Not enough money for schools, for health care (47+ million people without coverage), for our cities and rural infrastructures; for homeless, mentally ill, and unemployed people honestly seeking work, and for dozens more social needs. Sorry, not enough money, folks! But:
1) Three to five trillion dollars available for Iraq.
2) 2) This year, 2008, the Defense Department has agreed to provide $4.5 billion to 50 countries that then buy arms from us.
3) And now, billions – ultimately trillions – in bailouts for Wall Street private corporations, a not so subtle form of corporate welfare.
What’s wrong with this picture? Did you say priorities? Did you say values? Did you say failed ideology?
Gore Vidal, once quipped rather trenchantly, that what we have in America is “socialism for the rich; free enterprise for the poor.” And the events of the past two weeks lift Vidal’s quip from the realm of clever humor to more of an accurate assessment of American economics. As several other commentators have noted, what we have is an economic system of “privatizing gains and socializing losses.”
The nationalization/bail-outs of Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, AIG, and the investment banking world are certainly not the vaunted free market performing its magic. Adam Smith’s invisible hand has been replaced with government hand-outs of taxpayer dollars to the private sector. Talk about welfare queens… these recent corporate welfare bailouts are a whole new ball game. Remember the Republican mantras? Remember “keeping big government out of our lives,” the “beautiful self-regulation and self-corrections of free market economics” – how that magical system allows “trickle downs” for all U.S. citizens”…remember those moral dictums? Well, we all need to remember because suddenly its advocates are curiously silent about their economic commandments and are deeply grateful for big government stepping in, providing trillions of taxpayer handouts to bail corporations out of messes of their own making.
And, by the way, where is the acknowledgement of CEO screw ups and CEO responsibilities? Again, no mention, as various executives of bankrupt and ipso-facto Chapter 11 corporations slip off into the night with their obscene rewards for jobs poorly done, jobs which cost workers their livelihood and retirement savings while the CEOs rest in their suburban mansions.
And our Republican candidates? They would memorialize and concretize tax cuts for these top oligarchs while the middle and lower classes lose their homes, jobs, and self-respect. How about, at the very least, holding those at the top financially responsible for making up some of their company’s losses instead of walking away with gargantuan bonuses?
Finally, one has to wonder how silent the Republican free marketers would have been had a liberal Democrat been the President urging nationalization of investment banks and insurance companies. Can you imagine the outraged hooting and hollering? Instead, we find meek silence and subdued acquiescence, as well as tacit approval of what liberals and Democrats have said for decades – the Federal Government exists to “promote the general welfare…” Unfortunately, for the past two weeks promoting the general welfare has meant taking tax dollars of all Americans to provide welfare for Wall Street.