Wednesday, February 11, 2009

$10 $7.50 a Week!


Geithner's "Plan" to give more trillions of dollars to the banks and Wall Street to pay off their gambling losses is a real dud, apparently. It is a Big Rock Candy Mountain for the economic predators who have been effortlessly feeding on the passive American People, but it comes with some strings, including "transparency," and -- as we know -- the Masters of the Universe cannot stand exposure of any kind.

The markets tanked.

The reviews were one big Raspberry.

Meanwhile, you and I will be privileged to accept the $10 $7.50 a week in payroll tax withholding reduction as our share of the Recovery. If we can keep a job, that is. And assuming the reduction remains in the Congressional bill once the conference committee gets through cutting out more pork and nonsense.

"Entitlement Reform" is next on the chopping block, meaning that the Social Security and Medicare problems will be dealt with, no doubt through some form of privatization and benefits cuts and restrictions that will help ensure the continued impoverishment of the masses for the benefit of the rich and the well-connected.

The wonder of all of this Neo-Liberal economic restructuring that's proceeding apace is that the American People are so passive, whereas peoples all around the world are rising in anger, bringing down governments, forcing the Masters of the Universe -- so intent on further looting and pillaging -- to back off.

Even if it is only temporary, it is something. Naomi details some of the turmoil below.

But in the United States, it's become almost unheard of to take action of any kind against the predators who believe they have a Constitutional and God Given right to plunder at will.

The Geithner "plan" will ensure these people have endless plunder so long as the nation endures, and the Obama "Recovery plan" will ensure that favored corporate and financial interests will have guaranteed profits for the forseeable future.

Some people will be put back to work or will stay on their jobs to be sure, but many more will not. There simply will not be enough work for so many people to do. Wages will likely decline further, yet consumer level prices may continue to increase, even though producer prices may fall more than they already have. One of the ironies of this situation that is barely noticed by the economic brain trust that's operating the levers of the Machine is that despite all the falling wages, falling demand, and falling producer prices, the cost of living -- consumer prices -- which started up in earnest last year, continues to rise. So the average household is getting squeezed from both ends: falling income, higher costs.

The fallout is terrible and is spreading. In my own neighborhood, numerous small businesses have closed, and a whole slew of car dealers are simply gone. For Lease signs are everywhere, and finding retail and office tenants is almost impossible.

Unlike many areas around here, the foreclosure crisis hasn't severely impacted housing in this neighborhood. Most of the impact here happened a year or more ago, when a few houses went to foreclosure and auction, but everything else stayed relatively stable. Home prices in this neighborhood have actually increased slightly despite the downturn, but that all may change suddenly if the State of California continues its spiral into insolvency, which looks to be certain given the intransigence of the Republican caucus in the Legislature.

It may be a financial tightrope for those who have homes, but the number and the presence of homeless is growing substantially. Little encampments are springing up everywhere there's any shelter from the weather, and there are far more ragged people trudging the streets. Services are being cut back everywhere, despite the charitable inclinations of so many people who still have money and time to give.

The city and county are laying off people; the State has instituted unpaid furloughs two days a month and will send out layoff notices to 20,000 or more workers starting next week -- assuming there still is no budget.

The State budget is expected to be cut in all sorts of areas -- if there ever is a resolution to the impasse in the Legislature -- and one of the most prominent areas of cuts is expected to be in In Home Support Services, a program that provides needed services to the elderly and disabled throughout the State at relatively small cost to the State and localities. Workers are paid between $8 and $12 an hour, depending on locality, to take care of people who can't take care of themselves in their own homes rather than in institutional care. It costs something like $10,000 a year or so on average to provide In Home Support Services to elderly and disabled residents in their homes, whereas institutional care costs $55,000 a year per patient or more.

But for some reason, the Governor and members of the Legislature -- and the media -- have glommed on to this program as a money drain that must be plugged. They want to cut the hourly rate of pay, further restrict the number of hours workers can be paid for, and they want to make qualifications much stricter for individuals who use the program.

It's part and parcel of the Neo-Liberal Restructuring, no doubt. The old and the incontinent are simply a drain on everyone else. If they can't carry their own weight or pay their own freight let's let nature take its course.

Still, as more and more individuals and households are pushed out into the cold, I'll bet the People will not rise.

One of the most astonishing aspects of the Reagan Revolution and its aftermath is that the People of the United States, once feisty and obstreperous, became pacified, to the extent that even when they took the streets in great numbers -- as they did in 2002 and 2003 to protest the coming Iraq War -- they did so with extraordinary courtesy so as not to disrupt the comfort and convenience of their rulers.

Practically no other people on Earth are as passive as Americans today.

But why should they get upset? $10 $7.50 a week adds up, you know. And that Big Rock Candy Mountain could be just around the corner.


  1. "No other people on Earth are as passive as Americans today" and the founders certainly never anticipated a bunch of cowards like we have now that call themselves "Citizens". Unengaged, these people have no interest in Community, Neighbors or Country. They are greedy, jingoistic American exceptionalists who are cheerleaders for war-just as long as they don't have to participate in the actual conduct of it. Will it ever occur to the "Leadership" to cut the Military's gigantic budget? It might even reassure other Nations of our good intentions.

    What will become of all the disabled veterans in the upcoming cuts to all the social services? We've been creating a lot of new ones lately. I have real fears about the fate of Social Security, retirement (now that people are going to need it since their 401K's tanked) and disability. Medical care is too good for the Hoi Polloi, that's common knowledge.

    I actually believe the people will rise up and they will be ruthlessly suppressed in America's Tiananmen Square moment. The memories of Kent State have worn off and the new militarized American Homeland Security Forces need to make an example of any troublemakers at the first opportunity.

    I stopped by due to your great remarks over at Digby's place. Good blog. I'll bookmark and try to stop by again.

  2. Thanks for your kind words.

    If you look in the stimulus summary sent out by the Senate, you'll find quite a few billion being spent on various Homeland Security functions, and something like $4 billion for local and state police forces. There's a bunch of money for prisons, too.

    So we can be sure that if the People ever do rise, the authorities will be primed and ready.