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America Needs A N.A.P.

Message Curt Day
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In fact, America needs more than 1 N.A.P. But will we take it?

What kind of N.A.P. are we talking about? We are talking about National Austerity Protests. The Wisconsin protests, as valid and inspiring as they are, are shortsighted and do not address the causes of the state's deficit problems. By not addressing the main causes, winning to maintain collective bargaining rights alone shallow. That is not because collective bargaining rights are trivial, it is because the right to such bargaining becomes moot when future state shortfalls demand that the workers take further cuts in order to remain "fiscally responsible." 

To understand the conflict that is currently happening in Wisconsin, we need Peabody's and Sherman's Wayback machine. Not so way back in 2005, Noam Chomsky identified one of the main causes of today's state deficits as is occurring in Wisconsin. The deficits are a partially a result of Bush's policies that focused on handing over more and more money to his rich friends regardless of the long range costs. Chomsky mentioned some of the ways by which this was done including refusing to sign and follow the Kyoto Protocol, pushing for drilling in the Arctic reserve, using the IMF to rescue risky foreign loans made to banks, and globalization. [1] The last in this list is misnamed because it only applied to the rich. 

The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan contributed funds to the coffers of rich friends at public expense also by increasing the procurement of goods and services of those who could cater to violence while neglecting those in need. A significant amount of the money that has gone into these ventures is unaccounted for. One only needs to remember the billions of federal dollars that was mysteriously spent on corporations and/or lost during Paul Bremer's CPA tenure.  Has much changed since then?

Along with expenditures that benefited the rich came the Bush tax cuts that did the same. The effects on the economy these tax cuts brought continued as the Republicans "forced" Obama to maintain the status quo. The defense for maintaining these cuts were obviously trivial but revered. The Republicans claimed that such cuts enabled the haves to employ more people. Enough said. 

In the meantime, cuts in federal aid to a variety of programs shifted more financial responsibility onto the states and local governments. The levee failure in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina was possibly contributed to by previous cuts in funding due to the Iraq war. We should only note that though Katrina was a category 4 storm, the strength of the part of the storm that hit New Orleans was a category 2 storm. We should also note the number of poor residents who were not able to return to the city. 

Now of course the practices and conditions that have led to our current financial situation did not just start with Bush. Under Eisenhower, the military-industrial complex became both a major player and a threat to our democracy. Under Johnson, the escalation of the Vietnam War killed spending on important social programs. Under Nixon, the Bretton-Woods system was dismantled and replaced by the beginning of neoliberalism.  Deregulation reemerged and the dismantling of unions started under Reagan along with a spike in the federal deficit partly due to a sharp increase in military spending.  Not to be outdone, Clinton brought us NAFTA which ushered in an exodus of many manufacturing jobs.

What all of these events have in common is that they enriched those wealthy enough to buy influence from our government officials. So before we return to the present, we need to take a brief stop at the summer of 2010 during the French protests. Economist Richard Wolff observed the following: the French had or were already paying for the recent economic collapse, the lowering in the standard of living, and the loss of jobs. They were refusing, however, to continue to shell out to end the crisis. Instead, he saw the French demanding that those with both the greatest ability help and responsibility for the crisis, who benefited the most from the economic instability that has continued for the past 2 decades, and who has already received the most help from the government step up to the plate and pitch in. [2]

To make the assertion that the rich are benefiting from current government policies a little more concrete for the state of Wisconsin, one only needs to read Wisconsin's Revenue Gap: An analysis of corporate tax avoidance to learn that two thirds of all the corporations doing business in Wisconsin paid no state taxes in 2005. The loss of revenue was in the hundreds of millions of dollars. [3] And some of these corporations are corporations that vie our personal business with slick merchandising and commercials. 

Those who stand with Governor Walker insist on giving the rest of us mixed messages. These messages include priding themselves on being fiscally responsible while not only allowing some of the wealthiest to excuse themselves from contributing to the financial well-being of the state, they insist on policies, such as Walker's plan to terminate collective bargaining, that cutoff sources of funding. Wisconsin stands to lose $45 million in federal funding if Walker succeeds here. [4]  We should add to this that many of the people whose bargaining rights are being threatened have offered to take pay cuts or contribute more to their own benefits. While priding themselves on their work ethic and competitive spirit, many of these same people plan to cut funding for education which makes higher the hurdles that the young and those seeking to be retrained must clear to enter the job market. 

These mixed messages indicate that the real goals of many of those who are currently seeking austerity cuts, not just in Wisconsin but around the country, are not the same as their stated goals. And when one looks at who is to benefit the most from the austerity cuts, it is clear that it is those who already have the most. That many of our governments, local, state, and federal, have been bought. And that our many of our corporations and government officials have washed each others hands of all social responsibility--we should remember that Pontius Pilate had to wash his own hands. They, paid government officials and many corporations, seek a parasitic, rather than a symbiotic, relationship with society and its people. It is becoming more and more difficult to determine whether the aliens from the movie Independence Day are a metaphor for many of our corporations and our government or whether the same corporations and government are seeking to provide examples of life imitating the art.

In the light of our current situation, I am proposing that we protest not just the attack on the right to collective bargaining, but the austerity cuts and the relationships that make such cuts seem to be the only responsible course of action. We need to protest all austerity cuts as a preemptive strike against the further impoverishment of America. Why must we wait for the conditions that led the Tunisians, Egyptians and Libyans to rebel? Why not protest what is happening now so that 10 years from now we can continue to grow rather than start from scratch.

How can we protest these austerity cuts? There are at least 3 ways. First, we can target our government officials with peaceful and just protests. These protests must be constant and persistent. The protesters must be well-informed. And the protests must eventually reach a significant number of participants to become effective. Second, we can target our government officials by voting for third party candidates. Our current duopoly only ensures the job security of both major political parties, neither of which have the backbone to stand up to wealth for the sake of the middle and lower economic classes. Finally, we can target the businesses that have been the johns to our whorish government. We can target them by boycotting their products. We must boycott them, regardless of the personal sacrifice, because they are not answerable to any democratic process and because our government officials insist on pampering rather than holding them accountable. So those in Wisconsin should boycott all businesses that have not paid state income taxes. We can also boycott the businesses that encourage the shipping of jobs overseas as well as those that abuse their laborers.

It is ironic that the business-government relationships that caused America's need to take a N.A.P. occurred while we were sleeping. We were lulled to sleep by the amenities of our prosperity. We need to awaken to take a N.A.P. We have to change in order to affect change. We must face the fact the unemployment and poverty bells will eventually toll for us too. Thus, we have much more to lose by not taking action today.  But it is not just ourselves for whom we should protest, it is for all who are being neglected, abused, or threatened. If we wait until only our group is being threatened, we will never have the numbers on our side.

It is N.A.P. time for America. It is time for constant, persistent, and massive National Austerity Protests. We need to take a N.A.P. in our communities, our cities, our states, and our country.

[2]    click here
[3]    click here

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Curt Day is a religious flaming fundamentalist and a political extreme moderate. Curt's blogs are at and
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