Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Plan

(Image from Despair, Inc., where you need to go to consider your ultimate Demotivator­® and then end your sorry existence on our overburdened planet and be done with it.)

So far as we can tell, the Recovery Plan now going forward in the United States does not intend to provide significant debt relief for households. Instead, the Plan will be focused on rescue for the banks and Wall Street, in what looks like a never-ending stream of multi-trillion-dollar bailouts that primarily benefit those individuals and interests that got us into this mess and appear to fully intend to keep us there indefinitely.

We, The People, are to be allowed to focus our attentions on getting out from under the debt burden imposed upon us (as well as that we have taken on ourselves) by cutting back on spending and devoting more of our income to debt service. Those who can't do it due to the contracting economy -- because of job loss or other conditions -- are to be permitted limited opportunities for debt restructuring, sometimes debt discharge, in bankruptcy.

Otherwise, it's pay till you drop. Whatever your creditors demand. And be quick about it.

The economy is tailspinning downwards because there is so little household spending, and so the Government is set to pick up the slack, or at least some of it, to keep the economy from complete collapse.

Government spending on programs and services is to increase substantially -- including aid to the states and to localities for various social services and to help them cover budget deficits due to declining local and state tax revenues -- and a sort of semi-public works infrastructure planning and construction effort is to get under way that is intended to put some of the unemployed (primarily heavy construction workers) back to work beginning sometime this year and continuing for many years to come.

So far as I can tell, there seems to be an effort afoot to restructure the workforce, essentially making some segments of the workforce "redundant", as they used to say in Britain, and potentially unemployable going forward. In other words, a lot of those who have lost their jobs and will lose their jobs in the current economic situation will not return to the workforce, by design.

This is in some ways a return to the way things used to be, pre-Reaganism and especially pre-Clinton Welfare Reform. The problem is that many of the social services and much of the public acceptance of a large body of "unemployables" no longer exist to handle the millions who are being thrust into this condition. Millions have lost their jobs, millions more will lose them. Millions of people have lost their homes, millions more will lose them. And many will not get jobs or homes back any time soon. And, at least for the time being, there will be few or no social services to assist the bulk of them.

By design. By intent.

I'd call this state of affairs Social Darwinism, social engineering on a grand scale, but when the People have essentially no opportunity to contest the situation, and no skills to do it with if the opportunities were there, it's more like an Imperial conquest of yore -- without the bloodshed. Yet.

So we can start imagining what the future holds, just what it is Our Rulers have in mind over the long term, and we can start thinking about what sort of society we want to emerge from the current crisis.

One of the aspects of the Reagan/Bush years that was so startling to me was the absence of any sort of Future Vision, especially during the Bush 2 Regime. That period is marked by a complete disregard for, indeed disdain for, The Future, as if it not only didn't matter, it wasn't going to happen. Period.

Now we're slowly shifting back to a Future Vision perspective that will allow us to imagine what will be and what ought to be even as we pick through the rubble of What Is.

All I'd say right now is that it is very unwise to leave envisioning the Future entirely to the Ruling Class. They've made such a cock-up of the Present, perhaps someone else -- We, the People, for example -- ought to take the lead in this endeavor.

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