The very people who legally crashed our economy – and those who did it illegally and still haven’t gone to jail – and have kept their bonuses are now even bigger than before.
This is when our government needs to – HAS TO – step in and say….
“You are a danger to the rest of society. You are no longer going to operate in this manner. You have abused the rights and privileges afforded to you in the law, and now the law is changing. You will be broken up, and you will be regulated such that your actions cannot threaten the global economy and the financial well-being of all of the rest of us ever again.”
If there was ever an industry that has repeatedly proven that it is populated with and largely led by people incapable of policing themselves, it’s the financial services industry. This isn’t a personal attack. It’s just the facts, and it’s just history.
There can’t be opportunity and protection without a balance between the private sector and the government. There is no balance today. The scales have been tipping for far too long toward Big Money. This is why it’s so important that we strike at the root of all of our problems – money in politics.
We must change campaign finance laws in order to get the influence of Big Money out of our political processes and out of the halls of government. It’s the only way we can expect to have any influence as ordinary citizens over our elected officials.
What can we do? Plenty.
Join up with other concerned citizens who have come together to make their voices heard.
Here are some of my favorites. Please feel free to share this and to add others.
I was raised by people born before The Great Depression. Their parents were part of the great migration from Europe at the turn of the 20th century. They rose from hardscrabble and meager beginnings to become the prototypical hard-working, high school educated, American middle class suburbanites who made the Golden Age of America post-World War II so Golden.
All things being equal, their lives followed an arc that worked out to be just about as good as any middle class citizen anywhere could hope to have.
They were not “makers”, nor were they “takers.” Make no mistake, though, it was they who built this country, not the rich, and it will be the middle class who rescues it and rebuilds it again.
Our chances go way up and our recovery will come much faster if some of us in the middle class stop buying into the lie of supply-side economics.
It is not just some failed economic theory. It is a lie perpetrated on Americans by those who stand to benefit from it – the rich and powerful who run our corporations and our government.
But don’t let the title mislead you. The lessons have not been forgotten, at least not by everyone. Not to put too fine a point on it, the only people who might be fairly accused of having forgotten these lessons are those allowing themselves to be duped by the precious few who benefit by having us forget important economic lessons.
The “precious few” to whom I refer are, of course, the oligarchs in both the private and public sectors. They have duped some of us into believing that trickle-down economics is anything but one incredibly big lie.
To those of you in the 99% who continue to buy into and to perpetuate the lie of supply-side economics, I’d like to ask you a few questions:
Why do you insist on selling yourselves and all of the rest of us in the 99% short by not acknowledging that it is we, not the rich, who are the true engines of capitalism?
Is it not our prosperity and our wealth that improves our economy and allows it to work to everyone’s benefit?
Is it not our purchasing power and our demand for goods and services that makes us and not the rich the true job creators?
Why do you persist in insulting yourselves and the rest of us by believing that all that we deserve in a capitalist economy is what trickles down as overflow from the rich?
It was 33 years ago last month when Ronald Reagan used his inaugural address to vilify the very government he had just been elected to lead. Are three decades not enough time to learn a lesson? Can we not yet conclude that he was wrong? Isn’t it time to abandon supply-side economics and go back in some ways to what we know has worked before?
What’s needed now and more than ever is for the private and public sectors to be brought back into balance in ways that resemble 1946 to 1974 more than 1980 to 2014.
It cannot be denied. The rich have gotten richer while most of us have either stagnated or fallen backward thanks to trickle-down economic theory. We have endured it long enough. If it actually worked, we would now be absolutely swimming in an ocean of opportunities buoyed up for everyone as the economic tide rose.
Except for the very well off, all of our boats have remained tied to the dock while the water has risen up and over our heads. It’s time we all realized that those folks above us on their yachts are not concerned about us. We won’t be floating to the surface to join them if we don’t work together.
Some of you need to stop defending them and understand that the line they’ve thrown you has an anchor attached to it.
Remember when we were kids and we were taught that when we made a mistake the right thing to do was to admit it and to learn from it? Well, here’s your chance. Besides, what do you have to lose? The economic theory you like just hasn’t worked. It was a mistake, and now it’s time for you to admit that and learn from it. It’s time for you to join us Keynesians. History proves that approach works. Supply-side never has and it never will.
The first thing we do is work together on a common goal – getting money out of politics.
When (not if) we get the big and secret money out of our politics, our elected officials in both parties will actually have no choice but to represent us instead of their wealthy donors. Think about it. We still have a voice in our politics. It’s a voice that can be much, much louder in government than any voice most of us will ever hope to have at any corporate shareholder meeting, right?
Once we take back control of government from the rich, then we’ll have representatives with real power to control and contain the corporatists and to end crony capitalism. No, this is NOT Socialism in the scary-red-menace-under-the-bed sense. It’s about doing away with corruption and bringing fairness and balance that benefits all of society.
How and where to begin?
There are lots of grass-roots groups working hard out there to #GetMoneyOut of politics. Pick a few, or pick just one, but do something.
I no longer support or advocate for Coffee Party USA. Click here to read why, and please Comment if you find posts on this site that I missed with this update. Thanks.
They’re a bunch of volunteers keeping Americans informed, and they’re doing a better job of it than the 1% media channels. They are also focused on getting Americans to engage in civil, fact-based dialog meant to find solutions to our social and political challenges. You can find them and join the conversation at their web site, Facebook page, Twitter, and Scoop.it pages. They pride themselves on being inclusive, so you’ll find lots of voices with lots of different perspectives.
There’s also Represent.Us. They are led by some really, really smart people who are working to reform campaign finance laws and to put elections back in our hands instead of in the hands of wealthy donors and super PACs. Their work is focused on the American Anti-Corruption Act which would make reform possible tomorrow if more of us demanded it from our elected leaders.
There’s also Move To Amend and WolfPAC who are calling ordinary citizens to actions in their state capitols and all around the country. Their work is directed toward ultimately amending the Constitution in order to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that opened the money floodgates into our elections.
History doesn’t lie. It might get written by the victors, but we live in an age now where it’s easy to vet it and to discover and understand the truth. The truth is that supply-side economics does not work.
It’s an incredible testament to the vision, genius, and engineering expertise of the people who work at NASA. Imagine the world we might live in if we insisted that our government invest more of our tax dollars with the people and the science capable of designing, building, launching, and operating a rover that was sent to Mars on a 90-day mission and that is still operating without any direct human contact 10 years later.
We’re a curious species. It’s in our nature. It’s how we turned stones into tools, tamed fire, taught ourselves agriculture, and for the last 57 years have been capable of sending machines and people into space.
I’m all for spending money on exploration and learning. It’s how we’re going to expand our knowledge and (hopefully) improve everyone’s lives. I find it to be both fascinating and disturbing that such statements might be controversial in some quarters.
What I am not for is the universal idea that characterizes mostly the GOP today; that every government expenditure ought to be done only if, a) an equal and opposite cut is made elsewhere or, b) there’s some immediate and measurable monetary return-on-investment.
What Opportunity’s 10th Birthday Also Tells Us
Sometimes we just need to spend money on exploration for the sake of exploring, secure in the knowledge that it’s the path to the future. We already know what’s behind us. We’ll never know what’s ahead if we don’t explore. Maybe that’s why I consider the label “progressive” to be a compliment. I’m all for progress.
Yes, we have lots of problems to solve here at home. Yes, we need to spend money wisely.
That said, I believe – and the people at NASA celebrating Opportunity’s 10th birthday are living proof of this – that there are lots of smart people on the planet capable of doing anything, including solving the biggest problems imaginable, if only they are properly funded.
Beyond NASA; Beyond Austerity
With all due respect to those good and fine and smart people, this post is about more than NASA.
It’s very reasonable to ask the question, “Where are we going to get the funding for <fill-in-the-blank>?”
What is unreasonable is to always condition this question with a demand for more and more and more austerity.
We don’t have a money problem in America. What we have are moral and ethical problems created by the selfishness and greed of the rich and powerful in this country, including the people in elected offices who represent them and not us in our government.
Money to spend solving our big problems is readily available. In my opinion, it comes from 3 places:
1. Raising taxes on the wealthy.
They are the only ones left with any money. Frankly, if they don’t like it I invite them to live out their Randian fantasy of being some modern-day John Galt and just leave. The big problems in our society are because of them, not because of the poor and the middle class. I’ll even help them to pack if their patriotism is limited to the size of their personal bank accounts – be they onshore or off.
2. Reforming the tax code to plug tax loopholes that benefit only the wealthy and profitable corporations.
Once again, let me speak plainly to the rich and powerful. You’re not trickling anything down to us anyway, so you might as well stop suckling my tax dollars from the teat of the federal government and take your accumulated wealth to another country. We aren’t going to miss what you hoard and already don’t contribute back to society anyway.
3. Reallocating tax subsidies that go to profitable corporations, starting with the fossil fuel industries.
This one alone was worth about $70 billion – that’s a 7 followed by 10 zeros – between 2002 and 2008. (Source: Environmental Law Institute; Energy Subsidies Black, Not Green)
NASA has never been more than 4.4% of the federal budget, and that was during the race to the Moon in the Cold War days of the LBJ administration. It was never more than 0.72% (yes, that’s zero-point-seven-two percent) in that 2002 to 2008 period, and it averaged just 0.63% during that time.
Want to talk austerity? Going from 4.4% to 0.63% is an 86% budget cut.
The point is this: We can’t live in a civil and advancing society without pooling our funds (taxes) and demanding good governance in how they are spent, right?
So, isn’t it obvious by now that trickle-down economics is a lie? And while absolutely appropriate for bloated budgets like the DoD’s and for unwarranted expenditures like subsidies to wealthy and profitable corporations, isn’t it clear to everyone that austerity is *not* an appropriate strategy for everything?
I’m not referring only to NASA now.
I’m much more concerned at this moment in time with the GOP and the conservative movement that demands more and more austerity in social safety net programs.
How much more are we going to punish the poor and the unemployed for conditions they did not create and for mistakes they did not make?
The rich and powerful – the people who make up the Big Money in this country – are the ones to blame for the economic collapse and the anemic recovery. There’s simply no other conclusion borne out by the facts.
So, shouldn’t the rest of us be working together to get the corrupting influence of Big and Dark Money out of our politics so that we can take back our government and actually have our elected leaders represent us?
I invite you to learn more about what we can do together and where our priorities ought to be by visiting these web sites:
For those of you who were – and who still are – cheering the ideas of government shutdowns and defaults, perhaps it would be useful to bring the discussion down to a more local and personal level. Perhaps you should consider this reality: Even the staffers who were furloughed by Mr. Toomey are people.
They are people just like you, and your vote for people like Toomey and the 144 House Republicans is, for all practical purposes, a vote to put more Americans out of work. Americans who have chosen to work FOR YOU as civil servants.
Yes, there’s waste, fraud, and abuse in government just as there is in every large organization. Attacking the problem with broad cleaves like sequestration and the abject lunacy of shutdowns and defaults is not how to address those challenges. That’s simplistic and, frankly, juvenile thinking.
My plea to ordinary Republicans is this. Is there any hope that you will rise up and take your party back from the extremists in the tea party who claim to be patriots but who really are corporatists?
Is there any hope that ordinary Republicans will finally wake up to the fact that a vote for people like Toomey, Tom Corbett, Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, and any so-called tea party Republican is actually a vote to DESTROY OUR DEMOCRACY and to PUT MORE OF OUR FAMILY, FRIENDS, NEIGHBORS, and FELLOW AMERICANS OUT OF WORK?
…Republicans were licking their wounds around this time last year after being blindsided by a presidential election whose outcome they should have seen coming a mile away. But ignorance was bliss as conservative politicians and talkers pushed bogus polls and political fairy tales to angry voters who were once again on the losing side of history. Media outlets that released polls showing President Obama winning were attacked as biased and conservatives who warned of Romney’s weaknesses were rhetorically burned at the stake as heretics.
So, to ordinary Republicans – my fellow Americans – I ask these questions:
Are you going to allow your fellow Republicans to continue to go unchallenged in their insistence that reality is something different for Republicans?
Are you going to keep believing and perpetuating the false and failed ideology (it doesn’t deserve the moniker of ‘policy’) of trickle down economics?
Are you going to stop watching, listening, and repeating the lies from fraudulent news sources that operate based on agendas that work against you and America?
Are you going to accept the truth that the Tea Party is a corporatist movement, NOT a grass roots movements?
This is on you, Republicans. Independents and Democrats can’t change your party. Only you can do that.
When you ordinary Republicans stay home during primaries, when you stay all too silent at times like this while people like Cruz try to turn our system of governance into a sham, and when you allow your Grand Old Party to be usurped by big money masquerading as a grass roots movement, well, this is on you.
I hope that you ordinary Republicans will work to end the support – yours and your fellow Republicans’ – for the dangerous ideology of Tea Party corporatists. They are the real Tea Party; groups like The Heritage Foundation, the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Club For Growth, and their ilk. They don’t care about you or ordinary Americans. Their only mission is to lie to enough Americans to get them to vote for people who, once in elected office, will pass legislation to further corporatize America.
I believe that the Republican Party is populated by a majority of intelligent, well-meaning people. I hope that this majority will seize this opportunity to start pushing back against the extremists in their party now, in a big way, and in big numbers.
I’d like to offer a few nonpartisan ways you can do precisely that right now.
I truly hope that you will, and that you will spread the word to your fellow Republicans.
Coffee Party USA A grass roots, nonpartisan group that encourages inclusive, civil, fact-based, solution-oriented dialogue, online and in public places.
Coffee Party USA no longer has my support or endorsement. Click here if you’re curious as to why that is, and please drop me a Comment if you see any links to them on this site I may have missed.