IBI Watch 6/12/11

12 06 2011

The Mission: Destroy the Public Sector

Remember the early days of the Bush II Administration.  When Ol’ George told us he was trying to create the ‘ownership’ society,’ it was one of those uncommon occasions.  That is, he was truthfully describing what his policies were designed to do.  And like so many ignorance-based initiatives that festered during those years, it shows no signs of slowing.

In the modern Republican view, all that is private is good, even holy.  Bow your head and think ‘job creators.’  On the other hand, all that is public is worthless, and in need of reform, privatization or outright destruction.

This attack on the public sector is curious, but understandable.  Here are a few reasons why.

  • It allows the Republicans to scapegoat somebody.  So the source of the budget problems faced by the federal government and so many states as well is not deep, unsustainable tax cuts for the wealthy, unethical Wall Street speculators, or out-of-control military spending.  No, it’s those darned public school teachers, with their outlandishly high salaries and benefits
  • Parts of the public sector have functions that are anathema to modern Republicans.  For instance, providing services to the poor and disadvantaged or regulating business (i.e., those holy job creators).
  • Employees in the public sector generally make a living wage, have benefits such as health care and paid vacation, and are frequently recognized by those dastardly unions.
  • Public-sector organizations tend to be egalitarian.  That is, the chief executive in a state or city agency generally pulls down a salary that is only a small multiple of the lowest-paid hourly worker at that agency.  Once those functions now served by public agencies are moved to their ‘proper’ home – the private sector – we can have more and more large corporations, with top executives making ever more money – probably an obscene multiplier of the working stiffs’ flat-lined wage.

Anyone who believes that the modern Republican agenda is something other than eliminating the public sector has only to look to ideological godfather Grover Norquist.  He famously said: “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”  And you can try these links.  First – a brief commentary on Tim Pawlenty’s recent explanation of his objective – the ‘Google test.’  Next – a Republican congressman’s enlightened view on the topic.  And – a dark but realistic assessment of what’s been going on – a recent blog post on PoliticusUSA.




Common Good be Damned

Of course, radically shrinking government and the public sector is only part of the Republican agenda.  At the federal and state levels, we are sold the same idea:  the key to prosperity for all, as well as long-term deficit reduction is to slash taxes and cut government services.  And they tell us that any tax increase – however modest, and however low those ‘raised’ taxes remain in comparison to historical levels – is an economic disaster, and a ‘job killer.’  This of course, is just a continuation of the ‘trickle down’ economics of the Reagan era.  Something is trickling down all right, but it sure is not prosperity!




Smart Becomes Stoopit: Right-Wing Evolution

With the ascendancy of the Tea Party, more traditional Republicans have been said to be riding a tiger.  They remain the chief promoters of corporatism, but in order to preserve their power, they have to pay tribute to the fact-challenged Tea Party crowd.  This makes for some really interesting twists.  For instance, Mitt Romney – in any rational situation easily the strongest potential presidential candidate on the Republican side – has to run away from his past successes.  He was a successful middle-of-the-road Republican governor in a liberal state.  Tea Partiers do not like that.  Recant he must, and recant he has been trying to do.  Likewise, our own home boy, Tim Pawlenty, now has to renounce previous fact-based positions in favor of the willfully ignorant TP creed.  Here are several links looking at the travails of these shrewdly intelligent candidates who must play dumb and dumber in their quest for power.  The final link looks at the bigger picture, i.e., our era of bigger and bigger lies.





Earth Says ‘Enough, Already!’

Same message, two sources.  A question – which came first?  Checking publication dates yields a surprising conclusion.  Do you think Tom Friedman reads The Onion?



Laws of Physics Defeated . . . Sort of

News this week of the ‘Morning in America’ dividend.  Yes, it is now officially safer to drive a physics-defying, too-heavy, too-tall, pickup-based SUV that guzzles gas than it is to drive one of those gas-sipping minicars.  Of course, ever since President Reagan cleared the regulatory field to allow the winking game of calling these huge trucks passenger cars, the beasts have enjoyed a weight advantage over more sensible passenger vehicles.  That means that, in a crash, the behemoths will always ‘defeat’ an actual car of any size.  But the gas hogs had one dirty little inconvenience – high center of gravity led to a propensity to roll over.  No longer.  The perfection of (dramatic music please) electronic stability control means we can drive as big, tall, mean, gas guzzling a truck-based SUV we want, and worry no more about flipping ass over teakettle. Ah, American ingenuity!  Want the history?  See the second link. Want to save gas, no matter what you drive?  Check the last link.




Oil – Drill It, Burn It, Repeat . . .

For everyone except the denialists, the link between our ever-increasing fossil fuel emissions and climate destabilization is clear.  Here are a few perspectives.  Michael Klare’s book Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet is next up on my reading list.  I like his hypothetical college course – How to Wreck the Planet 101.  The only thing wrong with the second linked story is this ludicrous phrase from the subtitle: “. . . if CO2 keeps rising.”  If?!!  At the third link – our current Republicans, in the thrall of the Koch brothers and other industry powers, will use any excuse to deny inconvenient science, and propagandize enough of the public to go along with their baloney.  But what is the cost?  Next link – a new book looks at 100 places in the world to visit and value, because they are doomed to extinction or radical diminishment by our emission addiction.  Finally – a way to take action to stop more offshore drilling.






The Two-Wheeled Road to Sustained Happiness

Two recent books offer perspective on the most efficient form of transportation.  Oh, and it promotes health as well.



This Crazy World in Pictures

To finish, two cartoons.  The first lampoons a couple of modern Republicans’ fact-free views. Think on the one hand of Paul Revere ringin’ them bells and firin’ them warnin’ shots, you betcha, and on the other, of trotting out the tired old fable of deep tax cuts that lead to more revenue.  The second cartoon has, shall we say, more global implications.  It made me think of the book linked in the third URL – a book I highly recommend.




“Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.”

    Eleanor Roosevelt



Contributed links to this posting – Jeff Carlson, Allyson Harper, Linda Kriel





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