This week, Barack Obama unveiled his budget proposal. Among the lowlights is a proposal to cut Social Security and Medicare in exchange for a few very modest tax increases on the wealthy. And that's just his opening bargaining position.
I decided to conduct a little experiment. I'd watch or listen to some mainstream news, such as CBS or NPR during prime news time(early morning and late afternoon), and see how many times the media mentioned this very important news. For the most part...(crickets).
Oh, I heard about all sorts of other stuff--heavy on gun control legislation and the Imminent Threat posed by North Korea, a fair amount on immigration reform, spring storms, a florist in Washington state being sued because she refused to sell floral arrangements to a gay couple getting married, and, of course, Wall Street hitting new highs.
I don't have cable or satellite, can't afford it and I like my free over the air TV just fine thank you, but I don't imagine there's all much there there, either. Corrections welcomed.
Anyway, why is this? My father once told me: "If you want to know why something is being done in politics, follow the money and it will lead you to the truth."
Well, Dad, this wasn't very hard. Our ruling plutocratic oligarchy absolutely hates the fact that there's all this money out there in the Social Security and Medicare systems that they can't get their hands on. So they're doing something about it. They're going to legally redefine these programs, originally intended to put a human face on capitalism to help save it from itself by guaranteeing senior citizens a retirement free of grinding poverty after they are too old to work, as just two more welfare programs that can be cut in the name of fiscal responsibility(Europeans are more honest; they call it "austerity.") But they have to do it as quietly as possible.
Why? Well, if We The People really had all the details broadcast into our eyes and ears, we might get angry at them. Why, we might even start electing independents and third party candidates to office because we can still vote and there are LOTS of us. We might even get so pissed off we physically threaten them and their property. So, since they own the major media, they distract us with these other stories that really aren't all that important to them. They tell us what's important, what we should get all excited about.
And while we're focused on those relatively inconsequential things, they'll legally(of course, since they write the laws) steal what's left of our retirement security from us while we squabble over background checks for guns, sizes of magazines, gay rights, and which Mexicans should be allowed to come out of the shadows in America.
And, of course, cheer for the Prez while he shows his resolve to Kim III of North Korea. And if Kim III stops throwing a temper tantrum, some other foreign threat will suddenly emerge. Oh, yeah, there's always those crazy Iranians or maybe Venezuelans.
You see, they learned some lessons in the First Great Depression. They had to give some back to us then or face a real revolution. So they cut a deal with the left and the labor movement: Social Security, minimum wage, higher wages, jobs programs, and other cool stuff in exchange for shutting up about throwing out the capitalist system itself. Then there really was an existential threat during World War II, so they needed us then, too, and didn't want to piss off millions of men coming home from war who knew how to use modern weapons, and made them happy with the GI Bill.
Our ruling classes put up with these concessions until the 1970's, but have been systematically dismantling them ever since. They destroyed the left and then the unions. And now, they have their most effective champion since Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, a self-professed admirer of Reagan. Who better than a black Democrat to finish the job that really got started under Reagan?
They are succeeding brilliantly. Most Americans haven't even noticed.They won't, until they get clobbered by the new aristocratic order. This is a grand conspiracy to increase wealth and power for the already wealthy and powerful at the expense of the rest of us, and it's happening in plain sight if we only bother to look. And think, just a little.
So, what can be done? Quite a bit, actually, even if it starts small. But this post is already way too long. I'll ask you what you think should be done, and come back another day with some of my own thoughts.
crossposted at Firedoglake