26 November 2010

A Short History of the past 110 years in the US

For those folks that actually are open minded enough to study the facts of history, there is an unsettling wave running through this country. I am not talking to those who believe the Faux News coming out of the right or the weak minded twaddle from the center left, for those of you who believe the likes of Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson or Robert Reich, stop reading now, you are too far gone.

I am speaking to those who have enough personal integrity left to look at history and actually learn from the lessons of past events. By my reckoning, there are not many Americans in this category. Most Americans, it seems, are either to bored, lazy or ignorant to care about precedent. A large amount of the rest are too caught up in the psycho babble coming from right wing media to admit any thought other then those implanted by media sycophants.

So here it is. We are an empire in decline but too blind or proud or ignorant to admit it. Our peak was fifty years ago. With time one can analyze these things.

At the turn of the century, this country was just barely recovered from the civil war. The “Captains of Industry” (wealthy elite) were ascending, turning their considerable economic power into political power. This country was heading toward Plutocracy. Along came a man of considerable power and integrity that was from the Plutocratic class. He recognized this and did his best to reduce the Plutocrats threat to democracy. Theodore Roosevelt did his best to bust the economic monopolies and reduce the political power of extreme wealth. As soon as he left office, he was replaced by Taft who promptly returned the power to the elite. He was so upset by what happened after he left office that he came back to run as a third party candidate 1912. From his administration we have anti-trust laws and the foundation of our National Park system.

For twenty years after TR, the power returned to the Plutocrats and our country was run into a ditch through the wild speculation on Wall Street. The US entered the great depression after the largest redistribution of wealth from poor to rich in our history. The country endured three years under Herbert Hoover and was quite ready to elect Franklin Roosevelt in ’32. Roosevelt laid the blame for the countries problems where it belonged on the doorstep of the wealthy elite that had speculated, created bubbles and became wealthy on the backs of the average American. From FDR, we received the New Deal, which saw the real regulation of banking, the beginning of the social security system and the creation of unemployment.

After FDR, we lived in the “American Golden Age” from 1946-1973. During this time America created a true and expanding middle class. The equitable redistribution of wealth from the wealthy elite to the larger population allowed many to create and live the “American Dream”. The election of both Truman and Eisenhower saw a time of benevolent and somewhat benign leadership in our country. There were however, undercurrents of what was to come. It was this period that the demonization of the communist philosophy really hit its stride. The constant drumbeat of anti-communist propaganda that began in the 1950’s has lead us inexorably to today’s state of confusing liberal ideas with socialism and to a public too ignorant to know the difference between socialism and Christian values.

When Ike left office he made what is one the most compelling analysis and pleas for the resistance of the takeover of the US political system by the corporate wealthy elite. He warned against letting what he termed the “military industrial complex” become too powerful. This from a man that lead the US to victory in WW2 and had a unique and in depth vantage point. Ah, but we did not heed his warning.

After Ike came the Kennedy/Johnson administrations, which on one hand empowered the military industrial complex through the Vietnam War and on the other pushed the ideals of the “Great Society” and race reform in the US. Johnson was a politician’s politician pushing through some of the best legislation in US history, creating medicare, expanding social security and pushing through the Civil Rights Act.

Richard Nixon followed with mixed results. Nixon did take governing seriously enough to try to come down in what he thought was the majority of the people’s interests. He pushed through the clean air act and laid the foundation for the clean water act and created the Environmental Protection Agency. These acts alone make him a true leader in sustainable thinking. Whatever one thinks of him, Nixon did take on the interests of wealthy corporations to move forward with legislation for the good of the country.

It was during the term of Richard Nixon that the “American Golden Age” began to wane. In 1973, the Yom Kippur War inspired the oil embargo that woke Americans to the fact that unbridled exploitation of the world’s resources was not a long term strategy. We realized, perhaps for the first time, that we were not necessarily going to enjoy the kind of growth and opulence we had experienced since 1946. It was during this period that the American family’s finances came under siege. In order to maintain the living standard we had come to expect during the Golden Age, we sent our spouses to work and sent our kids to day care.

In our 200th year we elected Jimmy Carter, a dreamer and a realist. He worked hard to confront the realities of resource usage in our country. He developed the first (and last) comprehensive national energy policy. He cut the importation of foreign oil by 50% and when he told people that realistically we all need to conserve and perhaps put on a sweater instead of turning up the heat, he was ridiculed.

Then in 1980, the wealthy elite found the perfect vessel into which they could pour their poison. Ronald Reagan was the ex-governor of California, an actor and totally clueless about the effects of the policies he was espousing. This is where the story really gets interesting. Up to this time the wealthy had not gained back the reins of power they held prior to Theodore Roosevelt, but this was their time and Reagan was there shill. Reagan preached an unorthodox idea of “trickle down” economics which was roundly and aptly discredited by George Bush I in the 1980 presidential debates as “Voodoo Economics”. He said in the debates that the economic policies that Reagan was pushing would lead to economic ruin. But with the help of wealthy patrons, Reagan was able to spread both hope in the form of lower taxes (he did not say how he was going to lower taxes and not cut spending which he did by borrowing) and fear by ginning up the fear of the Communist threat. Finally, with his accomplice, Iran, Reagan was able to gain power by brokering a deal to hold our hostages until after the election.

The reign of Reagan was the beginning of the retaking of America by Plutocrats, the beginning of the loss of wealth by the middle class and the beginning of the debt crisis that will ultimately lead to extreme pain and suffering among the vast majority of Americans. Reagan’s legacy is one of debt and manufacturing job loss. By giving tax breaks to the wealthiest American corporations and individuals the wealth began to accumulate among the very top earners in this country. Reagan’s premise that the wealth at the top would trickle down has been shown in study after study to be untrue. When you give tax breaks to the wealthiest folks, who can and do already buy whatever they want, the majority of that money will not be spent but saved.

It was during the Reagan period that the environment came under siege through Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior, James Watt. Banking rules were loosened under his Treasury Secretary Don Regan. We were lead again into a period of excess that ended up in the Savings and Loan Crisis which the American tax payers footed the bill. With the 25% tax cuts that had been given the wealthiest corporations and individuals, the majority of the money came from the middle classes. Also Reagan’s pursuit of “free trade” made the closure of American manufacturing a regular occurrence.

Reagan never came clean to the American people that the national debt was growing as a percentage of GDP to the highest levels since World War 2. America had always had a very conservative fiscal pattern of increasing debt during war and then reducing that debt during peacetime. For the first time Since World War 2 debt was increasing exponentially rather then decreasing. The American public was quite! Reagan through his backers use of media and money was able to keep the poorest Americans in his corner through the use of fear; fear of crime, fear of communists, fear of immigrants.

George Bush I succeeded Reagan and vowed to continue the economic policies he knew were untenable. In 1990, faced with the reality of governing and a growing deficit, he allowed modest tax increases which lead to him being challenged in the primaries by candidates more suited to the will of the wealthy. During this time the deficit was still increasing precipitously.

Bill Clinton was elected in 1992. During the first two years of his presidency, though he made some mistakes he did make headway on the debt issue by passing the Deficit Reduction Act of 1993. It was passed by one vote with Al Gore casting the deciding vote in the Senate, and no republican votes. This act created the first reduction in the deficit in twelve years and would lead to record budget surpluses ay the time he left office. He was repaid for his forward thinking efforts by a resounding defeat in the 1994 mid term elections. Once again, through the thinly veiled efforts of the wealthy the election was bought and paid for and the “reforms” promised by the “contract with America” never materialized. It is typical of the Plutocrats to use fear and misinformation (lies) to win the votes of the ignorant. The 1994 election was a good example of he who repeats his lies most and loudest wins. Clinton turned out to be very bad at judging the character of others. It was Phil Graham that pushed through the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act at the end of Clinton’s term and Alan Greenspan and Larry Summers pushed Clinton to sign the bill that removed FDR’s regulations on the banks. It was also Larry Summers with the help of Robert Reich that killed the regulation of the financial derivative, which Warren Buffet referred to as “financial weapons of mass destruction”. This helped set the stage for today’s current economic conditions.

In 2000, we saw the reduction of the American democratic system to the level of a third world puppet state, on par with Iran and North Korea. With a plurality of the vote going to Al Gore, the wealthy puppet masters orchestrated nothing less than a bloodless coup and installed George Bush II as president. Then swiftly and deftly positioned Dick Cheney as vice president, thus completing the Plutocratic takeover of the US presidency. Cheney headed one of the largest international corporations in the world, a corporation that represented the very face of the military industrial complex Eisenhower had warned us about fifty years before. It was not long after this that Bush, the empty vessel into and through which all the wealthy elite’s hopes, dreams and greed flowed, that taxes were cut for the richest, a faceless enemy “terror” was named and unending war was entered into. The takeover was virtually completed. With the ability to control the media, being implemented by those like Rupert Murdoch and the new arrow in their quiver of fear of an unknown enemy to keep the lower classes in line with their wishes they ran unopposed through the coffers of the United States.

The greatest transfer of wealth and power in the history of the US occurred in the eight years of George Bush II. Once again, the unregulated greed and audacity of the wealthy lead to economic collapse. Unfortunately, for the American public, unlike 1929 – 1932, the American public only lived through a few months of rule under the inept and clueless George Bush II. If we had to live for two years under the reign of GBII, there may have been chance for real reform but alas no. During his reign, GBII callously increased the public debt to levels not seen since WW2.

The 2008 election of Barack Obama was historic. It does not seem that old Barry O. has what it takes to govern this country. He has fallen under the spell of Larry Summers, the same economic Svegali that pushed Clinton into the hands of the wealthy. His attempt to appoint Tom Daschle as head of HHS to be his lead at health system reform tipped his cards that his reform would be the warmed over give away to the health insurance industry that the republicans tried to offer in 1992.

With the Supreme Courts’ Citizen United decision to allow unregulated spending by corporations, foreign or domestic, into American politics and the transfer of wealth to the upper 5% of American over the past eight years, the take over is now complete.

Right now our country has gone through what can only be described as a completed takeover by corporate and elite interests. Today we need to be facing the very real prospects of financial collapse due to the misguided fiscal policies of the Fed and Treasury. With 20%+ of the US debt being purchased by the Fed with freshly printed dollars, we are heading down the same road as Zimbabwe and Weimar Germany. It is only a matter of time before the rest of the world calls our bluff.

Also, it is not in the corporate interest to allow any realization by the American people that we have ceded our leading positions in the world to other more progressive and open minded countries in every way except our military. Our ability to adapt and change to flourish has been taken away by the corporate media that attacks any independent thinking and vilifies realistic analysis of our current situation. We will soon be at the point where America will be at the mercy of it’s creditors and the countries that hold the resources we so blindly cling to. At that point, we will exploit our one remaining leading asset and then, well …..

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