You hear things like “the government this”, and “the government that”, all the time in the U.S. And mostly, these phrases are used in a negative context. Every since Ronald Reagan convinced the public that the government was the enemy of the people, whenever things go wrong, people assume that it’s the government’s responsibility. Well, the truth is a bit more complicated than that—and a lot more frightening. Today, the core problems in American politics, and indeed, the quality of American life can be found in the corporate dictatorship that presides over American politics and government. The dangerously close ties between private enterprise and government entities has jeopardized the people and, so too, violated the original contract which ensured the protection of citizens from all enemies foreign and domestic. While we’ve certainly managed to place to focus on foreign enemies, when it comes to domestic ones: we’re blind as f*ck. Unchecked corporatism has polluted American leadership and distorted the messages and obligations to the people it serves. What follows are the 6 steps by which America is being destroyed.
Step 1.) Convince the People that taxes are evil, so they vote for representatives that will lower them.
Taxation: it’s a loaded word—a very loaded word. So loaded in fact that, the promise of lower taxes is not merely a minor detail of political strategy, it is the strategy. You don’t appear under the scrutiny of political limelight in the United States without putting lower tax rates on the table. And, this is where the message goes wrong. Taxation went from being an acceptable obligation of the people in support of civilization, to an unending oppression that the people must continually escape from. This hyper polarized view on taxation is the result of elaborate conservative propaganda, which ensures that public focus remains fixed on the money coming out of their pockets, rather than the overall benefit to society as a whole.
Given the context and continuity of U.S. history, the propaganda machine of ever lower taxes plays heavily on innate American ideology that citizens adopt in grammar school history class with The Boston Tea Party: taxation is oppression and we won’t stand for big government which gains power through the revenue it picks from our pockets. To be sure, it’s a sound idea, but it has nothing to do with the Boston Tea party. American backlash against tea tax, and indeed any other tax, has primarily been about taxation WITHOUT REPRESENTATION. Meaning that, Americans weren’t necessarily opposed to higher taxes; they were opposed to being taxed without having a voice in the government that taxed them. Last time I checked, the very people who take the hard line on ever lower taxes, mainly corporations and billionaire conservatives with hard working lobbyists, are VERY WELL represented in our government. And some might even say, TOO WELL.
Step 2.) Lower taxes, but increase spending to create a huge deficit.
Sooner or later, reality hits and people remember how valuable simple mathematics can be. No amount of political spin or media propaganda campaigning can discredit the logic of 2+2=4. And so, though the people cheer loudly for tax victories over big government, the win is not a victory at all. Citizens may appear to have won the battle, but the threat of a silent deficit explosion without public awareness will kill the people.
Why is a deficit of this magnitude so dangerous? As it turns out, creating a deficit is an integral part of controlling a population. Huge deficits force the government to borrow and print money, which in turn becomes an “invisible tax” on the people in the form of inflation and high interest rates. This destroys the buying power of the majority as runaway borrowing and spending devalues their earnings, and thus, forces them into desperation (which, as we’ve seen in Nazi Germany, can have disastrous consequences).
And so, with lower taxes and higher spending, the deficit grows. But, where’s the money going? One common (and very expensive) method is government investment in new technologies—for example military and pharmaceutical products (two of the most lucrative industries). Though such technological developments are necessary for the health and safety of a nation, many times, government contracts are granted to private military and pharmaceutical companies in exchange for political campaign funding. The net result of this is billions invested in technologies and contracts that offer no real benefit for citizens, but are merely profit making machines for private corporations. Contrastingly, in the U.K. and other european countries, there’s a screening process for government investment in new technologies to ensure that public dollars are put toward developments that provide real gains to the population at large—not just private shareholders. (Money granted to pharmaceutical companies by the FDA to complete Phase III human trials of a new drug costs around 300 million dollars of your tax money—and then we get sh*t like “Restless Leg Syndrome” pills. Sigh.) The U.S. currently has no such screening process that protects public funds from becoming the personal piggy banks of private coporatism.
Step 3.) Due to deficit, propose spending cuts (but not tax hikes) that defund education and social programs that support working class families and the majority of the middle class.
Noam Chomsky, one of the greatest intellectual rebels of our time, said that the fastest way to privatize a nation is to pull funding from its public institutions. Once defunded, these entities will have no choice but to look for private funding, which also carries the agendas of special interests and a mantra of profit. It’s not difficult to see how a privatized education and healthcare system—where profit is the goal rather than good education and healthcare—is alarmingly at odds with the best interests of the public. But, rather than raise taxes to sustain the integrity of public education and social welfare, Republicans often charge these institutions as the source of unnecessary spending. Education and Healthcare are “unnecessary spending”. Wow.
When you want people to forget about simple math and the basic constituents of a humane perspective, you have to use misdirection and come up with a clear enemy. Rather than recognizing that social programs are necessary for the betterment of society, the politicians turn on them. What comes next is an entire campaign that demonizes social programs as the source of “out of control spending.” Actually, most civic programs only make up about 4% of GDP, and that number is predicted to drop to 2% by 2014. Note: President Roosevelt’s New Deal package of the 1930’s proposed social and economic programs that catapulted the U.S. into one of the most prosperous times in history (Oh, and taxes were at their highest rates for the rich).
Step 4.) Defunding leads to the privatization of vital social systems such as education and healthcare, which further drives the majority of the population into unfathomable debt (in addition to double-digit inflation, which further devalues the dollar).
Private schools have always been expensive, and there’s nothing wrong with that, because people should have a choice. But, there comes a problem when defunding leads to fewer and fewer choices for the middle class and poor. Good education is a vital medium by which the poor can migrate to a better socioeconomic class. But, when school budgets run so tight that education quality suffers, lower income families are left with two options: send their children to a flagging public school that increases their chances of dropping out or not being prepared for college, or, send their children to a private school that forces both parents to work around the clock and, thus, sacrifice their health and family relationships (driving up healthcare costs). The privatization of social systems only hurt the middle class and poor, who must accrue debt just to access basic support. This debt jeopardizes their maximum potential earnings and spending power over their lifetime, severely limiting their opportunities.
When I went to college, a semester at a public university was somewhere between $6,000-$8,000. That number has nearly doubled. Why? Aside from the effects of inflation, as public funding is slowly cut from state university budgets, universities have been making up the difference with private funding. So, while public universities aren’t completely privately funded, they are becoming more privatized. What does this mean for higher education? It means that profits and the special interests of private financiers matter more than education; our children will pay a high price for crappy education that won’t get them a job. And, where does all the money go? It goes to fund high profile research whose findings support private corporate profits. Does Aspartame cause cancer? Not as long as the food companies are paying higher education institutions to find that it doesn’t.
Step 5.) The population, desperate to keep up with debt and survive, will give up rights, take any job they can get and pay millions in education loans (which are now exempt from bankruptcy due to Wall Street lobbying) just to get a barely livable wage and they can NEVER STOP WORKING ever.
As inflation rises and drives up the cost of living, earning a decent wage requires more and more hours, and more and more education, and more and more debt. Now a high school diploma is worthless, a B.A. is practically worthless, and you might earn a decent living wage with an M.A. (if you can get hired), and a Ph.D. will put you into so much debt, that even if you do get hired, your spending power will be a fraction of what it should be, due to monthly loan payments.
If you think about it, debt is bad for the middle class student just out of college, but great for private business. Banks and higher learning institutions get rich and the private job market gets cheaper labor and desperate employees who shut up and do their job. The entire conspiracy can be revealed in one sentence: For so long we’ve had the same jobs filled with people who had much less education than is required today—and the world kept on spinning. Unless you can prove that more education has given us better results, there’s really no explanation for requiring that people spend more on higher degrees (especially when the ranking of U.S. education has plummeted to the 23rd spot in the world).
The reason that the job market requires higher education today is because both sectors share close ties. As private funding enters higher education, institutions create more rigorous and confusing course regiments that prolong the college experience but provide no more benefit to the student. The benefit comes only to the universities, which make huge profits in tuition fees, the banks and private lenders which distribute education loans, and private enterprise that can pay American workers less, thus, increasing their bottom lines. The amount of debt accrued in obtaining higher education is so alarming, it forces students to accept more work responsibilities at lower salaries because they need to pay off their loans. And, isn’t it interesting that in recent time student loans were made exempt from the filing of bankruptcy (except in the case of death or becoming disabled)? Anything to keep the middle class locked into a system that destroys their wealth, their health, and their social welfare—all for the sake of those bottom lines.
Step 6.) REPEAT.
People often talk about the dangers of a big government take over and a socialist society. But, I wonder if anyone ever stops to think about the opposite scenario. It seems we’re perfectly willing to be skeptical of a centralized power of government, but ask very few questions when private enterprise assumes ultimate control and begins dictating our lives. That’s Google and Facebook that are tracking your Internet usage and online purchases, not the government, people. What happens when a nation becomes a private corporation, where its citizens become slaves to the privilege of the few, and where justice depends on its contribution to the bottom line? Revolution, my friends.