TOM GOERGEN: American People Must Unite for Real Change
At this critical moment for our country, we citizens need to unite for change.
We have learned the hard way that borrow-and-spend, Republican, tinkle-down economics doesn't work -- at least not for those of us in the middle and on the bottom that are getting tinkled on.
Under President Bush, the national debt has mushroomed from $5.7 trillion to $10.5 trillion -- almost double, with three months remaining and the doors of the Treasury flung wide open for a parting orgy of corporate looting that makes Iraq after the fall of Saddam look like a paragon of law and order.
Total U.S. government debt on Sept. 30, 1981 (including all 200 years of our prior history) was just under $1 trillion. A staggering 90 percent of the subsequent increase in our debt came under Republican Presidents Reagan, Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. At least Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr. had victory in the Cold War to help justify their profligacy.
Republicanism clearly no longer stands for fiscal conservatism. "Borrow and spend" is a more accurate description. Spending increases without offsetting tax increases are simply a tax levied on future generations -- the ultimate in taxation without representation!
Per capita, the national debt is about $34,500, $138,000 for a family of four. Interest alone amounts to $1,600 per year per person, a negative inheritance.
For some Republicans, those that adhere to the "starve the beast" philosophy, out-of-control deficit spending is a calculated, underhanded effort to bankrupt the country so we cannot afford Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs that the vast majority of voters strongly support and many depend upon for their daily existence.
John McCain and Bush Jr. agree on the disastrous policies that result in the passing of this debt to our posterity. They are borrowing against the future to spend on unwarranted tax cuts for the wealthy (those earning over $250,000 per year), a disastrously expensive war of choice in Iraq and corporate welfare for Wall Street malefactors and companies that have shipped our jobs overseas.
Under Bush Jr., inflation increased from 3.7 percent in January 2001 to 4.9 percent in September 2008. Unemployment increased during the same period from 4.2 percent to 6.1 percent. The poverty rate grew from 11.3 percent in 2000 to 12.5 percent in 2007, while real median household income fell by about $2,000. The annual foreign trade deficit ballooned from $365 billion to $700 billion.
An estimated three million manufacturing jobs were lost between 2000 and 2006, and the total keeps growing. In 2007, average CEO pay was 275 times that of the average worker. Worker productivity continues to increase while wages stagnate, because they have found that the average production worker in China makes only $.53 per hour.
What is different between the 1990s, when prosperity was widely shared, and the 2000s, when the rich get richer and the poor get poorer? -- the global economy (because other countries are not required to buy as much from us as we buy from them), tax cuts for the wealthy, the war and financial malfeasance from Enron to AIG.
Derivatives, hedge funds, credit default swaps, mortgage-backed securities and the like should be outlawed or highly regulated. They are the latest tools used by the manipulative to get more than their fair share from those of us who play by the rules.
Capitalism is a wonderful tool for increasing human productivity, especially when everyone plays by the rules. But there must be rules, because we live in a society where all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. No one has a greater intrinsic claim than any other. All the levers of power and privilege must not operate only for those at the top.
Yes, there should be more for the ones who contribute the most. Not all. There must be bread, jobs and dignity for the many as well.
Taxes always fall most heavily on those with the ability to pay. What is different now is that many of the fortunate see their earnings as an entitlement and refuse to recognize that they are a part of a society that helped make their success possible and that provides them with many benefits.
We cannot all solve our financial woes the way John McCain did. There are only so many wealthy beer heiresses to go around.
McCain voted with George W. Bush over 90 percent of the time. That leaves less than a dime's worth of difference between the two. Do we want small change or real change? Do we want someone who has been a prisoner of the Republican Party and its misguided policies for the past 26 years? Or do we want to come together as a people for real change?
Don't let them divide us again this time -- middle class against poor, false choices on social issues. Theirs is a losing proposition if we stick together and vote for our own interests and for the common good.
Tom Goergen, who lives in Southern Pines, can be contacted at email@example.com.
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