Wednesday, June 13, 2012

War, educating kids, fighting fires, and our choice to not "afford" to live in a sustainable society...


In the past decade the US has allocated over $6 trillion dollars on war and preparation for war.  The GOP, its donoers, its activists, and the elected officials with R's behind their name had a whole lot to do with that (not to mention the unwillingess to pay for it).  The fact that Mitt Romney is running around saying we can't afford police, firefighters, and teachers and anyone believes him is beyond me.  

If we choose to be a society unable to sustain itself that's our choice--a pathologically suicidal one; but a choice none the less.  But don't let anyone tell you you can't afford to protect and empower the local communities you live and work in with the needed first responders and teachers a vibrant society requires.  And when your friends and family are posting on Facebook and twitter saying "we can't afford to!" you need to call them on it--publicly.  

There comes a point when you have to shame the stupid out of people.  Silent stupid is less dangerous when elections are creeping close.

So the other day in my post on the "Obama thinks the private sector" is fine hub-bub I noted Mitt Romney's utterly weird take on Wisconsin Recall. Romney thinks the message of Wisconsin was that we don't need more firemen, more policemen, or more teachers.  What that has to do with the recall, or why people opposed recall of Walker is beyond me and why he's openly proposing to commit to slashing the number of cops, firemen, and teachers across communities all over this country can only be explained with a good opiate.  

The Federal Government gives billions to state and local communities to fund things like first responders and teachers (I know I know more examples of "Big Government Liberalism" at its worst) Romney's budget proposals are committing long term cuts in these areas.  

With Romney's commitments to massive spending cuts the current unemployment numbers will only go up--and the quality of life for millions of Americans will go down.  Kids will get worse educations as they claw their way through 50 other students in their class to ask questions.  Men, women, and children of all ages, classes, and races will literally die as they wait for first responders to arrive. (Why do I have a feeling that people are going to be buying up more and more handguns as the social fabric continues to rot...)

As we prepare ourselves for the age of austerity--"cause we we obviously can't afford it"--I can only scratch my head and wonder who in the world are these people who believe we can't afford to educate our kids, protect our neighbors, and stop houses from burning down?  If those aren't the very things that we want government doing then what exactly--other than killing Arabs with drones, arresting college kids who dare to harness their 1st Amendment rights, spying on Americans, and kicking out the brown people sneeking across the border with the gumption to actually try to feed their kids--should Government be doing?

Greg Sargent got the uber-awesome folks over at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities to run Romney's numbers looking specifically at the impacts to those evil (often union) public sector workers we in the reality based community usually refer to in the less perjorative descriptions-- cops, firefighters, and teachers--when we aren't drinking the Koch brothers crackrock "overpaid public sector worker"...

 Romney has called for a cap of federal spending at 20 percent of GDP while increasing defense spending to 4 percent of GDP. CBPP has concluded that this would, of necessity, require cuts of at least 29 percent in non-defense spending other than Social Security in 2016, and deeper cuts in later years.

How would that impact cops, firefighters, and teachers?

It isn’t easy to calculate this, for two reasons. First, Romney’s plan doesn’t specify cuts. And second, of all the federal cash that does go to programs that pay first responders and teachers, you can’t be certain how much goes directly into their pockets.

But CBPP analyst Richard Kogan took a stab at trying to figure it out.Kogan estimates, a total of around $40 billion per year goes to the aforementioned federal programs funding those jobs. If you apply that 29 percent cut the Romney plan necessitates, evenly across the board, Kogan calculates, that comes to nearly $12 billion in cuts to those programs.

How many jobs are we talking about? Unknown.

Again, this is a rough calculation — one that’s necessitated by the fact that Romney’s plan doesn’t specify cuts. But the simple fact is that Romney’s plans would almost certainly cut deeply in those areas. If it didn’t, it would have to cut even more deeply elsewhere, such as Medicare, veterans benefits or the FBI.

All of which is to say that this isn’t just an academic disagreement or a matter of political positioning or rhetoric. It is a real world contrast. A reasonable analysis suggests that Romney’s plan really would cut very deeply into federal money funding jobs of cops, firefighters, and teachers. Obama’s plan would add billions for those jobs.

I'm really not sure the Romney camp has thought through this "take away" from Wisconsin.  

All the Republicans I know went wild pointing to Obama's "the private sector is doing fine" statement because no matter how much propaganda and nonsense they give when they start talking policy, at their core they understand what an abysmal failure the Reagan/Clinton neoliberal agenda of "free-markets" and tax cuts has been for the 99%.  Obama's Milquetoast response to the downturn didn't help the economic fundamentals of everyday working people--the economy is most definitely NOT fine.  

GOP rank and file are grasping on to this flub to fuel their efforts to unseat Obama and the Romney camp doesn't quite know how to re-frame the obvious--we need more Government spending--without straying from the right wing ideology that has taken over the GOP.  

I think the Romney camp is trying to "force" Romney back to the center by sticking Jeb Bush out there to say the GOP has gone bat-shit crazy (which it has).  I just don't think its going to work in terms of calming down the activists within the GOP.

Sadly there really is no "left" pushing at Obama in any substantive fashion.  Occupy still has failed to manifest itself as a left wing movement--the potential is there, as are localized efforts to grow into something of a movement, so I hold out hope.  Still things are unsettling tactically.   

Watching the Jamie Dimon hearings this morning (okay I bailed out on it after about 35 mins of fluff) I really think it reconfirmed my belief that the 1% has to be terrified--like they were in the 30-40's--that they will still exist as a class in 10 years (or in some specific cases, even be alive) before they will impose "responsible" (read: sustainable) decisions from the political class and cut into their profits.  

The requirement of mass agitation to the point of economic dislocation, state and counter-protest violence on a massive scale is both unsettling and seems to point to a major flaw in democratic "liberalism" which folks over at CATO and Heritage can't turn to Adam Smith and John Locke to solve since modern imperialism and global capitalism are so far from the "baker and butcher down the street model" as to be meaningless.

Welcome to the neoFedual Age!  Seems, Romney is the candidate of the 1% promising us it won't include first responders or teachers--at the very least Obama (and the 1%'ers who fund him) publicly acknowledge we need such things...

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