The Big Lie

My late father, who left us before the phrase “credit default swap” ever passed the lips of a lower Manhattan swindler, believed that United States Treasury Bonds, or T-Bills, were the safest investment on the planet. “When the Federal Government can’t cover their own bonds, don’t worry about your lost interest. Start stockpiling,” he counseled, “because Armageddon will be next.”

I miss my father. But I’m sort of glad he doesn’t have to witness the mortifying debt-ceiling charade occuring in Washington, DC, because he’d have to put down his book, amass canned food, and build a bomb shelter in the back yard. The end is nigh!

By the time you read this, our representatives in Congress will almost certainly have worked out some sort of unpleasant compromise, explained why they had to do what they did, and get back to their day-to-day business of placating and succorring their paymasters. The world will not have come to an end. And if the opposite happens, well, maybe apocalypse won’t be such a bad thing.

Perhaps, if we’re lucky, our dangerous dance with default will bring some clarity to both the professional dealmakers and the folks (us) who ostensibly put them in the position to wreck our country on the shoals of lofty-sounding principles. Maybe we’ll see that some of our dearest beliefs are convenient fictions that sound good to dogmatic ears but upon close examination fall apart like gingerbread houses in a rainstorm.

The list of these mendacities is long. But the biggest one, the one that is most pernicious and most costly to the average American, is this: To close loopholes that allow companies with multi-billion-dollar profits to avoid paying their fair share of taxes would “kill” our economy. The widening — and increasingly stark — divide between our Republic’s privileged stakeholders and those who live check-to-check (if they’re fortunate enough to have a paying job) should be ample enough evidence that cash-hoarding, greedy corporations are not jolly “job creators.” They’re financial black holes that suck up an inordinate amount of the nation’s treasure, and as their mass grows so does their gravity. They pull more and more out of the Little Guy’s pocket; until they implode, the energy (money) they gobble remains stuck inside their impenetrable atmosphere. It doesn’t “trickle down.” It doesn’t get redistributed equitably. It disappears, sporadically reappearing in the form of economy-juicing wars and foreign police actions.

The neatest trick that Tea Party Republicans have managed is convincing the victims of corporate greed that the solution to everyone’s financial problems is more corporate greed. When the inexplicably influential policy troll Grover Norquist can get hundreds of politicians to sign No New Taxes pledges and define the end of taxpayer-financed subsidies (giveaways) to oil companies and other conglomerates as “tax increases,” you know that the American Citizenry has finally abdicated all pretensions to corporate accountability. It’s easier that way: no one has to think critically or learn from decades of free-market ideology trumping reality.

A revolution is brewing — and we don’t mean a tax revolt. Eventually, when the once enormous American Middle Class is entirley converted into the working poor, the masses will feel compelled to end our version of economic apartheid. People won’t think it’s super cool that Apple has $76 billion in cash on hand, or that the banks that we saved from their reckless gambling habit have gone back to skimming billions of dollars out of the economy. We won’t simply shrug while unprecedented numbers of Americans lose their homes and say, “Hey, that’s how capitalism works. Winners and losers, you know?”

Until then, we’ll consider Dad’s advice: grab a shovel and start digging.

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