Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Shared Sacrifice"

I am so sick of hearing about "shared sacrifice," possibly the most egregious example of newspeak for the past two years and still growing in popularity, especially among the nation's governors. Just who is "sharing" the sacrifice? Let's see.

The states are cutting education budgets, so children get to share the sacrifice. They are cutting contributions to Medicare and Medicaid, so the elderly and the poor are sharing the sacrifice. They are cutting funding for community development and social service programs, including those helping the homeless, battered women, children with special needs, unemployed teens and excessed workers who need job training — yes, the poor again.

Funds for hospitals, police, sanitation, public transportation, and infrastructure are being slashed, so the struggling remnants of the middle class also get to "share" in the sacrifice. Public employees and, especially, their pensions are under attack, affecting another segment of the middle and working classes. States with new Republican majorities are moving toward enacting "right to work" laws, to further weaken labor unions, pushing middle class workers into the ranks of the working poor, and the working poor into indigence.

Corporate taxes are being cut, so corporations too must share...

Uh, well... the governors explain that lower corporate tax rates will attract more investment and jobs to their states. Where will the jobs come from?

Not from India or China. If they come at all, they'll come from other states, accelerating the internal "race to the bottom" that has characterized the United States for decades. In the meanwhile, corporate profits are soaring, executives are collecting record bonuses, and those earning $20 million a year still pay at the same tax rate as those earning $200 thousand.

As usual, the "sacrifice" is shared by the poor and the middle classes, while the transfer of wealth to the super-rich — with their private schools, jets, hospitals, police forces, and more — continues apace. Ninety-nine per cent of us are "sharing the sacrifice." One percent of them are sucking our blood: to wit, business as usual.

With the single, shining exception of the state of Illinois, taxes will not be increasing. (The people and the corporations of Illinois will be "sharing the sacrifice" needed to get that state out of the hole its politicians have dug for it over the years.) State spending cuts can only exacerbate economic weakness, but regardless of political affiliation, the nation's governors will be participating in the "starve the beast" agenda that began in the Reagan administration.

I'm not sure who first said, "Bipartisan means everybody gets screwed," but that old bit of political wisdom needs a slight amendment. "Bipartisan" means almost everybody gets screwed. The oligarchs, as usual, are immune.

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