Much of the country appears to be in a state of denial. It’s a sort of, “This can’t be happening to us, so let’s pretend it isn’t and eventually everything will be okay” mentality. But it isn’t okay. Far from it. This is not a dress rehearsal and better times may not be just around the corner.
It might take some time to get the Congress up off its collective duff and back in a position where it can actually do something other than refuse to move forward because it might make the other guys look good. Our elected representatives need to start putting the country ahead of party politics.
As Senator Bernie Sanders points out in his piece “The Senate’s Reconcilable Differences” currently featured in “Truthout.”
“Since December of 2007, more than 7 million Americans have lost their jobs; a staggering 17.3 percent of the American workforce is either unemployed or under-employed; and over 6 million Americans have been out of work for more than six months, the highest on record.
In America today we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income in the industrialized world. With the top 1 percent earning more income than the bottom 50 percent, we have the highest rate of childhood poverty among major countries. About a quarter of our children are dependent on food stamps. Today, as the middle class continues its decline, one in nine families can’t make the minimum payment on their credit cards, and 120,000 Americans are declaring bankruptcy every month.
Sadly, this economic pain didn’t begin when the financial sector nearly collapsed over a year ago. It has been going on for a decade. As the Washington Post reported in January, “The past decade was the worst for the U.S. economy in modern times … It was, according to a wide range of data, a lost decade for American workers … There has been zero net job creation since December 1999 … Middle-income households made less in 2008, when adjusted for inflation, than they did in 1999–and the number is sure to have declined further during a difficult 2009.” -Truthout
A past decade that has been “the worst for the U.S. economy in modern times…”
Let’s see, 8 of those years were dominated by chickenhawks in the White House and a Republican dominated Congress pushing for two wars and a laissez faire economy.
It’s really worked well, hasn’t it? And now when Mr. Obama proposes change with the prospect of improving things for the vast majority of Americans who are being squeezed until they bleed, he is confronted by the “party of no.” Beyond that, he is confronted by members of his own party who have grown politically fat by taking millions in bribe money from corporate interests.
But everything is going to be okay, right? It’s easy to stay in that “never, neverland” of denial, until you or someone you care about loses a job and is suddenly without a paycheck and health insurance. Until you or someone you care about is suddenly face to face with the prospect of depleting their retirement fund just to get by. Provided they even have a retirement fund. Do you think it’s possible for the millionaires in the Senate to begin to relate to the stone cold fear that grips the parents of a family of five who suddenly find themselves without the money to pay the rent and buy food for their kids?
The unemployment rate here in California, currently stands at 12%. That’s what Governor Schwarzenegger said yesterday during an appearance on “This Week” on ABC. He said a few other things too, things about Ike Eisenhower and ancient Egypt that made me take notice, because I had been thinking along exactly the same lines.
The idea of those who are remembered as the world’s great leaders being linked to public building projects popped into my head while watching a documentary on Ramses II. Old Ramses, the archeologists say, was among the great (he may have been the greatest) builders of Egypt. There was no unemployment, just lots of building going on the documentary reported, and what Ramses II accomplished was amazing. Fortunately, some of it is still out there more than three thousand years later. Temples, statuary, buildings representing the physical manifestation of an ancient culture’s spiritual essence. Fast forward to the 1950’s and Ike Eisenhower, the man who put the U.S. to work on what is now our interstate highway system, not to mention bumping up the infrastructure for a whole new country in the wake of World War II. There have been others of course, I simply found it interesting that Mr. Schwarzenegger and I were both thinking about the ancient Egyptians and the parallels between great builders, healthy national economies and being remembered by history.
It seems so simple.
History seems to teach us that putting people to work building the national infrastructure serves to support the economy. Doing nothing, on the other hand, leads to nowhere. An entire decade of going nowhere, with the rich getting richer while the middle class dies a slow death, has gotten us to where we are today.
Imagine if someone could wave a magic wand and actually regulate:
-The banking and finance industry
-Media in the public interest
Oh wait! The Congress has the power to do that, don’t they? And a system to do all that was in place prior to deregulation wasn’t it? And now, with the old regulations struck down, Congress seems to be doing next to nothing for the American people and everything it can for the banking industry and the military-industrial complex.
Speaking of which, Ike Eisenhower’s words continue to echo across the land. Or they should.
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” –Dwight D. Eisenhower 1961
Of course rebuilding our infrastructure, reforming government and establishing programs that will benefit the people of the United States will be expensive.
And who will pay for all of this, you ask? Who do you think is paying for two wars and our current military deployment in more than 150 countries around the world? We are, friends and neighbors. We are.
The money is there, it is simply a matter of who it is being given to.
Perhaps we would be better off continuing on our current path of massive handouts to banking interests that are “too big to fail” and the nearly unlimited financial support for the military-industrial complex. Perhaps it would be wiser to continue with the policies of the past decade, policies that gave us two wars, a military deployment in more than 150 countries and the worst economy since the Great Depression?
Or we can tell the people in Washington, that unless they go back to work for us, we will throw them all out on their self-serving asses regardless of party affiliation? That seems to be the only message they are going to understand.