September 30, 2008
John Edwards used to campaign on the theme that there were two Americas. I used to say he was right but his political enemies too easily turned that into a negative sound bite; making it seem like Edwards was trying to divide the nation. The sad truth is that John Edwards doesn’t have to divide America, it already has been done. It has been done slowly and methodically over the past three decades. Since the advent of what George Bush Senior once called “Voodoo Economics”, we have seen this country be divided into two classes; the super-rich and the poor. The United States used to have a middle class, which was often the American dream we all grew up with. To be able to work a job that could pay the mortgage and raise the family. Provide food and clothes and a way to make your kid’s opportunities just a little better than what you had. That dream has been dead for several years now. It was pronounced dead on arrival when Reaganomics first became the way we did business back in the 1980s.
They called it “trickle-down economics”, which should have been an offensive enough term to seal its doom. The notion was that if you made rich people richer, that their activities in the world would naturally cause a trickle down effect, and that everyone would somehow benefit. This was nonsense of course because rich people are not rich because they like to give their money away. Maybe the scraps might fall but nothing substantial. They needed to sell this notion to the bulk of the American people though. How do you sell tax breaks where 95% of the money goes to the top 2% of the people? First, they began to scream “class warfare”, anytime someone objected and started the mantra of “the democrats want to raise your taxes” during any election. The truth has always been that the democrats only intend on balancing out fairness in the tax code, but as soon as they say they will raise taxes on the top 2%, the GOP pretends that they want to raise all of your taxes. Secondly, the GOP managed to enter into an unholy alliance with the Christian constituency in this country and suddenly taxes were partnered with morality. The powers that be did not care about Christ or the Christians, but they were certainly useful in continuing the voodoo economics and the looting of this nation.
Fast forward to the Bush Junior presidency and what you see is Reagan’s vision played out on a grander scale. Ridiculous tax breaks for the richest people for eight years now under the guise of “speeding up our economy” or “the best way to create jobs” has resulted in the worst recession since the Great Depression. Just like the trickle down economics of the 1980s resulted in the recession of the early 1990s, we now see the results again of what is a horribly failed economic strategy. Except, here is the concept we all need to embrace now. It is NOT a failed strategy. It is exactly what they wanted to do from the beginning. They knew full well that handing back billions to the top 2% while running unmanageable wars on two fronts would essentially ruin this nation economically. They knew it would continue to squeeze what is left of the middle class into the working poor and further cement the caste system they wanted all along; the super-rich oligarchy, and the poor-serf caste.
So John Edwards was close. It is not that we have two Americas; we have two economies. The first economy is for the first caste – the super-rich oligarchy. Their economy is based upon Wall Street. If Wall Street is up, they think and say that the economy is doing well. To them the fundamentals of the economy are strong if the market is doing well. The other economy is the one for the rest of us; for Mr. and Mrs. Main Street, USA. This economy is based upon things the super-rich do not have to worry about, such as the cost of things like gas, milk, and electricity. It is based upon things the oligarchy does not have to consider such as job creation and wage stagnation. It is based upon things like healthcare. For the 98% of us who live in this economy, we know full well that the fundamentals of the economy have not been strong since 2000. We know this because we feel it. Something as fundamental as healthcare is not understood by the oligarchy. To them the answer is we should all buy our own health insurance and why not? When you are super-rich, you can afford it. Maybe they will throw a tax incentive to the poor as a guise to making healthcare more affordable, as McCain has done. I mean $5,000 is a lot of money. What McCain and the oligarchy are not saying is that you cannot buy health insurance for $5,000. You will have to pay for the rest from your own pocket. Now when you are rich, this is not a big deal so you take the $5,000, thank you very much, and simply pay the rest. But when you are in that other economy, you know that you cannot afford to pay for the rest and that is the entire problem.
You can see these principles play out in relation to almost anything. Let’s take school vouchers. The truth is that the cost of the voucher never covers the cost of tuition. The remainder is paid for out of pocket, which is not a problem for the people in the first economy. But those of us who actually work for a living know that the money not covered by the voucher will be very difficult to come by. Meanwhile, the money to cover the first portion, the voucher itself, is taken from the money that had been allocated for public education; further weakening services to the lower caste. Essentially, the voucher system as well as the phony Health Savings Account scam described above; are nothing more than welfare for the rich. It is a way to add money to the rich caste, at the expense of the poor caste, while pretending to do the opposite.
And that my friends, is what is happening today with the 700 billion dollar bailout scheme. This is corporate welfare on a level that would even make ole Ronald Reagan blush. You see, back in 2001, Phil Gramm slipped in provisions into a bill that essentially deregulated the financial markets and housing markets. I mention Gramm by name, because he is John McCain’s top economic advisor and probably would be the next Treasury Secretary if McCain gets elected. Make no mistake about it, in this blameless society we sometimes live in there is still black and white. There is still right and wrong. Both economies are in this position because of people like John McCain, Phil Gramm, and George Bush. They have deregulated everything in this country so that the super greedy could continue to loot this nation.
Now, I do not pretend to be an expert, like some of these clowns I see on TV. I know I have never lost anyone any money, let alone their entire life’s savings. I do know this though. I know that they invented the 700 billion dollar number out of thin air. I know they have no way of justifying why they think they need that much, OR if in fact that number will actually be higher. I know that while they paid some lip service to golden parachutes, they have done nothing about outrageous CEO compensation. I know that they actually crafted this bailout plan months ago, before the crises, which means they knew it, planned it, and did nothing to stop it. I know a scam when I see one. I know when Bush has to come on national TV to beg us to support something; that it will probably end up like Iraq has, destroyed and looted. I know that when someone screws something up, like say Henry Paulson, then I do not usually trust that same person to fix it, like say Henry Paulson. The sad truth is this is simply an attempt to legally rob the poor caste to pay the rich. It is the government-sponsored anti-Robin Hood.
Now I know what you are thinking. All the “experts” and media have been clamoring for this bailout; heck even both candidates support it. You have to realize who owns the media. Corporate America wants this deal because it benefits corporate America. It benefits that first economy. The folks who are in that economy are a little scared. They are scared because they do not want to end up in our economy; where prices, and wages, and healthcare all have to matter again. So they send out everyone onto their corporate media outlets to explain why this bailout of economy number one is actually so important for economy number two. And if you listen very closely, you will see that it is again all about trickle-down, voodoo-economics. The “experts” are all saying that it will be harder for you Mr. and Mrs. Main Street USA to access credit, oh no! It’s economic Armageddon! No it is not folks. What it should be is insulting to you. They are essentially saying that if you do not give them your tax dollars to bail out their greed and excess, then they will not be able to lend you money and charge you interest on that credit. Basically they are threatening to not loan you your own money back, with interest, if you do not give them all your money for free. That is how the oligarchy thinks. It is their mindset. You and I are merely means to an end for them.
Somewhere in the middle of the hard sell by the corporate media, some sane voices have penetrated the airwaves. Go and listen to Ron Paul, who actually understands economics. Listen to former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. These people know that while this situation is not great for economy number two, it is not the end of the world as we know it. Sure we will head into a deeper recession but we will head that way anyway, may as well go with an extra 700 billion dollars. Sure credit will be harder to come by but you know what? Maybe that is not such a bad idea anyway. Maybe we should pay as we go for awhile and learn to live within our means, not within the tricks and gimmicks of the oligarchy. Maybe we should be figuring out how to get out of the debt we have instead of trying to find new ways to expand our debt and be further financially enslaved to them.
I am no expert but I know a hard sell when I see one and this was practically shoved down our collective throats from the word go. It was hard sold by Bush and Paulson and we were told immediate action was critical. The end of civilized mankind was waiting in the wings if we didn’t act swiftly…oops. Guess that wasn’t any truer than this bailout being for me and you. Something funny happened on the way to the coup yesterday. The American people stood up and called their elected representatives and said NO. No more to the same old tired BS from the oligarchy. If the rich screwed up, let the rich pay for it.
The battle is not over though. They tried to circumvent democracy and kept voting open in the house while they tried to change people’s votes. They will try to craft another bailout plan in the interim and continue to sell it to you. They will continue to scare you into thinking that the best thing for the poor is to hand 700 billion dollars of their tax monies to the rich. This looting started with legitimate tax policies designed to further this two-caste system but time is running out for the present oligarchs. They see the fundamental flaws in the McCain campaign and cannot be sure that Diebold can steal enough votes to continue to systematic looting of this nation through the tax code. They know that Obama will return some normalcy to the tax code in at least repealing the tax breaks for the wealthy 2%. Unsure of the electoral results, the oligarchy is deciding to loot 700 billion more before the nation starts to heal itself this November.
What is so brazen is they do not come in the dead of night to steal your money. They look you right in the eye and tell you that it is in your best interest. They looked you in the eye back in the 1980s and swore that the rich getting richer would trickle down to you. It never happened. They looked you in the eye over the past eight years and swore that giving back billions to the top 2% would spur job creation and economic growth while your kids went off to die in their wars. Their wars were not based on freedom but on money. You kids died so they could make more money and they looked you right in the eye while they took your kids too; wrapped a flag around them and milked them for as much oil revenue as they could get their hands on. Now, having looted so much from you already they come back with their hands outstretched for more. They send their corporate media minions out there to sell you this fools gold. They sold you the war the same way. They sold you the butchering of your civil liberties the same way. They sold you the elimination of habeas corpus the same way. They sold you torture as US policy the same way. They look you right in the eye and swear that this is in your best interest. Just check your back pocket as they look in your eyes because they are stealing your wallet.
There are two economies in this country. The haves and the have nots. The haves believe that the have nots exist for their benefit. Maybe they throw them some charity here or there, but in the end, they are fodder for them. All you need to see is the reaction of Barbara Bush, the mother of the oligarchy, to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the residents being forced into the Astrodome in Texas. In response to the horror, she said:
"Almost everyone I’ve talked to says we're going to move to Houston. What I’m hearing is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."