Foreign Policy

Ugly fat

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The Real World is Not a Tea Party

There is an old joke that goes: "want to lose 10 pounds of ugly fat?... cut off your head." Basically that is the economic model the Tea Party has apparently adopted as the method of trimming the deficit and size of Government. Cut and the consequences be damned' or as Speaker John Boehner put it when job losses were mentioned as the obvious result of such a policy "so be it".

This is a strategy that flies in the face of historical solutions that are there for us to learn from. The Great Depression ended via one simple method ' massive Government spending and intervention in business' politically made possible by the advent of World War II. The idea that cutting ones way to a balanced budget when unemployment is so high reverses what should be the priority ' i.e. creating more jobs. In fact, contrary to what the current Republicans seem to believe, the deficit has zero impact on the job market ' it never did. One could even say that the higher the deficit the greater pressure on the Dollar so that a cheaper dollar makes US labor cheaper and therefore more affordable. Let's be honest, the reason jobs are being exported to other countries is not because of the inferiority of American labor ' but because overseas labor is substantially less expensive. The capitalistic system in search for greater profits will always seek to cut the largest cost item on most balance sheets, the cost of labor.

One could also argue that lowering the tax rate for the rich and indeed anyone who is in a position to hire more people will not lead to higher employment in the US if the cost of US labor does not reduce substantially along with the lower tax. I would wager that 90% of any such greater income in the hands of US employers will result in more work overseas where a company gets a bigger bang for its buck. Why would such savings be spent where the return is less?

Though it would be anathema to the Republicans to hear, if one was really being honest the only real way to grow employment in the US ' and be sure of it happening' would be to hire where there is control ' i.e. Government.

If the Government undertook to provide greater services to better protect, educate, and advance research unaffordable in the private sector by say, doubling the border patrols on the Mexican border to aid in the fight against illegal immigration, hire more teachers, policemen, FBI agents, fire-fighters, and other essential services thousands of jobs would be created and meaningful ones at that. Increase the staff at the DMV, post office or other areas that get a bad rap for service and long lines. Rebuild the infrastructure so industry can move more goods, safer and more cheaply. Give grants to research to create new drugs, and enterprises that will lead to new products and industries in the future. In other words stop looking at Government as the enemy but as a player in the society with a valuable role to contribute. No longer look at BIG Government as automatically bad ' but at BAD Government as bad. Instead of belittling government, make it better. The private sector is not the only solution to create jobs and indeed the private sector has not had much to boast about lately.

If the world operated on an even playing field then no doubt the free enterprise system would work well. However the playing field is NOT even. Our biggest competitor is the alliance between the Government of China and its industrial enterprises both private and quasi owned. If the US Government is shrunk to the point that the tea party is asking for then our industries cannot compete at all as we cannot compete against such an alliance. That is being proven every day right now. So the tea party is actually doing the exact opposite of what is called for ' and this is because they want to see the world as it was long ago but not as it is now. This is not the world of our forefathers (who by the way did not believe in Democracy except for the chosen few). It is not the world of China asleep and the US in isolation. To compete we have to see the world for what it is and adapt to reality, not to some notion of the past that no longer exists. They want to go back in time but that time is gone. It takes new thinking ' tea party thinking is old think. It takes smart thinking ' not a celebration of the ignorant with glib answers to questions they don't understand. Sarah Palin, Christine O'Donnell and that ilk are about as useful to what is needed in our political thinking today as an aircraft carrier is in the war against guerrilla fighters in caves and jungles.

When one looks at what happened at the beginning of World War II and how the French were defeated in a few weeks with a bigger army than Germany had ' it was because they entered the war like it was back in the days of World War 1. They responded to the threat the same way they did 25 years earlier. That is exactly what the Tea Party and many of the Republicans are now doing. They are fighting the wrong battle with the wrong weapons and we will be the worse for it ' in affect abandoning the field to others, most notably the Chinese. We won't even know it until we wake up one day and realize we lost. These people ' in their fervor to be patriots will turn out to be unwitting saboteurs. It will be a great shame for all Americans as well as the world as a whole if we don't wake up and stop their march on this dangerous path to oblivion.

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Updated Jan 2, 2019 12:29 PM EST | More details


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