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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stealing America Right From Under Our Noses

Corporate welfare"Yes, 'there's class warfare, all right,' warns Warren Buffett. 'But it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning.'"

That quote, much beloved by liberals concerned with economic justice, opens a piece at MarketWatch by Paul B. Farrell. Farrell then goes on to agree with Buffett and take the argument further; there's a "new American Civil War between the rich and the rest." Buffett, the billionaire investment capitalist behind Berkshire Hathaway, issued his warning in a New York Times op-ed back in 2006. It was true then, but it's much truer now. Led by gains at the state level, Republicans are moving to strip the poor and the middle class of things they've paid for with their tax dollars or worked for at their state jobs, then take all that money and give it to the wealthy.

But that's only the start. Writes Farrell:

Not just the 16 new GOP governors in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, and across America fighting for new powers. Others include: Chamber of Commerce billionaires, Koch brothers, Forbes 400, Karl Rove's American Crossroads, Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform -- which now has 97% of House Republicans and 85% of the GOP Senators signed on his "no new taxes" pledge -- the Tea Party and Reaganomics ideologues.


Wake up America. You are under attack. Stop kidding yourself. We are at war. In fact, we have been fighting this Civil War for a generation, since Ronald Reagan was elected in 1981. Recently Buffett renewed the battle cry: The "rich class" is winning this war. Except most Americans still don’t realize they're losing, don't see the prize at stake.

All this was predicted back in September 2008 by Naomi Klein, author of Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Yes, we were warned that the GOP's Reaganomics ideology would stage a rapid comeback... warned before the market collapsed... before Wall Street was virtually bankrupt... before Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson conned Congress into $787 billion in bailouts... warned before Obama's 2008 election.

So who is this granola-crunching hippie/commie who cites Naomi Klein and disses Reagonomics? His bio at the site tells us that Paul B. Ferrell is "the author of nine books on personal finance, economics and psychology, including 'The Millionaire Code,' 'The Winning Portfolio,' 'The Lazy Person's Guide to Investing.' Farrell was an investment banker with Morgan Stanley; executive vice president of the Financial News Network; executive vice president of Mercury Entertainment Corp; and associate editor of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner" -- i.e., a capitalist in the purest sense of the word.

Here in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker wants to raise taxes on the poor, not long after he pushed through $100 million new spending and tax giveaways that mostly benefit the wealthy and corporations. Having given away the store, Walker suddenly declared a huge budget emergency that called for draconian cuts to everything from water safety to recycling programs. And, of course, programs that help the poor and middle class. In addition to the big tax hike families in need would face, they'll also to pay more for healthcare, as the state slashes Medicaid spending. Meanwhile, the state has hot and cold running corporate welfare. Never in history has "shared sacrifice" involved so little sharing of so much sacrifice.

In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott shares Walker's vision of a corporate paradise built by taking from teachers to give to the rich. In Tennessee, Gov. Bill Haslam wants to cut higher education and the state's TennCare program, which helps cover the uninsured -- all to fund a private, for-profit prison.

But the worst is in Michigan, where the state has declared virtual economic martial law and the legislature has given the governor the power to overturn elections and turn local governments over to private concerns. This is the Republican love of privatization taken to its most extreme; privatize literally everything, up to and including the mayor's office, the school board, and the police and fire departments. On the bright side, it's impossible for me to believe that even our current Supreme Court would find this constitutional.

These are all examples. An exhaustive list would be exhaustive in every sense of the word -- it would probably take me a sleepless week to track it all down and put it all together. Suffice it to say that, no matter where you are, there's probably a Republican who's either taking something away from you to give to someone who doesn't need it or a Republican who wants to so badly they can taste it. Farrell and Buffett cast all of this as a war, but I have a better word for it: a heist.

This is all stuff you own. This is all stuff you paid for. This is all stuff you worked for. And it's being given away to the Republicans' wealthy donors. State by state, district by district, city by city, the nation is being disassembled and given away -- not even sold off -- by ideologues and economic flatearthers and straight-out crooks. I guarantee, what was lost so casually won't be regained as easily.

And when the smoke clears, you won't have a damned thing to show for it, other than the constant reassurances that you're living in a free market Utopia and it'll all work out great -- eventually. All you have to do is keep voting Republican, so they can keep giving all your stuff away.


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