Sunday, February 20, 2011

National Deficit - The Scalpel or the Axe?

How can we see something as big and as bright as a star if it doesn't even exist?

When we think of the vastness of space - whether it be the entire Universe, our galaxy, or just our own solar system - it's incomprehensible to us. NASA scientists have tried to put this into perspective for us by using graphics that were created using data from satellite telescopes. But that little image we see on our computer monitors or TV sets doesn't tell the whole picture. It's only a snapshot in time (which is relevant to space-time). When we look at a star, we see it as it ONCE was many light years ago...we're looking into the past. It could no longer exist today but we wouldn't know this for a very long time - because its light takes so long to reach our eyes over the vast distances of space.

Our federal bureaucracy and our budgets are almost as vast and incomprehensible as the Universe is to most of us. Yet our politicians (and the supposed "economists") crunch the numbers as though a company bookkeeper or an accountant might...and even within their tiny budgets huge mistakes are often made and embezzlement occurs, bankrupting the company. This happens in government as well, but on a much grander scale (government waste, fraud, and abuse).

President Obama talks about taking a scalpel to the budget, while at the same time the Republicans want to recklessly use an axe. Both are wrong and both ways are impossible to do. After cutting or adding a dollar here or there, we won't see the actual outcome for a very long time to come - we won't see the immediate repercussions. After I lost my job two years ago (source of revenue), I didn't know I would have burned through my savings (budget surplus) and ended up broke (bankrupt) and still remained unemployed. In hindsight, I would have done things much differently.

The problem we have today was allowed to happen over there can not be any quick fixes. It's just like turning a huge super-tanker 360's not going to turn on a dime. And with America's vast financial problems, the deficit will have to be fixed incrementally, a little at a time. But before we can fix a problem, we have to identify the problem first, then try to fix the problem, and then wait to see the results.

We are in a deep hole and it will take a long time to dig out. The GOP's plan to use an axe is like spinning your rear tires when you're stuck in sand or'll just dig yourself in deeper. Obama's plan to use a scalpel is too little, too late. No amount of financial surgery will help if time is the only thing the patient needs before they can heal. But we first have to properly diagnose the patient's illness before we can administer the proper treatment (I mention a few below).

Let's start with jay-o-bees - JOBS. Jobs are a global (and universal) necessity. Humans need things to do to fulfill their primary needs of food and shelter. If millions of American jobs are going to China, that's a very good thing if all America wants to do is to improve the human condition for people living on the other side of our planet. Why don't we help those in another galaxy as well, before helping those living across the street from us? Zorons living a million light years away can pay taxes to THEIR extra-terrestrial treasury before we can lower our national debt too!

It was (mostly) Republicans who caused the Great Recession...but the Democrats helped too, such as Senators Frank and Dodd and all the others involved in the collapse of the housing market due to such things as poor oversight, unregulated financial markets, un-enforced laws, and poor laws to begin with (and let's not forget those who actually created the "housing bubble").

  - Two years ago we were in the middle of massive layoffs as the stock market was crashing.
  - A year ago we had 10 million jobless Americans receiving unemployment insurance compensation.
  - A year from now those same 10 million Americans will most likely still be jobless but with no income at all, yet the stock market could be trading at all-time highs.

All the jobs created last year in 2010 weren't even enough to employ those first entering the job market. Younger graduate students are taking any new jobs being created before the unemployed are ever even being considered for re-hire again. Older workers have been discriminated against for both: being old, and for being unemployed. But usually they are given the excuse of being either "over qualified" or "lacking the necessary skills". (All those "old" people always seem to be falling between the cracks somewhere outside the middle.)

Last month we only netted 35,000 private sector jobs when 1.25 million a month for a one straight year is needed just to break even. Now the GOP wants to bust public worker's unions, lay off more people, and raise the jobless rate even higher (GOP House leader John Boehner: "So be it.") Why don't we lay off some damn political hacks too!

America's "normal" unemployment rate had been raised by the government from 5% to 6% - now there's talk of 7% (today China's new "normal" unemployment rate is 4%, just as ours once was a few short years ago.)

The stock market (corporations and banks) have been recovering, but 15 million (plus) Americans still remain jobless. So, is the economy recovering? Where is the rising tide, lifting all our pathetic little boats Mister Reagan? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm?

Ask the CEOs and bankers: "What's in your wallet?" when your jobless benefits run out and you are forced to apply for food stamps.

With so many people laid off and being unemployed for so long (and because of property values), the federal, State, and local governments are all going broke for lack of tax revenues.

...yet the corporate executives and bankers had their tax breaks extended another two years...

...but jobless benefits were only extended 13 months while the stock market just hit another two-year high.

 - Republicans (who wanted tax breaks for the rich) also want to bust up labor unions for workers.
 - Republicans (who demanded tax breaks rich people) want to cut Medicare for the elderly.
 - Republicans (who always cater to the richest 2%) want to cut heat and food stamps for the poor.
 - Republicans (who favor the rich) want to cut Social Security and raise the eligibility age again.
 - Republicans (who only love the rich) want corporations giving bribes to politicians for campaigns.
 - Republicans are anti-government (anti-people) because they never want to FUND the government (The People).

Corporations and banks want to cut the budget, but don't want to pay into the budget either...
...and it's common knowledge that Republicans (and most rich Democrats) cater to BIG BUSINESSES. Politicians on both sides of the aisle only give lip service to true financial reform (and to actually helping the long-term unemployed).

Democrats and Republicans allowed the outsourcing of America's jobs for the past 40 years, further enriching the corporate and banking executives, while widening the disparity in our wages. But it was (MOSTLY) the Republicans going back to Ronald Reagan who reduced the middle class. He fired all those air traffic controllers and now the GOP wants to lay more off in 2011.

The Republicans (with the Tea Party) control the House, so expect much more of the same of all-of-the-above.

 - It's not getting any better for US, it's only getting better for corporations and banks.
 - It's not getting any better for US, homes are under water and millions still remain unemployed.
 - It's not getting any better for US - a year from now at least 15 million Americans will STILL be out of work - - - but by then they will have NO INCOME AT ALL after their UI benefits have expired or been exhausted.
 - It's not getting any better for US - suicides, home foreclosures, homelessness, bankruptcies, and repossessed cars are all UP. But as Vice President Biden tells us, "Hang in there." Why sir? Is the best yet to come?

The problems that America faces are as vast as the universe, but most of all the pain is being felt by the unemployed. When there's annual inflation, people WITH jobs have a little less buying power every year with their dollars, but people WITHOUT jobs have no dollars and buying power at all.

 - People WITH jobs can cut back a little on their budgets, but people WITHOUT jobs have already cut back as far as they can.
 - People WITH jobs don't need home-heating assistance, food stamps, Social Security, unemployment compensation, SS disability, or any other "government hand-out". People WITHOUT jobs can die.
 - People WITH jobs don't feel much of the pain, it's the people WITHOUT jobs that have to do most of sacrificing...yet the politicians insist that they have to sacrifice more. What has Congress ever had to sacrifice for themselves?

In this vast Universe that the politicians (and those WITH jobs) live in, I can only wonder sometimes...what planet do they live on? Did the star I wished upon as a child explode into a super-nova and burn out, now just a blackhole in space - just like my American Dream?


  1. We try to make sense of decisions and actions of those elected to represent us as if there is rational justification. There's not! All the talking points are proscribed to cross circuit our brains into hating the "other side" when the real culprits are those we never see nor hear about; the elite. I'm not talking about the local bank president, raking in a whopping $300k or even the executive pulling in $15 million. Those people are just agents of the elite. The rest of us are pawns.

    I suggest that none of us has the big picture because of all the dis and misinformation that has been brainwashing us into one perspective or another to keep us divided for decades (and more). One such assumption is "Jobs are a global (and universal) necessity". I respectfully disagree.

    A job is generally considered selling time/energy/services to a corporate entity for the privilege of life. What if food, shelter and medical care necessary for life was actually a right, guaranteed and enforced by society? What if everyone did what they love every day in service to fellow humans and we use technology/machines/computers to do everything it is capable of doing?

    We only need to work for the man because we are required to trade worthless paper (or the corresponding electronic accounting entry) for life necessities. So we all scurry around to find the least offensive activity that pays us the most to spend our lives doing something we'd really rather not, just to enrich the very rich (follow the money).

    What if freedom actually meant we are free to live our lives doing what we love (hmmm...sounds remarkably similar to what I learned was capitalism but is obviously not)?

    It's not my idea but one I ran across after over a year of being unemployable (despite acquiring credentials that were supposed to guarantee me opportunity). It's called The Zeitgeist Movement and Venus Project where in the end, everyone is equal and entitled to share the prosperity of our world. Having a "job" and an "employer" that has control over our ability to survive is only good for the elite controllers of capital.

    Great article!

  2. You don't have to agree or disagree with me...that you left a comment was my only goal ;)