In an alternate, perhaps saner universe, the United States of America would be a parody of what happens when a great nation loses is collective mind, turns addled, goes blind.
Of the 194 countries in the world (the number recognized by the US State Department) just one of those spends more on its military than the remaining 193 combined even though it represents a modest 5 per cent of the global population. This unique nation is a true warfare state, one that also happens to be going broke. Quelle surprise!
Today it's elected representatives are waging war on their debt and deficit but it's a war they've chosen to fight on the backs of their own people, a war in which the bleeding is to be done by the working classes. It is a class war being waged on behalf of the ultra-rich by their bought and paid for minions in Congress. It is a class war in which a hopelessly confused and divided populace is turned against itself.
Think this is flowery hyperbole? Think again. You can begin by reading Paul Krugman's column in today's New York Times. He examines the Lone Star state's war on its own budget woes. Krugman begins by noting that, in Texas, barely three out of five young people graduate high school and the state has an embarrassing low rate of young people ranked in good or excellent health. So, with an already ill-educated and unhealthy youth population, where will Texas fight its deficits? Will it tax the already low-taxed rich? No, it will slash medicaid and get rid of up to 100,000 teachers.
Texas likes to portray itself as a model of small government, and indeed it is. Taxes are low, at least if you’re in the upper part of the income distribution (taxes on the bottom 40 percent of the population are actually above the national average). Government spending is also low.
The really striking thing about all this isn’t the cruelty — at this point you expect that — but the shortsightedness. What’s supposed to happen when today’s neglected children become tomorrow’s work force?
Anyway, the next time some self-proclaimed deficit hawk tells you how much he worries about the debt we’re leaving our children, remember what’s happening in Texas, a state whose slogan right now might as well be “Lose the future.”
Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that the Congressional footsoldiers of America's Uber-Rich are poised to bar Obama, "from funding programmes regulating greenhouse gas emissions, or connected to climate science and international negotiations for a deal to end global warming."
The EPA faces other challenges to its authority in Congress, aside from those in the spending bill. One proposal, which has Democratic as well as Republican support, would delay the EPA's efforts to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions this year.
And all of this from legislators who won't blink an eye at this year throwing a $30-billion increase into the already bloated budget of the military/industrial/corporate warfighting complex.
Now tell me this isn't a nation gone mad.
(I'm very conscious of the fact that my comments have an eerily socialist tone and yet I'm now convinced that's a perfectly normal manifestation of true liberalism in the face of blatant rightwing excess. We are intended, obliged even to fight these battles from the left, not to cower for safety under the skirts of the right.