Tuesday, August 10, 2010

False Dilemma Masks Class Warfare

The first line of a recent article on the Democrats decision to slash food stamps begins as follows.
As they prepare to slash food stamps to pay for Medicaid and teachers’ salaries, House Democrats are facing up to a harsh reality: To save some social programs, they’ll have to sacrifice others.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0810/40866.html#ixzz0wDa6gBOU

This lone sentence is infuriating. And totally false.

Think of all the variables it holds fixed: spending on war and occupation, taxes on the wealthy, lack of enforcement of existing taxes for high rollers, money spent bailing out financial institutions, other corporate welfare, etc.

All of these remain fixed, merely natural parts of the background. "A harsh reality" we cannot question, but must accept. But what causes this "harsh reality"? What are the culprits here? Politico's answer: Medicare and teachers' salaries. In other words, in order to pay for the economic crisis created by those who make the big decisions about investment (i.e. capitalists, financiers, etc.), we must attack the living standards of ordinary Americans. We must make them pay for the crisis. This is class warfare, packaged as an innocuous "neutral" news piece.

This "either Medicare or food stamps" bullshit is ideological distortion pure and simple. This defiantly stupid article actually compares this "forced choice" to Sophie's Choice. Are you fucking kidding me? As Richard Seymour recently put it, this regime of cuts is basically "an attempt to cover the costs incurred by the economic crisis by redistributing wealth from the working class to the financial elite".

Why are budgets in such bad shape all across the world? Why are tax revenues down so much? Why do so many more people need unemployment insurance and food stamps? The answer has nothing whatsoever to do with teachers or Medicare. Nor does it have to do with "profligate spending" or "government waste".

The reason budgets are shit all across the capitalist world is that we're in a deep recession. Next question: why are we in a recession? Because of all the neoliberal garbage that conservatives are offering up as the solution to this crisis, (e.g. more deregulation, privatization, cuts to public spending, lowering corporate taxes, eliminating public services, etc.). In other words, the anarchy of the "free market" in the US, unencumbered by democratic accountability, nearly sunk the entire world economy with its reckless hubris in pursuit of profit.

These out of control speculators dragged down many billions of people with them in their destructive path. Yet they received trillions of dollars in TARP funds, so that they could turn around and dole it out in massive bonuses to themselves. Meanwhile Politico would have us believe that Medicare and teachers salaries are the reason we have to cut food stamps? Are you kidding me?

Amidst the vast wealth this country has amongst a small, gilded elite... we MUST cut food stamps because of teachers and Medicare?! As though teachers and Medicare users caused this financial calamity in the first place!

And the kicker here: Democrats have no agency according to Politico. They have no choice but to cut services for workers and the poor. They have no choice but to escalate in Afghanistan and spend billions on corporations and war. It's not like they run the government or anything. Could it be more clear, given Obama and Co.'s recent attacks on Social Security and Medicare, that the Democrats stand on the side of the elites over and against the people? Could it be more clear that they are intent on holding the line set by the Bush government by balancing the budget on the backs of ordinary people? Could it be more clear that the two-party system we live under is basically one in which we choose between two more or less pro-Business parties?

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