Fiscal Cliff = Shock Doctrine

“There are very few books that really help us understand the present. The Shock Doctrine is one of those books.” -John Gray, The Guardian. 

Pay no attention to the nonsense coming out of Washington about this “Fiscal Cliff” crap. Go read Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine and get wise to the con job being foisted on us. I wrote about this essential book two years ago and it’s more relevant than ever.

Dave Johnson wrote a few days ago:

The Shock Doctrine is a book by Naomi Klein that describes a “disaster capitalism” strategy used by wealthy and powerful people to take advantage of crises — even causing crises — to herd people into accepting “solutions” to those crises that really just enrich the 1% at the expense of the rest of us.

In times of crisis (real or perceived) the public is in a state of shock, distracted and ready to grasp at straws to get out of the panic. This is the perfect time for “serious people” to come in and offer pre-planned “solutions.” These solutions usually involve privatizing public institutions and wealth, cutting public services, cutting taxes on the rich, seizing property, lowering wages and pensions … well, just look at Europe’s “austerity” and you get the picture.

This shock-doctrine disaster capitalism model has become standard practice. We see this happening over and over again: crises occur or are manufactured, the media whips people into a panic, and then the “solution” is introduced. The solution involves a “reform” that transfers wealth or institutions into a few private hands.

We have a jobs problem, not a deficit problem. The best way to deal with the deficit is to put Americans back to work. The real job creators are working people with money in their wallets. We can’t cut our way to growth. These are not just slogans, these are solutions to real problems.

Robert Borosage wrote yesterday:

…in true shock doctrine fashion, the ersatz crisis is being used to demand changes that would otherwise be politically impossible: cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, along with deep cuts in basic government services, combined with tax increases. Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson has enlisted bankers and CEOs in a multimillion-dollar campaign spearheaded by the hysterical Cassandras of debt, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, former co-chairs of President Obama’s deficit commission, to demand action now. Editorial opinion and much of the punditry, along with a claque of supposedly bipartisan or nonpartisan lobbying groups, have dutifully echoed the call. Gaggles of senatorial aides have been meeting to explore what a deal might look like…

The grand bargain being discussed in Washington reflects an elite consensus far removed from what voters want. Americans want action on jobs, and most support the president’s call to raise taxes on the rich. Overwhelmingly, they want basic family security programs protected. Any deal that cuts Medicare and Social Security, slows growth and increases unemployment will look a lot more like a grand betrayal than a grand bargain. And virtually the entire organized base of the Democratic Party, from unions to civil rights and women’s groups, is mobilizing in opposition..

We’ve just had what might be called the first of a new era of class-warfare elections. The plutocracy ran one of their own, on their agenda and with their money. The American people’s rejection of Mitt Romney, despite the lousy economy, demonstrated the declining appeal of the conservative, trickle-down agenda. The budget debate will draw battle lines within the Democratic Party, between the Wall Street–dominated New Democratic wing and the progressive wing fighting for the change this country desperately needs.

We are headed into a new era of upheaval. Our money-soaked politics may suffocate growing demands for change. But if Democratic legislators join the president in a grand betrayal, they may witness a powerful Tea Party movement from the left, as Republican legislators have from the right.

Paul Krugman wrote today:

America’s political landscape is infested with many zombie ideas — beliefs about policy that have been repeatedly refuted with evidence and analysis but refuse to die. The most prominent zombie is the insistence that low taxes on rich people are the key to prosperity. But there are others.

And right now the most dangerous zombie is probably the claim that rising life expectancy justifies a rise in both the Social Security retirement age and the age of eligibility for Medicare. Even some Democrats — including, according to reports, the president — have seemed susceptible to this argument. But it’s a cruel, foolish idea — cruel in the case of Social Security, foolish in the case of Medicare — and we shouldn’t let it eat our brains…

What we know for sure is that there is no good case for denying older Americans access to the programs they count on. This should be a red line in any budget negotiations, and we can only hope that Mr. Obama doesn’t betray his supporters by crossing it.

From ThinkProgress: “We have to address our fiscal problems using math, not magic. President Obama received a mandate from voters to ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share. Instead of trying to recycle and repackage their failed plans, it’s time for Republicans to stop holding middle class tax cuts hostage and start making a deal.”

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