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Regress of Grievances

By       Message Richard Girard       (Page 1 of 4 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   4 comments

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Why is it that every solution from the reactionary right for our current spate of economic problems has, as its underlying principle, "The poor, working, and middle classes need to give up every right and entitlement that they have gained and enjoyed since FDR's New Deal, in order to jump start the American economy?"

For those of us who are at least somewhat politically and economically literate, this question of course is purely rhetorical. Unfortunately, too many of our fellow Americans honestly do not feel they have the time or the resources to keep up with our rapidly changing national landscape. For these Americans, this question seems to have some honest intent in its asking, because most of these Americans believe that the reactionary right is interested in some form of honest discourse, hoping that a solution might be found that the majority of Americans might agree to.

Unfortunately, my experience is that the reactionary right is not interested in any form of honest discourse, but solely in forcing us to accept their proposals, whether right of wrong, as the only solution that can be adopted for the problem.

Most recently, their solution has taken the form of the American worker accepting ever greater reductions in their wages and benefits, so that we might compete with the slave labor and near slave labor of China, Vietnam, India, and other less developed nations. This is often referred to as "the race to the bottom."

Cutting wages has always been one of the first recourses suggested by ownership/management to keep a business more competitive. Of course, the wages cut are always those of the worker who produces the product, and never those of ownership, and rarely of management, especially at the upper levels.

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In fact, ownership and their representatives in the laissez faire capitalist system--if you can ever get them to answer honestly--almost invariably want to pay their workers no more than a subsistence wage, enough to keep them coming back to work every day, but never enough to get ahead. They also prefer a relatively high unemployment rate, so workers are not out trying to find better jobs, because they do not exist.

We have seen this heinous system in operation before in the United States. In the period between the Civil War and the Great Depression, this system of subsistence wages for workers was the rule, not the exception. It should also be noted that during this same time period, poverty in America hovered somewhere around fifty percent (Stanley Lebergott , The American Economy: Income, Wealth and Want, 1976; p. 508; Steve Kangas ' web site Liberalism Resurgent: Myths About Welfare; Welfare increases poverty; d erived from Internal Revenue Service data cited in Donald Barlett and James Steele, America: Who Really Pays the Taxes; Simon & Schuster, 1994; pp. 66-7; see my OpEdNews article "The Forty Percent Solution;" for more on this phenomenon). Cyril Connolly was right when he stated, "The past is the only dead thing that smells sweet."

Here in America, we have forgotten both our radical and our revolutionary roots. In Europe, they're marching in the streets protesting the austerity budgets that are being proposed by conservatives as the only way out of the current recession. The governments of the European nations are trying to sell the idea to their people that the only way out of their difficulties is by cutting government programs.

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(See, as well as, and this one calling for Sarkozy's resignation

The people of Europe's working classes know better. All they have to do is look at the mess the United States of America is in.

Unfortunately, the Europeans, like their American cousins, did not make the connection a few years ago, when programs were pushed through to lower taxes, especially for corporations and the rich. American or European, we hear "Lower taxes," and like Pavlov's dog, respond yes without thinking.

The conservative parties in the four largest Western European nations (Italy, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom) have seen the implementation of tax cuts in their nations (the UK starting in the 1980's, the others in the 2000's) for corporations and the rich. These cuts were intended to "revive" their flagging economies. Few of us understand that tax cuts per se are ineffectual unless the money generated is used to move the nation's domestic economy forward, especially with regard to full employment. Overseas investment, or investing the money in some area that does not generate domestic jobs (gold, stock sales outside of IPO's , etc.), does next to nothing for a nation's economy.

Dan Benbow's article from Kotori magazine, "How Right-Wing Anti-Tax Crusaders Ruined California," reprinted October 26, 2010 at,, points out how California's Proposition 13--an overreaction to needed property tax reform--ensured that it was new home buyers who subsidized public services for corporations, slum lords, and the landed gentry. Billionaire Warren Buffet outlined the facts of this Robin Hood in reverse, in a letter to the Wall Street Journal in 2004. Proposition 13 reduced California's public schools from being some of the best in the country, to some of the worst, with budget cuts forcing the layoffs of 26,000 teachers last year, which will cause even more overcrowding in already packed classrooms.

The TABOR Amendment here in Colorado has accomplished the same result, except we were never as highly regarded on a stateside basis (although several of our school districts--Jefferson County, Boulder Valley, Cherry Creek, Cheyenne Mountain--were consistently in the top 100 districts nationwide in the 1960's and 1970's). Colorado has now dropped to number 49 in per capita student spending for K-12, and our state's schools are suffering because of it.

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Both Proposition 13 and the TABOR Amendment were in reality designed to take the tax burden off of commercial interests and properties, together with the richest five percent of the population, and place it directly on the shoulders of their State's middle class. I tried to explain this to a number of people about the TABOR Amendment here in Colorado in 1992, but no one was listening, all they heard was a nebulous promise of lower taxes, and public control over raising taxes, without considering the consequences, including the fact that statewide taxes can only be raised every two years, during a general election, and TABOR does not take into consideration the loss of state revenues due to a recession.

Both the rich and our corporations need to pay their fair share of our nation's tax burden. Pure tax cuts should always be limited to somewhere below the bottom 90% of the American people's income, where a reduction of even five percent will be most readily felt and appreciated.

For those Americans who have the benefit of sharing in the top ten percent of our nation's wages and salaries and other income, any tax cuts should always take the form of incentives, where the individual's or corporation's taxes are reduced dependent upon what he has done to help the nation's economy: whether it is remunerative employment for their fellow Americans, eliminating the need for foreign suppliers for materials, or simply improving our nation's balance of payments with the rest of the world: those whose investment of wealth also helps their country and their countrymen should be rewarded.

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Richard Girard is an increasingly radical representative of the disabled and disenfranchised members of America's downtrodden, who suffers from bipolar disorder (type II or type III, the professionals do not agree). He has put together a team to (more...)

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