gains to a focus on expensive symptom treatments as opposed to the pursuit of cures.
In additional to escaping the eternal conflict promise through ‘Security’, we must have a realistic, if not brawny approach to terrorism. There is nothing wrong with being a bit macho when dealing with very naughty people. This is where I find shame in the behavior of the Bush Administration. Let’s suppose that everything we have heard from the government about the 9/11 attacks were true. What, other than disproportional cowardice, could lead Mr. Bush and the complicit congress to spend-out not only current budget, but our children and grandchildren’s future on an unnecessary war and a massive bureaucracy? Let’s pretend he is a good man and all the corruption is just the weakness of those around him. The Decider was presented with the ‘fact’ that we had been attacked by a bunch of guys operating out of a cave and chose to spend HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS of YOUR DOLLARS to BUILD A MONUMENT TO THE POWER OF A SMALL, VIOLENT CULT.
Real strength and leadership would have been to expose the immorality of the act of 9/11 by reacting in a truly Christian fashion: to love your enemy. Perhaps if there were another option besides the Medrasa system to feed the hungry mouths and minds, a Marshall Plan for the Middle East might have gone over better and much, much cheaper. Even if that attempt had failed, guess what, you haven’t blown the family savings on a War of Choice and you still have the military option. That would have been BRAVE: to DO WHAT IS RIGHT IN THE FACE OF DANGER. That would have helped DESTROY OUR ENEMY, by actaully curtailing recruitment (vs. current policy) and facilitating our varied attempts to end supply of man and money to them (moral argument won for those who can hear it), at least the actual people we are facing.
Defending against real threats is probably a better way for the most powerful nation to spend it’s time and largess, and loving the poor as much as the rich the only proper roll of the most economically influential country in the world who happens to also be the greatest beneficiary of their suffering (suffering added = value added). I would never say that Bush has done nothing on either point, as Nothing is as unattainable in the real universe as Security or the defeat of Terror.