Sunday, April 10, 2011

Modern-day "Conservatism": The Real Ideology of Entitlement

Imagine a tropical island paradise that is a U.S. Commonwealth, a part of the United States of America family.  As with most U.S. island territories, this string of islands has a higher-then-average per capita of its population living under the poverty line.  In fact, this territory is the largest welfare state in the Union.  Many able-bodied young men and women live off of Social Security and food stamps because the net take-home is nearly as much as it would be to have a 40-hour a week job in the private sector at the minumum wage of $5.05/hour.  Non-U.S. citizens avail of Medicaid for their U.S.-born children.  The U.S tax payer pays for most public education here, a large amount of infrastructure funding and ARRA funds have flowed here buying new school buses, transportation vans for the elderly, disabled, public safety and federal offices; as well as the purchase of use-and-keep laptops for grade-school students and solar panels for government buildings.  The residents of the Commonwealth, though U.S. citizens, pay contributions into Social Security but do not pay federal income tax.

A liberal paradise right?  Enough to make a deficit-hawk, entitlement-hating "fiscal conservative" froth at the mouth?  Only the super-irony is that the Democratic Party is nearly non-existent in this American Commonwealth.  This is G.O.P country, through-and-through.  The visiting D.C. dignitaries of the last fifteen years have all had an (R) after their names; men named DeLay, Abramoff, Young, Rohrbacher and Steele (no relation of course, different mother for sure).

And what has the U.S. tax payer received in return for millions of dollars in annual funding over the last three-plus decades?  80% of one island that's been in the Pentagon's possession since WWII, never used since the war but there all the same just in case it's needed for military training; another tiny, uninhabited island used for military bombing exercises and a reliable pool of young military recruits; high school graduates and dropouts who have few jobs to vie for in an economically devastated private sector and a nearly bankrupt, local government.
The trend, the commonalities of those "benefits" are pretty obvious.  Where the Pentagon of the U.S. empire sets up shop, the entitlements of "protecting American interests" follow.  Now that the world knows how the U.S. enriched former Eyptian dictator Mubarak to the point of him being possibly one of the world's wealthiest men, wouldn't it be nice to know how much money was spent to keep the puppet government of the Shah of Iran in power for 25 years?  Or the Saudi kingdom for over 75 years now?  Or Ferdinand Marcos?  How about Reagan's excursions into Central America?  Billions are spent annually subsidizing Israel's military.  Trillions of dollars have been spent on a combined eighteen years of "occupation" in Iraq and Afghanistan.

All that American tax payer money spent overseas.  Military entitlements.  All courtesy of "conservative" ideology, which quite unfortunately is the ruling ideology of the current-day U.S.A..  All despite the fact that a majority of the population are against further foreign occupations and subsidies.  Meanwhile, right-wing media has convinced the populace that "liberals" are the "tax-and-spenders", the ones that are ruining the nation.

So while "conservative" ideology has aimed to undermine private-sector unions over the last three decades in the name of furthering corporate profits and currently plans to destroy America's social safety nets under the guise of balancing budgets, this same ideology has made just one foreign dictator worth over $50 billion. That's surely a mere drop in a very large bucket of hypocrisy.

But the "conservative" demand for entitlements doesn't end with the Pentagon of course.

"Conservative" ideology has no issues with bloated budgets when it comes to corporate subsidies (those are entitlements too folks!) for businesses that net billions in quarterly profits, like oil companies and corporate agriculture.  And who can forget those bank bailouts and subsidies that continue to this day via zero-interest, Fed discount window lending?  Ever wondered why you earn less than 1% interest on your savings accounts?  The banks don't need your personal money when they can borrow your government's money for free.  And when they hide their value-deflated, foreclosed real estate assets and derivatives losses from their financial statements and declare billions in profits by investing free money, well they are entitled to those million dollar bonuses.  That's productive capitalism in the tainted world of "conservative" ideology.

Or how about taxation?  No taxes, the "conservative" mantra.  The ongoing fairytale of balancing a budget with endless wars, trillion dollar corporate bailouts and lower taxes.  America could erase a lot of deficit with a simple quarter-point uptick in capital gains taxes over a million dollars, or force multi-billion-dollar hedge funds to pay higher taxes on their speculative "earnings", simple paper-trading which contributes nothing to our nation's productivity.  The Obama administration is making a half-hearted attempt to close tax loopholes for corporations and the extreme wealthy but of course is facing fierce resistance from the "right."  Because they are entitled to those bennys, don't you know?  It's us serfs down below who can't afford memberships to their exclusive country clubs who are supposed to "suck it up" and surrender our Social Security and the right to collectively bargain because we're the ones who are sucking all the life out of America by sitting on our asses and whining, right?
Today's "conservative" ideologists believe that social entitlements are the cause of America's assumed fiscal crisis.  That's not even close to the truth.  Since the Wall Street bailouts began, corporate welfare expenses have far outstripped non-contributed social welfare.  "Conservatives", particularly the Tea Party wing, like to use the Constitution as a lost standard of national identity that must be reclaimed.  Ironic, since the neocon ideology of "peace through force" has yielded two, illegal "wars" that were never declared by Congress as required by the Constitution and those wars, combined with a half-century of financial support for mostly non-Democratic nations have easily been the most depleting debits to the nation's treasury.
The evidence is pretty clear for all who wish to see it.  The Citizen's United decision ended any doubt that the U.S. Supreme Court is an activist body of "conservative" ideology, essentially slamming shut the barely-open door of democracy by virtually assuring that elections will be bought by the elite members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or billionaire donor groups like Karl Rove's American Crossroads or the Kochs' American's For Prosperity.  The Justice Department now green-lights any and all corporate mega-mergers, many in just the last few years that never would have passed just three to four decades ago, eliminating competition and further allowing price collusion.  Mega-elite banking and investment groups, and particulary speculators, aren't being taxed nearly enough on their capital gains; data entry profits that not only provide no productivity and produce nothing but negatively effect world commodity and financial markets, and are increasingly ill-gotten via insider trading and market manipulation. 

In the last three decades, the American conservative movement has been hijacked by a powerful group of greedy extremists that have turned it into a failed ideology, an ideology that is now shared by both political parties and which isn't really an ideology at all but rather a well-oiled propaganda machine, in which money and personal gain come long before actions which are good for the nation.      
The island Commonwealth that I described at the beginning does exist by the way.  I've lived there for most of the last sixteen years.  And there's no "liberal" media here, just ESPN, Fox and the Wall Street Cheerleader Channel, better known as CNBC.  Imagine that.

1 comment:

OLT said...

Well, is a nice piece.
It is written well, it tells a lot of truth, however harsh one.
But a legitimate question is "And what?" Yes, Saipan is corrupt from top to bottom, and what?
Yes, U.S. is taken over by a bunch of mega-super-greedy jerks, and what?
Untill at the end of such stories will be a call to action, or a suggestion of treatment, such well written stories will be a nice reading pieces for those who "suck it up" and nothing more.
Maybe this is harsh, but this is true.