Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hey Brother, can you spare a dime?

It’s official, this Depression is worse than the last one. Home prices are seriously sliding down again having dipped 33% since the peak of 2006 and are still falling. In the 1930s home prices only fell 31% at the worst point of that Depression. The only reason the depth of our plight isn’t more apparent is that in 1932 there was no meaningful safety net.

In 1932 the largest single cause of death for Americans was starvation in summer and freezing to death in the winter. It was mostly but not exclusively the elderly that succumbed this way. The very young died too but usually from diseases made epidemic by malnutrition.

Today one in six Americans receive food stamps and it’s one in four of children. You would be seeing people starving in the streets on an even greater scale than 1932 if not for Uncle “Sugar” as the right wingers put it. Fully half of Americans receive some sort of aid from the government if you include earned income tax credits. The right wing says this is unsustainable, we must eliminate these handouts so that people will pull themselves up by their bootstraps. No food stamps or WIC for babies, no unemployment for the lazy bums, no Medicaid for all the freeloaders (65% of nursing home care is paid by Medicaid) eliminate teachers pensions and cut government workers pay, that will fix everything they say.

The truth is (right-wingers cover your ears) the truth is that Republicans have turned government assistance programs into a corporate subsidy to guarantee a cheap supply of labor. The minimum wage is barely half what it should be to match 1938 standards, but food stamps and free medical care for kids keep people working for those wages. The low wages at the bottom also help drag down wages across the board especially when coupled with 20% unemployment which is comparable with Depression levels.

If Republicans are successful with still more cutbacks these numbers will only get worse as the large portion of the economy only exists on government aid and all of the jobs this spending creates would disappear adding to the mass of starving people.

The easy conclusion to jump to is that at some point the people will rebel against this. Certainly they will but they’ve already tried democracy, what makes you think they’ll make that “mistake” again. The reason some European countries all fell into fascism in the twenties and thirties was that the people had no collective memory of democracy and fell for the first guy who told them what they wanted to hear.

Our collective memory of democracy has been all but erased. Ronald Reagan was able to sell his appeal for the good old days on the notion that “government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem”. Democracy requires government but the Tea Baggers think “real” democracy is the “market place” or in other words they believe in the benevolent corporation. Major public building and even schools display the corporate logos of their “kind” benefactors.

Nobody questions why these corporations don’t pay any taxes but yet the little guy pays ever more taxes and receive ever less in wages from these benevolent corporate overlords. The oil industry says 40% of what you pay for gas goes to Wall Street, that’s a pretty stiff tax. That’s why they have trillions and John Boner says “we’re broke”. We’re not broke, just ignorant by design.  www.prairie2.com


Anonymous said...

Nobody questions why corporations don't pay taxes because the corporate-run media has told everyone the U.S. has the second-highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world. Didn't you see 60 minutes a few months ago? Of course, they never tell you the difference between marginal or stated tax rates and effective tax rates. They never tell you inflation works the same way as taxes.

Just like they never tell you that Social Security is not only solvent, but holds a $2.6 trillion dollar surplus. Or that government-run health care would actually lower costs. Or just like they never tell you....nevermind, you get the picture.

Michael said...

I've been listening & loving the observations of prairie2 via Mike Malloy for several years now. Progressive Americans need to standup and begin speaking out everyday. We must bear the burden of carrying on the tradition of descent; the truest form of being patriotic. One way to be informed is by listening to Mike and reading prarie2's blogs. His musings are dead on. Period. His take on things rarely missing its mark ... if ever? Sincerely, bigzinky, Long Beach, CA.

PitchingDoc said...

One of the best and accurate posts you've ever written, Prairie2.

I try to tell this to my Republican friends constantly and they just don't get it.

The Nanny state is a result of wage stagnation and the paper-shuffling/"financialization" of our economy, not because working Americans love a handout.

ickenittle post.com said...

Now FEMA has "givers remorse" trying to squeeze cash from people they helped during Hurricane Katrina.

It only took them 6 years to spot the errors in wrongful payment.

Now they want their money back.

Maybe they should cook up a deal with Bank of America to give people a credit card to finance their own disaster relief.

God Bless America..sheesh.

Jeff snyder said...

Bare witness and testify to all non-beleivers so that they will come into the light of truth and be saved!

fype said...

I have to admit that things have really gone awry when even the witnesses are bare. THAT's intolerable. And so is our "socialist" educational system, apparently. P2, many thanks. A great summary of the way it is, and will remain.

Anonymous said...

In California it is now longer called "food stamps". It is "Cal-Fresh" .. You know, not a "drug addict" make it sound better like "chemically dependent". ... The State, broke and all, wants more people on the dole. .. give them fish or teach them to fish? Which is better long term? The idea should be to get people off the dole not on it.

Anonymous said...

"benevolent corporation." No. But I don't believe in "benevolent govt., either. Anyone who does, is a fool. ... "I'm from the govt. and I am here to help." Run, baby, run. You can help by leaving me alone. Just enforce the rule of law. That is all I need from ya.

Anonymous said...

So much for the great ObamaCare. Just got a notice that my health insurance with Anthem Blue Cross monthly premium is going up 50%. Why? The wife turned 50. Our health, which is very good, has not changed. I can only imagine how much it would rise if we ate junk food, smoked, did drugs and were obese. Oh, right it would still go up 50%. I guess I get to pay for all those over 50 that have self-induced health problems. Lucky,me.

Anonymous said...

No bread lines now. Housing forclosures now are hurting people who actually live in houses. In the 30s, we still had many people living in tents like the one I lived in.