On July 2nd, I faxed Sen. Lugar and Rep. Hill my thoughts on their vote against extending unemployment benefits.
I want to credit Rep. Hill for constituent outreach. One of his aides called me on the phone at home, and we talked for probably a good 15-20 minutes. That is an eternity for a constituent contact. I eagerly await Sen. Lugar’s form letter, of course, which will, as usual, not address the issue at all.
The aide explained the Hill is under severe pressure, from what to him appears to be the majority of his constituency, to stop the mad spending by Washington, and that he believes we must make every effort to do so.
I could only respond that then perhaps there were other areas that Washington might consider cutting, such as all the tax-payer dollars that saved and propped up the corrupt Wall Street hedge fund dealers, derivative traders, the corrupt banks that destroyed the housing market, and all the economic and business geniuses who have created the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression.
I also pointed out the historically accurate fact that FDR, in 1938, responded to these same pressures and cut back the spending that was reviving the American economy, and the economy sputtered and went into a tale-spin. It took the “economic stimulus” of World War II to get it back on track. I expressed the notion that maybe we could try accomplishing the same thing this time, but without another World War.
Today I find that a newspaper in Vermont has done the necessary research to graphically portray just what is so wrong with Congress and America right now. Below is their pie chart and text from their site, breaking down where the money has gone so far.
Wall Street Bailout Exceeds Cost of All US Wars Combined
And you can throw in the New Deal, Marshall Plan and Moon Shots as well
Casey Research, of Vermont, has analyzed the costs of the government bailouts of the housing crisis, the credit crisis and others and has concluded that the total is $8.5 trillion, which is more than the cost of all US wars, the Louisiana Purchase, the New Deal, the Marshall Plan and the NASA Space Program combined.
According to CRS, the Congressional Research Service, all major US wars (including such events as the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, the invasion of Panama, the Kosovo War and numerous other small conflicts), cost a total of $7.5 trillion in inflation-adjusted 2008 dollars.
There is little left to say. I don’t see any place on that chart outlining where this nation should be spending money, namely, on rebuilding our roads and our bridges; on building high speed mass transit systems; on updating the water supply infrastructure of our cities. I don’t see anything even hinting at laying the groundwork for a national health care system that might lift us from our current position as 37th in the world in health care per the World Health Organization.
And most of all, there is not even room on that chart to fit unemployment benefits so you could see, I would bet. The finally low ball attempt that did not pass was less than the cost of the Civil War for both North and South! During the most recent negotiations, even after members of Congress reduced the bill’s 10-year deficit impact from $134 billion to $33 billion — the cost of reauthorizing extended unemployment benefits through November, the House still refused to pass the legislation.
This in the face of money thrown by Congress at the corrupt minions of Wall Street and the mega-banking industry totaling $8.5 TRILLION dollars.
This so those bankers and hedge fund managers, whose gamble failed, who, if left to the mercies of the free market place the the Invisible Hand of Adam Smith, would have taken their rightful places among the ranks of the unemployed. Instead, they wallow in BONUSES, not just their salaries, of millions and millions of dollars, and are using that very same tax payer money to constantly lobby Congress to prevent meaningful regulation of their corrupt and criminal industries.
It is hard to comprehend or wrap one’s head around the fact that Congress has thrown more more money at this bunch of criminals than we spent on all of World War II. But there it is.
What makes it even worse is that a special commission has been meeting right now in Washington, and its primary goal is to come up with a way to sell the American people on the idea that to fund these banker and Wall Street criminals, and to fund the unending wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the American people are going to have give up social security until they are 70, and see even more cuts in Medicare. This was Sen. Boehner’s plan, announced on behalf of the Republican party last week. We are really in trouble when the goals of a study group appointed by a Democratic president converge with the goals of someone as despicable as Sen. Boehner and the Republicans.
I am reminded of the parable of the frog in the crock pot, the water of which is slowly heated by the cook, so slowly that the frog does not realize he is about to become dinner. Of course, by the time he realizes it, it is too late. He is cooked.
That is pretty much where the American people are right now. Our freedoms are being eroded beyond the point of no return by unconstitutional legislation like the Patriot Act. And the Middle Class is on the verge of extinction. And the numbers counted living at or below the poverty level continues to grow. Meanwhile, we see the greatest concentration of wealth in the hands of the smallest percentage of Americans in our nation’s history. And this massive concentration of wealth, just as is our current economic crisis, is a global phenomenon.
The world has divided into rich and poor as at no time in our history. The richest 2% own more than half the household wealth in the world. The richest 10% hold 85% of total global assets and the bottom half of humanity owns less than 1% of the wealth in the world. The three richest men in the world have more money than the poorest 48 countries. Fact, while those responsible for the 2008 global financial crisis were bailed out and even rewarded by the G-20 government’s gathering here, the International Labor Organization tells us that in 2009, 34 million people were added to the global unemployed, swelling those ranks to 239 million, the highest ever recorded. Another 200 million are at risk in precarious jobs and the World Bank tells us that at the end of 2010, another 64 million will have lost their jobs. By 2030, more than half the population of the megacities of the Global South will be slumdwellers with no access to education, health care, water, or sanitation.
‘The World Has Divided into Rich and Poor as at No Time in History’
A recent study on the distribution of wealth in the United States, by G. William Domhoff of the University of California in Santa Cruz, is just as disheartening.
In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%.
Power in America. Wealth, Income, and Power
Pretty soon the pot will reach a boil. And we will be well and thoroughly cooked.