What About the People

The Ménage à trois between the conservative movement, cloaked by the Republicans, the extremely wealthy and large corporations continues unabated. Each election cycle appears to move conservatives further from the working people in this country, from the idea that a strong Middle Class is what makes this country great.

Conservatives still have not entirely understood the idea that you cannot get more golden eggs from the goose if you strangle her. Aesop, a slave reputed to have lived in Greece around 622 B.C. had a rather astute grasp of human nature.

His story revolves around a goose that laid a golden egg each morning to a cottager and his wife. They became quite well off because of these eggs. After a while, the money that they received from the sale of these eggs was just not enough, they wanted more. They supposed that there must be a large lump of gold within the goose from which the eggs were laid.

They decided to kill the goose to get hold of the gold, supposing that they would be wealthy. Once the goose was dead, they discovered that the goose was no different from other geese, and there was no gold inside. The moral of the story is that you cannot get more from the goose than the goose is willing to produce.

This extends to the business world in a similar fashion. What business has done since the Great Recession of 2008 is to cut back on their staff and to work their staff harder for the same, or less remuneration. There are a number of effects that are produced from this.

Firstly, you can only cut so much fat from a carcass, and then you must cut from muscle, as it is with corporations. there is a point at which if you lay off more staff, there is no-one to do the work, and if you reduce wages enough, people will no longer be willing to work long hours, or will move elsewhere.

The secondary effect of laying people off and cutting their wages is that people have less to spend. Since all corporations are doing the same thing, there is no real advantage to be gained in doing the same. Since people have less money, they cannot afford to buy products and company profits drop.

After the big spike in profits after Obama’s stimulus, during which company’s made record profits, executives and the wealthy made record profits from a spiking stock market, profits are starting to drop once more. Instead of increasing wages and paying more for their staff, company’s did the opposite, reducing aggregate demand. The result is dropping profits.

A glance at average Return on Investment and Net Profits show that growth in corporate profits is turning down, which often presages an economic downturn. Without income from consumers, corporate profits cannot continue to increase at the rate they have been. The corporate world, and conservatives are starting to strangle the golden goose.

Many liberals like to think that conservatives are shooting themselves in the foot with some of their legislative decision, but they are far more canny than people believe. The single most important strategy of conservatives is to prevent any advance in Obama’s agenda, or that of the Democrats.

Conservatives believe that if you obstruct the agenda enough, nothing will get done, and Democrats will get the blame. That sets the stage or 2016 at which time, Republicans believe that they can regain the White House, a strategy which is likely to work. While people may blame the Republicans for the lack of progress in Washington, Democrats may be blamed in 2016 for a faltering economy and a Republican will be elected President.

Republicans love to talk about how entitlement programs are strangling the economy. Now, entitlements are those social programs that have done most to reduce poverty, prevent the elderly from starving, or going without water or electricity, or receiving medical care.

These are essential programs that prevent an enormous amount of suffering among the population. Conservatives, of course, care little for these programs, which they claim are strangling the economy.

It is true that medical costs are rising at an unsustainable rate, unmatched in any developed economy. Instead of using government resources to negotiate lower prices, the market is allowed to set prices, causing an ever-growing burden on the population.

The sensible solution is to cap what hospitals, doctors and pharmacists can charge customers, streamline medical records to prevent duplicate testing, and eliminate unnecessary tests (the source of Sarah Palin’s ‘death panels’).

Republicans are not having any of it. What they want is to gut Medicare as a program and force people to purchase private insurance, which is good for insurance companies and hospitals, but not good for the long-term care of the elderly. This is why they hate Obamacare to the extent that they do, it takes profit from insurance companies.

The other program that conservatives love to attack is Social Security, which provides at least a minimum standard of living for millions of Americans. These are earned benefits, benefits for which many Americans have worked their entire lives, and for which they are taxed quite heavily.

To cut those programs would really be a travesty of justice and a theft of an earned benefit from the people. The wealthy and corporations have gained immeasurably from the work of the people in this country, and they owe them a debt. That debt is at least a modicum of rest in their twilight years.

Conservatives also want to allow more people with advanced degrees to enter the country. There are good reasons to do this, not least that you can attract talent from around the world. Having said that, there are three hundred million people in this country, is there no talent here? Are there no hard workers, no geniuses, no entrepreneurs?

There are millions of unemployed people here, yet government refuses to provide funding for education, corporations refuse to take a chance on people who may not have precisely they skills that they need. Instead, we throw the unemployed to the wolves and ask immigrants to fill the positions we need. It is really a stab in the back of the American worker.

Our military is far to large. We need to scale back and create a more targeted military instead of the Cold War behemoth we have inherited. The country truly cannot afford this dinosaur any longer. We are fighting no major war, Iraq is over, Afghanistan is winding down.

There is no preeminent threat that we need to face requiring massive numbers of aircraft, tanks, and aircraft carriers. We can save enormous amounts by scaling back the military, concentrating on the soldier and small, targeted groups to tackle specific problems.

Instead of attacking essential programs that support the people and for which they have paid, the military is where the fat is. The military budget exceeds 700bn per year. That money would be far better spent on infrastructure, which would create jobs and investments in the future.

Expenditures on scientific and technology research would go a long way to making this nation the great power it should be. Along with infrastructure projects and the restoration of the environment, this nation could lead the world into the next century. Until the conservatives stop strangling the golden goose, this nation will continue its slide into oblivion.

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