Sunday, July 03, 2011

Republicans looking to kill the goose that laid the golden egg

As with many bloggers and other observers of the political scenes both national and state, one of the research tools I use is the "Google Alert".  That is an automatically-generated email notifying me of a new mention of a given subject (one that the user defines) somewhere on the internet.  It isn't quite comprehensive, but Google's 'bots can reach far farther across and deeper into the web than I can.

One of the alerts I have set up is for David Schweikert, the member of Congress from Arizona's 5th District (Tempe, Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Salt River Pima/Maricopa Indian Community, and bits of other municipalities).

A week ago, there was a Schweikert Google Alert highlighting this bit from The Practising Law Institute, a continuing legal education non-profit from the State University of New York (SUNY) -
...Our friends at Morrison & Foerster sent in a great memo summarizing the various bills pending in Congress and what they might mean for companies like Facebook.
On June 14, 2011, Representative David Schweikert (R-AZ) introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would raise the threshold for mandatory registration under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) from 500 persons holding equity securities of record to 1,000 persons for all companies.[1] This bill would also exclude accredited investors and securities held by persons who received such securities pursuant to employee compensation plans from counting against the 1,000-record holder threshold.
The proposal they reference is H.R. 2167, euphemistically titled as the "Private Company Flexibility and Growth Act."

A better title would be the "Increasing Opaqueness For Investors Act."

However, before becoming sidetracked on this particular well-covered subject (Schweikert and his colleagues favoring big-money interests over the interests of average Americans isn't exactly breaking news), I should be clear that this is only a small part of this piece and rates a mention for just two reasons:

1.  It *is* relevant to the topic, and it involves an Arizona Congressman, and I'm an Arizona writer.

2.  It helped bring into focus some thoughts and observations on the topic, though the following piece is more scattershot than I would prefer.

Aesop, the famous Greek writer, is credited with writing down a number of fables*.  One of the most well-known of those was The Goose That Laid The Golden Egg.  In that one, a farmer and his wife owned a goose that laid one golden egg per day.  Because of that golden egg per day, they were able to live their lives very comfortably.  However, that wasn't enough for the farmer and his wife, so they killed the goose in an attempt to acquire vast wealth immediately.  They opened up the carcass of their now-dead goose, and found


Their greed-inspired short-term thinking and decision making led to their complete downfall.

That's basically where the U.S. economy is today. 

The people running it, the corporate influence peddlers and the elected-but-easily-swayed-by-bribes "campaign contributions" people in D.C. and state capitols across the country are now dedicated to siphoning the economic activity and value of the county into the pockets of the well-connected few, ignoring the reality that the US economy grew because of long-term thinking and an understanding that the best investments often take years or decades to pay off.

Republicans have spent decades striving to dismantle Social Security, Medicare and any other social safety net program, decrying the "socialism" inherent in such programs.  They fight any programs or expenditures that don't directly benefit large corporations and the already-wealthy.
They've spent decades fighting against American infrastructure projects, except for things like the infamous bridge to nowhere championed by former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens (to be fair, that one was so obviously egregious that even some of the most shameless Rs found that they couldn't hold their noses and support it), preferring to spend money on unjustified wars that seemed to be more dedicated to funnelling money to big contractors/campaign contributors like Halliburton who were armed with no-bid and cost-plus contracts while American servicemen and women went into combat with defective body armor and vehicles and (my personal favorite) even showers that electrocuted users.

These efforts are continuing today, more brazen and shameless than ever.

Some are high-profile, like Republican Paul Ryan's scheme to turn Medicare in "corpra-Care" by ending Medicare and issuing vouchers that patients could use to partially pay premiums for health insurance policies issued by private companies.

Some are low-profile, such as the current move by the Republicans in the US Senate to block the passage of some free trade deals, not because they oppose the deals because they'll result in the export of yet more American jobs (jobs seem to have been our number one export since the Reagan adminstration), but because they don't want the workers who lose their jobs as a result of the deals to be eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance (essentially education and retraining opportunities offered through the US Departments of Labor, Commerce and/or Agriculture).

Some, like Schweikert's (and many other Republicans') efforts to stymie the nascent solar power industry on behalf of Big Oil have the effect of protecting a status quo that is profitable for the Republicans (and their campaign contirbutors) at the cost of sacrificing the country's future energy security...and "security" is the right word in a world where wars have been, are, and will be fought over oil.

Others, like Schweikert's bill above, don't directly affect the American middle and working classes, but they absolutely place the short-term interests of deep-pocketed special interests above the long-term  stability and credibility of the American economy.

At all times, the focus of the Republicans (aided and abetted by more than a few corpraDems, I'm ashamed to say) has been to protect and enhance the short-term bottom lines of major "campaign contributors."

They, along with most of what pass for modern "captains of industry," have forgotten or are ignoring the fact that the American economy was built on truly long-term investments, and the public sector played a pivotal part in the economic success.

Do we dare imagine what America would look like today without things like...

...the national highway system that eased the movement of people and goods across the country?

...utility projects like the Tennessee Valley Authority that helped modernize the infrastructure and economy of a huge swath of the country?

...water projects like the Hoover Dam that secured the water supply necessary to allow the Western U.S. to grow as a population and economic center?

...any of the hundreds of other public works projects over the decades that built and buttressed the infrastructure that forms the foundation of the American economy?

And I can't even begin to predict where the current trend of undermining the effectiveness of public education in order to justify redirecting funds away from public schools, and public school students, and toward "private educational enterprises" is going to lead our society.  I'm willing to be it won't be a good place though.

The historical economic "rising tide" that lifted and grew America's middle class, particularly in the period between WW2 and Vietnam, also benefitted America's corporations and super-wealthy (when consumers have good jobs and money to spend, consumer products companies do well).  However, the current economic downturn illustrates that the reverse isn't true - America's corporations and their CEOs are doing very well, thank you, while most of the rest of us are still suffering deeply from the effects of the economy.


Arizona and America cannot afford to continue electing people who don't hold the long-term interests of the country paramount.  People may disagree on what is best for the country (or state, or county, or city, or whatever), but "the best interests of my country/state/county/city/whatever" should be the guiding principle for all elected officials.

Every candidate for every office, at every level, must be evaluated on this criteria before any votes are cast.

This may occasionally mean having to choose a well-meaning schmuck over a poised and polished schemer.

So be it.

The schmuck will have to learn from his mistakes, or his successors will.  The schemers never seem to learn the real lessons from their misdeeds, instead just finding ways to not get caught the next time.

*There are some questions as to whether Aesop was an actual individual or an amalgamation created by subsequent generations to simplify the collection of and reference to widely-known fables, but that discussion is too academic for this blog (and I am woefully unqualified for such a discussion) and more importantly, it's utterly irrelevent to the above subject.

1 comment:

Thane Eichenauer said...

Indeed. Let the voter beware.