Friday, January 31, 2014

Belt-tightening, Screw-tightening, and Revolution

The whole cuts-cuts-cuts strategy strikes me as rather like balancing a family budget by deciding which members of the family to starve. And when the family has a rich uncle who is living high on the hog, and a survivalist who is spending huge amounts of money getting into fights, well, I don't think starving someone makes a whole lot of sense. 

If a family has an income shortfall, it has several options. It can find more pay work. Rich members of the family might contribute more of their personal wealth. And, yes, it can decide to spend less. But spending less by starving family members is a non-starter; there is no family after that.

The past two years have been an exercise is screw-tightening for conservatives. The unemployment insurance extensions are gone, making tight family budgets tighter. Now SNAP cuts are coming in, increasing food insecurity. The conservatives won't be satisfied until we have people starving in the streets, like we did in the 1930s depression.

Something is going to break. But what? Murdoch's Wall Street Journal recently published a piece by the very wealthy Thomas Perkins saying that he fears a kristallnacht from progressives directed at the very wealthy. A remarkably ill-thought-out idea: the comparison he wants is with Stalinism, not Naziism. But give the devil his due: he isn't entirely wrong. The very rich have been subjected to enormous and vehement criticism. It must get wearing and harsh words are sometimes followed by violent deeds. The rest of us, though, are subjected to poverty, and wondering how to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table, and this is the work of the very rich, who looted the banks, threw millions out of their homes with their real estate machinations, and have made it near-impossible for people of modest means to save. For the rest of us, the violent deeds have already started, backed by wealth and the power of the state.

I think the talk of an uprising is intended to justify a clamp-down. There is, I am sure, some faction of the rich, powerful, and foolish who would be delighted to put all those weapons they have bought the various police forces to work. The Journal is voicing their fears.

The years since 2008 have, I think, seen an exhaustion of options. As the Reagan Revolution reaches its culmination, the American people have been reacting through political channels. First, we changed the President. Then the House. Then we had a sit-down strike on Wall Street. Now we have exhausted simple politics, and so there is a confused time of considering choices.

What next?

No comments: