Want to know why jobs are not coming back anytime soon and why Washington ignores what is being requested by the public in poll after poll? It is all a case of Supreme Court powered $dollar-votes being courted slavishly by both political parties for the upcoming Presidential Elections. Listening to the political pundits on the Sunday morning news analysis programs, they cite in almost astonishment how both parties find ways to ignore the public and their call for bipartisan efforts to right the economy. For example, on ABC This Week this past Sunday,Christiane Amandpour presented polls showing that the US Public is strongly in favor of balanced measures for deficit managment. Yet both parties are simply ignoring John Q while either proposing drastic cutbacks in Federal spending or wishing for one more scatter-shot economic stimulus program. Welcome to Washington’s Race to the Bottom in National Policy.
Race to the Bottom
Normally this phrase, “race to the bottom”, applies to jobs, salaries and wages . US Business has lead the way in efforts to lower its labor costs through job cuts, outsourcing and reducing/lowering working class benefits and wages. No matter that the US economy depends on Consumer Spending for 70% of its GDP, economic strength and well being. No matter that whole industries and a generation of technical skills will be lost. This is the job’s version of Race to the Bottom.
But there is a second, broader Race to the Bottom in National Policy. NYTimes David Brooks catches the great National Disaffection here:
This election is about how to avert national decline. All other issues flow from that anxiety. The election is happening during a downturn in the economic cycle, but the core issue is the accumulation of deeper structural problems that this recession has exposed — unsustainable levels of debt, an inability to generate middle-class incomes, a dysfunctional political system, the steady growth of special-interest sinecures and the gradual loss of national vitality.
The number of business start-ups per capita has been falling steadily for the past three decades. Workers’ share of national income has been declining since 1983. Male wages have been stagnant for about 40 years. The American working class — those without a college degree — is being decimated, economically and socially. In 1960, for example, 83 percent of those in the working class were married. Now only 48 percent are.
Voters are certainly aware of the scope of the challenges before them. Their pessimism and anxiety does not just reflect the ebb and flow of the business cycle, but is deeper and more pervasive. Trust in institutions is at historic lows. Large majorities think the country is on the wrong track, and have for years. Large pluralities believe their children will have fewer opportunities than they do.
These themes of National Decline and special interest sinecures are picked up in Paul Krugman’s piece on The Unwisdom of the Elites which catches the flavor of the elites abandoning any notion of “noblesse oblige” and instead blame-gaming the public for the economic recession:
The past three years have been a disaster for most Western economies. The United States has mass long-term unemployment for the first time since the 1930s. Meanwhile, Europe’s single currency is coming apart at the seams. How did it all go so wrong? Well, what I’ve been hearing with growing frequency from members of the policy elite — self-appointed wise men, officials, and pundits in good standing — is the claim that it’s mostly the public’s fault. The idea is that we got into this mess because voters wanted something for nothing, and weak-minded politicians catered to the electorate’s foolishness.So this seems like a good time to point out that this blame-the-public view isn’t just self-serving, it’s dead wrong.
The fact is that what we’re experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. The policies that got us into this mess weren’t responses to public demand. They were, with few exceptions, policies championed by small groups of influential people — in many cases, the same people now lecturing the rest of us on the need to get serious. And by trying to shift the blame to the general populace, elites are ducking some much-needed reflection on their own catastrophic mistakes…..
These days Americans get constant lectures about the need to reduce the budget deficit. That focus in itself represents distorted priorities, since our immediate concern should be job creation. But suppose we restrict ourselves to talking about the deficit, and ask: What happened to the budget surplus the federal government had in 2000?
The answer is, three main things. First, there were the Bush tax cuts, which added roughly $2 trillion to the national debt over the last decade. Second, there were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which added an additional $1.1 trillion or so. And third was the Great Recession, which led both to a collapse in revenue and to a sharp rise in spending on unemployment insurance and other safety-net programs.
So who was responsible for these budget busters? It wasn’t the man in the street.
And Paul Farrell at Marketwatch names the elites [take a bow big Corporations and Wall Street] and how a renaissance of narcissism where sacrifice, national service and any striving for the common welfare is not just spurned but outright vilified[Charlie Sheens Troll’s and Losers do not apply]. And Paul goes onto name the evangelist of self-absorbed, elitist capitalism:
Ayn Rand has been a driving force in America’s collective consciousness. Today she is the patron saint of conservatives and free-market capitalists in the ideology of the GOP and Tea Party, in the mind-set of Greenspan, Bernanke and Reaganomics, in the ranting of Beck, Palin and Limbaugh, in the Ryan plan to kill social programs.
The polarizing of all American politics has its strongest roots in her classic, “Atlas Shrugged,” where a capitalist elite engage in a perpetual cultural warfare for the soul of America, fighting society’s “moochers, looters and parasites,” anyone and everyone looking for government money to solve their problems. The elite see America degrading into a socialist welfare state and communism
So here you have a Republican intellectual, a liberal ecconomist, and a investment banker/journalist as a sampling of scores of writers confirming that the US is in the throes of a self-incurred, prolonged political and economic decline. And to think it is the sons and daughters of the Greatest Generation who are leading in the narcissistic, no-sacrifice-nonsense of beggar not only thy competition but also thy country. There are literally no Mensch to be found on Wall Street’s executive suites – only Schaden-Freud simacularums.
Leading in the Race to the Bottom
For the past year and a half ye Editor would say that the Republican Party has grabbed the inside pole on the race to the bottom by blatantly taking huge campaign contributions from Wall Street and Corporate elites while defiantly sponsoring the elite causes and policies in Congress. But the latest headline in the NYTimes shows President Obama is gearing up to secure his fair share of $votes-free speech from Wall Street. One has to wonder if the resultant canvassing of $dollars and views from Wall Street and Corporate sponsors will include how many of the still pending final details of Frank-Dodd Financial Regulation reforms should proceed or the acceptability of Elizabeth Warren as head and her structuring of the CFPB-Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the nature and limit of EPA regulations on groundwater and CO2 air pollution should proceed. After all the administration is soliciting all stakeholders views on these important issues – its just the $paying elites get more access to the critical players and get to input their detaileed views right at the policy-making rooms and conferences.
So there you have it, America. The political top tier from both parties are systematically ignoring or manipulating what the public is saying persistently in polls/elections and about selling out to the highest $bidder/$contributor. This Sellout Race to the Bottom is endemic and pervasive in both parties. And who can argue when Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts says “I have examined and approved this $messaging and $buying-of-access as just an aspect of free speech in the political system and as a needed supplement to one-man one-vote in our Democracy”.