Friday, March 11, 2011

A different sort of tsunami?

Today, when the power of the Earth has been demonstrated dramatically and tragically by the devastating earthquake near Japan and its powerful tsunami, another sort of tsunami is looming on the horizon here in the USA. We're a deeply divided nation in the midst of a number of economic and societal crises, in this case largely of our own making.

We're reaping the harvest of the policies planted by the GWB administration -- allowed to flourish and ripen by the ineffectual Obama administration. In GWB's haste to deregulate our financial system (which cashed in on the housing boom and then bailed out of the resulting disaster), to maintain the lavish luxury of the elite few who sit atop the oil and financial industries, and to exploit bigotry and ignorance for political gain, we're now seeing signs of an impending societal tsunami. As the haves distance themselves ever farther from the have-nots, the stampede to push the corporate agenda on the American public has reached new levels of aggression.

The Wisconsin GOP governor has used a legislative loophole to push through the policy he wanted that limits severely the collective bargaining rights of public employees, including teachers in public schools. In the process, he demonized public school teachers as the sort of bloodsucking "fat cats" that he himself is representing so well! Democrats have been rendered irrelevant by such tactics and they can only stand powerless and amazed at this affront to the legislative process. The Michigan GOP governor has declared "financial martial law," replacing elected local officials with his own appointed minions. These are tactics familiar to those who would become dictators (Hitler and Stalin come immediately to mind, of course). When the elected representatives are able to block your agenda, simply sweep them aside in favor of your own followers and push through whatever you want. Who cares what the "other side" supports? They're irrelevant!

The true nature of the conservative right wing (as represented by the Christian Nationalist Party -- CNP, aka the GOP) in this nation is becoming ever more clear. Despite wrapping themselves in the flag and claiming the right to be the standard-bearer of American democracy (as well as legislating our national morality), they now are showing themselves to be crypto-fascists, quite willing to do anything to have their way, despite whatever opposition might come from roughly half the population of this nation. Why compromise when you simply run roughshod over your opposition? The sad part of this is that many politically conservative working people are being victimized by the very politicians they've voted into office. The CNP somehow has convinced their supporters that they are the champions of the working class, but the policies they impose on the body politic (by any means necessary, it seems) only favor the corporations and their fabulously wealthy executives.

How can anyone be so naive as to believe that public school teachers are to bear the lion's share of the blame for bankrupting the states? Apparently, someone even less well off than teachers, with less education and less marketable skills. Did schoolteachers cause the credit default swap disaster that has bankrupted so many and resulted in massive numbers of foreclosures? Did schoolteachers cause the failure of energy companies like Enron, with all the financial reverberations of those failures? Was it the schoolteachers who engaged our nation once again in pointless, unwinnable, expensive foreign wars? Did schoolteachers outsource vast numbers of American jobs in favor of cheap labor in other countries? Was it schoolteachers who mismanaged state and federal funds, resulting in massive debts? If the CNP is doing this to teachers, the CNP's working class supporters remain in the crosshairs of the very crypto-fascists for whom they're voting. When the teachers have been tarred and feathered, who's next? Evidently, not the corporations and their executives!

The left wing ("liberals") in this country have shown themselves to be astonishingly incompetent and impotent in the face of this tsunami of lies, distortions, and high-handed actions that are eroding the very system that the crypto-fascists claim for their own banners. Like political liberals in the eras before the ascendancy of fascism and communism, they're being swept into the dustbin of history, standing open-mouthed and paralyzed by the shock and awe attacks from the CNP. In the face of opponents who are willing to do virtually anything to have their way (including trampling on the rights of the minorities), they wilt -- because to oppose the radicals with similar tactics is to surrender the moral high ground. The problem is that the crypto-fascists don't have the same morals! They do whatever it takes to win the day and don't care about the rules of representative democracy.

When revolution becomes the only way for the oppressed people of a nation to have any hope, then revolution will follow. Remove the hope for incremental change and respect for the rights of minorities, and eventually those people have nothing left to lose. We're seeing that demonstrated dramatically right now in the Middle East -- Egypt, Tunisia, Libya -- with other revolutions only simmering just beneath the surface in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and elsewhere. Revolutions naturally tend to follow a course toward radicalization, and the outcome of a revolution need not be good for the people who began it. Revolutionaries tend to become more radical with time. In many cases, revolutions install a new boss who's practically the same as the old boss, rendering the revolution pointless in the end. Since no one knows how revolutions will turn out, if you've lost any hope for incremental change, why not foment a revolution?

Here in the USA, we had one successful revolution that threw off British colonial rule and installed our existing constitutional democracy, an amazing outcome, even in hindsight. Another revolution here in the USA became The Civil War, wherein Americans slaughtered each other for four years before the rebellion finally was defeated militarily. The South still smolders with resentment over that defeat nearly 150 years ago, despite now waving the American flag in CNP-dominated state governments -- the very political party that was responsible for their defeat in the Civil War! The liberal, pro-human rights agenda of the 19th-century GOP has been revised by the crypto-fascists and now embraces ignorance and bigotry as the means for making the rich richer and the poor poorer. Are we setting the table for another home-grown revolution? The CNP seems determined to make it happen.


Anonymous said...

"The Michigan GOP governor has declared "financial martial law," replacing elected local officials with his own appointed minions."

I just wanted to doublecheck -- did you review the legislation and come to that conclusion on your own? It sounds more like you saw this on the ticker during Rachel Maddow.

The Michigan governor and legislators (elected by a LANDSLIDE in a fair and open election) are taking steps to avoid school districts and cities (plural) declaring bankruptcy. The previous Democratic administration ignored the root of financial problems and took the federal bailout money for plugging holes instead of a long-term fix. As a result, with no changes in the system, there will be mysterious bankers and creditors handling city finances after bankruptcy.

Would you rather the local fire department get disbanded by a NY banker who wants to save costs? Makes sense to me to have a financial manager appointed by the government which was chosen by the people handling those issues.

And the goal of this legislation is to get people to the table BEFORE they need an EFM. The goal is that communities will fix their financial woes AT THE ROOT on their own. They've been reluctant to so far because it's always been expected that the state will stay away but just send more money.

That's not a fix. That's a band aid. It's been the process used the last 8 years, and we're in a bad position because of it.

Chuck Doswell said...

Did the governor remove elected officials from office or not? I'm sure there are rationalizations that can be used in an attempt to justify this tactic, but if the deed is a fact, then it's an attack on representative democracy -- end of story!

Chuck Doswell said...

In his "landslide" victory, did the governor campaign on a promise that if elected, he would remove other elected officials from their positions in order to carry out his goals? If not, and there's no provision in the state constitution for removal of elected officials on the whim of the governor, then his deeds can't be seen as carrying out the will of the good people of Michigan. It's a blatant act of crypto-fascism.

Scott said...

Watch 'Inside Job' for a 'scratch the surface' view of the crime that is taking place on Wall Street and the financial sector in general. It's not the ineptness of the Obama administration or the 'see no evil' attitude of the Bush Crime Family, but it is the multinational financial institutions (Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, etc, that are the root of the problem. Governor Walker, Scott, and others are just a symptom of the financial sectors' stranglehold on our economic and personal lives.

Chuck Doswell said...

RDale sent (and I accidentally deleted):

The EFM has been in place since 1990. It's not new. It has been used in the past with no dictatorship enacted. With several cities and school districts ready to declare bankruptcy this year, additional powers were needed to avoid those entities going into receivership. This was discussed prior to the last election, so nobody was surprised. If your local government cannot find a way to get through that situation, then the EFM gives them tools to make it happen. To even get to an EFM declaration you have to get through the state treasurer.

Who is a Democrat. The Democrats had plenty of opportunity to modify or even kill the EFM over the last 20 years but have not. Wonder why?

So those cities have two choices. Get an EFM to work them out of that mess appointed by a government they elected, or go into receivership and have their creditors determine how the city is dissolved. There is no option 3 when you have no money.

Chuck Doswell said...

As it appears to me after some searching, the emergency financial managers (EFMs) recently -- not 20 years ago -- have been granted enhanced powers. According to

"...critics say the legislation drafted and approved by Republicans goes too far by giving a single individual unchecked powers to break union contracts and potentially dissolve local units of government by merging them with neighbors."

Such actions, regardless of the reason, are inconsistent with the principles of representative democracy. It appears the CNP is using its majority to expand its powers in a direction that seems quite worrisome to many.

Anonymous said...

I view this as an attempt amongst the few to restrict the potential gain of knowledge amongst the many. This being the most effective way to maintain their control.

rdale said...

Two things... Gov Snyder has appointed exactly 0 EFMs. Gov Granholm (D) appointed one for Detroit schools and one for Pontiac at the least. Both have total authority over finances, but cannot touch union deals. But they can cut nonunion wages by 10%. Wouldn't it be better to share the cuts? 5% for all instead? Since these people have actually replaced locally elected officials, and were appointed by the governor, isn't that a real world example of dictatorship? Where was your outrage for this when it actually happened? They actually run those entities, yet it's okay?

Next, if a EFM comes in and cannot cut union deals, and the city goes bankrupt, then nobody gets paid. No union, no nonunion, no government at all without money. The creditors then are free to do whatever. You are saying it's better to get to that point instead of preemptively fixing it with someone who has ties to an elected position?

Do you really believe an EFM would come in and say "I am dissolving the city of Grand Rapids"? Really?

Dave said...

What a righteous, fact filled rant. And spot on!

rdale said...

Also wanted to clarify that the EFM doesn't just drop out of thin air at the governor's whim...