OpEdNews Op Eds

The US Government Has Lost Its Reason for Being

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 1   Well Said 1   Valuable 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H1 2/5/10

Become a Fan
  (61 fans)


(source)

By Dave Lindorff

There were two points in President Obama's State of the Union address that provoked resounding and universal applause in the chamber from the assembled senators and representatives of both parties. One point was when the president said he wanted to start his job-creation program "in small businesses, companies that begin when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, or a worker decides its time she became her own boss." The other point was when he said, "While we're at it, let's also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment; and provide a tax incentive for all businesses, large and small, to invest in new plants and equipment."

The lusty cheering and applause were not based upon some belief on the part of the assembled legislators that this was about alleviating the pain and suffering of the one-in-five Americans who is out of work, or who is struggling to support a family on the income from some pathetic part-time job paying minimum wage. It was apparent that this was a cheer for the idea of giving more money to the capitalist class. Period.

In today's America, those in power have completely disavowed one of the key goals--if not the key goal--of democratic government, which is, as the Constitution put it so admirably in its opening sentence, to "promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty."

There is nothing in that Preamble about promoting the welfare of the business classes. The only justifiable reason for doing so then would have to be in order to promote the general welfare. And yet decades of policies aimed at promoting the welfare of the corporate elite and to a lesser extent promoting the welfare of the business classes in general (what used to be called the "trickle-down theory"), have demonstrably not only not promoted the general welfare; they have worsened the general welfare.

By every measure, the tax policies, welfare policies, trade policies, labor law policies, and Wall Street deregulation policies of the government, whether in Democratic or Republican hands, have led to a declining standard of living, a transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich, and a gradual increase in the underlying level of unemployment (the "acceptable" base level of unemployment which establishment economists consider to be "full" employment), not to mention to the extraordinary current level of unemployment.

"Trickle-down," it turns out, really means "piss on."

President Obama's talk about jobs is bogus. Jobs are leaching away from the US at a prodigious rate, like water pouring through the holes of a sieve, thanks to trade policies that encourage companies to shut down US operations, move production abroad, and then sell the once locally-made goods back to increasingly impoverished Americans. Any new jobs created are lower wage, and prone to interruption, given that they are in services, and aren't linked to any major capital investment.

Proposed programs like a $5000 tax credit for hiring a worker or revoking tax breaks for companies that shift production overseas are a joke, simply a rhetorical sop to the listening audience not meant to be taken seriously. (No employer will make a new hire just to snag a $5000 cut in taxes, and in any event, a credit is only useful to a company that is making profits and paying taxes, and such firms have no need of assistance to get them hiring. It's the companies that are in trouble that would need encouragement to hire, and they aren't paying any taxes.)

What is clear from the wild applause to these two lines in the State of the Union address is that government at this point is not about improving the general welfare at all (if it ever was). It is self-evidently about enriching the rich.

And at that point such a government has lost its reason for being.

This explains why the health "reform" bill has been such a farce. It was never about improving the health care of average Americans (something that could have been easily, quickly and efficiently accomplished by simply expanding Medicare to cover everyone). It was always about ensuring the enrichment of the various players in the health care industry, who already own '17.5 percent of the entire US economy.

It explains why we aren't getting any kind of re-regulation of the predatory financial industry. The goal of de-regulation was never to make life better for average Americans. It was to enrich the financiers, and it did that very well. And no de-regulation is going to happen, because the goal of Washington politicians is to continue to enrich those financiers.

It explains why we're at war in Afghanistan. There is no conceivable threat posed by this poorest of nations located, landlocked, in a part of the globe that is maximally remote from the US. Yet we are being committed to an endless war there, costing a nominal $100 billion a year (times two or three when you add in the financing of the debt, and the costs of care for the injured troops over their lifetimes), because that war enriches the munitions industry, and also provides justification for an annual $800 billion military budget--a staggering sum that sucks the very life out of any program aimed at "improving the general welfare."

Next Page  1  |  2

 

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper www.thiscantbehappening.net. He is a columnist for Counterpunch, is author of several recent books ("This Can't Be Happening! Resisting the (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Israel's Gaza Atrocities Recall America's Atrocities in Vietnam

The Case for Impeachment of President Barack Obama

Barack Obama: Manchurian Candidate Version 2.0

Free John Walker Lindh, Bush's and Cheney's First Torture Victim!

What Nobody's Saying: The Bailout Will Kill the Dollar

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
10 people are discussing this page, with 11 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

Well Dave, now that you've talked the talk, let's ... by Jason Racette on Friday, Feb 5, 2010 at 8:19:34 PM
It's apparent that the government has become so di... by Peter Duveen on Friday, Feb 5, 2010 at 8:40:24 PM
Are you not a bit late in recognizing the 'common ... by TomK on Friday, Feb 5, 2010 at 10:54:16 PM
Tom, you are absolutely right --- and so was Gore ... by Alan MacDonald on Sunday, Feb 7, 2010 at 11:38:42 AM
Judges are the biggest problem in the US. Judges i... by Steven G. Erickson on Saturday, Feb 6, 2010 at 8:46:12 AM
A wise and frugal government, which shall leave me... by Michael Morris on Saturday, Feb 6, 2010 at 9:20:27 AM
In today's political climate all that would do is ... by Darren Wolfe on Saturday, Feb 6, 2010 at 10:00:53 AM
click hereAre you ready for your state to hold a c... by Kevin Anthony Stoda on Saturday, Feb 6, 2010 at 1:21:18 PM
click hereI think jobs for media, sleuths and inde... by Kevin Anthony Stoda on Saturday, Feb 6, 2010 at 1:27:22 PM
Historically, there is good reason why a constitut... by Arthur M. Howard-(Scotoni) on Saturday, Feb 6, 2010 at 8:58:09 PM
Re-write the rules. That's what is needed. We don'... by Steve Moyer on Saturday, Feb 6, 2010 at 9:15:45 PM