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Jonathan Tasini

Jonathan Tasini

Posted: December 3, 2010 01:05 PM

What a waste of time. They can now drift into obscurity. But, after listening to the self-congratulations of many of the members of the Catfood Commission, all I can say is: we have a long task ahead to turn around the country to get back to reality.

Here was the opening nonsense that I would submit encompasses the foolishness of the whole exercise, delivered by co-chair Erskine Bowles (transcribed more or less verbatim). Saying that the the threat of these deficit is "real", he said: "The solutions will be painful, and there is not easy way out but at the end of this journey America will be a better place."

The bi-partisan insanity was represented by Senate Budget Chair Kent Conrad: "Other than the terrorist threat to America, this is the greatest threat to America."

And with all due respect, the sole union representative on the panel, Andy Stern, just regurgitated the nonsense: "Everyone in America will have to make hard choices."

You have got to be kidding?

Over the past few days, I've made the case -- as have many others in other forums -- that there is no debt or deficit crisis. First, there is no debt crisis in America. Second, there are just foolish statements being made about the debt-deficit "crisis".

Third, there are people who are whipping up the debt-deficit "crisis" who have a long history of being dead wrong about the economic challenges in America and whose ideology simply continues the bankrupt economic strategy of the "free market". And, finally, there are very clear ways we can bring in money to the country without getting swept up in the nonsense of the debt-deficit "crisis".

To Erskine Bowles, who believes that the pain in his plan is needed, and to Kent Conrad who believes that this is the greatest threat to the country aside from terrorism, I say this (from my book, It's Not Raining, We're Getting Peed On: The Scam of the Deficit Crisis):


• For thirty years, corporations have shipped jobs abroad, moving millions of good-paying jobs to places where human slavery cost pennies.

• For thirty years, Wall Street drained the foundation of the American Dream, figuring out ways to rip millions of good-paying jobs out of the soul of the country, using leveraged buy-outs to boost stock prices and enrich CEOs under the cover of the "free market" and "efficiency".

• For thirty years, both parties have slowly, but surely, picked apart a progressive taxation system, shifting the burden of providing for a decent society on to the backs of the poor.

As I wrote in 2009 in the opening sentences of The Audacity of Greed: The United States of America has just lived through the greatest looting of money in its history, a vast robbery that began in the late 1970s and has stretched to the present day. The perpetrators of this grand robbery didn't just steal a few possessions, or a bit of cash. Instead, they drained the economy of trillions of dollars, in the process skulking off with a vast fortune that defied imagination while leaving millions of people without jobs, in poverty or without their life savings.

• For thirty years, political leaders have sent our brave men and women into dumb and immoral foreign military catastrophes -- for the sake of oil and sometimes lesser reasons -- that have cost us trillions of dollars, not to mention hundreds of thousands of human lives and the shredding of the country's image around the world. Even in the absence of active military conflict by the country's troops, billions of dollars were, and are, poured into a wasteful, bloated military complex -- which often, then, forgets the veterans who carry the day-to-day burden in the field and, then, return home with shattered bodies and damaged minds.

Except for a small, greedy elite, most Americans have in fact been making hard choices each and every day for the past several decades. They have not been spending their cash like drunken sailors on luxury and pleasure while ignoring basic needs.

They've made choices about what bills to pay and what bills to put off because their paychecks were too small to make ends meet.

They've made choices about whether or not to take on another minimum wage part-time job so that they could put food on the table for their families -- even if taking that extra job meant fewer hours of sleep per night or less time spent with their children.

They've made choices about whether to raid their small nest eggs -- money carefully saved up over years -- to pay for surgery or a health care emergency, or to just make sure there was enough gas in the car so they could get to work.

The truth is that the overwhelming majority of people in cities and towns across the nation have acted quite responsibly given an economic system that has, for the past quarter century, increasingly denied them the fruits of their hard work while shoveling the vast wealth they have created into the hands of a self-selected few.

So, when we hear the calls begging the country to make "hard choices" and for people to "tighten their belts", we need to reply: it is time for those who engineered the crisis to pay the price.


A word about two great people. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (who should have been the next Senator from Illinois, if I had my choice) said that the real threat to the country is this: "The alarming redistribution of wealth that is shrinking the middle class."

Schakowsky eviscerated the entire framing of the idiotic commission -- that is, that we should cut everything that makes the country strong while the wealth of America shifts to the top one percent.

And thanks to Rep. Xavier Becerra who, with a bit more understatements, correctly pointed out that there are two principle reasons the deficit and debt has grown over the past decade -- not because it is a crisis but because we have wasted resources: the Bush tax cuts -- which our president now seems unwilling to hold the line about the extension to the richest one percent -- and the war in Iraq.

But, let's be clear -- we have a lot of work to do. The people who want to spread this phony debt-deficit "crisis" are on the march.

The Catfood Commission may be dead. But, trying to restore some sanity to America will be a long haul.

 

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