Saturday, January 14, 2012

The graph that launched a thousand rationalizations

Here's the single best question to ask those who plan to vote for the Republican nominee. "Please explain how your guy would do something about this--or why this is a good thing. One or the other."

What the graph (derived from Congressional Budget Offices by the conservative publication The Economist) does is take the income disparities between Americans in 1979 as a given, then shows how that disparity changed in the succeeding 28 years. So it's not showing that all Americans made the same amount of money in 1979 (!). It's just showing how the amount of different has changed for different sectors of Americans.

One important thing it doesn't show directly is the fact that Americans have been working harder and harder through that timeframe--longer hours, more stress, more threat of being fired or laid off (the same thing 98% of the time), and besides the drop of income, the siphoning off of pension funds into CEO salaries and dilution of medical coverage.

What it shows is that nobody's doing much better than they did in 1979 except for the richest 1% of Americans, who have appropriated for themselves nearly all the improvement in GNP for the United States of America for the last 30 years or so. This coincides with the wholesale deregulation of business started by successive Republican administrations.

So the "job creators" turn out to actually be the "wealth just for themselves" creators. This makes sense, since more and more of America's biggest fortunes are centered on money manipulation instead of providing goods and services and the capital to start and build companies that provide goods and services. 

From factories to Wall Street.

Why should I be happy with this? Why should I vote for someone who, like Mitt Romney, promptly calls me a socialist stuffed with envy and hatred of the American Way of Life if I dare to object? Were CEOs and Wall Street's Masters of the Universe grossly underpaid before 1979, such that they didn't want to start companies and stuff? I was around then and I don't recall anyone saying so. 

At that time Reagan was saying that "Government IS the problem." That government meddling was stifling business; that it was taking money out of yours and my pockets.

So the Republicans took care of all that gummint interference, and whaddaya know--all that happened was that the 1% redistributed a big chunk of America's wealth right into their pockets. And then they call us redistributionists if we dare to complain.

I can understand this easily. Mitt Romney was born into that 1% and has lived his entire life in the 1%. So was and did FDR, but somehow FDR developed an understanding of how the 99% live. Ditto Warren Buffet. And George Soros. And others. But not most of the 1%. 

And honestly, what's the overall pattern for the human race everywhere and everywhen? A small minority grabbing more and more for themselves and their cronies and relatives and less and less for everyone else. Absent that dreaded regulation, that's what humans do.

Now it's also what humans do when government goes overboard with the regulations, of course. Communism is authority with no checks or balances. What did anyone think would happen? 

It's fascinating to hear rank and file Republicans twisting themselves into knots trying to justify this somehow.

But most do.

I think of them as being like the folks who'd line the sides of the road when their lord rode by on his way to the manor, touching their caps respectfully as he passed...and stoutly defending him to one and all.

What makes these people such bootlickers? What makes them think that the only alternative to being a vassal of the Romneys of the world is being a vassal to the Putins of the world? Or that there's any difference, for that matter? 

So show them the graph and find out what they say. At the very least it'll make your next family reunion more entertaining....

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