Monday, September 13, 2010

Thoughts on Leftest Ideology




I have commented on the first dozen or so before I got bored.  Anyway, this is a good snapshot of the many leftist themes that get trotted out regularly.  The real error is that a benign government could fix it all.

The fact is that is not an unreasonable premise.  The problem has been to find the best way forward.  The recent row over health care shows just how bad it can get.  We got a result that will have to be whittled into better shape for decades.

It may be possible to create an efficient modern economy that could satisfy most everyone and reward the ambitious while employing everyone.  While we figure out how to do it we can only make changes here and there.

I certainly see plenty of excellent improvements.  In fact I think it is possible to establish a six percent growth rate.  I just do not think it is possible to make the necessary changes.


Twenty-Two Reasons Why American Working People Hate the State

By James Petras


June 18, 2010

Introduction

Why does the rightwing attack on “Big Government” increasingly resonate with working people?

Liberals claim wage and salaried workers are acting against their “self-interest”, citing government welfare programs like social security and unemployment payments.  Progressives argue that workers hostile to the state are ‘racists”, “fundamentalists” and/or irrational, blinded by misplaced fears of threats to individual freedoms.

I will argue there are many sound, rational, material reasons for working people to be in revolt against the state.

Twenty-Two Reasons Why Working People Hate the State

1.)  Most wage and salaried workers pay disportionately higher taxes than the corporate rich and therefore, millions of Americans work in the “underground economy” to make ends meet; thus subjecting themselves to arrest, and prosecution by the state for trying to make a living by avoiding onerous taxes.

Everyone pays taxes and they really cannot properly compare situations.  The main difficulty with the present tax system is that is forces annual reporting and varies with income.  VAT is a far better system and could even eliminate income tax itself to be replaced by VAT on income.

2.)  The state provides generous multi-year tax exemptions for corporations thus raising the tax rate for wage and salaried workers or eliminating vital services.  The state’s inequitable tax revenue policies provoke resentment,.

The state buys employment and thus provides jobs.  Pretty hard to argue against state investment which is exactly what this is.

3.)  High taxes combined with fewer and more expensive public services, include growing costs of public higher education and higher health charges, feed popular antagonism and frustration that they and their children are being denied opportunities to get ahead and stay healthy.

Cost management and operational issues are universal and takes rigorous management to root out.  Let us hear it for austerity!

4.)  Many working people resent the fact that their tax money is being spent by the state on endless distant wars and to finance bailouts of Wall Street instead of investing it in reindustrializing America to create well paying jobs or to aid unemployed or underemployed workers unable to meet mortgage payments and facing eviction or homelessness.  Most workers reject the inequitable budget expenditures that privilege the rich and deny the working people.

This has nothing to do with the rich.  It has to do with not wiping out your bank accounts tomorrow and forcing you to conduct your life on the street selling household goods.  A few rich guys also got bailed out and humiliated in the process.  Wars are rarely voluntary adventures and must be seen to conclusion.

5.)  Working people are appalled by the states hypocrisy and double standards in prosecuting “welfare cheats” for taking hundreds but overlooking corporate and banking swindlers, and Pentagon military cost overruns of hundreds of billions.  Few working people believe there is equality before the law, implicitly rejecting its claims of legitimacy.

There is little evidence of anything been overlooked.  I can be sure that any obvious criminality is been actively investigated.  Overruns have many legitimate causes, not least from maturing specifications.

6.)  Many working class families resent the fact that the state recruits their sons and daughters for wars, leading to death and crippling injuries instead of public service jobs, while the children of the rich and affluent pursue civilian careers.

The draft ended decades ago and soldiers are now well trained.  Our casualty rate is actually nominal for wars that have been hot for a decade.  Our KIA numbers are now around a fifth of casualties as against half of casualties from previous wars.  It does not make it easier for families but everyone has accepted the price.

7.)  The state subsidizes and upgrades public infrastructure – roads, parks and utilities in upper end neighborhoods while ignoring the demands for improvements of low income communities.  Moreover the state locates contaminants – incinerators, high polluting industries etc. – in close proximity to workers housing and schools.

This is chicken and egg.  The cheap lands are near industrial sites and society must have such sites.  Tear them all down and money will quickly convert the old slum to up market product and remove the poor.

8.)  The state holds the minimum wage below increases in the cost of living but encourages and promotes excess profits.

Now we are linking apples and oranges.  Excess profits are merely a leading indicator of more jobs.  Minimum wage is set to block egregious exploitation.  That does not stop illegal’s from thriving and any citizen getting an upgrade to higher paid work.


9.)  Law enforcement is strict in high end neighborhoods and lax in low income communities resulting in higher rates of homicides and robberies.

I do not wish to be picky, but law enforcement shows up after the crime is committed.

10.)  State imposes constraints on labor organizations struggling to secure wages and benefits and ignores corporate intimidation and arbitrary firings of workers.  The state encourages corporate mergers and acquisitions leading to monopolies but discourages collective action from below.

Which is why we have politicians.

11.)  State economic institutions recruit policymakers from banks and financial houses who make decisions favoring their former employers, while wage and salaried workers are excluded and have no representation in economic policy positions.

They are both clueless and will only cover their ass.

12.)  The state increasingly infringes on individual freedoms of social activists via the Patriot Act, arbitrary arrests, and grants impunity to police violence and punishes whistle blowers, rejecting citizen reviews with punitive powers.

Nothing has changed regarding attitudes to shit disturbers of whatever stripe.  Try walking through a crowd wearing a swastika.  The hammer and sickle is safer these days.

13.)  The state is highly responsive to and increases funding for the military-industrial complex, the relocation of MNC overseas and the high income Israel lobby while cutting funding for public investment in productive activity, applied technology and high tech job training for US workers and salaried employees and their children.

14.)  State policies have increased inequalities between the top 10% and the bottom 50% for  decades, turning the US into the industrial country with the greatest inequalities.

15.)  State policies have led to declining living standards as wage and salary earners work longer hours with less job security,for a greater number of years before receiving pensions and social security and under greater environmental hazards.

16.)  Elected  state officials break most campaign promises to working people  while fulfilling promises for the upper class/corporate banking elite. 

17.)  State officials pay greater attention and are more responsive to a few big financial contributors than to millions of voters.

18.)  State officials are more responsive to payoffs from corporate lobbies  protecting corporate profits than to the health, educational and income needs of the electorate.

19.)  State-corporate links lead to deregulation, which results in contamination of the environment leading to the bankruptcy of small businesses and loss of many jobs, as well as the  loss of recreational areas, spoiling rest and recreation for working people.

20.)  The state increases the  retirement age rather than increase the social security payments by the rich, with the result that workers in unhealthy work environments will enjoy fewer years of retirement  in good health.

21.)  The state judicial system is more likely to render favorable decisions to wealthy plaintiffs with high paid, politically connected lawyers against workers defended by inexperienced public defenders.

22.)  State tax collectors are more likely to pursue wage and salary tax payers than upper class corporate executives employing accountants with expert knowledge in tax loopholes and tax free shelters.

Conclusion

The state in its multiple activities, whether in law enforcement, military recruitment, tax and expenditure polices, environmental, pension and retirement legislation and administration, systematically favors the upper class and corporate elite against wage, salaried and small business people.


The state is permissive with the rich and repressive of the working and salaried employees, defending the privileges of the corporations and the impunity of the police state while infringing on the individual freedoms of the working people.

State policies increasingly extract more from the workers in terms of tax revenues and provide less in social payments, while lessening tax payments from Wall Street and inflating state transfers.

Popular perceptions of a hostile and exploitative state correspond to their everyday practical experiences; their anti-state behavior is selective and rational; most wage and salaried workers support social security and unemployment benefits and oppose higher taxes because they know or intuit that they are unfair.

Liberal academics and experts who claim workers are “irrational” are themselves practioners of highly selective criticisms – pointing to (shrinking) state social benefits while ignoring the unjust,  inequitable tax system and the biased behavior of the judicial, law enforcement, legislative and regulatory system.

State personnel, policy makers and enforcement officials are attentive to and responsive and deferential to the rich and   hostile and indifferent or arrogant toward workers.

In summary the real issue is not that people are anti-state, but that the state is anti the majority of the people.  In the face of the economic crises and prolonged imperial wars, the state becomes more brazenly aggressive in slashing living standards in order to channel record levels of public funds toward Wall Street speculators and the military industrial complex.

While liberal-progressives’ remain embedded in ‘neo-keynsian’ statest ideology, outmoded in the face of a state thoroughly embedded in corporate networks, the New Right’s “anti-statest” rhetoric resonates with the feelings, experiences and reasoning of important sectors of wage and salaried workers and small businesspeople.

The attempt by liberals and progressives to discredit this popular revolt against the state, by pointing to the corporate financing and rightwing manipulation behind the anti-statist movement is doomed to failure, because it fails to deal with the profound in justice s experienced by working people today in their daily dealings with a state, largely administered by liberal corporate-militarists.  The absence of an anti-statist left has opened the door for the rise of a mass based ‘New Right’. 

A ‘new left’will emerge from civil society when it recognizes the pernicious exploitative role of the state, and is capable of dealing with the powerful ties between liberalism-militarism-corporate “welfarism”.  The revival and expansion of the debilitated public welfare programs for working people can only take place by dismantling the current state apparatus, and that depends on a complete break with both corporate parties and an agenda that ‘revolutionizes’ the way in which politics works in America.

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