Breton was wrong. Accumulation of massive debt is the number one priority of the Bush Administration - a deliberate, managed move toward its goal of an ownership society in which all aspects are privatized.
Since the introduction of the massive Republican tax cuts, many observers understood immediately that they were to plunge government into debt, thereby undercutting its ability to fund social programs such as Medicare and Social Security, and to administer public domain that has long belonged to all citizens in common.
In May of 2003, Princeton economist Paul Krugman wrote that "gimmicks used to make an $800-billion-plus tax cut carry a price tag of only $320 billion are a joke ... The people now running America aren't conservatives: they're radicals who want to do away with the social and economic system we have, and the fiscal crisis they are concocting may give them the excuse they need."
The corporate sphere has spent countless millions lobbying for deregulation of its activities, for maintaining specific legislators in office, and for the privatization of everything from health care to education to Social Security to federal lands, including national parks. The goal is ownership and control of every corner of society by a "private sector" primarily in the form of corporations. Over more than a century of legal maneuvering, corporations have been able to create for themselves the status of persons in US law, so that the fortunes they lavish have, absurdly, become free speech. They have also acquired ownership of mainstream media and so have been able to obscure the significance and gravity of the situation while simultaneously perpetuating another widely believed absurdity, that of the liberal media.
A key mechanism for privatization is "outsourcing" to the private sector jobs that have historically been governmental. National parks, it seems, have been a trial area for this. Plans for the privatization of parks have lain obscurely on the rightwing to-do list for more than 20 years, and now the Bush Administration is allowing them to move ahead quickly. Terry Anderson, lead architect of a strategy to transfer Americas public lands into private ownership over a forty-year span, advises President Bush on public lands matters.
The Bush Administration's assault on government, under the banner of "cutting federal spending", is the cause of a FEMA underfunded into relative impotence and for inadequate levees in New Orleans. But even as we are learning that the cost of reconstructing the Gulf Coast will be (yet another) $200 billion, and that no-bid contracts (yet again) are being handed to Halliburton, news comes that to pay for it all will require "further cuts in federal spending". And things just don't add up.
Well, perhaps they do. Maybe they make even more obvious the Republican game plan to plunge government so deeply into debt that it can no longer offer support to the larger citizenry, and that this can only result in the corporate sector winning by default and becoming, in principle, like so many mediaeval landowners. Looking ahead, one sees the main controlling element of society not a government of, by and for the people but a corporate sector that controls lifes essentials and charges as much as the market will bear. Nothing personal; just business.
Rightwing strategist Grover Norquist's stated goal of shrinking government so that it can be, as he put it, "drowned in a bathtub", is now being fast-tracking at a rate that must surprise even him.
Bill Willers firstname.lastname@example.org is an Emeritus Professor of Biology, University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh