Something I don’t understand about GOP logic, if it can be called that, is the idea that public workers are just a useless drain on the taxpayer. If that is true, aren’t private sector employees a drain on their employers? Somewhere along the line, we started believing that some of the hardest workers on the planet don’t deserve the few benefits they are—less and less–offered and, especially in the case of public workers, that there’s no return on our investment.
A short list of public works: paved roads, education, health care, security, environmental and fire protection, clean water, sanitation, disaster relief, libraries, safe work environments, consumer protections, mail, safe food, civil rights, and freedom. These are just a few things all Americans enjoy and prosper from but they don’t get done on their own. Just ask the people whose job it is to get them done.
Things Republicans don’t mind spending billions on: athletes, talk radio hosts, television pundits and personalities, political attack ads, campaign contributions, super PACS, corporate welfare, war, deregulation, Wall Street executives, and lobbyists. In what way do any of those things benefit us, both as individuals and as a civil society?
I think Romney best summed up the right wing disconnect during a speech in Iowa when he said of Obama, “He wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”
Mitt Romney and the Republicans have a very intriguing and selective idea of what constitutes “helping” the American people. Much of their economic policy is centered on protecting the exponential growth of wealth into the hands of the top one percent. They seem to have convinced nearly half the voting public that the very rich have all earned their wealth rather than inherited it, while poor people are poor because they are lazy, unemployed, and entitled.
Republicans tell us that poor people and “irresponsible” homeowners are to blame for the abysmal economy, and that the very rich are job creators who should not be bothered with the health of the economy during tough times. Those positions are in stark contrast to Romney’s own record of mass layoffs, corporate welfare, extraordinarily low tax rates, and life of innumerable opportunities.
The fact that their words are not in harmony with their actions doesn’t seem to bother the right wing. Across the country, politicians at the state level—like Scott Walker—are pushing austerity measures and extreme budget cuts through the works. Republicans on the national stage are calling for an end to earned benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare.
Speaking on The Colbert Report on Monday, Paul Krugman warned that continuing on this path is sure to lead us into another great depression. Not to be confused with a recession, he says, though he contends that we are currently in a smaller depression. Furthermore, he points out that we could end the depression simply by hiring back all the public employees the GOP has laid off.
Here is a particularly interesting exchange between Paul Krugman and Stephen Colbert:
“Europe is in big trouble right now. They made a terrible mistake, which is one currency without one government and they compounded that by having a lot of the wrong policies,” Krugman told Stephen Colbert.
“But Obama is a socialist and Europe is a socialist system. And so Europe is just a preview of what will happen to America, right? You want to turn America into Europe’s economic problems,” Colbert presses Krugman.
“What European country did conservatives love before the crisis? What was the highest ranked western country on the Heritage index of economic freedom? What was the country with the lowest corporate tax rates? It was Ireland. Ireland has done everything.
“Ireland is Romney economics in practice: they’ve laid off a large fraction of their public work force, they’ve slashed spending, they’ve had extreme austerity programs, they haven’t really raised taxes on corporations or the rich at all. They have 14% unemployment, 30% youth unemployment, zero economic growth; Ireland is a demonstration. I think Ireland is America’s future if Romney is president.”
What Krugman told a Colbert audience is the reality we all know and live in. Republicans would have us believe in some fantasy, an alternate reality where corporations are people with human rights; the very wealthy are long-suffering job creators who can’t create jobs and pay taxes at the same time; and smaller government means making all of your reproductive and marital decisions for you.
I really don’t want to live in a Republican fantasy. Do you?
Image: Unemployment line in Dublin, Ireland