I have one word in reply, which I learned from our senior senator, Mitch McAsshole: no.
I do not want to discuss a national sales tax or fair tax.
I do not want to discuss getting rid of the minimum wage.
I do not want to discuss getting rid of social security.
I do not want to discuss getting rid of Medicaid, Medicare, or health care reform.
I do not want to discuss getting rid of the EPA and OSHA.
I do not want to discuss getting rid of the Departments of Energy, Education, or whatever.
The whole "less government" movement is driven by the ultra-rich (in this case the Koch Brothers) and (fossil fuel) corporations for one purpose -- to get rid of those pesky government agencies so we can go back to the good old days of the robber barons like Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan (giants striding the earth!) when you could plunder the environment, workers, and the public pretty much as you wanted. The whole deficit issue is just a stalking horse, they don't really give a damn about deficits.
So what was the secret of this recent success? When David Koch ran for the senate as a Libertarian, he got 1% of the vote. What is different now?
They were given an incredible gift last year by the Supreme Court, in deciding that corporations "free speech rights as individuals" allows them to donate as much as they want to political campaigns. Nameless foundations funneled 100s of millions to candidates in the 2010 elections, with republicans winning 4 to 1. That Supreme Court decision is still incomprehensible to me.
But, they were given an even greater gift in 2008: the US, in a move that the rest of the world applauded as showing that perhaps America was true to its purported values, elected as president a black man, the son of a first generation African immigrant, with an Arab middle name.
Immediately the finest propaganda and disinformation organ in the history of the world (Goebbels would be green with envy), Faux "News", sprang into action. Glenn Dick sez, "Obama is a racist who hates whites" -- with the implication that it's only self-defense for whites to be racist and hate him back. Dick and his ilk say over and over "Obama is probably not a muslim". And the birther movement generates enough requests for Obama's birth certificate that the state of Hawaii has to set up an automated system just to fulfill them all.
The subtext of all these messages being sent to every WASP waiting to receive them was very simple:
"Obama is going to take everything you've worked so hard for and give it away to blacks, immigrants, muslims and arabs!"And how is Obama going to do that? Why taxes of course! And aren't we ... Taxed Enough Already!
It of course helped not at all that stimulus packages, which may have helped to avoid a great depression, have created a huge deficit. But, I fixed that! The NY Times budget calculator made it easy. And no one making under $250,000 per year will pay any more taxes!
And notice, the teabaggers did not form their own party. Republicans to the bone, and real republicans at that: the best century was not the 18th, it was the 12th, before that Magna Carta thing started us on the road to democracy and away from the divine right of kings.
When the republicans are in power, the main message of Faux "News" is fear. Be afraid to where you give up civil liberties and allow warrantless wiretaps, because those will happen to "them", not "us". With the democrats in power, that message changes to anger. Get angry that Obama is going to give it all away to blacks, immigrants, muslims, and arabs who don't deserve it.
It has been a masterful strategy. That it is cynical, dangerous, and disastrous to the long term interests of the US of course matters to them not one whit, if it will further their path to power.
So what do they want? Even though the disparity in wealth between the ultra-rich and the rest of us is the greatest since the 1920s, it is looking like the bleeding heart "we have to care about everybody" democrats will cave to the hard hearted "we've got ours so we don't give a shit" republicans on extending all the Bush tax cuts. I think the dems should come back with, "OK, if you don't want to drop the cuts for those making over $250,000, how about $500,000? How about $1M? How about $10M?" Maybe then people would see who's calling the shots for the republicans.
But I don't think that the taxes are the issue. I think that the immediate goal here was stated as one of the campaign planks of the Koch's current top lapdog, our newly elected Libertarian senator Random Paul:
Fight the EPA and make full use of our natural resources.Koch Industries is one of the top 10 air polluters in the US. I'm sure the EPA cramps their style, and, come on, the Koch brothers are captains of industry, the rest of us should get out of their way and quit whining about air quality and global warming.
They have spent 100s of millions funding global warming denial. "Bad science" or "suspect science" -- did you ever particularly hear of these before fossil fuel billionaires felt threatened? Spend a few 100 million on misinformation and you could call to question whether the earth circles the sun.
Random Paul also proposed local rather than federal mine inspection and safety standards. He's got his "Friend of Coal" license plate, I'm sure. Did you know that pregnant women in Kentucky are advised not to eat fish caught in our beautiful lakes because of the high mercury content which comes from our many coal-burning electric plants? And that the rest of us are only supposed to eat fish once a week?
In his book "Collapse" (blogged here), Jared Diamond talks about mining as being one of the most environmentally damaging industries. It used to be standard practice for mining companies to create mountains or lakes of toxic byproducts, declare bankrupcy, close down the company, and move on, leaving a toxic mess for the government to clean up. And a little better process up front can avoid the whole thing, but, there goes that big government interfering in business again.
I believe in progress. I believe that all men are created equal. I believe that the struggle continues, that the words of Lincoln are as true now as they were 150 years ago:
It is the eternal struggle between these two principles — right and wrong — throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity, and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, “You toil and work and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.” No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.I cannot believe how quickly people forget, and how quick they are to sell out. Just because you make a million, or two, or 10, does not mean you have to become a republican. I can't get over republican women. Don't they realize that if these conservative types had their way that they wouldn't be voting? Or black republicans. Or non-Cuban hispanic republicans.
–Abraham Lincoln, Seventh and Last Joint Debate with Steven Douglas, held at Alton, Illinois, Oct. 15, 1858.
I am happy to work in technology. Just as the printing press led to the Enlightenment, when people began to question things like the divine right of kings and the right of small aristocracies to own and control everything, the Internet may lead to a similar but greater revolution, led by the Makers. But, even if we can all make everything we need locally everywhere in the world, the old fat cats will still control the sources of the raw materials. So we can't just opt out and ignore them.
So, Libertarians make big gains. Anarcho-capitalists trying to get us back to the good old days when the robber barons of industry were free to rape and pillage (although I'm sure they are way impressed by the recent financial manipulations of Wall Street that led to the housing collapse). A menace? Completely. A far worse threat to the future of America and the world than any terrorist threat I can think of.