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The Raw Deal

By David Cogswell
Opinion | December 6, 2010

HOBOKEN, N.J. - Now I'm really mad. Today Obama and the Republicans reached an agreement to give a nice big fat bonus to millionaires and billionaires for the next two years, costing our budget multibillions of dollars. Then in a gesture to the less fortunate the stately congresspeople (who all have socialist healthcare for life) reluctantly consented to an extension of unemployment benefits -- ah! But only for 13 months -- because those people are going to have to work for what they get! For them it's austerity! What do they think? That they can just slack off and do nothing and still expect the privileges of having a roof over their heads, food and access to medical care? Those aren't for everyone! You have to work and show us you are worthy of those privileges. If you're not the one in six who applies for every job who actually gets it, well, better luck next time. Meanwhile, don't worry about the little tax law that allows us to siphon off most of the wealth of the country through layers and layers of accounting tricks.

The people who control the financial system and its strange voodoo are ripping us off to our faces. They aren't even hiding the obvious fact that they are screwing the vast majority of the country through a series of slick sleight of hand tricks and it isn't even subtle anymore. They don't even have to slip it into the accounting or hide it in the arcane language of Wall Street derivatives. They are arrogant enough now to just push it in our faces. Right there, in one deal, the interests of the few percent of the richest Americans overruling the interests of the vast majority.

Much as I pleaded for people to support the Democrats in this last election, I just don't think I can stomach any more of this weakness from the Grand Compromiser, our missing president. I've just had about all I can take of it. Nice guy, Obama. Personally I like him, but this nice-guy stuff is leading us all to ruin and we can't afford any more of it. With this move, unfortunately, he has lost all credibility to me as a leader. Smart guy, slick operator, but he's all about compromising. That's his art, his finesse. That's all very good, but there is a time for compromise and there is a time to stand up for what is right, for what millions are crying out for you to do. When you are dealing with grizzly bears you don't sit down to dinner. I am just befuddled at this man's inability to read the situation, adapt to it and respond appropriately. Unless I have misread his motives, and that doesn't even matter anymore.

There are all sorts of theories being peddled around about Obama's being some sort of imposter, a gifted speaker essentially in service to shadowy forces, whether Kenyan anticolonialists (God forbid!) or a New World Order elite or a large and increasingly consolidated banking sector. At the moment it doesn't really matter what he is, what his intentions are, whether he really believes the things he campaigned on or not. His actual performance is selling us down the river as badly as Bush and Cheney did. He may be totally for real and sincere in all his rhetoric, but his incapacity to fight is going to be fatal to the middle class of this country. Another two years of these kinds of concessions to an already consolidated super rich sector, and that "bottom" 90 percent is going to be in very bad shape.

Without making judgments on Obama's character or sincerity, the fact is, with friends like that in Washington, we are sunk. With no better leadership to go up against mightily determined and aggressive sectors, we are vulnerable as babes in the woods. Obama has sold out his presidency. It looks as though the Republicans have achieved their aim of destroying him. He has handed victory to them on a platter. They think they have him in the palm of their big greedy fist, and it looks like they may be right. I am reminded of Hoover, who stood around and did nothing while the country fell apart, or General McClellan in the Civil War, who just refused to fight, though he was charged with the leadership of the army.

Unfortunately, there is no leadership coming from the White House for the vast majority of working people in this country. In regard to this last little compromise, I would like to know who represents the working people in that debate. Who represents the vast majority of the people of this country? Which of the congresspeople represent the interests of the people in their districts who elected them? Things are seriously off track in this country and it's hard to imagine what kind of force working people can bring to bear against these atrocities and insults to their very existence.

The arrogance of these congressional deal makers as they parade this blather in front of us, the reasoning behind these compromises that they have come up with, so blatantly serving exclusively the special interests of their biggest donors, it's just too much to bear. The American people have put up with a lot of this kind treatment in the last 30 years, but the push of the greedy class never ends and it has gotten to the point where the vast majority, the heart of America is losing its footing, its franchise.

The country we had with a strong middle class was hard earned and we have forgotten how it was done. We have forgotten how to fight, and how to organize our collective power. We took our privileges for granted, knowing they were hard won but never believing that those rights would roll back again to what it was before the New Deal.

There is at least one US congressman who still speaks for the people of the country and not just his preferred donors. For a great summary of the attack of this small greedy sector upon mainstream America, see Rep. Bernie Sanders' speech on YouTube: (http://tinyurl.com/36qxyzt). Though we the people in this country have been badly duped over and over until we are almost too exhausted to fight back, I still have high hopes that American spirit can yet be roused, that we can show our new barons and self-appointed masters that we are not entirely complacent and capable of being controlled by TV.

When I hear the phrase "home of the brave land of the free" I feel sad and a little ashamed of how poorly we stack up to those principles today. But we may yet reach a tipping point where enough is enough and we start to roll back the power usurped by the corporatocracy and put the country back on a more democratic footing. It has taken a while to bring the enemy into focus. It was a masked attack, and still is. It uses deceit to further its agenda and it's hard to fight an adversary you can't clearly see. Now as the new barons become so arrogant in their power and success that they push this kind of swindle in our faces, maybe Americans will wake up to the legalized bribery that is running the country down.

Here's to America, home of the the once and future free.


David! You sound a little angry! So am I !

When you let the bully take your candy bar money, he'll be back for your lunch money, too. He will share his loot with another bully and they will take advantage of the next weakest victim. And, eventually, the weakest bully will succomb to the demands of the bigger bully. And so goes the system of survival of the fittest. You upper middle income folks had better take heed to the way that system works!

We hear all this bi-partisan talk, compromising strategies, etc. Where is the compromise? We gave up parts of the health care bill in a supposed compromise to get it to the floor. What the heck did we get in return? A gutted bill that essentially left out most of the real and immediate benefits and one that nobody really knew what was still there. I don't see compromise. I see blackmail. What is the compromise in getting the extension on unemployment benefits? They got the extension of tax relief for the wealthy and we got nothing in return. We allowed the Republicans to bully us into submission and they will be back to demand more for the wealthy and demand cuts to the programs that benefit the lower income folks. None of those cuts will be any inconvenience to the wealthy. Their children can go to private schools when the public schools don't have enough resources to put a viable education in their system. Their children will not suffer malnutrition when the lunch programs are cut. Their elderly won't suffer want when the benefits are cut to Care Homes and Medical Providers for the indigents. The mega large agricultural produces will not fail as quickly as the marginal smaller operators, when farm subsidies and supports are cut. In fact, that will leave them access to absorb the land and resources of those smaller operatiors. It might even allow them to become too large to fail. Now, that is a real oxymoron. Nothing ever gets too large to fail, on its own. However, our system is afraid to let large companies or corporation fail, for fear that it will bring down other too large to fail corporations. If a corporation that supplies 25% of the services or commodities of a certain segment fails, the disruption is much greater than the gradual failure of the smaller producers.

President Reagan's 'trickle down theory" doesn't work. The trickle never made it out of the bag. The 'trickle up theory' of FDR's New Deal programs worked. That money trickled up through the system and eventually helped the ones at the top. The problem was, it took too long and their gains weren't in time to let them take advantage of the cheap resources being forfeited by the poor folks. It took them longer to widen the gap between themselves and those lazy non productive loosers. Thus came in the illusion of the 'trickle down theory' and the poor folks bought into it and see now what we've got.

Thank you. Well said.

We have no one to blame but ourselves. Over the last 30 years the middle class has handed over to the Republicans and the wealthy control of our country. They have not been involved enough to understand the issues well enough to know what is in their own best economic interest. The Republicans have succeeded in selling themselves as the common man. I think most people don't want to invest the time or effort in understanding the issues. It's easier to vote for the person who talks like they do. With the conservative attacks on public education it isn't likely to get better.

I agree that Pres. Obama needs to pick a fight, but now was not the time. Health-care was the time. Obama compromised and got things that were necessary for the country. I didn't like that he didn't fight for the public option. I didn't like pushing for bipartisanship only to force a compromised bill through Congress on a party line vote. This compromise on tax policy had results. Unemployment benefits were extended. They will certainly be good for the economy. He got a deduction in the payroll tax, which economists say will be good for the economy. Yes some wealthy people will keep more of their money for a couple of years, but if Democrats play it right this was the best political move they could make. They have to show the American public that they saved the middle class and ensured economic recovery. I want Pres. Obama to make a stand, but this issue wasn't the right one.

On another note, I really enjoy your articles. They challenge me. Keep fighting the good fight.

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