Ah the beauty of greed
It fits nearly everyone’s need
To the haves; an excuse
To have-nots, it’s a noose
And it drives the gears of the mill
To grind out the hope of the poor
Who pray for fairness and bread
But then get blocked by a door
That’s closed until they are dead
Only then do they find their true worth
When the meek shall inherit the earth
In the latest Washington drama, shared sacrifice is taking on an entirely new meaning. For the wealthy, it portends a return to the roaring ‘20s when wealthy investors lived the high life and broke all the rules. Their share was and is in the here and now. Your share is in the hereafter, so please be patient. Eric Cantor, the Republican Majority Leader of the House of Representatives is exclaiming that the right wing and Tea Party are compromising simply by meeting with Democrats and moderate Republicans. Of course. Forgive me for being suspicious. This is the very same Eric Cantor who has invested in selling T-bills short in order to make some money while engaged in the process of “negotiating” the debt ceiling. Now let me see. Cantor is threatening to make our national credit worthless at the very same time he is investing: betting that the price of 20 year Treasuries will decline. For most people, that would be worse than a conflict of interest. A simple conflict of interest is when a person has insider knowledge and uses it for personal gain. Almost no person would be so greedy as to take part in the process of affecting the value of his investment by political posturing, but Cantor is no ordinary greedy investor. He needs to twist the outcome. Forgive me again. Most people would see that action as a conflict of interest because they have assumed that Cantor has an interest in the common good of the United States as well as his own profit and welfare. Maybe if you think that way, you are making the wrong assumption. What if Eric’s only interest is Eric Cantor? Where is the conflict then? Aha! Eric is in the camp of those who hate government and then work hard to damage it to prove their point that government cannot work. Cantor has no conflict of interest if his only interest is Cantor.
Surely, Cantor is only one man and not a movement. Maybe he simply made a bad investment and has a pure heart. While Cantor is disturbing enough, let us look at the entire process. Senator Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, has publicly stated that his number one political priority is to make President Obama a one-term president, and not to consider “jobs” or “infrastructure investment.” The GOP as a whole has embraced the Grover Norquist pledge of not increasing taxes. That sounds a little limiting if not insane, but when coupled with a hatred of government (Norquist: “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”) Norquist then explains that he want to privatize and outsource any remaining functions.
If you understand that “Pledgers” also have a unique definition of “raising taxes,” the view in the looking glass becomes a bit clearer. Federal subsidies are seen as “negative taxes,” therefore by reducing or eliminating the $ Billion we give to General Electric, we are “raising taxes” and that is forbidden by Norquist. Hence, in today’s economy, there can be no increase to the income side of the ledger. An income increase violates the Norquist pledge. So up is down and left is right. And if you don’t do it my way, it’s NO way at all. Look closer. If we fail to honor our debts on time, then interest rates will soar and our national financial stability is gone, perhaps forever. Who stands to lose the most? Who buys on interest using credit cards? If only cuts are made to reduce the deficit and the largest single item of the budget is made exempt (military budget), then what will be eliminated? Could it be that Medicare will be eliminated? Could Social Security then be sacrificed on the altar of expediency? Could roads and bridges and other investment in infrastructure be cut? Could education for the middle and lower classes be cut? Bet on it, but use toothpicks or old buttons. You are going to need every penny you get simply to live until you file for bankruptcy and beyond. Forget the dignity that FDR afforded for Americans reaching old age. The only good thing is that you may die sooner since health care will be for the wealthy who can afford the care or the insurance to get it.
The mama bears, Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin have come out for default. That is the same Michelle Bachman that has taken about $30,000 in federal and state subsidies through her husband’s “religious” counseling business that recently was exposed for claiming to “cure” homosexuality. Similarly, she is a partner in a dairy farm that has taken nearly $260,000 in federal subsidies. Profits from that farm according to disclosure reports are between $32,503 and $105,000 for the years 2006-2009. While Ms. Bachman condemns subsidies and “earmarks,” she has been a major recipient. Is this a conflict of interest issue? How about a church and state issue? Of course not. Again, Michelle Bachman holds a predominant interest in her own welfare. Do not expect her to fight Grover Norquist, after all. Giving up a subsidy is exactly like a tax increase according to the party line. I have to assume that Bachman feels that even if the nation defaults that she will still get her subsidies.
Sarah Palin has likewise condemned subsidies and yet her recent reality TV special “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” got $1.2 million in subsidies from the state based on a law she signed in 2008. Apart from the sheer hypocrisy of these “ladies,” their claim of the government having a spending problem instead of an income problem is an interesting diversion. “Government Spending” is not included in their description of their own subsidies. I guess they deserve subsidies and a pensioner on Medicare should be immediately weaned from that dependence. I have never seen socialism so neatly compartmented. When Michelle and Sarah get subsidies, it is not socialism. When Grandma gets a wheel chair it is.
If all this seems confusing, you simply do not understand. Michelle and Sarah are only grudgingly taking these subsidies to be true to Grover Norquist, while Grandma is a societal leach. Besides, it is a religious certainty that Grandma will inherit the earth if she is meek enough. Now if she organizes and attempts to get power to get her benefits on this side of the grave, then shame on Grandma. She may lose her heavenly inheritance. All this should remind us of the danger of organized religions that are so often manipulated to protect an outcome desired by its leaders and members (constituents when you mix church and state). Michelle Bachman, until the past few weeks when she declared her presidential candidacy, was a member of a right wing Lutheran church that condemns Roman Catholics and strictly adheres to Martin Luther’s condemnation of Jews. On the upside, if Michelle and Sarah get their way, then Grandma will get her heavenly inheritance a little sooner with diminished healthcare. Since Marcus Bachman, Michelle’s husband has declared gays, “barbarians,” there has been some confusion about his role in “curing” homosexuals although he is not certified as a counselor. TV footage of Marcus suggests that he may be too light on his feet when he dances, thus creating an image of hypocrisy in his religious counseling as well as questions as to why this activity does not violate the separation of church and state. Michelle’s pastor at the Salem Lutheran Church has been asked not to comment on Michelle’s departure. She has been linked with preacher Bradlee Dean who has conducted strong anti-gay programs through his business and has tried to link President Obama with Osama bin Laden to disparage the president. Economics and hate in the ‘20s was much the same but without Twitter. Hoover personally appealed to the nation’s Community Chest organizations rather than spend a penny on the jobless for fear that they may be motivated not to work if they got government help.
All this seems to suggest that the looking glass for these conservative ideologues does not present them with the same image that we get from our weak eyes. They see beauty while we see greed. They see piety, while we see hate. They see knowledge while we see ignorance. They see justice while we see unfairness. They are sharing our sacrifice by taking the dregs of this futile existence on earth and allowing us to have the far greater rewards of the next life. Now whom are you going to believe? Are you going to believe your lying eyes and ears and heart or are you going to believe these tortured souls who tell you we should default on the debt and confidence in our United States? Come on nation. Suck it up Americans and sacrifice now so you will inherit the earth only a little later.
18 July 2011