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1 28th February 21:15
daniel j. lavigne
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Default While America Sleeps (right-wing)


The Other War
By Charles Derber

George W. Bush is waging a war at home on the American people. Launched with
velvet economic and social weapons, this other war is already devastating
American workers and communities. Yet Bush's war against ordinary Americans
is largely invisible because the media are busy dutifully mesmerizing the
public with the official propaganda entertainment on Iraq. It is high time
to address this second front of the Bush war regime, since there is still
time to stop it.

Over the past century, the American government has evolved into a marriage
of global companies, the American political class, and the Pentagon, with
corporations increasingly the dominant partner. This new Iron Triangle does
not share a completely unified set of interests, but the three partners
increasingly work together to maximize corporate profits and minimize
popular dissent. The corporate state they are working to create is formally
based on democratic rhetoric, constitutionalism, and free elections, but it
is profoundly anti-democratic in practice. Its aim is to shovel public
wealth into the coffers of private elites. Since the corporate state steals
from ordinary workers to enrich the wealthy, it is plagued by a chronic
crisis of legitimacy that requires the transformation of citizens into couch
potatoes.

Bush's war at home seeks to tighten the grip of the corporate state by
radically accelerating this money transfer from poor to rich,
institutionalizing it in a reverse Robin Hood system for decades to come.
His efforts in support of the corporate state take place in the wake of the
dramatic new threats to its survival. The collapse of the financial markets
after the 1990s speculative boom marked the beginning of a sustained crisis
in corporate profitability, a long term unraveling of the current economic
order that could spell the decline of American global hegemony. The Enron
crisis created a follow-on crisis of faith in the American corporate order
both at home and abroad. The Bush war plan attacks the double crises of
profitability and faith by 1) refocusing the American public on exaggerated
foreign threats and 2) creating a "regime change" at home that dismantles
the remnants of the New Deal social contract and enshrines a new brutal
state capitalism never seen before. In the name of the "free market," the
Bush regime is marshalling all resources of the state to bail the corporate
order out of the mess that it has created for itself.

Bush's war at home has gone through its first battles, preparing the ground
for the domestic counterpart to the "battle of Baghdad," a pending
legislative campaign for the most radical socio-economic transformation
since the Civil War. The first stage of the war-launched with massive tax
breaks for the rich, radical deregulation, vast corporate welfare,
zero-budgeting for social programs, and new policies to facilitate corporate
flight abroad-is familiar from the Reagan years and relatively benign
compared to what is to come. But it has created vast new casualties littered
all over the home front. The most obvious are the millions of Americans who
have lost their jobs; Bush is the first president in modern history to
preside over a net loss of jobs, a staggering two million net jobs
"disappeared." Not surprisingly, 50 percent of Americans tell pollsters that
they fear for their own job in the next year.

The casualties on the home front are concentrated among the unemployed and
the working poor, who together now constitute close to 40 percent of the
population. Bush's giant tax cuts for the wealthy, totaling in the trillions
of dollars up to 2010, are the largest hand-out to the rich ever. The
combination of tax cuts (including a shrinking of corporate taxes from 50
percent in 1940 to about 14 percent of the entire tax burden now) and vast
increases in corporate subsidies and defense outlays, with 50 percent of
discretionary expenses going to the Pentagon, have already radically reduced
the amount of money for social programs, especially for the most needy. In
the House-approved Bush Budget for fiscal year 2004, cuts would eliminate
health coverage for 13.6 million kids, end school lunches for 2.4 million
low income children, end benefits for 65,000 neglected and abused children,
and reduce food stamp benefits to an average 81 cents a meal from 91 cents.

To staunch the red ink of exploding fiscal and trade deficits, Bush is
drawing blood by massively heaping burdens on states and localities that
already are experiencing horrific deficits, forcing new, draconian cuts in
education, health care, and social welfare on the state and local levels.
The deficits in states from California to New York are so high that
emergency services including police, fire, and "homeland security" are being
radically cut, on top of the mass firing of teachers, health care and social
workers, and the wholesale closing of schools, hospitals, and community
shelters and services. Meanwhile, Bush's trade and labor policies have
permitted big companies to eliminate defined benefit pensions, abolish
corporate health insurance (or dramatically cut benefits and increase
co-pays), and eliminate unions themselves. The percentage of private sector
unionized workers has fallen to under 9 percent under Bush, drastically
weakening workers' ability to defend minimal protections and benefits.
Bush's gift of $15 billion to the airlines after 9/11 while offering nothing
to their laid off workers is an apt symbol of the Bush war at home.

This is all preparatory for the "mother battle" to come. The war plan for
"regime change" at home-a total transformation in the nation's political
economy beyond anything Reagan or the Gilded Age robber barons envisioned-is
outlined in a series of legislative proposals that are buried from public
view in the current carefully-nurtured obsession with terrorism and Iraq.
Bush's plan exempts wealth from taxation and public accountability,
privatizes the entire "commons," removes monopoly restraints on global
companies, morphs the social welfare budget into a corporate welfare system,
enshrines a permanent warfare state for global profits and domestic control,
and builds a permanent government of CEOs and a regime of radical inequality
that Jefferson believed would destroy democracy.

A leading edge of the domestic "battle for Baghdad" is a series of
remarkably radical programs for restructuring the concept and taxation of
wealth. Taxation of wealth had always been based on a view that wealth is
produced from the commons and thus should be redistributed in some measure
to all who contribute to its creation. Bush has reconceptualized wealth as
the constitutionally protected fruit of private entrepreneurship, thus
negating the basis for taxing or controlling it. In the most radical shift
since the introduction of the income tax in 1913, Bush is proposing to end
the dividend tax and the estate tax while creating astonishing tax shelters
for upper income families. The abolition of the dividend and estate taxes
will benefit overwhelmingly the top 1 percent who already control about 40
percent of the nation's wealth and 49 percent of taxable stocks and mutual
funds. The various tax shelter proposals allow a family of four to remove
$60,000 each year from taxation over the entire lifetime of the owners; that
is, once sheltered, no taxes will ever be paid on these funds. Rationalized
as a vehicle for increasing savings and investment capital, it is a thinly
disguised move to protect wealth from the reach of the state, a parallel to
the constitutional shifts made during the Gilded Age that defined
corporations as legal private persons and sheltered their resources from
public control.

Closely related is the proposed legislation for privatizing social security,
legislation that will destroy social security as a redistributive social
contract across generations and turn it into an entrepreneurial scheme for
private investment. This is a part of the privatization of the commons that
involves not only dismantling all the social insurance programs of the New
Deal but turning public wilderness forests over to the mining and timber
companies; water resources over to global conglomerates such as Bechtel; the
air waves over to media monopolies such as NewsCorp; educational, health,
prison and social welfare services over to corporations such as Microsoft
and General Electric; and even military services over to private military
companies such as Dyncorp and Military Professional Resources. Privatization
of the commons is embedded in the constitutionalism of the World Trade
Organization and the International Monetary Fund, both controlled through
Washington.

One of the generals leading the domestic Battle of Baghdad is Colin Powell's
son, Michael, Bush's chair of the Federal Communications Commission. Powell
is fighting for near total deregulation of media monopolies, removing the
last restraints on concentration in radio, TV, newspapers, and other key
information and entertainment companies. Ten corporations already control
11,000 radio stations, 2,000 television stations, and 1,800 newspapers in
the United States. The Powell plan would allow Clear Channel, the largest
radio empire in the States with over 1200 stations to go up to well above
1500 stations, a move from already astonishing market power to what media
****ysts such as Bernard Kalb regard as market domination. The consequences
of monopoly in this sector are especially obvious and alarming, as Clear
Channel already is allegedly restricting any negative reporting on Iraq and
preventing the playing of popular anti-war songs on any of its channels.

While the new global monopolies lock in control of global markets, their
size and political influence secures their control of government itself.
They are developing the capacity to turn the entire federal government into
a gigantic corporate patron, at whose ample breast they can ****le
indefinitely. Shifting federal resources from social welfare to corporate
welfare has been the key aim of both Democratic and Republican
administrations since the 1960s, with even right-wing institutions such as
the Cato institution agreeing with Ralph Nader that the cronyist annual
corporate handouts total at least $300 billion a year. The new corporate
state delivers far more expansive forms of corporate welfare than
agribusiness subsidies or pharmaceutical give-aways; Bush's plan will shift
virtually the entire social arm of the government to corporate control while
using foreign policy to secure global corporate profits. Bush's novel
contribution here is a new Orwellian empire to increase profitability and
repress dissent against the corporate state.

Military Keynsianism has always been the secret weapon of radical free
marketeers to forestall the demand-side problem in the economy. Faced with a
very serious economic crisis in the wake of the global glut and downturn,
the slide in wages, and the collapse of consumer confidence, these so-called
free marketeers turn to military conquest to supply new demand for corporate
products and services. Bush is projecting military spending approaching half
a trillion in the next fiscal year; much of this spending, including the war
on Iraq, homeland security, and Iraqi reconstruction, are bonanzas for some
of Bush and Cheney's closest corporate cronies. One of the first and most
lucrative reconstruction contracts for fire prevention and servicing Iraq's
oil fields already has gone to Halliburton, Cheney's energy company. This
initial multi-million dollar contract is just a down payment on the
longer-term opportunity to exploit the endless riches buried in the Iraqi
desert. The almost certain early reconstruction contracts that will be given
to Bechtel, the world's largest contractor with close Bush, Cheney, and
Rumsfeld links, make clear that intimate cronies will be at the head of the
line at the Iraqi trough. Those of us not blinded by the power of the
corporate state can see that the Iraq war will do far less than prior wars
to solve the overall crisis in the economy and is more likely, through
imperial over-reach, to hasten American hegemonic decline at the expense of
rivals such as Europe and China. Bush, however, is determined to go forward,
blinded by his messianic militarism and his passion to feed and grow the
military-industrial complex while in office.

Indeed, the Bush plan is for total militarization at home and abroad, since
it enriches his cronies in the short term and represses dissent. Controlling
populist movements was also a vital aim of the Cold War, which split labor
from other popular movements and bound it to corporate power in a monolithic
force arrayed against "the evil Empire." The war on terrorism is the
successor to the Cold War, a vehicle for building American empire and
suppressing dissent in the name of anti-terrorism. Like the Cold War, it
shamelessly exploits fear and patriotism and splinters opponents of the
corporate state. Homeland security is just one part of the "shock and awe"
campaign at home that seeks to divide progressive groups-including labor,
environmental groups, and others-who had allied so explosively under the
banner of global justice in Seattle. Nonetheless, a pre-emptive peace
movement has already struck back, not only against the war in Iraq but
against the larger imperial and domestic aspirations of the corporate state.
Bush's war at home is meeting unexpected resistance; polls show a majority
of Americans believe Bush's domestic agenda is taking the country in the
wrong direction. Fighting Bush's unannounced war at home is and must
continue to be an integral part of the peace movement's agenda. There will
be no peace anywhere until we have created the regime change Americans need
and will increasingly demand as their own fortunes decline: our battle must
be to replace the Bush corporate state and its Republican or Democratic
successors with democracy.

Charles Derber, professor of sociology at Boston College, is author of The
Wilding of America and the recently published People Before Profit: The New
Globalization in an Age of Terror, Big Money and Economic Crisis.
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2 29th February 20:39
abelard
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Posts: 1
Default While America Sleeps


On Wed, 09 Jul 2003 13:19:34 -0400, "Daniel J. Lavigne"
<taxfree@taxrefusal.com>

typed:

up to here all fairly straight forward....even reasonable....
then it deteriorates into sheer hysterical babble.....

with no argument and no reasoning....


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