Sunday, May 21, 2006

Shooting the Horse They Rode In On

I can only presume, after watching the Republicans these past six years, that they have chosen to achieve their goal of small government by shooting it. There is no other rational explanation.


ShoothorseThe aggrieved portion of this country that has even the smallest tendencies toward liberalism has been in a constant state of buzz. Six years of buzziness, preaching to the choir, assuring themselves that George W. Bush and his accomplices are nuts.


Not true.


The man has trouble with syntax. Trouble with syntax is not trouble with focus and seldom has an administration been as focused as this one. They want, as Grover Norquist has so eloquently put it, 'to cut government in half in 25 years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.’ Norquist, who in certain other incarnations has actually made some sense, must not like horses. He prefers drowning the levers of electoral government to shooting kind-eyed animals.

Either way, make no mistake, they’re doing a damned fine job of it.


I’m not sure that Americans are aware of that goal. If they are, they (we) are not doing much beside standing around, iPods in ears, watching it happen. In six short years, Republicans have given two trillion dollars to the already rich in this country and they put it on a credit-card. The latest $70 billion installment was signed by the president on Friday.


Republicans have spent another trillion (and it will no doubt be two by the time they limp home) from Iraq. That went on the credit-card as well. There are two and a half years left and, unless the November mid-term elections take their majority from them, we can expect and additional couple trillion before our next chance.


ConsumerdebtI know you’re tired of all this harping about deficits. Unless you are among the top 2% who carry off all the gravy from Dubya’s inspired gravy-train, your deficits are growing as well. Consumer debt has never been so high as it is now in America and it’s not because we are undisciplined and out there buying a second Mercedes.


We’re strapped for our kids college, groceries and maybe (but only maybe) two weeks at Yellowstone.


A nation’s currency is as good a barometer of it’s health as any other, probably better, because people who deal in currencies are hard-eyed and hard to con. When Japan got in financial trouble, the world watched its currency tumble. Now Japan has straightened out its banks, written off some bad loans and the yen is climbing back.


DollarintoiletThe American dollar is in the toilet. Americans, for the most part, aren’t aware of that because they don’t travel abroad and, except for a smidge of inflation, the buck hasn’t changed much in what it will buy stateside. If you are American and live abroad, it’s a different matter.


An American, retired in Europe and getting $1,000 a month in Social Security payments, has lost $480 in the last six years. Any dollar he earns, steals or has given to him is worth 48% less than it was when this president sailed into office, promising to be a uniter and not a divider.


The world outside our shores has reason to believe we are 48% less credit-worthy and confirms that opinion with their discount of our currency. Nor does our Congress care all that much, because the ten-year financial instruments they foisted-off on China and other investors in 1996 are being paid off now at a 48% discount.


I am not a conspiracy-theorist, but if Grover Norquist and his neocons want to drown American government in the bathtub, there are two ways to do it.


  • Make the government so small that it fits

  • Make the bathtub overflow to drown everything

GrovernorquistUnable throughout the Reagan-Bush-Bush administrations to control the size of government, mostly because of the unmanageable growth of Social Security and Medicare, Norquist and the neocons have opted to overflow the tub.


If it can't be reformed to their taste, they'd rather drown the whole miserable business in red ink. Shoot the horse they rode in on.


There’s not a single economist out there, including the self-serving and now-retired Alan Greenspan, who thinks this nation can outrun its debt. We simply face national and global financial ruin, yet this administration


  • happily runs (you can’t fairly say ‘fights’) an unfunded war

  • feeds voraciously at the earmark and lobbyist trough

  • watches with impunity as sector after sector of the economy faces bankruptcy

  • further unbalances the budget at every turn

  • and gives what is left and whatever may exist in future to the super-rich.

Thus far, the Norquist tub runneth over.


Drowned in the backwash, we find at every possible turn another unfunded or underfunded program for the poor, the middle class, the environment, the schools, and all other government agencies from Amtrak to Voice of America.


Unable to shrink government sufficiently to drown our republic and its historic ideals in the bathtub, we are irretrievably casting it adrift in an ocean of debt. None but the wealthy get swimming lessons. None but the super-rich have life-preservers.


Grover must be pleased.
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