By Tom Kando
So the Republicans won in Massachusetts, and health care reform is on life support. I know, the electorate is angry, we have 11% unemployment. So the voters take it out on whoever happens to be in charge. Always happens. But Americans are jumping from the frying pan into the fire. They are replacing the folks who have been trying to solve the country’s problems for less than a year - however imperfectly - by those who caused those problems. They do this because they believe the lies of demagogues like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News:
Lie #1: The Obama administration is to blame for the recession. The President has had barely one year to undo the catastrophe caused by 8 years of Republican mismanagement (more if you go back to Reagan). How can people have such short memory?
Lie #2: The government has spent too much money on things like the stimulus. Nobel laureate Paul Krugman has often explained that the country needs to spend more stimulus money, not less. People are confusing the two recovery programs, blaming the Obama administration for bailing out the fat cats at taxpayer’s expense. But remember that TARP (the Troubled Asset Relief Program) was the Bush-Paulson $700 billion bailout program for investment banks. Obama’s stimulus package was the $787 billion ARRA (American Recovery and Investment Act), aimed at creating jobs and helping people with their mortgages.
Lie #3: European-style social democracy doesn’t work as well as American-style capitalism. The only thing required to disprove this are facts. Again, Paul Krugman (for example his syndicated New York Times article on January 12) does this. Another way to find out the truth is to spend a week in Europe. But facts don’t matter to people like Beck, Limbaugh and their followers. Since most Americans have not seen the facts, they believe that Frenchmen are poor, Dutchmen are hungry, and Germans are sick. A few years ago, Rush Limbaugh said that “the American lower class was better off than the European middle class.” A delusional statement, which millions lapped up.
This reminds me of the fantasy world behind the Iron Curtain before the fall of Communism: Eastern Europeans were brainwashed into believing that they lived in a people’s paradise, while life in the West was a nightmare of drugs, crime, filth and poverty. They had no idea, because they didn’t get to see reality. I’m not saying that America is a similar place. But if it continues to deny the reality that social democracy can provide a better life for more people, it is at risk of becoming second rate. But maybe such a realization is too painful. Maybe most Americans prefer to stay in denial.
Lie #4: Our health care system is better than that of 35 other developed countries. We shouldn’t have a single-payer plan, like most of them. Again, just spend a week in Europe, Canada, Japan, or Australia, and experience the superiority of all those countries’ medical systems.
Lie #6: Government has been growing and growing. Sure, the Federal budget is skyrocketing. These are desperate times. Same thing happened during World War Two - temporarily. Funny how suddenly everyone has become a fiscal conservative. Where were all the fiscal conservatives when President Bush’s budget deficits broke records year after year, due to wars and tax cuts for the rich?
At any rate, at the state and local levels, government is collecting and spending less every year, not more.
Lie #7: Government is inefficient; the private sector is efficient. Proof?
Lie #8: we need less government regulation - of banks, for example. Just read Krugman, again, for example his syndicated New York Times column on January 19.
Imagine that this is 1933. FDR has had less than one year to turn around the country, which is still mired in recession. So you decide to re-elect President Hoover! leave comment here
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
By Tom Kando