Are we backing into austerity?


First it was the debt ceiling.  Now we’re cleaning up the fiscal cliff mess, but there are rumblings that we’ll have another debt ceiling showdown in the coming months.  Republicans should be ceding ground as they hold only one of the three houses of power in Washington (gerrymandering aided at that), but instead they’re repeatedly holding the economy hostage for their political gains.  (We already have a reverse Robin Hood system which facilitates an upward transfer of wealth through cartoonishly low tax rates on capital gains and estates.)  If those who could oppose them continue to blink, the situation will continue to deteriorate.  The weak economic recovery will stall and those who wish to dismantle the social safety net will be in a better position to do so.  Hilarity will not ensue.

The old axiom “Never negotiate with terrorists” seems to hold water here, but what do I know, I’m just a poor boy…

I have squandered my resistance

For a pocket full of mumbles such are promises

All lies and jests

Still a man hears what he wants to hear

And disregards the rest

-Simon and Garfunkel “The Boxer”

The Fiscal Cliff, Just Another Serving of Sabotage

You’re scheming on a thing that’s a mirage.

I’m trying to tell you now, it’s sabotage.

-The Beastie Boys

I just finished reading Daniel Altman’s (@altmandaniel) “Sabotage,” a book that details recent congressional efforts to obstruct economic recovery.  Altman’s book takes a close look at last year’s debt ceiling negotiations and surrounding matters.  He delivers strong evidence and logic in stating that it was a manufactured crisis intended to force concessions from President Obama.  I thought it a great analog for the current fiscal cliff negotiations, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise since the current mess is the bastard child of the former.  Here’s a sample of Altman’s perspective on said negotiations.

The Republicans’ first move was unprecedented in political and economic history. To demonstrate their newfound power, they drew a line in the sand, refusing to raise the nation’s debt limit unless the president and the Democrat-controlled Senate agreed to long-term cuts in the nation’s spending.

-Daniel Altman

The old chestnut of “Never waste a good crisis,” is now never waste the opportunity to manufacture and exploit a wildly unnecessary non-crisis.

As I stated in a post last week (How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Fiscal Cliff), it’s time to go over the bump and let the pressure amp up on congress to clean up their mess for those who truly need help.  The rest can fall by the wayside.

Now, if you’re still worried about the cliff, Altman’s book may help put things in perspective.  If you’ve already done that, the book is still a great read.

Still here?  Then I’m guessing you need the song.

I wouldn’t want to disappoint.

Open Your Window and Stick Out Your Head and Yell!

I’ve held back on some potentially fiery polemics recently as I have no desire to be known for invective.  Recent events have led me to believe it would be a disservice to the things I believe in to continue to temper my words.  I apologize if I offend anyone.

I don’t make a dime for these efforts.  I do it because I care deeply about social and environmental justice and I want to make a positive contribution to the common good.  I try to do this by asking my readers to join me in a bit of navel-gazing, by questioning their assumptions and motivations.  In doing so, I hope they will end up aiming higher with both their thoughts and actions.  Please hold on to that thought.

A “compromise” has been reached

It’s been a tough day for those of us with progressive leanings.  The widely praised compromise tastes like mighty thin gruel.  I have a fair amount to say about it, but I’ll ask you to check out Keith Olbermann’s fine commentary first.

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The Forbidden Fruit?


I was planning to write a pithy article on the many things which have gotten my goat this week, but I’ve had it up to here and the relevant angles have been covered by far better writers.  I’ll just leave you with a picture of my boys thumbing their noses at the City of Oak Park, Michigan for their decision to fine a homeowner for violation of  “a code that says a front yard has to have suitable, live, plant material.”   Continue reading