If I were watching Congress from afar, popcorn and beer in hand, resting on the sofa, I could only shake my head at their farcical behavior and marvel at the fantasy world created by talented screenwriters. I could get up and make coffee during commercials, and swear at the more notorious characters that plague my TV screen. If only Congress were just a TV series, something that I could forget between episodes, and be entertained for an hour a night, once a week.
It is said that art imitates life, but I disagree. No screenwriter, no novelist could imagine the ineptitude, the corruption, the fantasy world in which the current crop of politicians in Washington reside. In four days, the sequester will hit this nation like a tsunami, shredding the life savings of millions of people. Millions more will be in danger of losing their livelihood. It is quite likely that over the next months of perhaps a year, this country will slide majestically back into recession, and if continued for long enough, into depression.
Conservatives revel in disaster, disasters they create as they bungle and slither their way through the legislative process. Like the petulant, infantile ideologues they are, they demand that everything be run their way, regardless of who gets hurt, regardless of the suffering, poverty and monotony that will plague the lives of their constituents.
The only people who conservatives want to help are those that already have far more than they will ever need, those parasites that accumulate vast fortunes at the expense of the workers. Not one penny more will these predators pay to ensure the smooth functioning of their nation, the country that made them wealthy, and gave them the opportunity to prosper.
The list of people who will be affected when the drastic cuts of the sequester are implemented is a dispiriting one. School teachers will be laid off, children will go without vaccines, food safety inspectors will be furloughed, pollution will run amok as inspectors lose their jobs. Military vessels will be unable to leave port, military contractors will lose their jobs, roads will go unrepaired, traffic lights will remain dark.
The most dramatic impact will be that on the economy, as the money that flows from the employed will dry up. Small businesses surrounding those government buildings that employ thousands of workers will close their doors or lay off workers. The businesses that those workers frequent will downsize, stop hiring, or send their workers to China or India. The repercussions of all that economic activity being suspended will ripple throughout the country.
The wealthy, too will be affected. The companies they own will make less profit and they will pay their workers less, and those workers will draw back and stop spending. Everyone loses when government stops employing.
In Europe, austerity has left nations reeling as their economies turn down and GDP contracts. In Spain, youth unemployment is around forty percent, while total unemployment is over twenty percent. Austerity was supposed to reduce the national debt in European countries, and yet, it has done the opposite as debt to GDP ratios rise. Their economies are shrinking. Austerity is not working, it will not work.
Republican governors in the states are starting to realize the impact of arbitrary cuts on their economy. They are only starting to speak out against the obstructionism in Congress. With four days to go, this is not the time to play chicken with the economy.
Corporations love this deadlock. If government is seen not to be working, they can replace those services and jack up prices on consumers who will have no choice but to pay and watch their lives deteriorate.
It is a gigantic extortion racket, holding the country to ransom to demand more and more for their corporate bedfellows while the Middle Class and poor suffer the consequences of Congressional inaction.
For corporations it is wonderful, they can demand more from their indentured servants while driving wages down. More unemployed workers driven from their federal jobs will flood the market, driving wages down further, providing greater profit for companies. This profit is fleeting as people withdraw from the consumer market, hoard their funds and spend less. Profits will ultimately dry up and corporations will drown for lack of custom.
Social programs will suffer cuts in benefits and the elderly will find it far more difficult to make do on what they receive, hospitals will turn patients away as coverage for medical procedures disappear. The ultimate aim of the conservatives is to ensure that the wealthy stop paying their taxes, while the people are forced to pay ever more to support the opulent lifestyles of the scavengers and predators in their halls of stone.
What kind of nation do we live in when programs that provide food stamps and shelters for the homeless, such as they are, become eviscerated, when children attend unheated schools in winter, and lack air-conditioning in summer, when young adults incur staggering debt just to get a degree, when attending a top medical school amounts to a million dollars?
When Washington capitulates one day soon, will we be run by Exxon and Wal-Mart and General Electric. Is this the new face of dictatorship, in which corporations, not nations govern the people, and the only value you have is what you are able to spend?
Conservatives love to tell us all how they love free markets, but what they envisage is not a free market, it is a super-capitalism, run by large corporations. A true free-market would enable everyone to have a decent shot at a good life, at starting a business in a fair, competitive environment instead of the stultifying prison created by large monopolies.
In Europe, austerity is creating growing social unrest, as shown by Spain, which had demonstrations against austerity again today. In Greece, demonstrations are becoming more common, and the people becoming more radical and extreme. The imposition by Germany of austerity on the population is causing increasing social upheaval, and it is unlikely to end soon without a change of tactics on the right.
As in Europe, the Austerians in Congress want to carry out the same failed policies that we see in Europe. Just as in Europe, these policies will fail to improve the situation and will make it substantially worse.
The bard had it perfectly when he intoned, ” ’tis a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing“. Perhaps this Congress is a parody, a tragicomic farce, played out in a series of acts, a Midsummer Nights dream, or for the people who endure it, a nightmare, a season in purgatory.
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