Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Wrong Cause, The Wrong Remedy

Haven't we heard the 'entitlements and unions are the problem' song-and-dance long enough? As our country has deregulated, cut taxes, and privatized, inequality has increased, infrastructure has crumbled, workers wages have stagnated, retirement has grown increasingly volatile, and health care costs have skyrocketed.

Our country's problems were caused by greed, trickle-down economics, and the ascendance of Wall Street.

The Journal Sentinel analyzed Wisconsin's ventures into privatizing formerly public work. It found that the majority of the work would have been less expensive had it remained public. The supposed cost-savings of the privatization panacea are completely mythological.

Scott Walker's own record regarding county projects he privatized (what does he care, now that he's moved onto the governor's office) are coming back to cost the county more money that if he'd just left well enough alone. The willful ignorance of people and pundits continually pushing the idea that workers earning a living wage, with affordable health care, and a retirement account, are the cause of budget deficits, is blatantly false and morally reprehensible.

There is no free lunch. Private companies don't prosper by losing money. It's not about service provision, it's about profit motive. What is the least they can do to make the most. Hardly an inspirational mantra for public service we all count on. And, rather than having a more egalitarian pay structure, like the public sector, the private sector is very top-heavy. The CEOs and executives are lavishly rewarded, while the workers receive a pittance.

Republicans have been selling this snake oil for decades. We have steadily cut taxes (they're at their lowest level since 1950) and deregulated business again and again. Has this caused an increase in the wages of working Americans? Has this made your health care cheaper (remember HMOs were supposed to make health care uber competitive and affordable)? Have these changes made retirement more stable? Has this done anything to help the majority of Americans? The answer to all these questions is a big, resounding NO! This Republican, supply-side experiment is a complete failure.

So why do people continue to believe that more of the same is going to produce different results? The rich have gotten richer. But the other 99% of us have been treading water. If you're in the top 1% these policies have worked great for you. If you're not amongst the top 1%, you should realize these policies have evicerated your chances at an economically stable life.

The privileged class has played worker versus worker deftly. They don't really have to worry about paying their fair share, or about any uprising or revolt, when the majority of the population is focused on fighting with, and belittling, workers like themselves. The bottom 99% has more in common with each other than with the copiously wealthy 1%. Yet, many still side with the extravagantly wealthy against their own economic interest.

How can people read about Wall Street paper-pushers making hundreds of millions a year, executives buying $35,000 toilets, other receiving millions in bonuses, and CEOs purchasing their eighth home, and still think our problems are the result of $40,000 per-year workers? How can anyone look at the data showing that workers wages have stagnated for 30 years, while executive earnings have grown exponentially, and still blame workers?

For Further Reading:

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