Once again, the Democrats and Republicans in Washington are facing off in a battle over the budget. The Republicans, who control the House, are demanding huge cuts that would pull the teeth from regulatory agencies, like the EPA, Fish and Wildlife, and the IRS, decimate social programs in health and education, including Medicare. Some of the details are provided in this New York Times article.
The elite agenda has long been apparent– to further concentrate power and wealth in their hands, to reduce the middle-class to serfdom, and to change the nature of our government to something more akin to imperial Rome or the fascist states of the 20th century. That agenda, since the start of the Reagan-Thatcher era of the 1980’s, has been advancing under both Republican and Democratic administrations with only moderate variations in its pace.
Here are the questions that come to my mind as we approach what appears to be a critical juncture:
1. Are the Democrats in Congress really making a sincere attempt to oppose the elite agenda and protect the general interests of all the people, or is their vocal opposition just for show?
2. How far will the American people allow themselves to be pushed before they will stand up for themselves and for the common good?
3. And when they do stand up, what form will their actions take, and will it be in time to avoid an ugly and destructive confrontation?
I have often thought that Franklin Roosevelt saved capitalism in the 1930s by instituting a wide range of programs under the “New Deal” that curbed abuses of power by Wall Street and corporate leaders and provided for a more equitable distribution of the economic pie. There were a few hard liners who disagreed with that and actually tried to engineer a coup d’état to depose him. Fortunately, that attempt failed when Major General Smedley Butler refused to go along with it.
So, here we are again in the midst of an economic depression, but this time the redistribution of wealth is going in the opposite direction, which can only worsen our predicament. And, no, there will not be a new “New Deal.”
Many things have changed drastically over the past 80 years. Some of these like surveillance technologies and advanced weaponry have favored the presently dominant force of centralized control, while others like microcomputers, the internet, and cheap global person to person communications have favored the emergent force of decentralized power and global community. Society is being rebuilt from the bottom upward, community by community. Those efforts will need to be rapidly ramped up in the face of increasingly dysfunctional national governments.
As David Stockman, director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, said to state and local political and business leaders a couple years ago, “Washington will become a fountain of harm as you struggle with our own problems.” And so it, not just in Washington, but in Athens, London, Rome, and capitals around the world.
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