There are many dimensions to “national security” as well as military security. Increasingly I am feeling that we are more and more threatened by what can only be described as “crazy economics” which seem to be motivated more by greed than by intellectual honesty or sound economics. It is certainly not motivated by a concern for the unemployed or for the average citizen’s well being. Nor is it motivated by concern for America’s leadership abroad.
I don’t mean just the normal domestic-type absurdity as in “Tea Party” economics and not even what can be described as Milton Friedman-type “supply side” failed economics. What we are dealing with is not real “economics” but rather deliberate class warfare (a term often used by the wealthy, far right to describe any effort at fairer taxes) directed at further weakening America’s vast middle class that has fallen behind the very rich for decades. It is the “economics” that has decimated the so-called “rust belt” and engineered high unemployment and low worker wages. It is the “economics” that has shifted America’s productivity and capital from building things to pushing financial paper around to generate wealth for a very few. Now they also want to degrade our schools and educational institutions.
Even now, especially during this economic crisis that has been initiated by the very, very rich in our society, our average citizens are experiencing an extraordinary degradation of their dignity and their political and social voice. And not least, it has deprived them of their effective participation in a meaningful right to the value of their labor.
Whether it is the taking away of the right to bargain by civil servants in Wisconsin and other states, or punitive anti-Union laws, or efforts at “redistricting” by states to take away the effective votes of minorities like blacks, Latinos, and the poor, it has made America a truly weaker nation.
The result will be to enshrine a Republican majority in the House of Representatives and perhaps the Senate for decades if not forever. This will effectively disenfranchise the majority of voters’ right to equal weight in the process of democracy. What this does to our nation is simply turn our nation from a real democracy into an entrenched greedy and mean-spirited autocracy.
This reality is not only true in America as the same “class warfare” is also being carried out in a host of developed and developing countries around the world. The simple fact is that the gap between the poor and workers in most societies around the world has been growing for decades and is now accelerating beyond all sense of morality and good economics.
Look at Europe: The conservative CDU German Government headed up by Angela Merkel, in collaboration with the European Central Bank, has insisted that Greece (and by extension other debt laden EU nations) undertake draconian deflationary economic and fiscal policies that will cause depression in these countries. These forced actions will increase, not decrease, unemployment, and impoverish and lower the living standard of the working poor. Also, under the recent terms of “bailing out Greece,” the bankers of all types, who have loaned to these countries at their own risk, will likely, in the end, get back almost every dime they have provided plus interest off the backs of those who hardly know what a “derivative” or a “CDO collateralized debt obligation” is.
Likewise, the Tory-LibDem coalition government in the UK is embarking on its own “slash and burn” economic policy– firing civil servants, cutting education grants, cutting subsidies to cultural institutions, slashing help to the unemployed, and even going back on its pledge not to harm the public health service. The result will likely be disaster for Britain but especially its least well-off citizens.
In almost all of these cases, the economic policies are not to tax the very rich, who are doing very well, but to impose insurmountable burdens on workers, the poor, and, not least, on the lower middle class who make up the vast bulk of the real economic productivity of a society. These policies certainly will not impact the high earnings of the bankers, hedge fund managers, corporate CEOs, and their confederates.
Not to be left behind, many of the developing countries are aping these policies under the influence (often through illegal bribes) of the rich in their country, eager to exploit the poor and afraid of the people gaining a real voice in their countries. That, in part, is what the “Arab Spring” was in opposition to and all about. Also, in countries like India and China, the disparity of wealth and its influence versus the vast bulk of their impoverished population is a glaring and major stumbling block to real economic progress for most people.
The end product is a world with growing conflict, deep and continuing poverty in its lower ranks, lack of meaningful popular governance, and a diminishment of a free and diverse press. The result is the marginalization of large segments of societies and the rise of revolts and conflicts. This does not make for a safe, stable, and prosperous world either in the developed or developing regions.
At the moment, there are few metrics showing radical improvements in this dire situation, nor are there any global initiatives worthy of the name to address these conditions. Even the revolts in the Arab world initially will result in further economic decline, especially if assistance is not offered quickly to shore up fledgling efforts at democracy and progressive economic policies. With the “rich” nations undergoing their own crisis, there is only a slight chance this help will be provided in sufficient amounts to make a real difference. Enlightened beneficence is hard when greed is in the ascendancy.
By Harry C. Blaney III.