First They Sentenced Us to Death By A Thousand Cuts.
Now They Threaten us With Death By a Thousand Clichés.
I am largely mystified by the apparently widespread support for further austerity. The leadership of the House of Representatives continue to manufacture governmental crises to force draconian cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, in the face of totally lousy economic news.
The latest jobs news out Friday the 6th gives us further reason to pause and reflect on just how ruinous the Great Recession has been for the people of the country. There was overall job growth of about 169,000 new jobs, but the unemployment rate is still at 7.3%. Overall job growth for the year was revised downward from previous estimates.
A large portion of the gains were low wage jobs in hospitality and retailing sectors and some 21 million people still need full rather than part time work. Average wages grew by a nickel in August, not much help for a labor force that needs a pay increase.
Notably, the employment in government remained unchanged in August, but has and will continue to trend downward at the Federal level as the budgetary Sequester continues to work its way through the government.
You might want to peek at the column put out by economist Paul Krugman last Friday in the NY Times to see the argument that the policies that have caused and maintained the Recession have cost our economy $2 trillion in forever lost productivity.
When are we going to wake up to the fact that we have been sold an economic mud pie by the austerity aristocrats?
Mud Pie is Not a Cliché
A pie in the face is. Maybe we just love clichés. Millions of folks seem to buy into the mantras whether or not they are factual.
One of my favorite mantras about all this is that “the government can’t create jobs.” Huh? In fact the government has been creating jobs since the dawn of time. Just for fun, peek at the jobs created by a couple of favorite European tourist attractions. The Parthenon in Athens was a huge jobs producer. So was the Colosseum in Rome which was built by Emperor Vespasian for the very purpose of creating work.
The government can create jobs and it should create some right now but the cliché says no.
Here’s another one: “We have to get our fiscal house in order.” This cliché is largely without content but it carries the implicit suggestion that those who do not agree want the fiscal house to be disorderly. This little phrase if tossed out by the largely affluent deficit hawks to mean that we have to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for those who are not affluent.
No getting our fiscal house in order cannot possibly include wiping out debt by expanding employment and growing the economy. That’s not what the cliché means.
Or try another favorite: “We need to preserve Social Security for future generations.” This means that we have to raise the retirement age and cut the benefits. Whenever I hear this one I haul out one of my mantras: “What’s two times nothing?” We are being told to make this program almost useless for future generations so they can live on scraps.
The maximum monthly Social Security check is around $1700. So, our cliché driven brethren want to cut this? The current estimate is that the country is $7 trillion short of funds needed for retirement after the Great Recession wiped out the savings and home equity for millions. Average retirement savings are around $10,000. We need to EXPAND Social Security not reduce it, but the cliché says no.
Then there is the endless array of clichés about immigration and health care reform, Pick your favorites. Most of them predict economic catastrophe if the Affordable Care Act is implemented or Comprehensive Immigration Reform enacted. The independent studies showing that these programs will be good for the national economy mean nothing compared to the power of “we can’t grant amnesty to those lawbreakers” or “the job killing Affordable Care Act.” Facts lose, clichés win.
Well I could go on ad nauseam but you get the point. We are being shackled by the wielders of cliché and can’t seem to find the key.
The solution? “Throw the bums out.”