These were all built by and for those who will profit from them; our job is to come to accept what we’re told about them: deficit reduction; fiscal cliff; shared sacrifice; entitlements; Grand Bargain; austerity; disemployment (Lambert Strether’s excellent term); privatization; too big to fail. That’s just a partial list, of course. Feel free to add to it.
A few thoughts from others:
Robert Reich, at Nation of Change, Why We Should Stop Obsessing About the Federal Budget Deficit:
I wish President Obama and the Democrats would explain to the nation that the federal budget deficit isn’t the nation’s major economic problem and deficit reduction shouldn’t be our major goal. Our problem is lack of good jobs and sufficient growth, and our goal must be to revive both.
Deficit reduction leads us in the opposite direction – away from jobs and growth. The reason the ‘fiscal cliff’ is dangerous (and, yes, I know — it’s not really a ‘cliff’ but more like a hill) is because it’s too much deficit reduction, too quickly. It would suck too much demand out of the economy.
Mark Weisbrot, Real-World Economics Review, Employment – not deficit reduction – should be the first priority for federal government:
As the much-hyped ‘fiscal cliff’ looms at the end of the year, there is talk about “comprehensive tax reform” as part of a deal to achieve deficit reduction. …
But the whole debate misses the boat in so many ways that it is hard to list them all in this space. First, the ‘fiscal cliff’ is a scam. …
Second, the idea that reducing the federal budget deficit or public debt should be a priority – especially at this time – is just wrong, as a matter of accounting and economics. Any deficit reduction that takes place while the economy is this weak will simply cause more unemployment and reduced income for Americans. …
The real priority of both the lame duck session and the new Congress should be creating jobs. We have more than 22 million people who are unemployed or underemployed, and the percentage of unemployed that are long-term (out of work 27 weeks or longer) has been at record levels.
Lambert Strether, at Truth Out, Grand Bargain or Great Betrayal? Reading the Tea Leaves of Fiscal Intentions for Entitlements:
Here’s what we should be hearing from Obama: ‘I guarantee that there won’t be one penny of cuts to social insurance programs, and any efficiency gains will be passed through as increased benefits.’ This is a moderate and centrist position … .
Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report, Freedom Rider: Grand Bargain is the Satan Sandwich:
Alexa, Corrente, Unions Will Lead Charge To Implement ‘Obama Plan To Win On Fiscal Cliff’ — The Ed Show:
ED SCHULTZ: The President is planning to barnstorm the country. To go directly to the American people, and this time around, labor is prepared to launch an all-out effort on the air and on the ground, to backup the President’s position.
Finally, here’s a report you might want to peruse from The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Pulling Apart: A State-by-State Analysis of Income: (emphasis added)
A state-by-state examination finds that income inequality has grown in most parts of the country since the late 1970s. Over the past three business cycles prior to 2007, the incomes of the country’s highest-income households climbed substantially, while middle-and lower-income households saw only modest increases.
During the recession of 2007 through 2009, households at all income levels, including the wealthiest, saw declines in real income due to widespread job losses and the loss of realized capital gains. But the incomes of the richest households have begun to grow again while the incomes of those at the bottom and middle continue to stagnate and wide gaps remain between high-income households and poor and middle-income households. As of the
late 2000s (2008-2010, the most recent data available at the time of this analysis):
In the United States as a whole, the poorest fifth of households had an average income of $20,510, while the top fifth had an average income of $164,490 – eight times as much. In 15 states, this top-to-bottom ratio exceeded 8.0. In the late 1970s, in contrast, no state had a top-to-bottom ratio exceeding 8.0.
The average income of the top 5 percent of households was 13.3 times the average income of the bottom fifth. The states with the largest such gaps were Arizona, New Mexico, California, Georgia, and New York, where the ratio exceeded 15.0.
The report and analysis argues that while there are “useful steps” states can take,
… federal as well as state policies will have to play an important role if low- and middle-income households are to stop receiving steadily smaller shares of the income pie.
Federal, state, and local, policies will all continue playing roles. From my perspective, what we need to do is pay very careful attention to who “builds” those policies, and when indicated, refuse to come to accept them as inevitable, the best deal possible, lesser of two evil solutions, etc. Policies built by the Two Party Front for the Oligarchy are always about their best interest. Not ours. Not those of “this great nation of ours.” Theirs.
(Income Inequality Map via Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)