The news out of Europe yesterday vis-a-vis "austerity" or the reduction in governmental spending should send shivers down the spines of America's middle and lower classes. In the Netherlands, there has been a call for early elections and in the United Kingdom riots erupted as Britain posted its second straight quarter of negative growth, denoting a double-dip recession. Calls for a cessation of Republican measures in similar austerity as seen in the most recent Paul Ryan budget endorsed by Republican Presidential front-runner Willard "Mitt" Romney have been articulated by many economists. Why, then, is the Republican Party hell-bent on slashing governmental budgets in the early stages of a weak economic recovery, especially given Former Vice President Dick Cheney's infamous notation in 2002 that "deficits don't matter"?
The answer to this question lies in one simply conclusion: to bring "jobs back to America" all while ensuring large profit margins for the investment class; the Republican Party seems determined to reduce the American labor pool to the "competitive levels" of the developing world.
This seemingly preposterous assertion becomes a bit clearer when we look at some facts:
- Michele Bachmann and other groups on the right have proposed eliminating the minimum wage,
- "Mitt" Romney's as well as the Republican Party's calls for "union busting," eliminating the ability for unions to collect dues,
- Paul Ryan's budget endorsed by "Mitt" Romney yet opposed by American Bishops . . .
. . . citations could continue in the realms of healthcare and other social safety net items but I think we all get the point and all of the sudden a "preposterous assertion" starts to look a little more in focus.
So why doesn't Romney, Ryan, and the Republican Party as a whole simply "man up" to their Randian desires? Why can't they acknowledge their longing to essentially repeal the 20th Century, a move they clearly believe will allow "America" to become more competitive? Because that is not how "divide and conquer" wins the day. It is far easier to call contrarian debate "Socialist" (proving how woefully deficient in their education they are) and to then state that regulations and taxes constrain "the job creators". They claim all this, with a straight face mind you, all while unable to show the jobs created under the presidency of George W. Bush and then completely running away from his monstrous job losses! But this seemingly contradiction is easily solved by Romney and Ryan . . . make the American labor force look more like our "competitors".
And here is the rub. When speaking of competitors, they rarely speak of our advanced industrial peers (Germany, France, Scandinavia, Canada, etc.) -- you know, the ones that invest in education and other social programs that fortify their respective societies. No, the "competition" Republicans often cite are China, Vietnam and the like; countries that have negligible union representation, low if any minimum wages, and social and worker safety nets that mirror ours in the 19th and early 20th Centuries -- the century I suggest Republicans hope to repeal. Perhaps even more nefarious is the notion that they seemingly want to strip workers of their voices (unions), protections (minimum wages), and security (medicare, social security) all while emboldening the largest unions of all: the US Chamber of Commerce, the "Club For Growth" and other organizations that represent the needs and wills of business. Sadly, they then are able to use subterfuge and flim-flam to convince the (mostly White, male) working-class that they somehow "have their back." Divide and conquer!
Romney, Marco Rubio and others have stated their romantic nostalgia for "the Bush years". Couple this with Paul Ryan's "morally bankrupt" budget and perhaps we too can achieve the austere results of Britain and the rest of Europe. For many of us on the "true" left, a Republican "sweep" in 2012 would almost come as a welcome gift for the results of the "conservative, 'neo-Bush' agenda" would no doubt and forever relegate the Republican Party to permanent minority status as early as 2016!
Middle-class Americans, the choice is indeed ours. The "job creators" have proven inept at their task. They look at us simply as a means to their ends. In Utah, for example where they have low unemployment and decent "job" growth, the jobs most often seen are those devoid of wages and benefits many of us would deem "livable" and "family viable." Jobs are indeed coming back but the standards are not "American". In my opinion we need to resurrect and expand our voices (unions complemented the largest middle-class growth in American history!), demand protection (raise the minimum wage), and ensure our security (protect social security and medicare and indeed fight for medicare for all). I can already hear the hue and cry from they right: how will we pay for this and why should we. Posited solutions for "how" are out there and have been discussed in other forums. The "why" is simple: it is our country too and as Tom Petty once spoke . . . "we don't have to live like refugees" in our own country and make ourselves subject to a Romney/Ryan aristocratic (99% if you will) takeover!