worst & the dumbest
The establishment that destroyed America's first republic
Bush's many sins, one has remained unnoted. He and his aides
are so absurdly inept at most of what they do that they have
diverted attention from the fact that America's collapse began
well before Bush came into office and has continued under his
command with considerable aid and comfort from the most respected,
celebrated well paid subcultures of our society. In the end,
Bush is but a painful caricature of a much deeper reality, part
of which is that if we had not already been in a state of cultural,
political and intellectual disintegration, he never would have
been elected in the first place.
year into Bush's regime, I spoke at a punk concert and offered
some thirty examples of civil liberties that had eroded during
the life of anyone only 25 years of age. I also noted that the
earnings of everyone under 25 - black, white, latino, male and
female - had declined over the past twenty years, about 5% for
the most part - with the earnings of black and white males under
25 down 17 to 21%. A typical young white male was earning $97
less a week in real dollars than two decades earlier. And this
was all before Bush got his hands on the country.
become easy and fun to blame it all on Bush - and certainly he
has contributed more than his share to the nation's problems
- but as we may discover when he leaves, he has had plenty of
predecessors as well as many accomplices who will remain in power.
judgment would be that America began falling apart about twenty
years before Bush took office. The man in charge at the time
was Ronald Reagan, who took two centuries of American history
and turned it into a corny cowboy movie that he could understand
but had little relationship to reality. Yet, like Bush, he could
not have done it alone. The purported best and brightest told
us it was true.
have yet to tell us the truth about the Reagan years that spawned
the deadly philosophy that greed is good, nothing big needs to
be regulated and the market will save us all.
useful - if a bit tardy - to review the Reagan facts rather than
the legend, for it shows how the most mundanely accurate analysis
might have led us in a different direction. For example, a study
published in the Congressional Record in March 1984 looked at
the first three years of the Regan administration and compared
to the three that preceded it. The study found
GNP growth down 59%
- Industrial production down 97%
- Housing starts down 27%
- Domestic auto sales down 26%
- Business failures up 189%
- Civilian unemployment up 389%
- Real disposable income down 32%
- Prime rate up 35%
- Federal budget deficit up 215%
- Farm income down 326%
the Reagan years:
members of the Reagan cabinet came under criminal investigation
Reagan administration had secret plans for an unconstitutional
takeover of the federal government under an ill-defined national
emergency. Members of the government created by the coup were
selected and included Richard Cheney.
policies led to the greatest financial scandal in American history
up to that point: the Savings & Loan debacle which cost taxpayers
billions of dollars. ""
- Reagan made major cuts in Medicaid, food stamps, aid to families
with dependent children, and school lunch programs. Reagan fired
13,000 air traffic controllers in a devastating blow to government
union members from which the labor movement never recovered.
- ""The AIDS crisis exploded (with 20,000 deaths) before
Reagan could even bring himself to address the issue six years
later. In his authorized biography he is quoted as saying that
"maybe the Lord brought down this plague," because
"illicit sex is against the Ten Commandments."
- Reported the Washington Post: "The administration in 1984
secretly sold arms to Iran -- which the United States considered
a supporter of terrorism -- to raise cash for Nicaraguan contra
rebels, despite a congressional ban on support for the Latin
American insurgency. An independent investigation concluded that
the arms sales to Iran operations "were carried out with
the knowledge of, among others, President Ronald Reagan [and]
Vice President George Bush," and that "large volumes
of highly relevant, contemporaneously created documents were
systematically and willfully withheld from investigators by several
Reagan Administration officials."
- """"""After a major tax cut,
there was a long recession and unemployment that hit ten percent.
This was the foundation upon which the present disaster has been
built - policy drawing upon fantasy, theological rigidity, fiscal
myth and a faith in "free markets" actually created
by hidden subsidies, thousands of lobbyists, runaway Pentagon
purchases and manipulation of the law to favor banks and corporations
rather than ordinary Americans.
By the time the truth was too painful to ignore - nearly three
decades later - the myth had recruited major media from Fox and
the Wall Street Journal to NPR and the Washington Post. It had
been given the blessing of innumerable academics who developed
complex justifications for primitive, simplistic and false assumptions.
And even Democrats - from Clinton to Obama - paid regular homage
to economic principles whose only true beneficiaries were the
very few at the very top.
It became the core ideology of an American establishment that
would turn out to be the worst and the dumbest. As Harold Meyerson
pointed out recently, even the robber barons of the 19th century
used European capital to build American industry such as railroads
and steel. The contemporary establishment has taken American
assets and turned them into a massive liability.
Rasmussen poll taken after the start of the Bush financial crash
found that 59% of voters still agreed with Reagan's inaugural
declaration that "government is not the solution to our
problem; government is the problem." Even 49% of Democrats
agree with only 34% demurring.
not Karl Rove's fault. This is the result of nearly three decades
of indoctrination in anti-social, anti-democratic and economically
fallacious absurdities by almost every major instructional institution
in the country including Harvard, and the PBS News Hour. Listening
to the post crash coverage I heard words I had not found in the
media for years, words like FDR, New Deal, government intervention
and Keynes. Where had these phrases been all this time? Why was
it only now respectable to mention Franklin Roosevelt again?
has the media and academia given so much encouragement to the
myth of free markets while ignoring real things that have gotten
worse since Reagan took office? Things like:
wage as % of average wage
- Real income
- Real income bottom 60% of Americans
- Bottom 99% share of total income
- Income gap between rich and poor
- Workers pay as a percent of CEO pay
- Older families covered by pensions
- Workers covered by defined benefit pensions
- Annual personal savings rate of families
- Elder bankruptcies
- Housing foreclosures
- Child poverty rate
- Severe poverty rate
- Percent of Americans employed
- Pensions that include health care benefits
- Number of families without health insurance
- Number of public hospitals
- Number of corporations controlling most media
- Student loan debt
- Increase in wealth of wealthiest ten senators (up 13 times)
- Percent of workforce unionized
before the Bush crash, Michelle Singletary wrote in the Washington
Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi conclude that earning
two incomes doesn't guarantee financial security: In the past
25 years, the number of families in bankruptcy has increased
400 percent, and housing foreclosures are up 350 percent."
find these stories if you look hard enough; what you can't find
is these stories being told in more than one or two places at
a time during which those in the worst and dumbest establishment
continued to peddle the wonders of the free market.
best minds of our society have engaged in an act of such reckless
negligence that it would have produced a criminal indictment
if they had been behind the wheel of a car. But because they
were only driving the politics and economy of a few hundred million
citizens, they get to keep their jobs, their op ed pieces and
their preferred place in society.
1960s, a large number of Americans declined to permit such a
fraud to continue, choosing instead to not only rebel against
those who had done the damage but to remove their podiums, undermine
their status, knock down their pedestals, discredit their reputations
and hold them in ridicule.
awhile America gained breathing room to make things better; for
a while we could dream, smile and get things done.
far more than just a matter of rounding up the usual suspects.
If we settle for justice against Paulsen and Bush, for example,
then we'll be no better off than we were in Iraq after getting
rid of Saddam.
rebellion to succeed, for America to rebuild itself, it must
shatter the immunity of the status quo in all its vicious dimensions.
We have three decades of false teaching, journalistic myth and
political corruption to disassemble. And we need something to
take its place just as the civil rights movement needed freedom
schools to replace generations of lies about blacks and whites.
has been deceived, defrauded and defeated by the worst and the
dumbest. The first step in recovery is to let them know in every
way that the party's over.
THE CORPORATE CURSE How business culture
dragged America down with it