The Road to Neo-Feudalism

Every single day I read articles that solidify my belief that we’re headed at full speed towards neo-feudalism, with the American people asleep in the back seat. Fasten your seat belts.

“The President’s “sequester” offer slashes non-defense spending by $830 billion over the next ten years. That happens to be the precise amount we’re implicitly giving Wall Street’s biggest banks over the same time period.”

“We’re collecting nothing from the big banks in return for our generosity.  Instead we’re demanding sacrifice from the elderly, the disabled, the poor, the young, the middle class – pretty much everybody, in fact, who isn’t “too big to fail.”

“That’s injustice on a medieval scale, served up with a medieval caste-privilege flavor. The only difference is that nowadays injustices are presented with spreadsheets and PowerPoints, rather than with scrolls and trumpets and kingly proclamations.”

During the feudal era peasants paid a tribute to their lords. Think of the money we  hand over to the banks as a neo-tribute.

“In this case the tribute is made possible, not by military occupation, but by the hijacking of our political process by the corrupting force of corporate contributions.”

Thanks to these campaign contributions, both parties are all in for austerity. This economic version of bleeding the patient, goes against 80 years of established economic theory and follows the disastrous path of Europe. But, hey, all the cool kids are down with austerity. They are convinced that the American people simply must take their medicine.

President Obama is proposing to end the Sequester by cutting non-defense spending almost a trillion dollars over ten years. This offer includes cuts in Social Security and Medicare, which should come as a surprise to voters who backed his reelection. To be fair, he has asked for some increase in revenues as well.

“But if we start reintroducing cutbacks just as the US economy is beginning to show faltering signs of recovery, all of the recent gains on the budget deficit will go by the wayside. Why? Because fiscal austerity deflates economic activity, causing tax revenues to plunge and social welfare payments – unemployment insurance, welfare, food stamps – to explode.  The perverse impact, then, is that deficits get larger – precisely the opposite of what the “austerian” brigade desires, but which is happening in earnest in places like Greece and Spain.”

The Republicans would really like much deeper cuts to non-defense spending. But, truth be told, there is only one thing Republicans care about deeply.

“What matters to congressional Republicans is low taxes for the wealthy, period. They’ll take cuts to spending for the poor, and they’ll accept cuts to middle class programs if they can blame Democrats for them, but given the choice they would much rather have upper-class tax cuts than cuts to Social Security and Medicare.”

The sequester and the embrace of austerity by both parties, is just the beginning of a rough ride. If you need an example of what we’re in for, check out the nightmare that’s occurring in Europe right now.

“If we had no evidence of how to solve a debt crisis equitably, we could perhaps regard the policies of Europe’s leaders as misguided. But we have the positive example of Germany 60 years ago, and the devastating example of the Latin American debt crisis 30 years ago. The actions of Europe’s leaders are nothing short of criminal.”

If it’s austerity for us, it must be bonuses for our ruling class. Because, you know, they stole it fair and square. And, they’re not finished.

You remember who our ruling class is don’t you? Just when you thought that it couldn’t get any better for Wall Street, Jack Lew gets Senate confirmation to be our next Treasury Secretary. I thought little Timmah was horrible. Lew may be worse.

“Take a guess who will lose out as Washington decides who is going to get stuck with the bill for the drastic cuts being considered in the sequester?  No matter how much money or how many jobs Wall Street loses for the US, they still will always get their man in Washington.”

I don’t know what the tipping point will be. Do the American people retain the capacity for outrage? Or are we serfs, keeping our heads down and hoping we still have a job?

You know my answer. But I certainly don’t know what will happen going forward. We are rapidly exhausting the working within the political system options.

As President Kennedy warned:

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

This is not rocket science. We did this before after the stock market crash of 1929, and the suffering of the Great Depression. The neo-liberal notion that markets are self correcting has been proven to be ideological rubbish. We need to reenact regulations and laws to prevent this sort of banana republic scale of corruption. And we must do something about the revolving door between government and the private sector. How about a tax of 50% on all income earned the first 5 years after leaving government to discourage this type of legalized bribery.

All this was known to the Founders. James Madison presciently wrote.

If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

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