My Response to a Student’s Question

—–Original Message—–
From: *******
Sent: Sat 11/6/2010 10:06 PM
To: **********
Subject: An important article

Hi all,

This is a very important article about the economic dangers we face right now:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/07/opinion/07kristof.html?_r=2

Naturally, you are NOT required to read it; but I urge you to.

Have a great rest of your weekend!
============================
—–Original Message—–
From: ************
Sent: Sun 11/7/2010 7:42 PM
To: ************
Subject: RE: An important article

Hello Dr. *****,
I really appreciate all the articles you reference to our [history] class. They help me gain perspective I would not otherwise get from other classes or from other adults. I understand that my generation is most likely going to face a lot of economic strain/problems in the near future, but I’m curious to know what your suggestions/perspective are/is for possibly easing that economic strain (especially for people of my generation).

Thank you,
**** ****

==============================
(Editor’s note: much of this is off the top of my head; I will be editing and updating over the next several days.)

Hi **** ****,

Thanks for writing, and I”m glad that you have appreciated the links and other information. I sometimes hesitate to send them or comment in class, because I hate to sound like the prophet of doom all the time, but I am concerned enough about the immediate future that I really feel like someone has to say something to you, even if it’s awkward sometimes. You can find many such articles (and opinion pieces) at http://www.reddit.com. I’m not sure I have an answer, but I can tell you why I feel the way I do.

In all honesty, I’m not sure there is much that can be done really. The wealthy ruling class, in conjunction with angry Americans ignorant of the real situation because the media is more of a distraction than a help these days, handed the House of Representatives to a party pledged to repeal health care reform (which will save $$$ and a majority of Americans want to keep– reference #1); who are controlled in part but a radical fringe (google “Rand Paul”) who could, possibly, refuse to allow the Congress to raise the debt ceiling next summer which would push the United States into default which would immediately cause a massive economic collapse around the world (see this video & skip ahead to 7:00); whose leader John Boehner (who will become Speaker of the House in January) has been described by the conservative press as a “lazy bar fly” (reference #2); who are insisting on preserving tax cuts for the richest 2% of Americans who are NOT spending the money they receive back in tax cuts to revive the economy (reference #3); who refuse to admit the imperialist adventure in Iraq was founded on lies (reference #4); who are refusing to compromise with President Obama on virtually anything and who obstructed many needed reforms during the last two years (reference #5; reference 5A); and, because they control the House, have the sole power to introduce so-called “money” (spending) bills. They have spent two years claiming the real key to salvation is tax cuts and cuts in spending. When pushed, however, not a single Republican leader could name a single government program to cut.

Here’s the video proof:

Why not? Because the American people, who have clearly become schizophrenic, demand both tax cuts and government programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicade, and a vast array of other programs that we encounter almost every day. Therefore, Republicans will not cut much spending, and what they do cut will disproportionally hurt the poorest among us — because the poor don’t vote (generally speaking) and they have no ability to influence our elections because they have no money.

This is exactly what happened int he 1980s, when the Reagan Administration slashed taxes but increased spending. In eight years, the United States went from the world’s biggest lender to the world’s biggest debtor. In 1980, the US had approximately $1 trillion in debt, accumulated since 1789; today, that number is around $12 trillion, only 30 years later. We have now reached the point where the debt is damaging economic growth. Let me remind you that since 1980, we have had five presidents; only two of those have been Democrats, and when Bill Clinton left office in 2001 the government had a budget surplus and a booming economy (although some of that was part of the dotcom bubble).

So in other words, the Republican Party — which claims that the Democrats are “tax and spend liberals” — is mostly responsible for increasing the debt of the United States of America by a factor of 12 in only 30 years. This charge against the Democrats — a holdover from the ’60s — is therefore demonstrably untrue; and yet many Americans believe it. Indeed, the largest spending spree in decades took place from 2001-2006 during the presidency of George W. Bush — arguably the worst president in the history of the United States. Bush’s tax cuts led to a fall in government revenue, and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq drove us over the fiscal cliff.

(Click to see the entire image)

The entire argument for tax cuts is that the wealthy will spend they money; but as I said, they are NOT spending it. Thus we are financial rewarding the exact same people (the small wealthy ruling elite, about 5% of the population or so) responsible for this entire crisis. It’s like catching a thief trying to break into your house and handing him keys to the front door (reference #6).

I do not argue that the Democrats are perfect, they are not; they are often incompetent. Since 2008, however, they accomplished much. That progress, slow as it was, will now ground to a halt over the next two years as the Republican Party “investigates” President Obama for being a Kenyan, or a secret Muslim, or any number of reasons that will deflect him from his work and waste millions of taxpayer dollars and are only intended to whip up fear and hatred for a African American president (reference #7). I will, in all honesty, be astounded if no one takes a shot at President Obama at some point because of they way FOX News and the conservative press have appealed to racism and fear since 2008 (see this for example; and also this).

I grew up a Republican. I do not recognize this party; in fact, it is nothing like the party of Ronald Reagan even though they have made him their patron saint. Unfortunately, Reagan’s policies have contributed to this mess (reference #8).

Right now, the United States of America is like someone who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The instant response of most people who receive that diagnosis is: “That’s not true! I’m not going to die! I’m going to be fine! I don’t have to worry!” This is denial, the first stage of grief, and this year’s election proved that by returning to partial power the exact same political party that drove this country right into the ground since 2001.

We literally handed the keys back to the drunk driver after the accident.

We have also reached the point where the best member of the United States Senate — Al Franken — spent the ’70s and ’80s as a coke-addled comedian; and our best sources of news are two television shows anchored by comedians: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report. In other words, you live in an America where the only people who make sense are the court jesters.

I am constantly astonished that the American public has such a short memory. I often feel that I am living in Orwell’s “1984“. (reference #10). There is a scene in the book where Winston, the main character, is listening to a speaker describe how horrible their enemy Eurasia is. Then, in the middle of the speech, the speaker changes the enemy to Eastasia and does not even stop speaking. He simply continues on about the war with Eastasia as if nothing had change. The audience never blinked. (See “1984”, part II, section IX for this scene and for an explanation as to what’s really going on today; this is the “Theory of Oligarchic Collectivism” section). Just like Americans never blinked when they handed back power to the exact party and the exact leaders they ousted in 2006. We have also become, according to some, a Third World nation (reference #9)

Consider this excerpt from Newser.com:

(NEWSER) – Republicans crowing from the rooftops about the mandate they got on Election Day can cork it and come back down to Earth to face the music, writes Markos Moulitsas Zuniga in the Christian Science Monitor—because John Boehner and Co. are doomed. Tuesday wasn’t an embrace of a GOP agenda, he writes. In fact, exit polls showed that voters viewed Dems more favorably than the GOP; but, feeling vengeful, they largely voted for Republicans anyway. Some 35% of voters blamed Wall Street for the economy; yet 56% went GOP in “a con of masterful proportions—embrace Wall Street and its money, yet still win the votes of the financial industry’s biggest critics,” writes Moulitsas, who runs the Daily Kos.

The Democrats were killed by a base that sat home Tuesday—a base that won’t be sitting on its hands in 2012. But those who voted GOP aren’t even in sync with the GOP agenda: “Of the 47% of voters who want the health care law as is or even expanded, 44% of them voted Republican,” Moulitsas writes. “Now, this GOP-led House will make sure that nothing of note passes, and try to gum up the works further. With power comes responsibility, and John Boehner will be under pressure to walk the line between the ideological purity his tea party base demands, and the pragmatism of governing. When he fails (and he will),” Democrats will pounce.

Americans, therefore, voted for the political party that stands opposed to what most Americans want!

Another major problem: on Tuesday, Americans handed the Republicans a majority in most state legislatures, which means they have control over redistricting which allow them to redraw Congressional districts to favor Republicans (reference #11). Thus we have secured more power for the political party that has destroyed us (with the help of many Democrats, to be sure.) In fact, the only Democrat to vote against the USA PATRIOT Act, Senator Russ Feingold, was defeated for reelection by a man without a high school diploma who opposed a bill protecting sexual abuse victims from their perpetrators (reference #12).

This is not about liberalism vs. conservatism. The Democratic Party is not a liberal party; the Republican Party is not a conservative party. They are simply institutions whose leadership and congressional members have literally been bought and paid for by the ruling wealthy elite (again, about 5% of the population or thereabouts; the richest of the rich) to advance the economic security of that elite. What I also do not understand is how the middle class does not understand how they are the most heavily taxed people in the country BECAUSE of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy; or that they are being literally raped ever day by the wealthy elite while blaming poor people. It simply does not make any sense to me. However, through FOX News and the control of other media, and the advent of “social media,” the ruling wealthy elite has managed to trick a large part of the American public into blaming all the wrong people for their plight. This is not to suggest that there are not poor people scamming the system; there are.

But the vast majority of the money being stolen from the middle class is through tax cuts and other subsidies for the wealthy ruling elite. So this would be like watching Neighbor A burn down your house, and Neighbor A convincing you — against all rationality and contrary to easily-available evidence — that Neighbor B was responsible.

No one ever accused me of being an optimist. However, this is almost impossible for historians. This has all happened before, and it will all happen again — if we’re lucky. Here’s what I think is coming: a major war; civil war in the United States; and/or a savage right-wing dictatorship. In that case, I can tell you that the best we can hope for is peaceful disunion of the United States. That’s the best for which we can hope, sadly.

[Side-note: I believe the Republicans made a pact with a Devil by accepting the so-called Tea Party. The Tea Party will inevitably do far more damage to the Republicans than most people realize.]

However, I have not lost all hope; your generation is an excellent generation in many ways. You don’t carry much of the baggage my generation inherited from the “Baby Boomers.” I hope that some of you will take action to prevent what I fear may be coming.

Anyway, I hope this helps in some way, at least to clarify some issues for you.

Thanks again for writing,

Dr. ****



4 Responses to “My Response to a Student’s Question”

  1. news Says:

    Have you considered including some social bookmarking buttons to these sites. At least for twitter.

  2. Minister of Information Says:

    Reblogged this on Tribune of the People and commented:

    I wrote this in 2010, in response to a student of mine. This was my previous blog.

  3. My Response to a Student’s Question in 2012 « Tribune of the People Says:

    […] Check it out here.  I think I made a lot of sense. Rate this:Share this:MoreLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Politics, Republican Freak Show. […]


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