BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE
It's Time for America to Step Up to the Plate
So here they come--all the corporate fascists, hat-in-hand, wanting the American taxpayer to bail them out. These, the very same arrogant, and compassionless social terrorists who demonized as "socialist" anyone who even implied that maybe a crumb should be set aside for the poor or middle class. "Deregulate. Let the market work. Free us from the nuisance of social protectionism, and we'll make America great." But now that their greedy excesses have worked against them, all of a sudden socialism doesn't look all that bad. In fact, it looks better with every day that passes--as long as we remember to privatize the profit, and only socialize loss.
Yes--here they come en mass before the great unwashed, the American taxpayer, and without a bit of shame, asking for 700 billion dollars as casually as a kid asking for a candy bar. And beyond that, they say that it is a must that we accommodate them--and immediately!--if we hope to save ourselves. They say that we can't even afford the luxury of thinking about it, because time is of the essence. But while they insists that there's no time to waste, maybe this financial crisis is a blessing in disguise, because it gives the American taxpayer a rare opportunity to leverage his economic clout.
The business community has preached ad nauseam the evils of helping the poor and suffering. They said it was a socialist concept, and un-American! But if it's bad for us, it's certainly just as bad for them. So, maybe the American people should take their advice and handle this matter as capitalists--social capitalist. After all, money is a commodity, so why should the American taxpayer simply hand over 700 billion dollars for free–the banking community certainly doesn't. When the average American is in a financial pinch, the banks don't just give us money, they make us pay for it–dearly. So why shouldn't we?
Maybe we should give them an open-ended loan at the prevailing rate. Then allow them to pay off the loan by setting up a trust fund in which the banking community must contribute a percentage (to be determined) of their annual gross profits (That's right, gross profits–we want ours off the top). We could then use that money to help subsidize social security, universal healthcare, and other programs that benefit the American people. And the beauty of it is, since it's a business transaction, we can both benefit the people, while at the same time, avoid the "evils" socialism. After all, we'll be taking their money in the very best capitalist tradition.
And we must be sure to use our leveraged position to its full advantage. Therefore, as part of the formula that determines how much of their profits must go into this trust fund, we should take into account the minimum wage, the cost of living, and the level of disparity between the average worker and the compensation of top tier corporate executives (after all, if corporations can afford to pay their CEOs exorbitant salaries and benefits, certainly they should be able to contribute more towards their public debt).
And speaking of demagogues, while we're at it, we need to also take another look at the way we compensate our politicians and government officials. One of the primary problems that we have in this nation is that we've allowed politicians to boost their salary and benefits so high that they can no longer identify with the people they represent. So, members of congress, government executives, and judges should be compensated at a rate that is commensurate with the median income of a middle class worker. By tying the compensation and benefits of politicians to middle class Americans, it will not only serve to keep them in touch with the realities of a middle class life, but also give them a vested interest in legislating with an eye towards what's in the best interest of the poor and middle class.
Combined with the above legislation, it will also be necessary to close the revolving door between government and big business. It should be made strictly illegal for any former politician to either be employed by, or gain benefit or assistance of any kind, from any person or corporation who has had business or any "intimate legislative contact" with that politician for a period of seven years.
Admittedly, in our current political environment it would be next to impossible to get legislators to legislate against themselves. But if we truly want change in Washington, we must also change, just to get their attention.
The primary obstacle to changing the political environment in this country is our misplaced loyalty to our own particular representatives. As a result, while most of us are less than happy with the job that congress is doing as a whole, most of us continue to support our own representatives. Therefore, we need to set an objective standard by which we can assess all politicians, including our own. One way of doing that is by pressing our particular party, and congress, to set clearly defined legislative agendas every year. Then we can begin to assess our representatives, strictly, based on how closely they adhere to that agenda.
But in order for that to work, we must use the Internet and aggressive grassroots organizing to educate the public on how important it is to bring this system under control. We've got to stop allowing ourselves to be manipulated, and start to take control of our lives, and the institutions that affect our lives. We've also got to let radio, television, the entertainment industry, and their sponsors know that they're going to have to become more responsive to our needs, rather than trying to feed us a false sense of security. And most importantly, we're going to have to let our politicians know that it's going to take more than a pretty smile and a snappy campaign ad to be elected, or re-elected to office.
Let us hope that this financial crisis serves as a wake-up call for America. After all, it is nothing less than, yet, another Katrina moment, but this time the winds are blowing down Wall Street. Yet again, Bush has been asleep at the switch–and let there be no doubt about it, the American people are in severe peril as a direct result.
Bush has allowed the United States to become weaker than we've ever been in our history. We're in heavy debt to China, and our military readiness has been all but destroyed due to our foolhardy excursion into Iraq. Ret. Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, Bush's top military commander in Iraq in 2003 said, "A critical, objective assessment of our nation's ability to execute our national security strategy must be conducted. If we are objective and honest, the results will be surprising to all Americans. There is unacceptable strategic risk."
So America's problems go much farther than just a financial crisis. Russian bombers have been spotted flying near the Alaskan border for the first time since the end of the Cold War (obviously Putin is not impressed by bull dogs, wearing lipstick or otherwise). It was has also been reported that Russia is developing a new nuclear missile system that can defeat the U. S. defense shield. Where are we going to get the money to counter that initiative? If the Russians are successful, we're completely vulnerable--our nuclear capability will have been neutralized, and our military won't have the capability to repel a conventional attack. According to General Sanchez, "America must understand that it will take the army at least a decade to fix the damage that has been done to its full spectrum readiness" in Iraq.
In addition, as we spend 10 billion dollars a month in Iraq, and now, hand over 700 billion dollars to corporate demagogues, The People's Republic of China is literally buying America. And as this nation was literally being bought out from under us, we also allowed ourselves to be blind-sided by Katrina, and now blind-sided by this financial crisis. Thus, it is clear that this nation has not had an adult at the wheel in close to eight years. So it's about time for somebody to accept responsibility, and according to this nation's founders, that somebody is you.
Eric L. Wattree
I take great pride in being the product of adversity, because having simply survived provides me with unassailable credentials.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Posted by Eric Wattree at 3:54 PM