fresh voices from the front lines of change







Thomas Friedman, in a Sunday’s NYTimes op-ed, Third Party Rising, looks at our country’s political gridlock, gets is partially correct, then reaches the wrong conclusions.

Friedman notes that DC is broken, can’t get a crucially-needed energy bill and other important tasks done, without noting that billionaire/corporate-funded obstruction is the problem. He plays the “centrist” tactic of blaming “both sides.” This allows one “side” to do anything, no matter how destructive, cynical or obstructionist it may be, and avoid accountability because it gets equated with the other side being at fault, too. For example, without using the word “filibuster” or explaining who pays the filibusterers he blames “interest groups” on both sides with breaking down the process. A quote from Larry Diamond shows the sense of the piece,

“We basically have two bankrupt parties bankrupting the country,” said the Stanford University political scientist Larry Diamond. Indeed, our two-party system is ossified; it lacks integrity and creativity and any sense of courage or high-aspiration in confronting our problems. We simply will not be able to do the things we need to do as a country to move forward “with all the vested interests that have accrued around these two parties,” added Diamond. “They cannot think about the overall public good and the longer term anymore because both parties are trapped in short-term, zero-sum calculations,” where each one’s gains are seen as the other’s losses.

Ah yes, the old “both sides” canard. The DC breakdown is the fault of both sides… and vested interests. Here is the problem: the “vested interest” Friedman and others complain about with too much influence over one of those “sides” is the public.

Steve Benen writes at Washington Monthly,

A more ambitious health care policy that conservatives blocked; a more ambitious stimulus that conservatives opposed; a comprehensive energy/climate package that conservatives killed; more crack downs on Wall Street that conservatives have vowed to fight; and an education reform agenda that the president has already launched.

In other words, Friedman has effectively endorsed the entirety of President Obama’s agenda, most of which has passed, can’t pass, or has to be severely watered down because of unprecedented Senate obstructionism.

ONE “side” has caused the problems in a strategic calculation that they can anger and divide the public sufficiently to regain power. They do so with impunity, knowing that Friedman and others in the corporate media will tell the public to blame “both” sides. And here we are.

Friedman writes that we need a third party between those sides to break the logjam. And what policies will that third party be for?

Even More Money To The Top

Friedman concludes his piece in part by calling for “corporate tax reductions to stimulate jobs, without worrying about offending the far left.” Think about this for a minute. Friedman says companies are not hiring because taxes are too high, not because all the money has gone to the top leaving the rest of us barely able to cover the bills. And, of course, in his formulation it is “the far left” that opposes more corporate tax reductions, which of course are what is needed to “create jobs.” Right.

But those same (and higher) tax rates didn’t stop companies from hiring before the financial crisis wiped out people’s savings and jobs resulting in lack of demand. It is obvious to those of us outside of the DC/NY elite that a shortage of customers means that fewer employees are needed to do the things that those customers would have wanted done. But to Friedman and the other brainiacs who have the keys to the nation’s op-ed pages that’s not what is holding back job creation, corporate tax rates are.

Lower corporate tax rates will create jobs? I guess that pointing out that companies pay taxes on profits, which are what you get when lots of customers are coming in the door, and that employees are hired as needed to meet the demand and not according to tax rates, makes one “the far left.” Because I actually owned and ran a business so I know that.

When was the last time you were told about the benefits of joining a union in a corporate newspaper, corporate-owned radio, or corporate-owned TV?

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