Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"No Cuts" vs The Correct Approach

Heels for Digging In

So Dems have "dug in their heels" regarding the issue du jour, "entitlement reform" -- ie: cutting benefits to the old, the sick, the lame and the halt, right along with further savage cuts to benefits for the poors.

"No cuts!" declare the Dems, not quite in unison, but with somewhat more vigor than they have managed in the recent past.

The problem they are avoiding, of course, is that Social Security benefit levels simultaneously too low for most recipients to begin with, and Medicare and Medicaid benefits often go where they are least needed rather than where they will do the most good.

We have a screwy benefit system, one that is designed to keep people on edge and uncertain during what will be the most difficult period of their lives. Rs are desperate to make the situation worse for most people, while Dems don't want to make it too much worse too fast for the majority.

The People have no say in the matter.

Except that they do, to a very limited extent, and they had their say in the "election" by confirming Obama in the White House, a Republican controlled House and a Democratic controlled Senate.

Of course we can point out how bizarre and anachronistic the whole electoral system in this country is, and we can specifically point out that Republican control of the House was assured by the gerrymandering engineered in State House after State House following the debacle of the 2010 election in which the Dems conceded the House of Representatives as well as state houses all over the country -- knowing full well what would happen.

I've pointed to this stunning political failure many times, but note of it is rarely made outside the fringes of Blogtopia (h/t Skippy).

This screwed up electoral system has assured the Powers That Be that the People's Voice will be forever muted in the halls and corridors of Power.

So the Powerful sit around deciding just how far they wish to push their programs of impoverishment for the masses, untold wealth for the few. They don't worry about the clamor outside the gates because they can't hear it. Even if they could, they wouldn't care. According to the institutional theory of Power, there is nothing the People can do -- or more importantly will do -- that the Powerful need pay any attention to.

It has been this way for many a long year.

They sit around deciding how much to cut the benefits of the masses and how fast to do it. There is no other discussion or consideration at all. The decision to cut has already been made, long since. The Dems say "No cuts!" but that isn't what they mean, and we know that because there have already been cuts, substantial cuts, to all three "entitlement" programs, cuts that "nobody noticed." Medicaid has taken the most savage hit, but Medicare and Social Security have both seen reductions due to "payment adjustments" in the case of Medicare, and failures to provide COLAs or only tiny COLAs in the case of Social Security.

"No cuts!" means "Cuts yes!" -- only slower and more subtly than they might otherwise be.

Ah, the language of salesmanship and politics!

And no one notices.

Well, that's the operating theory. As long as it is done slowly and subtly, no one will notice, the lid will stay on the boiling cauldron of popular discontent and the hyper-rich and powerful will sleep soundly and safely on top of their absurd and obscene piles of money. Forever and ever, amen!

The lessons of Europe are not lost on Our Betters. The prime lesson, of course, is that those in power can get away with almost anything they want, no matter how badly engineered and managed, no matter the popular clamor against it, because the People will never do anything that will seriously interfere. There are running street battles between police and protesters all over Europe, but it doesn't make a bit of difference to the High and the Mighty. In fact, they may enjoy the show. In election after election, those who are most responsible for the economic suffering of the People are returned to parliaments in their droves. Even when so-called "Socialists" are installed, as happened in France, the economic policies coming out of governments are the same. It doesn't matter who is elected, in other words, the policies don't change.

That's true in the United States as well, though the situation is a bit different because of our anachronistic system. It's easier to mask what's really going on under our system, and to make believe that the tiniest "difference" between policies is somehow earthshattering.

Americans are currently facing "austerity lite," but every sign suggests that our government will plunge head-long into Euro-style Austerity Heavy any day now.

The correct approach, of course, is just the opposite. Under current economic conditions, policies should be tailored to increasing employment, benefits, rebuilding, and more. None of that is being done, none of it will be done. No government that I know of is approaching current conditions appropriately. None.

Global Revolution is then made inevitable.


  1. So, here is the question: What is preventing revolutionary upheavals in those countries currently being hit the worst by the Austerity regime? Greece for example, why hasn't the Greek system been overthrown?

    People are willing to fight, and people have been driven to suicide and other desperate acts, but they can't seem to unite successfully to arrest and imprison their leaders.

    I don't have an answer, but it does make me wonder.

  2. "What is preventing revolutionary upheavals..." Yes, well. Isn't that the question? Is anything preventing it?

    There is definitely pre-revolutionary fervor -- that tips over into revolutionary fervor -- abroad in Europe. Europe was in turmoil well before the Arab Spring; the Arab Spring was partly inspired by the resistance in Greece -- resistance which itself had been going on for years. The North African and European struggles were obviously linked, at least initially.

    The Occupy struggles in the US and elsewhere were inspired by the Arab struggles and the European ones, and some of Occupy's early impetus came directly from the Indignato protests in Spain which were themselves partially derived from the Tahrir Square protests in Egypt -- that brought down Mubarak.

    Armed insurrection has taken place and is taking place in a number of Arab actions, but not in Europe or the United States. It just isn't part of the Revolutionary programs in either region. Insurrection has been very bloody and disturbing where it has taken place, and no one can state with any confidence that the results of armed insurrection have been more than marginally beneficial -- and then only to a small cadre.

    The nonviolent programs in Europe and the US (even the Greek Riots fit under the "nonviolent" rubric because they are not armed insurrections nor are they turning into armed insurrections) are strongly influenced by the theories of Gene Sharp. His work was also instrumental in the early Arab Spring actions. He has a very definite -- some would say rigid -- point of view about how to conduct successful "revolution" in the modern era, and armed insurrection isn't an accepted part of it.

    But at the same time nonviolent protest and revolutionary action isn't working -- apparently at all -- under the influence/guidance of Gene Sharp's theories.

    Why isn't it working -- the way it did, for example, in Eastern Europe and the Philippines?

    I would argue it's because the upshot of a Sharp-ian uprising is the triumph of neo-liberalism. Whether that's his intent or not, I don't know, but that's what successful Sharp-ian uprisings almost always lead to. In the US and Europe and much of the rest of the world, neo-liberalism is already triumphant -- and we're all suffering the consequences. Revolutionary action that leads to neo-liberal triumph doesn't seem to work to overthrow it. Doesn't even seem to work to influence it.

    Interesting, eh?

    As far as I can tell, that's where the sticking point is.