Republicans Need a Timeout – Economics

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“Republicans are the root of all evil.” – me

We have a Republican president right now and the economy looks pretty healthy but I think this will end up being like those people who look out and see a nice day and decide that there is no such thing as climate change. A good economic moment does not always prove to be a long-lasting trend. Even if this economic growth moment does continue, which is “devoutly to be wished,” I am not sure that it proves Republicans are good for our economy. This growth began under President Obama and it is a global, not a national tendency.

There are forces at work in current Republican policy that could, in fact, be disastrous to our economy. Here are some reasons why Republicans need an economic timeout. First of all, in America we have the passage of that ridiculous tax “reform” bill. It is not like the wealth inequality in America is hidden. We all know it exists. There are books, and charts, and news articles showing us, quite graphically, about the 1% and the 99%. The 1% hold an inordinate proportion of America’s economic wealth, leaving the 99% to struggle to hold on to middle class status. So what do we do? We pass a bill that sends even more of America’s wealth to that 1%. We make that gift permanent. We send a pittance to the middle class, so they will not make an outcry, but we allow the Republican Congress to make that token contribution temporary. (As they face the 2018 election Republicans are having second thoughts and are seeking to make middle class tax cuts permanent.)

wealth inequality sm wikipedia

from Wikipedia

We let Congress try their “trickle-down” nonsense economics one more time because we really have no choice. The Republicans love trickle-down and they are in charge of our government and its purse strings. We watch Congress give corporations huge tax cuts and perks. We hear them assure us that these companies will share their newly purchased wealth with us. (They bought this wealth with giant-sized contributions to Republican campaigns.) But because corporations must share their wealth with their stockholders and use it to fund business expansion and to line the pockets of their owners and CEOs, there is little left to actually trickle-down to workers. (Sadly the whole idea of trickle-down economics now has echoes of those “golden showers” that Republicans have introduced into our daily conversation through their president, Trump. It’s an accidental analogy but strangely parallel in moral tone.)

Trump has boasted about the number of executive actions he has taken to overturn regulations on business, on banks, and regulations on pollutants which contribute to climate change. He calls this “winning”. The House of Representatives has worked diligently to deregulate business and banks and to change laws about drilling for fossil fuels. Republicans insist that if we regulate business, business will flee to a nation without regulations. Many of our businesses have migrated to other nations without regulations so this looks like an accurate analysis of the situation. But eventually these nations will begin to pass regulations. Workers, as their economic position improves, will require it. World opprobrium to a lack of safety and rights for workers will require it. Capitalism is a useful economic construct, but only if it is harnessed for the public good. Capitalists are human beings and human beings have a dual nature. Every enterprise that can contribute to the public good can also be bent by our more nefarious human motives to contribute to the selfish desires of individuals with power. Without regulation Capitalism has no conscience; its only goal is profit. In the short term we may be “winning”, but in the long term we may be “screwed”.

Money is useful but no human society should be only about economics, about stockpiling money, about being the richest society. Rich societies call forth the anger of poorer societies and this envy leads to revolutions and war. Societies are about governing people, keeping cultural forces in balance so that the society can survive and remain stable. Societies have to take human rights and needs into consideration. If rights are not shared by those who are governed by a society then that society will eventually die out or be overthrown. The Republican Party seems to be in favor of wealth inequality as an oddly-rationalized principle. They seem to have decided that people have money because they are, in truth, superior to most citizens and even, they contend, favored by God. (Yikes! Shades of the Divine Right of Kings.) Because these people are “elites” (creators) in every way they should be treated with deference, they should be offered privileges as tokens to keep them happy and perhaps to keep them from going elsewhere.

Every time we have removed regulations that rein in Capitalism some brilliant but twisted money savant has come up with a way to step beyond the lines of investment common sense and invent some money-spewing scheme that eventually explodes in our faces and delivers us into economic recession or depression. Herbert Hoover, Republican, bears the blame for the Great Depression. If we look to the administrations before his because the roots of an economic downturn are often found in the previous administration we find Warren Harding, Republican, in office from 1921-23 and Calvin Coolidge, a Republican in office from 1923-1929. Before our most recent Great Recession we find the Republicans once again in office in the person of George W Bush. The housing boom had been much discussed in the media but because of Republican laissez faire business attitudes no one stepped in to investigate or regulate. This one, when it exploded, even involved the banking business, traditionally opposed to risky ventures, but so in need of economic drama that good sense left the building. And now the Republicans are also removing restraints Obama put on banks that crossed over into what was basically thievery. We are told in the media that some of the same risky practices that burst the last economic bubble are lining pockets once again and we can again look to the mortgage market.

Republicans tout their own prowess as economists. So while they always push policies of Conservative economic practices, while they rattle on about debt and deficits, and balanced budgets and tightening our belts, they always contend that the belts that need to be tightened are the belts of the neediest members of our society. They always advocate cutting the safety nets for groups that not financially able to take economic risks such as the poor and seniors, the disabled and the sick. Those programs are actually all that stands against a total abdication of the American soul. Without them, if we do not protect our weakest members, we are not a society, we are just an economy and a war machine. And not even a good economy, since inequality will get even more pronounced if we refuse to exercise human empathy. And then we will join the roster of failed societies and realize the Republican dream will not take us anywhere good.

Force Republicans to take a timeout. They are not helping America. They are racist and they subscribe to bad economic policies. Elect Democrats in 2018 and keep on electing them until Republicans get a grip on reality.

 

 

Republicans Need a Timeout

 

GOP men Getty images big

“The Republican Party is the Root of all Evil” – me

Racism

Early racists were members of the Democratic Party, which was the party of the South. They were slave owners, and they did not believe that their slaves were equal to white people. Eventually people who sympathized with those who were once slave owners switched to become members of the Republican Party. Now most racists are members of the Republican Party and they still believe that intelligence relies on skin color.

Contemporary Republicans have been inviting racist hate back into our daily lives. For this they have become a party of evil. For this and reasons I will discuss in future articles, the  Republicans need a timeout from governing, for perhaps the next 50 years.

Looking Back

The party of Southern slave owners was not the Republican Party. In the 1860’s and beyond the Democrats ruled the South – but the party was not at all like today’s Democratic Party. However it is true that in the 1850’s and 1860’s leading up to the Civil War, the Democratic Party was the party of slavery and slave owners. When the Democrats decided to leave the Union and become the Confederate States of America they controlled everything south of Washington, DC (and a few states north of that city); they controlled all of the Southern states to the Mississippi River and also Texas and Louisiana. When the Confederacy (the Democrats) were beaten in the Civil War (with huge loss of life) these states once again became part of the USA. And their slaves were freed. The South erupted in anger and fear. Freed slaves were terrorized by the KKK and other white supremacist groups. Tens of thousands were killed outright.

But we have to go back further. The racism that underlies our country was there from the moment the first slave was abducted from a village or town in Africa and imprisoned on a ship to American (or anywhere). People (white people) reasoned that slavery did not go against their Christianity by arguing that black people were more savage and therefore obviously far less intelligent than white people.

The slave states in the South were not, therefore, starting from a place that allowed for any equality between black folks and white folks.

By the time the United States became the United States of America, the Southern economy was built around slave labor. Wealthy southerners grew cotton and tobacco. To pay well, fields had to be expansive. Plantation life developed around these labor-intensive farming operations. Slaves were brought to America as early as 1619-20 even before America’s founding. So, given all this, it is obvious that Plantation/slave culture was firmly established in the South by the time colonists won their independence and wrote our founding documents. Our forefathers in non-slave states found themselves having to include laws that suited Southern slave states or the South was ready to walk away from the new nation. We might have been two nations from the beginning. Perhaps we should have been. The compromises our forefathers made with Southerners have not been good for America.

Parties Switch Ideologies

When America passed the Civil Rights act in the 1960’s, the Democratic Party had a more mixed membership, was no longer full of only Southerners who harbored resentments and who did not want people of color to mix with white people in any way – even to vote. We had been through two World Wars by then and the parties were more diverse in terms of ideologies. But the remnants of the original Southern white supremacists were violently opposed to ending Jim Crow in the South and they came to be called the Dixiecrats. Many Dixiecrats migrated to the Republican Party, but some held out (e.g. George Wallace) and continued to embarrass a Democratic Party, that was now made of mainly of people who favored Civil Rights legislation.

Reasons for white Southern resentment:

The South lost a lot when they lost the Civil War, at least from their point of view:

  • They lost a way of life
  • They lost their booming agricultural economy
  • They lost their slaves who they considered property and so this represented an additional financial loss
  • They lost their excuses, which had saved them from being sinners, and morally reprehensible, and yet their pride would not allow them to confess their sins or make reparations
  • They feared that there would be retribution against whites by the freed slaves
  • They needed to continue to believe that black folks were still and always would be inferior to white folks
  • They needed freed slaves to be very scared

However, wars have consequences, or they should.

The Great Migration – Racism moves North

Americans move around. When freed folks realized that in the South they were not really free, many moved North. Northerners were not always happy when black folks moved into their neighborhoods, competed for their jobs, sent kids to their schools. The Northerners found they had some racism of their own. Factories and white families headed off to the suburbs and left black folks, separate once again, and poor in a new way because they could not easily go back to farming. City life often required skills that had not yet been learned and which hardly anyone was offering to teach. Black skin set Americans of African Descent apart, made them easy to isolate as a group, and set up the false duality we struggle with to this day. This is our shameful racist dichotomy:

 

White skin                                                  Black or Brown skin

Intelligent                                                   Limited intelligence

Genetically superior                              Inferior Genes

Creative and innovative                       Physical

Hard-working                                           Lazy

Gentlemanly                                              Loose control of sexuality

 

And on and on.

Republican Party is now the Party of Racism

Until very recently self-identified racists could be found in both political parties. But with the advent of the Tea Party, the Conservative talkers, the web of organizations, and the deeply partisan divide the Republicans are no longer mixed in terms of racism v. tolerance. Even if they claim they are not racist they have to be to go along with that party. Rachel Maddow always says, “Don’t go by what they say, go by what they do.” Accept as evidence what we saw as we celebrated the 50thanniversary of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, which was a resurrection of the racist behavior harbored in white hearts during the Reconstruction, and dim echoes of the terrorism, hate, and resentment that was born in our post-Civil War days.

The Supreme Court celebrated 50 years of voting fairness by gutting the most important section of the Voting Rights Act. The states who had used unfair voting practices, like poll taxes and literacy tests, had been required to preclear voting changes with the federal government. The Court overturned the preclearance procedure because, they argued, voting rights belonged to the states. (This is a Republican talking point – to put the federal government back in the place the forefathers intended. This is a states’ rights argument.) And here is what began to happen as soon as the voting rights act was disemboweled.

  • Voter suppression through voter ID’s, closing polling places, putting polling places where they were hard to get to, purging voter rolls.
  • Gerrymandering into black and white districts.
  • The rise of in-the-open white supremacy.
  • A push for nationalism over globalism.
  • Continuing to nurse resentment at the outcome of the Civil War.
  • Continuing to venerate the Confederacy.
  • Backing guns.
  • Urging the formation of militias.
  • Bringing back the “posse comitatus” bone thrown to placate Southerners near the end the Reconstruction, laws that gave away federal powers to local sheriffs.

Conclusions:

If our American government did have a referee or an overarching organization, like the NCAA for college basketball, the Republican Party might be penalized for keeping racism alive. They might even be forced to stay out of governing for the next 50 years, to take a long timeout. The only thing hopeful about this whole side trip we are being manipulated into taking is that this might represent the last hurrah for racism and even for white supremacy.

We the people can be the referee. We can put the GOP in a timeout. Vote for Dems in 2018.