fresh voices from the front lines of change







Republican Senator Ted Cruz says a government shutdown is no big deal, because the government shuts down every weekend. That’s like saying it’s OK to be dead, because you are dead every night when you go to sleep. Meanwhile a Fox News host says feeding old people is just “buying votes.” At the Washington Post George Will says democracy is about “pillaging taxpayers.” This is who they are.

Shutdown No Big Deal

Roll Call: Ted Cruz Likens Government Shutdown to Extended Weekend, “Sen. Ted Cruz downplayed the damage of a government shutdown he and 11 other Senate Republicans are threatening over Obamacare as the equivalent of an extended weekend.”

First of all, the government does not shut down on weekends. That is just dumb — and mean. Police, firefighters, water systems, roads, ports, airports, the regulatons that keep the economy going, and everything government does to protect and empower us and help make our lives better all continue to function on weekends.

Cruz just blows off the effect on people of a government shutdown. So what would really happen? What would it do to people, the economy, global markets?

In April, 2011 — another of the times the Republicans were threatening to close the government if they didn’t get what they want — the NY Times looked at government contingency plans for a short shutdown. The government had contingency plans to shift finds to essential services. “A senior administration official said a shutdown could idle 800,000 of the 1.9 million civilian federal workers.” “A huge backlog of applications for Social Security disability benefits would grow even larger, agency officials said.” “The I.R.S. plans to keep enough people on hand to cash incoming checks because the government needs the money.” “…the Federal Housing Administration, the world’s largest insurer of mortgages, could not make new loan guarantees for homebuyers.” “…issuing passports for travelers and visas for foreigners coming to the United States, could stop or face significant delays.” “Active-duty personnel would continue to work and earn pay during a shutdown, but would generally not receive paychecks until Congress appropriated money at some later date.” “National parks would be closed and the Smithsonian Institution’s museums are planning to close.”

Another NY Times report at the time, Government Shutdown Would Have Wide Ripples, points out that many businesses would be dirupted, even by a short shutdown,

Among the people anxiously waiting to hear if Congress can reach a budget deal are front desk clerks at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, manufacturing executives whose companies supply goods to federal agencies, bank loan officers who make mortgages guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration and Wall Street analysts who depend on a steady flow of government data.

The federal government is, after all, a very big business, and temporarily pulling the plug would disrupt many other businesses.

But what if the Tea-Party shutdown is not short? Any extended shutdown would of course be devestating. Medicare, Social Security and other services are essential to the elderly, disabled and others. Food safety and other health-protection programs are essential. Our courts and regulatory agencies keep the economy going. (Of course worker safety and other worker protections wouldn’t matter since few would be working…) Our economy would tank and the effect of an extended shutdown on the world economy as well as the US position in the world economy would also most likely be terrible.

An April, 2011 WaPo report, Economic impact of shutdown: Damage would increase with duration, explains,

The economic effects of a government shutdown could be significant in the Washington region and nationally if the impasse continues for several weeks, some economists said.

This is who they are.

Feeding Seniors Is Just “Buying Votes”

Here is Fox News, claiming there is no need to feed old people, and saying doing so is just “buying votes.” Media Matters has the story, in Fox Claims That Feeding Seniors In Need Is An Effort To Buy Their Vote:


VARNEY: Now the AARP, huge supporters of President Obama politically and financially. Big supporters of Obamacare. And now they’re out there signing people up for food stamps. This is part of the buy the vote campaign. They’re really shifting America, changing what America really is.

In a democracy government spending is, by definition, things We the People decide to do to make our lives better Like feeding seniors. It isn’t “buying votes.”

This is who they are.

Democracy “Pillages Taxpayers”

Meanwhile George Will uses his prominent position at the Washington Post (Will still has a prime-time slot? No wonder great columnists like Richard Eskow are kept out of the “mainstream media.”) to blame the collapse of Detroit of democracy and working actually receiving wages and benefits. In Detroit’s death by democracy Will writes,

Here, where cattle could graze in vast swaths of this depopulated city, democracy ratified a double delusion: Magic would rescue the city (consult the Bible, the bit about the multiplication of the loaves and fishes), or Washington would deem Detroit, as it recently did some banks and two of the three Detroit-based automobile companies, “too big to fail.” But Detroit failed long ago. And not even Washington, whose recklessness is almost limitless, is oblivious to the minefield of moral hazard it would stride into if it rescued this city and, then inevitably, others that are buckling beneath the weight of their cumulative follies. It is axiomatic: When there is no penalty for failure, failures proliferate.

For those not willing to wade through that mush, Will is in essence saying that citizens have no more sense than pigs at a trough (if you feed them the breed) and if you let them vote they will do things to make their lives better. To live in a society where people help each other out would be reckless, therefore society must pit people and cities against each other.

Will goes on to day worry “about the viability of democracy in jurisdictions where big government and its unionized employees collaborate in pillaging taxpayers.” Taxpayers in Will’s (and Romney’s and Ayn Rand’s) narrative being, of course, the wealthiest 1%. The rest of us are takers.

Seriously, read the whole column if you can stomache it. Does this guy seriously hate democracy, or what? (George Will, by the way, was part of a conspiracy to steal and use Jimmy Carter’s debate briefing book in 1980. Will used the stolen briefing book to prep Reagan. Imagine a so-called “journalist” not reporting such a huge scoop, that the Reagan campaign had infiltrated the White House and was stealing documents from the Oval Office. Imagine a newspaper that allows such a person to have a column for 33 more years.)

This is who they are.

And again, why doesn’t Richard Eskow have a prominent column in the Washington Post or the NY Times? Click this link, read a few of his columns, and you will be asking the same question.


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