Drowning In Debt

President Bush signed the housing rescue bill, one of few pieces of legislation Republicans have allowed through during this Congressional session.  One of the bad items in this bill is the raising of the national debt limit, again.  This time it increases by $800 billion.

In a national debt of almost $11 trillion $800 billion may not seem much but let’s put this in perspective:  $800 billion was our entire national debt until the Reagan Revolution of irresponsible Republican economics began in 1980.  In the 28 years since we have increased our debt tremendously.

This has been the strategy of Republicans looking to bankrupt our economy so they can impose radical Friedmanesque cuts to government services, privatize government, and leave tens of millions of Americans unemployed and in poverty with no safety nets.

It is a policy which has failed repeatedly for everyone except the rich and wealthy who continue getting richer and richer.  It always results in massive transfers of wealth from all of us to them.  The principles of this economic policy mean huge cuts in government spending.  In our country they see this as being improbable of achieving so their economic strategy, which they call “trickle down economics” (have you seen any of that yet?) involves bankrupting the government with huge amounts of debt until we have no chocie but to implement their radical cures.

These mean the complete exploitation of labor by outlawing unions, slashing wages, deregulating all business (their definition of “freedom” means completely free markets, not civil liberties), privatization of government, and the violent suppression of dissent using torture if necessary.  Does any of this sound familiar?

George W. Bush has certainly begun using torture as national policy while drastically cutting essential government programs.  He is greatly expanding our debt with his wars while our wages go down, inflation eats them away and the rich get richer.  He has privatized our federal government with corrupt, no bid contracts to his corporate partners and even privatized our national security apparatus.

Republicans don’t actually believe in good government.  They only see government as an opportunity to make money for themselves and their friends (corporations).  They have no concept of public service and the public sector, to them, is simply something to be exploited.  This is the biggest, most fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives.  We liberals have a strong sense of the public good, public service, and want the public sector to be a powerful, positive agent of change for good in people’s lives.  Republicans simply want to use it to enrich themselves.  They want to destroy government because they don’t believe in a common sense of public ownership.  They do not think the public should own anything, your tax dollars should be used to enable them, and their businesses, to buy all the public works and assets and use them for their own profit.

This is why I am so against privatization:  public monies should remain public, tax dollars shouldn’t be used to make profits for private entities, and all public assets should remain public property.

What happens when the military is privatized and outfits like KBR take over?  You and I pay for all those facilities, trucks, helicopters, heavy equipment and everything else they use and build to support our troops.  But they own them.  They get all this on something called a “cost plus” basis:  meaning we automatically cover all their costs, no matter how wasteful or outrageous, plus a guaranteed profit.  There is no accountability for corruption, greed, failure or incompetence.  As a result our soldiers are being electrocuted in showers, clean, potable water is questionable, electricity in Iraq is a fantasy, and we have more contractors in that country than troops.

All at great profit to the companies involved.  Guess what they do with a sizable amount of that profit?  They give it to Republicans in Congress, the White House and other elected officials to keep their gravy train on track.  Why should tax dollars be used to enrich corrupt businessmen?  All these services were provided for considerably less by our government and no one profited.  Now corporate America has a powerful incentive to continue armed conflicts and expand them, it is a profit center.  Who cares if average and poor Americans are killed when Halliburton is reaping huge profits?

This year’s election should be a discussion of basic economic issues.  Where does Barack Obama stand on all this?  I don’t have a clue and I think we need to know.

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