Tag Archives: austerity

Better off?


The question is not “Am I better off today than 4 years ago?”, the questions we should be asking is   “Is the Country better off, and Is my State better off, and Is my City better off?”  In other words, it’s “Are we…?”, not “Am I…?”

Ok, I admit I dig JFK’s ‘Ask not…’ speech, the one that says we all have a duty to help make the USA a better place. It says that when we contribute to making the Country better, whether in our own, small way, or by placing the needs of the Country above our personal, selfish one’s, our actions make the place better for all of us.

We, not I.

We elect Presidents and Senators and Representatives to go to Washington to run the country, Governors, State Senators and Representatives to run our States, Mayors and Councilmen and women to run our cities. We expect them to work together to get the job done. It’s the way we’ve done it for over 200 years.

If that job isn’t getting done, if things aren’t as they should be, then we deserve to ask why not?

In the case of the Country, there is little doubt that improvement has been made over 4 years ago, despite the obstructionist Congress we’ve had.

Harry Truman said that his Congress in ’47 did so little that he called them the ‘do-nothing Congress” for only passing 900 or so pieces of legislation (most were pro-business).  The Congress of 2012 has passed only a fraction (close to 16%, or one sixth) of that. In Founding Father terms, that makes this year’s Congress 1/6th of a Do-Nothing in terms of representation.  Ayn Rand would sneer at their ‘productivity’.

Four years ago, as a result of self-inflicted finance and housing sector chicanery, we were losing 750,000 jobs a month, every month. Millions had already lost their jobs when the Obama administration took office. Today, instead of losing almost a million jobs a month, as we had under the Bush administration, we gain 100,000 or more jobs every month. That’s simple math, folks.

Four years ago we had our sons and daughters and mothers and fathers fighting and dying in the sand, in two wars that we started in two different countries, neither of which can be easily justified. Today, we’re down to just one, and it is winding down. That’s a better than 50% improvement, or twice as good.  Again, that’s simple math.

Four years ago the finance sector and Wall Street were able to run roughshod over our mortgages and pensions, thanks to a GOP deregulation mania that removed protections put into place as a result of the Great Depression, and a concerted lack of funding to enforce the regulations that existed. We have survived (maybe) the Great Recession that resulted, and today, against all odds, we have the Consumer Protection Finance Bureau, which is already successfully cracking down on such practices and punishing those who steal from working Americans. All despite incredible opposition from Wall St. and the GOP, who have vowed to dismantle it as soon as they are done with the EPA and FDA and Federal Reserve.

Four years ago the auto industry, and all of the suppliers (think glass, steel, plastic, nuts and bolts, wires, tires, stereos, electronics, upholstery) who depend on the auto industry, were on death’s door, and Osama Bin Laden was laughing at America while training and sending others to kill more of us.

Today, the auto industry is well on the road to recovery, the suppliers are still in business, and Bin Laden sleeps with the fishes. I’ll take that one any day.

Compared to 4 years ago, only the factually challenged can deny that we’re not better off today as a Country. Despite the challenges of what he inherited from his predecessor, and a Congress who said little but “NO”,  the President has made remarkable progress.

In the States, however, there is little doubt that most are NOT better off than 4 years ago. Overwhelmingly, the self-imposed austerity measures from both Congress and the GOP Governors have resulted in lay-offs at the county and municipal levels, primarily in public schools where bus routes have been shut down, sports teams dismantled, and students go without books for lack of enough to go around. Teachers, police and fire services have all taken personnel cuts.

The Recovery Act was meant to spur the economy,  in large part by helping the States meet their obligations to us peeps and our families. The GOP Congress made sure there wasn’t enough money to do the job.

Then the GOP Governors refused to take what money was offered, choosing instead to blame Unions and the poor for budget shortfalls, and firing teachers and cops to make their point.

Then they declared the President and the Recovery Act a failure for not helping the economy.

Why would they do that? Their  #1 stated goal of making the current President a one-term guy.  We thought their #1 goal was to run the Country, and not off the cliff, thank-you very much!

But wait a minute… we elect these people to run the Country, not to do the work of their Party, not to make sure that the President, (this President in particular), gets no credit for helping America. But not helping an America in crisis, for any reason, is by definition, not running the Country.

Nor is ignoring an America in crisis patriotic, as some would have us believe. Rather, I submit that it’s treason against their oath to the Constitution, as is holding their oath to the non-elected Grover Norquist and his teenage wet dream above their duty to America.

How many of us working people without car elevators would last on a job with that kind of performance, that level of dereliction of duty?  The answer is obvious… we lose our jobs for much less.

So should they.

We the People hold the key, and it’s in the voting booth. The president has been saying “Here’s how we can make things better for everybody”, and the GOP responds with “NO, Nobody gets help but the rich and the Corporate, and NOT from you”. Behind closed doors their candidate says nobody deserves help but the rich and corporate. Now think about that for second…

It’s no surprise then that the GOP is into voter suppression the way football fans are into workplace pools and tailgating. Not enough Americans benefit from GOP policies for them to win anything fairly.  Most Americans suffer from their policies, so will not vote for them. The only way for them to win is to go back to Jim Crow laws to suppress those people, the non-rich and non-corporate of color, from voting…

… and to scare the rest of us with lies.

How un-American is that?