Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Race To the Bottom -- and What To Do About It

The economic and political race to the bottom continues with remarkable energy and speed. It appears that the Governor -- and now the Government -- of Wisconsin is simply ignoring the injunctions and restraining orders of the courts and barreling ahead with the Koch-funded ALEC-Walker "budget repair" provisions passed by the Republicans in the legislature.

They don't care what you think or what anyone else thinks about it. They are going to do what they want -- and they dare you to do anything to stop them. Double. Dog. Dare you.

This is part of the process of "reform," don't you see. It is the way :Leadership: should be practiced.

In California, we don't know how much worse the budget atrocities are going to get. We just know they are going to get exponentially worse because the rump Republicans in the Legislature adamantly refuses to allow the People to vote on the extension of higher taxes to fund essential services. Absolutely refuses, that is, unless the Governor and the majority Dems in the Legislature adopt the Republican policy program in its entirety and then agrees to govern as if Republicans had won any statewide office at all.

In all of the wrangling over state budgets and their "repair", one thing seems to be universally agreed on: there can be no increase in taxation on the rich, on corporations, or on wealth whatsoever, and in fact, taxation on the well-off must be reduced.

This is Doctrine.

Everywhere and for all parties.

And it is, of course, a leading factor in the race to the bottom.

Wages and pensions of workers must be cut; prices must rise. But absolutely nothing whatever can be allowed to take even one feather from the comfortable nests of the High and the Mighty. It cannot be contemplated. The idea is verboten. Don't even think about it. (This was also a problem in the 1930's -- despite higher tax rates on wealth then than now -- and it is one reason the Great Depression went on so very long.)

Economic policies must be adopted to foster another series of bubbles, because that's how the High and the Mighty get so High and Mighty -- the only way, in fact, for most of them to continue to accumulate their riches and their power.

The untermenschen must be made to pay more for the privilege of being ruled by these ever fattening predators.

What is so striking about it is that the Overclass is literally offering the proles nothing in compensation for the pillage. Their program is simple: reduce everyone else's standard of living to -- or below -- the barest minimum so as to ensure the continued comfort and convenience of the merry Masters of the Universe. What do the proles get? They get to "live." If they can. "Freedom!" Don't you see?

They get the "Freedom" to support their betters or to starve. Genius.

It's a masterpiece of reactionary bullshit.

Seemingly no one knows what to do about it, despite the fact that there is a spreading grassroots world-wide revolt-revolutionary movement against this sort of garbage, some of it taking place right here in the United States, that has captivated attention.

The success or failure of the Revolutions remains to be seen, but it is clear that the Ruling Class, no matter where they are, is not giving up without a fight, and in the United States, they are not giving up at all. They are if anything doubling down on their demands and they are simply ignoring the People's Will and the Public Interest in their quest for ultimate Victory.

There's plenty of opposition, but they don't care, and they will not yield. They want what they want and they fully intend to get it, regardless of any and all opposition.

It's interesting that some observers seem to recognize and to diminish the importance of the truth of the matter by asserting, for example, that the Koch Brothers -- among others -- are not really all that powerful or all that important in the larger scheme of things, and that whatever they are doing is not really making all that much of a difference in the long run.

Um. Sure. Whatever.

The implacable Will to Power of the MOTUs doesn't really make all that much difference. Never did, never will. If you believe that, there are any number of poorly maintained and dangerous bridges on the market... cheap.

Even Sweet Baby Ezra seems to have caught on to the notion that an Opposition that is predicated on Preserving Remnants of What Used To Be, ie: keeping the Looters from Taking Everything, is simply inadequate to deal with what is really going on.

Even he sees that trying to maintain Social Security as it is is a losing strategy, when the crying need is for critical and systemic improvements to a system that is set up to barely cover the most minimal retirement and disability costs of those who rely on it. In other words, the Social Security system is not even remotely adequate as it is, yet all the talk is about making it less so.

This is, in a word, stupid.

So. What to do?

Of course the first thing is to recognize there is a problem.

Our political class does not recognize it.

But the key to reversing the trend toward declining living standards for the masses so as to ensure the continued comfort and convenience at the top of the pyramid is for the proles to come up with their own demands, not to "preserve" the status quo but to significantly improve the condition of the masses. This should be simple to understand, but apparently it is not.

Instead, the opinion leaders of the proletariat seem to be content to await the pleasure of the political class to tell them what is important and what to think about it.

Whenever actual improvements of programs and services to the masses are brought up, actual methods of improving the economy or putting people back to work, or whatever, the political class says, essentially, "No. Nothing like that can be done. We will be lucky if we can preserve this, that, or the other aspect of What Used to Be, and we can consider that a Victory."

This is where we've been for years. And years. And years.

As conditions get worse and the race to the bottom accelerates, even the idea of making improvements in the conditions of the majority is lost.

Restoring that idea and developing it further and further is the key to bettering conditions for the Many.

I've talked and written about it frequently. I'm still waiting for anyone else to pick up the thread.

We want Better.

It's that simple.


  1. Ché,

    That is very clearly statement, and true to the core.

    Realizing all of that is a first step, as you say. Too many Americans still don't realize it, unfortunately.

    I posted this one Salon, but a recent survey shows us that all too many Americans think this society is far more equal than it really is. That's a huge key in keeping us from really getting radicalized in our own best interests.

    Norton and Ariely show us that 92% of Americans chose Sweden as an ideal state of wealth and income distribution, when they don't realize it's Sweden.

    Very few Americans will choose our own system, if they don't know it's America being represented, etc.

    . . . .

    This tells me the media and our educational system have done an amazing job of brainwashing. I also think it's why the right has gotten even more brazen in recent years. They realize that really nothing they do will be considered "extreme", because most Americans won't discover its extremism until years go by. The spin on those policies will obscure everything until it's much too late.

    The ruling class knows it won't pay for it even then.

    Hope all is well --

  2. Had troubles posting the above comment. Probably a matter of filters at work.

    Anyway, want to express my support again for your fine writings. I think Salon would do well to give you the same chance they gave GG.

    Take care --

  3. Cu-hool,

    Heh. Unfortunately, that is one of my most poorly written efforts, and there is no doubt I will have to revise it at some point. Let this be a lesson: I'm not nearly as coherent as I think I am at 4:30 in the morning.

    "Americans prefer Sweden" -- I like that. They just don't know it.

    Americans don't know what to do about the hideous and worsening situation we face, that's for certain. And the propaganda and brainwashing efforts of the Ruling Class are intended to make sure they never do know what to do, much like Orwell's proles.

    There are many, many barriers to get past before we can even begin to see the outlines of a Better Future, but I am ever the optimist that it will happen.

    Been to the doctor again; apparently I'm doing OK, may even be -- almost -- recovered. Yay!

    Hope you're doing OK as well. Feel free to email if you like.



    PS: Thanks for the testimonial. Does it seem to you that Salon is in the process of gutting its staff? Seems to me it's really gone downhill since the New Year, as they search desperately for a buyer. If they were smart, of course, the Kochs would pick it up for a song, but... they're not that bright, are they> ;-)


  4. Glad to hear you're okay. Will drop ya an email this weekend.

    . . . .

    I agree with you about Salon. It was a trailblazer for independent online media, and it may have run its course. It chose the wrong side from a financial point of view, of course, as the wingnut welfare gravy train won't back it. That's where all the money is. The vast majority of right wing media never pays for itself, and has a very hard time with any kind of fundraising outside of conservative front groups. But there are billionaires aplenty who don't mind forking over the loot. They know they can make more money indirectly by absolutely owning the narrative.

    Too bad the left doesn't have that kind of backing (or mindset). It, unlike the right, wouldn't have to manufacture false stories and endless disinformation to appeal to its base. It could just tell the truth. But, apparently, there's no money in that, or will.

    . . . .

    Have been thinking a lot lately about real "centrism". As in, the compromise position between right and left. That would be Social Democracy for Europe and a strong New Deal for America. In America and in much of Europe, "the center" has slid so far right, the "compromise" is now between the right and further right. We, of course, lead the way in that, but it's spreading -- except for Latin America.

    Our only hope?