Thursday, October 24, 2013

To End Privilege

> On Oct 24, 2013, at 7:25 AM, Margaret wrote:
> What puzzles me is how so-called fiscally conservative Republican presidents (esp.
> Reagan and Bush took so high into debt. 
> On 10/24/2013 9:56 AM, Brian wrote:
> Some argue that the Reagan/GW Bush debts were intentional on 2 levels:  First to bolster the military industrial complex, but also to eventually force the kind of austerity we're seeing now.  The right has long known they couldn't legislate austerity (domestic structural adjustment) openly, so perhaps they deliberately created conditions to make it seem necessary.  I"m not trying to suggest a conspiracy, in the typical sense, but rather that the 2 goals meshed so well that it gave both administrations a sense of license and political cover to bust the budget.
> Brian.

(Then I wrote:)

Such is a sober assessment, with avoidance of delusional thinking so rampant in the conspiracy vein of mind. But the conservatives have been planning and working since the end of world war 2 how to swing our economic system to the right. That the result undermines democracy is part of the point. It isn't coincidence that the Repubs have poured the nations resources into defense and starved the programs that help people, while the Dems have tried to steer the state toward solvency. (Did everyone see the commentary by Chris Hedges "Let's get the class war underway"?) It could have been merely sympathetic emotions guiding the Repubs, but the Conservatives know very well what they are doing. What they did not do was plan every cog slip and gear turn, but they were ready with big picture analysis, narratives and operatives when the opportunities came up. I believe both explanations. I believe the Economic Conservatives have had a single guiding vision - to preserve their wealth - and  the wealth to act - from the very beginning. With the simplicity of their goal and the brilliance of the people they could hire, they used the opportunities presented to them. These are people who understand power and understand how to use it (while the Dems and the left rely on the power of people, who have not understood the game or the stakes), and they have. Very effectively.

There is no smooth continuum of interests between the super rich and the people. There is no middle ground. The Earth, the people, and life, are given care, or we descend into an Armageddon in which the rich hope to live in glass bubbles. This is real. It was told to me by someone who expected to live this way.

The super rich are autistic monsters. They may have the native capacity for empathy, but it is stunted and poisoned. The privilege of privilege must be ended.

Our priorities have tended to come from scarcity. We think "the atmosphere must be saved!"  "People must be fed!" "We can't let nuclear bombs be used!". Our energies have been absorbed by our emotions. End sexism. End racism. Stop rape. Save the creatures which are threatened by extinction. Clean the air. People! All good things, but we are not fighting the battle we are given.

I have faith in the wisdom of the crowd. Given a chance, the people will choose to have fewer children, to consume less, to build ecologically sound food systems, to treat each other well, but we are trapped by the game as defined by the super wealthy. It is wealth and it is mal-distribution that we must fight. With all of our might. We must restore true democracy, in which the wisdom of the crowd is allowed to operate.

When wealth cannot be accumulated, it will be available to maintain the health of the systems we depend upon. It can be used to repair ecosystems, remove carbon from the air, fight the diseases that no antibiotics can kill. When wealth cannot be accumulated, the privileges of health care, education, healthy food, clean water and decent housing will be available to all, and all of the problems we face will decline. Everything will be easier. Health will be possible.

The gears and machines (to borrow the metaphor from the machinations of the super-wealthy) are being built by us and by academics and community organizers. Occupy is right. We are doing some of the right things. We must change the rules of the game. We must build the world we wish to live in.

Stephen Marshall 10/24/2013

I would like to add to this comment made by Rose Lazu:

This makes great sense to me, Brian. Only I would say the weakening of the family's purchasing power (domestic structural adjustment) is intertwined with the militarization of society intentionally. I remember sitting in a military industrial economy course ( a rad professor ) as an undergrad (back in the 80s) and understanding that the military was America's "new" economy.. The US was no longer interested in production of useful items such as it had been when America's families were being shaped by "progress" following WWII. I always figured it was because the US lacked any interest in diplomacy ( as compared with Europe, or other seemingly less war-mongering nations), preferring a military policy like selling the weapons that backed the coups and larger wars that are rampant nowadays. During the 80s one also began to see government efforts to control public funding that benefited the poor. As a poor student I was grateful for the PELL grant in NY (and elsewhere -- I don't know) which gave money to very poor students needing to go to college. Throughout the 80s, 90s efforts were made to undo PELL and now I believe you can only receive one if you sign up for military service. Student loan lenders, similarly, have followed suit by not lending to persons who owe child support or who have committed a crime. Well, if you're poor nowadays it's probable that you have a criminal record (because you stole to eat, or used drugs to help cope), or you may owe child support because you ran out of money or just don't earn enough. And, many programs, in addition, were being slashed that prevent the poor from losing hope or from winding up homeless or in prisons. It's why the prisons and shelters are teeming. Militarization and the destruction of the poorest families was and remains intertwined to my mind. "Austerity" as we know it since the 80s, 90s, and today, is nothing more than what some have called the "new racism" ( an idea holding that racism has become more covert). Actually, racism since Obama has reached some pretty all time highs and it hasn't been very covert and I guess that's why it's called the New Jim Crow." Anyway, the austerity pitch can get racist, like Reagan calling mothers who rely on public assistance "welfare queens." We all know who Reagen was really talking about and they mostly weren't white mothers who found themselves temporarily out of work, but a great number of poor Blacks, Latinos and many others who had not been able to "progress" in part at least because the support that had been there in the 60s and 70s was now missing. Today, because our economy assumes households can adjust or weather any unexpecteds --like John H said at the Cafe--and banks were more stable-- poor people of color figure in crazy numbers in our prisons and in our shelters. And that is exactly where some mean repubs had hoped and planned they would wind up. My two cents--Rose

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