Wisconsin and beyond: the conflict is irreconcilable

In a recent column in the New York Times, economist Paul Krugman writes, "It's amazing how this whole crisis has been fiscalized; deficits, which are overwhelmingly the result of the crisis, have been retroactively deemed its cause. And at the same time, influential people around the world have seized on the idea of expansionary austerity, becoming ever more adamant about it as the alleged historical evidence has collapsed."

He continues: "And where there is skewed vision, the economy perishes."

In other words, we are being sold a bill of goods by the Republican Party propaganda/attack machine (and some Democrats too) that will bring nothing good to the American people.

I fully agree.

If we track the growth curve of government deficits we will find that they lag, not lead the crisis. They are, as Krugman says, a result, not the cause of the economic malaise. They are a dependent, not an independent, variable.

This is not rocket science. It's elementary economics. Even many conservative economists acknowledge that the causal sequence in this crisis was as follows: Declining economic activity led to rising deficits as revenues going to government - taxes and otherwise - fell, and claims for government payments - stabilizing mechanisms like unemployment insurance and food stamps - rose (and of course when you add to the brew tax cuts for the wealthy, then the lid goes off).

Faced with this reality, sensible lawmakers in our nation's capital would have passed legislation to stimulate spending - public works jobs, aid to state and city governments, etc. - understanding that temporary deficits are a necessary price to be paid to get the economy going again.

Moreover, if anybody is going to sacrifice, it wouldn't be working people who are already pressed from all sides. Sacrifice would come from people and institutions that can afford it, namely the very wealthy and the transnational corporations who have exploited the Great Recession to their advantage.

Republicans in Congress and their counterparts in statehouses (some Democratic governors too) are not sensible people however. Out of touch, reckless, blinded by ideology, in bed with the corporations and military, yes. Sensible - no way!

Their singular crusade to radically slash spending for people's needs, especially when combined with spikes in oil, food and other primary commodity prices, is akin to throwing gasoline on a smoldering fire. The economy could well take another dip downward - a double dip - further pinching working people and other sections of the population and aggravating the fiscal/deficit mess.

So you might ask: if this is true why do right-wing extremists pursue this course of action? It's simple. Fixing the economy isn't at the top of their "to do" list. In fact, in their cynical political calculus, a poorly performing economy gives them a leg up in next year's elections.

What is at the top for them is restructuring the government in the interests of transnational capital, while at the same time eliminating, or at least greatly curtailing, union rights, social entitlements (Social Security, health care, aid to the poor and unemployed, etc.), civil and voting rights, women's right to choose, and other basic human rights Americans have won through struggle.

In the view of right-wing Republicans, government has no obligations to the governed nor do the governed have any citizenship rights worth respecting. Corporate property rights trump people's rights. And the state isn't anything more than a mechanism to transfer the earned income of working people to the very richest Americans and corporations and to guarantee the reproduction and profitability of capitalism.

Our vision goes in the opposite direction: Government attends to the common welfare. People come before profits. And people have inalienable rights (political, economic and social).

Since the election of Ronald Reagan three decades ago, these conflicting visions have been at the core of an unrelenting struggle between right-wing extremism on the one hand and the working class and people's movements on the other.

At the moment, Wisconsin, joined by other states, is the ground zero of this irreconcilable conflict. Nothing is more important than to extend solidarity to these heroic workers, joined by students, religious and civil rights leaders, football players, farmers, and more, whose fight is our fight.


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  • Absolutely, Sam. Wisconsin is, in a way, the moral equivalent of the Spanish Civil War. Just as the fascists used Spain as a dress rehearsal for WWII, so the union-busters are using Wisconsin as a dress rehearsal for a nationwide assault on unions. If we lose Wisconsin, then the dominoes begin to fall (to use a Vietnam era image).

    Posted by John Whiskey, 03/03/2011 11:29pm (5 years ago)

  • The capitalists have no solutions, not even solutions to their own made-up analysis. That is, they can't overcome their deficits, even if they were able to cut all they want.

    Their real goal is to weaken the working class and exploit it even further, but that course of action wouldn't work even if they were able to increase exploitation to the point of returning us to slavery.

    Their competitors, the other capitalist nations, are doing the same things: printing money and tellinng lies. Since the Atomic Age removed their ultimate recourse -- world war among the industrialized nations -- they have no solutions.

    There are no solutions for capitalism.
    --jim lane in Dallas

    Posted by jim lane, 03/03/2011 12:20pm (5 years ago)

  • This time you hit the nail on the head. Keep it up. If we don't educate the American people about the true nature of capitalism (imperialism), all the struggles over immediate issues (Wisconsin ) will lead to more of the same.
    Peace and solidarity,


    Posted by Elliot, 03/03/2011 7:35am (5 years ago)

  • In these windows of our People's World,it's been noted that peace and unionism,the issues of the magnified,revered warrior,MLK,have pushed the whole movement.
    Our movement must oppose war,like W.E.B. Du Bois,Mohandas K. Gandhi and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us.
    Let it be noted,again,that there is a solution to this "irreconcilable" conflict-this class conflict,and it is in the victory of the peace maker,the worker,the unionist,the communist,the farmer,the religious and civil rights leaders,the student,the president of the United States,and others.
    This reconciliation is at once fiscal and physical,safe yet bold,bold as justice rolling down like waters from a mighty stream.
    It is that the tremendous resources of the Federal government be used at "ground zeros",in capitals across the whole United States to correct the massive disinvestment of U.S. government capital,controlled now by Wall Street banks and billionaires,pushed now by scandalous,cowardice right ring Republicans,fascist minded anti-socialist and anti-communist"teapartiers"who systematically lie to hijack both democracy and vital goods and services,which is ultimately the capital of the working people to sustain themselves as peace makers and unionists.
    This must be converted to investment,on a massive scale,for transportation,communication,housing,school and infrastructure development,by a unionized,anti-racist,anti-sexist,multi-racial,multi-national green workforce. That is,new jobs,controlled by Main Street.
    This is the real solution that millions now strive for.
    We must make this plain,we must,with leaders like Trumka,Jackson,Obama,and especially the nurses,teachers,firemen,fire women,policewomen,policemen,EMTs,health care workers,state,city,and county public workers,who by the millions,with their families,demand this solution for themselves and their posterity.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 03/01/2011 3:29am (5 years ago)

  • Very well said, Sam. I want to elucidate on one aspect of the relationship between the classes during this time of economic crisis.
    We hear a lot about "shared sacrifice," that is, those who think that everyone, workers struggling to make ends meet and capitalist fat cats should "share" in tightening their belts ("sacrifice")so that the economy can recover. I say that I'll agree to share the sacrifice if the rich agree to share their wealth.

    Posted by David G., 03/01/2011 12:26am (5 years ago)

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