Budget Cuts = Eating The Seed Corn

Government budget cuts are not what they seem.

Understanding history could also be called ‘wisdom.’ Wisdom told stories about “eating the seed corn.” If you eat the seed corn you can’t plant your crops the following year and everyone eventually starves.

In the early 80s Reaganism/Thatcherism (neoliberalism) convinced the country to drastically cut taxes on the rich and “pay for” it by cutting spending. The US stopped spending on maintaining and modernizing infrastructure – especially transportation infrastructure, on education, on science … on so many things. So we lived off of prior investment for so long. But the infrastructure deteriorated and we certain never modernized it. (Just look at our rail and transportation systems, compared to the rest of the world.)

All that $$ was transferred to the already-wealthy top few who paid for the propaganda that convinced the rest to do this.

Privatization

Another piece of this scam was “saving money” through privatization. Using local trash collection as an example, cities would “save money” by getting rid of public trash collection and contracting with the “private sector” to do this more “efficiently.” What this meant was laying off the decently-paid public employees and hiring them back at minimum wage with no benefits. The infrastructure – trucks etc – to do this would receive little maintenance, collection schedules would be cut back, and people had to drag their trash to the curb instead of having it picked up at the house.

This didn’t actually save money, it shifted it. The newly minimum-wage workers would lose their houses which reduced property prices for e everyone and killed the tax base, they’d go on public assistance, schools would suffer and have higher costs, etc across the board. And poor people can’t spend much so all local businesses suffer, too.

Etc etc etc we can see it all around us now. But it is too late.

See also:

When Government ‘Saves Money’ And Gets ‘Smaller,’ We All Lose

You can “save money” by not changing the oil in your car. But have you ever seen a car that has never had its oil changed? After a while white smoke pours out the back because the rings are ruined. Other parts of the engine are also being ruined. Eventually the engine will seize up and quit and you have to either replace the engine or scrap the car. A simple and inexpensive procedure every few months would have prevented many thousands of dollars in expenses later.

After the Reagan tax cuts we “made government smaller” in several ways that are coming back to bite us now. One way we “saved money” by not “changing the oil” was by deferring maintenance of the country’s infrastructure – the water systems, levees, dams, roads, bridges, airports, ports, rails systems, electrical systems, and the rest of the things we all rely on to bring us safe water, get us to work, ship products and generally move our economy and live our lives.

Now the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) most recent “Infrastructure Report Card” estimates we need to spend $3.6 trillion just to bring the infrastructure up to where it should be, never mind catching up to the rest of the word with high-speed rail and smart electrical grid systems. The bill is getting more expensive every year, and people are dying as bridges, roads and other important infrastructure components fail. Thousands died in New Orleans when the levees failed.

5 ways privatization is fleecing American taxpayers

If people with OK public-employee jobs are replaced by lower-paid workers the community is poorer in the aggregate. More people will need public “safety-net” services. There will be foreclosures. Tax revenue drops because of lower pay but also because poorer people can’t spend as much in stores. Sales taxes drop as stores face fewer customers able to get by.

Reagan Revolution Home to Roost: America Is Crumbling

Trump Drowned The Government In A Bathtub

The goal of the anti-government “conservative movement” was to “starve the beast” by cutting spending and then cutting more and more and more. “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.”

It was called “strategic deficits.” The strategy was to cut taxes in order to create budget deficits. Then whip up fear that “deficit spending” would ruin the country, until the public was convinced of the need to cut government’s budget. Once that was accomplished, do it again, and then again, ad nauseum.

Since Reagan the country has not modernized or even improved its infrastructure. Scientific research was defunded. Tax cuts changed the business model from building solid businesses to quick-buck schemes because you could make a fortune overnight and keep it. The education system fell apart. Wage stagnation combined with propaganda set people against each other. Etc etc etc.

Finally Trump came along. He drowned the country in a bathtub. The America we understood is gone.

Fight Fascism

I just got back from the UK where my Chinese step-mother-in-law and step-grandmother-in-law told me about living through the Cultural Revolution. Somehow personal stories make it more real. Some of us remember what happened in Chile. Some of us remember the treatment of the “Freedom Riders.”

Fascists types (I count the Cultural Revolution/Stalinist types there, too) will just line people up and shoot them, throw them from helicopters, take people’s houses and businesses, and laugh at the sub-humans they do it to while they do it. It’s a personality type not an ideology. If ‘fascism’ is the wrong word I’ll use another.

When collapse happens, they come out and play.

Nothing is more important than stopping the forces of fascism from getting control once they are unleashed – as they are now. Even if it means getting “in the foxhole” with the Lincoln Project, or Liz Cheney or whatever it takes. We still have the institutions that currently keep that crowd from living their dream. Collapse is collapse and that crowd is just itching to start the mayhem.

It is imperative that we fight that.

The Benefits Of Trade And Automation Were Stolen From Us

The capitalist economist’s argument for “free trade” was the Jetsons Economy argument: the future will be glorious. They explained that when you move production to places where workers were paid less, everyone here would benefit because it freed up resources that would be applied to better jobs with higher wages, more free time, etc. The resulting gains would benefit everyone. And everyone where the jobs were moved to would also benefit from climbing the same ladder.

Sounds nice. A democracy would have made sure that was written into trade agreements, for everyone on both sides: The gains must be shared by everyone.

Same for automation, technology, etc. The gains were supposed to go to everyone. A democracy would have guaranteed that’s what happened.

A democracy would certainly have outlawed what did happen: Big money used “free” trade and automation/technology to pit workers against each other to force wages and benefits DOWN, with all the gains going to the top few.

What actually happened is that the Jetsons economy was stolen from us.

The Brand-Name “NAFTA”

All of this and the consequences — the benefits of trade and automation going to the top, everyone else forced ever downward, homes lost (and bought up by private equity to rent back to the former owners), factories closed and abandoned to rot, businesses closed and replaced by private-equity-owned chains, communities destroyed, etc – is covered by the brand name “NAFTA” for voters who were affected by this. That’s a big part of what brought us Trump and destroyed the Democratic party in the minds of all those voters.

Why Blame Dems?

Those textile mills and furniture manufacturers and all the rest of the manufacturing that went away when the Jetsons Economy future was stolen, the hollowed out cities with abandoned stores & homes downtown, ringed by private equity chains in malls out by the highway, bitter people forced out of the middle class blaming Dems for what happened to them…

The dilemma: This stuff branded NAFTA was a Republican/Wall Street neoliberal project all along but some Dems went along with it. Carter with deregulation, Clinton with trade, Obama with Wall Street. Wall Street/corporate money and propaganda getting them into office. (The famous chart showing the split between productivity and wages started under Carter/Volker. Then driven home by Reagan.)

The reason it’s identified with Dems more than Republicans now is that Dems were supposed to be the party of labor. The Democrats were supposed to protect working people from the things big money wanted to do to us. So Dems get the blame for breaking that wall of solidarity.

It’s like how Dems get the blame for things every single Republican is doing. We expect Republicans to be the party of capital, not Dems. Of course it wasn’t all elected Democrats who did this, but the capital bought enough Dems to get away with it.

Doing A Good Job Of It

You could follow Umair Haque and his site Eudaimonia and Co for more frequent documentation of the collapse.

For example:

Letter to the Chedditor (Cheese Editor)

EVERYTHING. IS. HOPELESS.

but…

SO. FUCKING. WHAT!!

It’s not difficult at all to find happiness in the fight.

But that’s the key: always be in the fight, and always as a happy warrior.

From a reader:

My favorite description of the most important thing that’s happened over the last 50 years or so comes from coal history, and it is this:

Just 50 years ago, to get anthracite out of the ground, we sent hundreds of men into tiny holes in mountain-sides with lamps on their heads, and tools in their hands. They’d slowly follow seams, pushing coal out in carts that ran on tracks they laid.

Today, we’re literally taking the tops off of mountains, scooping out what we want from their insides with shovels the size of houses, then filling the hole back in and moving on to the next mountain.

Now, thankfully, coal extraction is slowing down in the USA. But this kind of exponential growth in resource extraction wasn’t limited to coal, and it wasn’t limited to the United States. Indeed, as bad as the US ecological footprint has been, it’s orders of magnitude worse in other parts of the world.

So apply the same principle to ocean fishing… or to palm oil production… or to ranching and the deforestation that goes along with it… The next time you fly, look down at the earth and understand that 50 years ago, all that land that’s been transformed by roads and houses and parking lots and farms… Well, 50 years ago, much of it was wild.
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American Democracy in the Rear-View Mirror?

“We saw it in the 1930s in Italy, Germany, Spain and Japan; today it’s happened in Hungary, Turkey, Egypt, Russia, The Philippines and Brazil, and is well underway in Poland, India and multiple smaller countries.”

Thom Hartman, writing at Raw Story in The new ‘businessman’s conspiracy’ authoritarian plot is closer than you think,

History shows that most democratic nations don’t realize how serious their fascism problem is until it overtakes them altogether. We saw it in the 1930s in Italy, Germany, Spain and Japan; today it’s happened in Hungary, Turkey, Egypt, Russia, The Philippines and Brazil, and is well underway in Poland, India and multiple smaller countries.

… Fascism isn’t just about the merger of oligarch and state interests; it also requires a repudiation of the rule of law and the institutions of democracy itself.

… We’ve seen this movie before, and, tragically, history tells us most countries only recognize their fascism problem in the rear-view mirror after it’s consumed their democracy.

It is happening here,
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