Barack Obama, Chris Hedges, Collapse of Industrial Civilization, Corporate State, Cult of Individualism, Economic Collapse, Empire, Financial Elite, Gross Inequality, Inverted Totalitarianism, Jeffrey Sachs, Mitt Romney, Neoliberal Capitalism, Police State, Poverty, Privatization, Regulatory Capture, Security and Surveillance State, Social Unrest, The Elite 1%, Wall Street Fraud, War for Profit
Jeffrey Sachs’ op ed piece entitled “America Has Lost the battle Over Government” in the Financial Times explains how the budget plans of our two corporate candidate stooges are strikingly similar and offer no real choice for the American citizen. With the modern-day instruments of mass media manipulation being the most sophisticated tool for mind control in the history of man, you are made to think that the current election is an epic struggle between the forces of good and evil, but the American’s fate of joblessness, dwindling social assistance programs, a permanently growing underclass, and the slide into an oligarchic Third World country has already been written in stone by the transnational capitalist forces and its corporate state. Crime will surely go up, lifespan expectancy will go down for the underclass, and the infrastructure of the nation will continue its trajectory into dilapidation and decay. Sacrificing your body in the Empire’s foreign resource wars and geopolitical games will be one of the only jobs available for our debt-ridden youth:
…Mr Ryan’s plan calls for federal revenues of 18.4 per cent of gross domestic product in 2016 and 18.5 per cent in 2020 (though his lower tax rates would probably put those targets out of reach). His budget outlays come in at 19.7 per cent and 19.5 per cent in 2016 and 2020, respectively. Of the total outlays in 2016, Mr Ryan targets “discretionary” programmes at 5.9 per cent of GDP; social security, 5 per cent; Medicare, 3.2 per cent; other mandatory spending, 3.7 per cent; and interest payments, 1.9 per cent.
Now consider Mr Obama’s budget unveiled in February. Federal revenues are targeted at 19.1 per cent of GDP in 2016 and 19.7 per cent of GDP in 2020, only about 1 percentage point above Mr Ryan’s revenue targets. In Mr Obama’s 2016 budget targets, discretionary spending is set at 5.9 per cent of GDP; social security, 5 per cent; Medicare, 3.2 per cent; other mandatory spending, 5.8 per cent; and interest payments, 2.5 per cent.
In fact, Mr Obama’s overall discretionary spending targets are essentially the same as Mr Ryan’s. Whether Mr Obama or Mr Romney wins, the “non-security” discretionary budget – for education, job skills, infrastructure, science and technology, space, environmental protection, alternative energy and climate change adaptation – is on the chopping block. Mr Obama’s budget would shrink non-security discretionary programmes from an already insufficient 3.1 per cent of GDP in 2011 to 1.8 per cent in 2020. That is the “liberal” alternative.
In bemoaning Mr Obama’s budget, I do not mean to equate it with Mr Ryan’s. Mr Ryan’s budget is nothing short of heartless in the face of the dire crisis facing America’s poor. It is also reckless, guaranteed to leave millions of children without the quality of education and skills they will need as adults. Yet the sad truth is that the Democrats offer no progressive alternative. Both parties are accomplices to the premeditated asphyxiation of the state. Viewed from an international perspective, the constricted range of the US fiscal debate is striking. Total US government revenues (combining federal, state and local governments) in 2011 came in at about 32 per cent of GDP. This compares with an average of 44 per cent in the EU and 50 per cent in northern Europe.
Many Americans will say that they are dodging the European curse by keeping taxation so low but they should look again. Northern Europe (Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) gets great value for its tax revenues: lower budget deficits, lower unemployment rates, lower public debt-to-GDP ratios, lower poverty rates, greater social mobility, better job training, longer life expectancy, lower greenhouse gas emissions, higher reported life satisfaction and greater macroeconomic stability.
America’s two political parties depend on wealthy contributors to finance their presidential campaigns. These donors want and expect their taxes to stay low. As a result, social divisions, broken infrastructure, laggard educational attainments, high carbon emissions and chronic budget deficits are likely to continue no matter who is elected, even though the public supports higher taxes on corporations and the rich…
Chris Hedges was back in court over the government’s appeal of Judge Forrest’s earlier injunction of the NDAA. As a matter of fact, the government has refused to comply with the injunction. Hedges states he and the other plaintiffs “will most likely have to continue this fight in an appellate court and perhaps the Supreme Court.” He also notes that no matter the results of the rigged U.S. elections, no meaningful change will come to the deteriorating lives of ordinary Americans:
…The corporate state has convinced the masses, in essence, to clamor for their own enslavement. There is, in reality, no daylight between Mitt Romney and Obama about the inner workings of the corporate state. They each support this section within the NDAA and the widespread extinguishing of civil liberties. They each will continue to funnel hundreds of billions of wasted dollars to defense contractors, intelligence agencies and the military. They each intend to let Wall Street loot the U.S. Treasury with impunity. Neither will lift a finger to help the long-term unemployed and underemployed, those losing their homes to foreclosures or bank repossessions, those filing for bankruptcy because of medical bills or college students burdened by crippling debt. Listen to the anguished cries of partisans on either side of the election divide and you would think this was a battle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. You would think voting in the rigged political theater of the corporate state actually makes a difference. The charade of junk politics is there not to offer a choice but to divert the crowd while our corporate masters move relentlessly forward, unimpeded by either party, to turn all dissent into a crime…
A lot of Americans buy into this “cult of individualism” and anti-government sentiment which the elites of the corporate state artfully peddle in order to dismantle any remnants of a functioning government that might serve the common good of its citizenry. In this way, the corporate state has convinced the masses to cheer the destruction of government and its beneficial roles. But of course we cannot call our lobbyist-infested, corporate-controlled government an actual representation of the people’s interests. Just as our two-partied presidential election is an orchestrated illusion of democracy, so is the false dichotomy of government and corporations which are merely separated by a revolving door. The government has become, for the most part, a tool for wealth extraction by multinational corporations. During a period of multiple civilization-ending crises when leadership is in dire need, the degeneration of government from a socially beneficial entity into a puppet of Wall Street’s rapacious greed is the greatest tragedy of our time.