Monday, May 14, 2012
As California Goes...
California is a microcosm of the national hypocrisy regarding our economy - Republican leaders came in and gave massive tax handouts to big corporations and the super-rich and, instead of decreasing the size of government and reducing expenses to compensate for this huge reduction in revenues, they GREW government and spent against a deficit until the state/country was so far in the red that we're on the verge of collapse, then they leave office, a Democrat takes their place and, for the next 4 years, all those same Republicans do is cry about the massive deficits, oversized government and unstable economy that the DEMOCRAT is inflicting upon us.
To make it worse, when those democrats start talking about rolling back the tax giveaways that the Republicans put in place, the Republicans start screaming about tax hikes and "punishing success". They tell us total bullshit like it's pensions for middle-class government workers that's bankrupting the system, it's the 47% of the population who don't pay federal income taxes because they're TOO POOR that are wrecking our economy. It's not $800 billion in bank bailouts that's screwing us, it's $100 billion for foodstamps and welfare. Anything and everything to keep the middle-class busy fighting amongst themselves and protect those sweetheart handouts for the big corporations and rich campaign donors. But, most of all, anything to con the average voter into thinking that Republicans are in any way smarter when it comes to managing your tax dollars than Democrats are so they can keep winning elections and keep funneling your tax dollars out of the state and federal budgets and into the bank accounts of millionaires and billionaires and companies who ship jobs overseas and put you and your neighbors out of work, take your houses and charge you $5 a gallon for gas that costs them less than $1 a gallon to produce.
I'm not saying that Democrats are saints, their priorities aren't exactly admirable and they're too stupid to figure out how to keep from getting constantly set up to take the fall for failed Republican trickle-up handouts, but ever since Reagan left office - who would be considered a filthy liberal by current GOP standards - every subsequent Republican president's economic policies have resulted in a recession. In contrast, the two Democrat presidents since Reagan have both presided over significant economic recovery from those Republican-induced recessions. At what point do middle-class American voters pull their heads out of their asses and stop letting Fox News tell them that it's raining while Republicans piss on them? At what point does the average Republican voter realize that the policies of their party will NEVER benefit them and, in fact, are directly contributing to why it's getting harder and harder to make ends meet? You bitch about $5 a gallon gas? Well, who's the party that coddles the oil industry? Who's the party that fought and continues to fight to loosen the Wall St. regulations that have allowed rampant speculation to drive up gas prices? Who's the party that thinks the banks deserve to be bailed out for wrecking the housing market, but you don't deserve any help with your ridiculously underwater mortgage? Who's the party that thinks middle-class Americans should give up their benefits and pay more for healthcare while their bosses should get even more tax cuts?
What's the Republican plan to create jobs? Build a border fence? There's already a huge decline in immigration from when Bush was president and it's because Mexico's economy is growing while ours is declining. We don't need a fence, our shitty job market is keeping immigrants out just fine. What's the Republican plan to grow the economy? More tax cuts for millionaires who are already paying the lowest tax rate in history? More tax breaks for corporations who get money BACK every year already? Republicans LOVE to talk shit about the poor people in America who pay no federal income taxes, but what about the 10 wealthiest corporations who GOT TAX REFUNDS? General Electric got more money back from the government this year than every person who got an EIC tax break in the state of California. Why is that ok with the average Republican voter? What's the Republican plan to lower gas prices? Drill more oil? Experts have said that we wouldn't even see that oil enter the market for at least 10 years and, even then, it would be traded on the global oil market and if we're lucky it might lower the cost of a gallon of gas by about 25 cents.
The Republicans aren't even trying to hide their economic policy anymore, it's out there in the open for everyone to see. The Republican plan is to take as much money out of the general economy and put it in the hands of the wealthiest Americans. Not paying your taxes is only ok if you're a billion-dollar corporation, if you're a hard-working single mom making less than $20,000 a year, you're a scumbag and should be ashamed of yourself taking advantage of the system like that. Republicans want to create two classes in this country - the wealthy, elite ruling class and the impoverished labor class to serve them. They want to raise taxes on the middle-class and poor and lower taxes for the rich. For Republicans, "fair" means making the poorest, most disadvantaged Americans pay even more money that they don't have so that the most privileged and fortunate Americans can contribute even less to the country that they owe every last ounce of their success to.
See, in the mind of the Republican policy maker, the people who have benefitted most from the opportunities for success that we have in America are obligated to do not a damn thing to pay it forward. If you were able to find success in America and make your fortune due to the freedom and liberty that we are blessed with, then the Republican party thinks you should be able to turn around, look at your fellow Americans who are struggling to get even a scrap of the success you have been allowed to realize and say "Go fuck yourselves", take your money and run to the Cayman Islands to hide it all in tax shelters so you don't have to pay even the historically low tax rate imposed on you. Then, those same Republicans want to take the poorest Americans, who are struggling to make ends meet and living day-to-day and tell them "The free ride on the gravy train is over bitches, start paying your fair share!"
Then, in the greatest stroke of irony ever, Republicans accuse Democrats of "envy".
Yes, the Republicans who want us all to be jealous of the fact that 47% of the country doesn't pay federal income taxes have the balls to say that asking the richest people and businesses in the country to actually pay what they're supposed to in taxes is to envy their wealth and success. I've never met anyone more envious of the lifestyle of the poorest Americans than the Republicans. To ask the average Republican mouthpiece, you would think that the poor in this country live the life of Reilly. You would think it's all lazy days and free money aboard the gravy train that the poor are riding along on. Watching Republicans talk shit about the poor in this country not paying federal income tax is like watching two buzzards sitting on a bloated carcass and bitching about the flies filling up on all the shit that fell out of that dead animals ass.
Democratic "envy" is saying the richest people and companies in America should pay 2% more in taxes.
Republican "envy" is saying that your neighbor who makes $40,000 a year is enjoying a "bloated salary and benefits" because he works for the state or federal government and should have his pay cut in half and his benefits stripped.
Democratic "envy" is saying that we need to close the tax loopholes that allow corporations like GE to make billions in profits and get billions more in TAX REFUNDS from the government.
Republican "envy" is saying that we need to raise taxes on the poorest Americans because they've been enjoying the easy life of barely keeping their heads above water long enough.
Republicans like to vilify the poor in America. They like to pretend that the poor in this country pay no taxes at all, that they're gleeful scofflaws who take, take, take and never give anything back. Of course, the reality is that even those Americans who don't pay federal income taxes still pay state taxes, local taxes, sales taxes and spend every penny they make into the economy. See, unlike the wealthiest Americans who put most of their income into savings and investment accounts and make money from money, taking that wealth out of the general economy, poor and middle-class Americans tend to spend everything they make, which means income for local businesses, who in turn use that revenue to grow their business and hire more employees. Now, unlike the Republicans, I am not going to be so purposefully obtuse as to pretend that the wealthy in this country don't do a lot to keep the wheels turning, they absolutely do, but to act as if the working poor in this country are little more than cockroaches scavenging off the hard work of the rich is not only completely untrue, it's incredibly insulting and betrays the sheer disgust and disdain that the Republican party has for the very men and women who keep this country running day to day.
What's worse is so many of those same, hard-working poor and middle-class Americans who identify as Republicans are more than happy to support the very policies that contribute to their struggles.
Again, I'm not going to pretend that the Democrats have all the answers or that voting exclusively Democratic will solve everything. If I believed that, I would be a registered Democrat and I'm not. However, I will say that, right now, the Democrats economic platform would benefit the average American a whole lot more than the Republican plan. Fixing a broken tax code, telling tax-dodging corporations like GE to start paying their fair share and bringing the jobs back to America that were shipped overseas under Bush's watch are all things that would make life easier for the average American worker. More real jobs, more assistance to help get back on track and less handouts for companies that don't invest in America all mean a better, stronger and more prosperous middle class.
Republicans don't care about the middle class because the middle class represents everything Republicans hate right now - specifically, a vast labor force that costs businesses way more money then it should because they expect things like a strong, competitive wage, good benefits and an adequate retirement package. Why are companies shipping jobs overseas? Because those countries don't have a protected middle class, those countries only have rich owners and poor workers. Labor is cheap, they don't ask for much because they're used to having nothing, so anything at all is an improvement. That's the vision Republican leaders have for America. They want us to be like Russia, China, India and South America. They want a vast labor class that gets the smallest possible piece of the pie necessary in order to keep them alive and working and everything else goes to the owner class.
Look at the Russian economy. When "Western Capitalism" arrived there two significant things happened. The first was that Russia produced more billionaires than any other country on Earth. The second was that Russia produced 200 million more people living below the poverty level. Those same economic principles are currently failing spectacularly in Europe, where massive austerity measures have led to rioting and brought countries like Greece to the verge of civil unrest. The people have seen the results of plutocratic trickle-up economics, they saw how it has created a massive wealth gap in Russia, India and Latin America and they are rejecting it when it comes to their town. America is the last battlefield in the war on the middle-class. If the American working class - the proudest and historically most well-protected labor class in the world - can be broken and reduced to indentured servitude, then the rest of the world will inevitably fall in line. This is the vision for America that the Republican party wants for you.
If you make at least $1 million a year, then I totally get why you would vote Republican. I think that voting for the party that wants to preserve your interests is a smart thing to do. If I were a millionaire, I might find myself wanting to vote Republican too. I mean, why would I volunteer to make my life a little less easy or decrease my wealth by even a few percent so that I can help out a bunch of people who obviously didn't work as hard as I did or else they'd be rich like I am too? If I were rich and didn't give a fuck about anyone who wasn't, I would absolutely vote Republican and be glad to do it. However, if I wasn't rich, if I didn't have $1 million and if I wasn't trying to preserve my privileged standing, I can't see why I would ever vote for the current Republican party. Forget the social conservatism that would drive me away from the GOP even if I did somewhat agree with their awful economic policies, just from a fiscal standpoint, why would I ever support a party that wants to elevate the elite class even more while pushing literally the entire rest of the country down into economic slavery? Why would I ever support a party that wants to make the American Dream even harder to achieve, that is working to condition the American worker to do more and more and expect less and less in return?
I look at my state and I see the mess that Republicans made over the last 10 years and have left for a Democratic governor to try and clean up. I see how we're in such a mess now that massive tax hikes and severe cuts to essential services are the only way to get out of the hole we're in and I see that same scenario playing out on the national stage and I wonder how much more shit the middle-class in this country is going to have to eat before we look up at the buzzards sitting on that fat, bloated carcass and say "What the hell is going on here? YOU get down here and eat this shit, we're getting some fucking MEAT for a change!"
If you want to really reduce government waste. If you want to really get rid of the useless, overpaid government employees that are putting a drain on our economy and doing nothing to earn the completely undeserved salaries they're paid, then fire congress. Trust me, it's not teachers and correctional officers and mid-level administrators that are wrecking this country and pushing that American Dream farther and farther out of reach.