America has yet to reach rock bottom. We’re beyond playing games blaming “W” for all our problems. Yes, this recession belongs to George W. Bush, in spite of the “W” administration’s lame attempts to preemptively blame the Clinton Administration for any and all economic woes to come.
History will judge Bush 43. We need to look forward and help each other through this mess.
Economic Survival Rule Number One: Ignore all conservatives henceforth. Their time has come and gone, and they have left this country in shambles.
From our friends at The Nation:
Garry Wills says Americans think of government only as a “necessary evil,” a last resort. Well, folks, all the other resorts are boarded up. In November, America shed more than 500,000 jobs, the worst single-month record in thirty-four years. We lost more than 2 million over the course of 2008–and the crash is accelerating across the globe.
At the same time, America is falling apart, literally. We’ve witnessed the ghastly spectaculars: failure of the levees in New Orleans, collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, bursting of the steam pipe that shut down ten square blocks of Manhattan. But these tragic catastrophes are a small part of the growing costs of a conservative-era failure to invest in our future.
Conservative scorn for government has produced a crippling public-investment deficit. America’s core infrastructure–roads, bridges, sewers, airports, trains, mass transit–is overcrowded, outdated and crumbling. The evidence, assembled by Eric Lotke in The Investment Deficit in America, issued by the Campaign for America’s Future, is stark. Poor road conditions cost Americans billions in repairs and countless hours in delay. Though China opens a new subway system every year, and Europeans travel from Paris to Frankfurt on high-speed rail, American railroads don’t have the funds needed even to maintain their outmoded infrastructure. Cities are suffering an epidemic of broken pipes and sinkholes, with the Environmental Protection Agency estimating more than 40,000 discharges of raw sewage into our drinking water, streams and homes each year from collapsing and overwhelmed sewage systems. The Education Department found that one-third of our schools are in such a severe state of disrepair that it “interferes with the delivery of instruction.”
These are only some of our challenges. 500,000 jobs lost. The worst single-month record in thirty-four years.
What lies ahead?
We must move forward unfettered by the ideologies of the past eight years, and several years before that. The erstwhile Republican Contract with America died a miserably bloated death, choking on pork and fat. It was a joke.
Remember the great Republican promise?
Like Lincoln, our first Republican president, we intend to act “with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right.” To restore accountability to Congress. To end its cycle of scandal and disgrace. To make us all proud again of the way free people govern themselves.
How did that work out?
We stand together poised on the brink of an economic Depression: abnormal increases in unemployment, restriction and collapse of credit industries, bankruptcies, reduced trade and commerce, the devaluation of the dollar.
We must stand together and resist the urge to panic. This is not the time to cry foul at any and all forms of government. Remember, President Ronald “government-is-not-the-solution-to-our-problem-government-is-the-problem” Reagan grew the Federal Government as no liberal would have dared dream. His 1983 $165 billion bailout of Social Security was a huge paradigm shift for The Gipper, but it was necessary.
It’s conservative lore that Reagan the icon cut taxes, while George H.W. Bush the renegade raised them. As Stockman recalls, “No one was authorized to talk about tax increases on Ronald Reagan’s watch, no matter what kind of tax, no matter how justified it was.” Yet raising taxes is exactly what Reagan did. He did not always instigate those hikes or agree to them willingly–but he signed off on them. One year after his massive tax cut, Reagan agreed to a tax increase to reduce the deficit that restored fully one-third of the previous year’s reduction. (In a bizarre bit of self-deception, Reagan, who never came to terms with this episode of ideological apostasy, persuaded himself that the three-year, $100 billion tax hike–the largest since World War II–was actually “tax reform” that closed loopholes in his earlier cut and therefore didn’t count as raising taxes.)
Why the stroll down memory lane?
As liberals, we need to remind conservatives that staunch ideology breeds mindless idiocy. As liberals we need remind ourselves as well that staunch ideology breeds mindless idiocy.
The crises of the current moment demand we seek solutions beyond our level of comfort. We won’t make it through these crises simply because we are Americans. The only way to confront the current crises head on is to embrace the inevitable — everything we have known before is now different. There are industries in this country we risk losing entirely unless we change our thinking and reinvent ourselves. We can’t transplant solutions from bygone eras.
Everything now is different. Talk about your moment of Zen.
Change has come to America. Change always comes to America. It’s only when we resist or ignore change that we suffer. Resist change, and our infrastructure — spiritual, economic or concrete — can indeed collapse.