Friday, January 18, 2008

Things Have Been Tough Without The Dum Dum Boys

The Holey Polyp Guild

The recent tempest over Glenn Beck's post-hemorrhoid surgery remarks regarding the parentage and moral stance of Franklin Roosevelt is merely one thorn on the rose of invective that this dreamily Grandpa-slapping pundit has to offer his viewers.

Why, he even writes columns. Let's have a peek inside this powerful mind of our times, shall we?

After some heartwarming anecdotes, one involving locking three live pigs inside an abandoned foreclosed house (in an apt metaphor for his own thought processes), we get to the real raison d'etre for the column - Democrat bashing and Republican talking points. Color me surprised.

'Now, I'm not a former first lady, but I am a thinker, so let me ask the obvious question: Exactly how does helping a low-income family stay warm stimulate the economy? Are they going to suddenly run out and buy an exotic vacation where they'll spend their days brainstorming ways to employ hundreds of people?'

Let me walk you through this, thinker Glenn. It's not such a difficult concept to grasp if you really, really try.

You see, there is this thing called 'working poor' - People and families, some of them working two jobs and increasingly longer hours in the Nu-Perfect America, but never quite making it to the winner's circle past the economic finish line.
Now, as fuel costs (for one) increase due to the myriad reasons that such things do, the percentage of income that these folks have available to save or spend on their other needs (food, shelter, retirement...trifles, really) decreases, and this impacts their ability to contribute to the economy in a subjectively meaningful way.

If people in these circumstances don't have to worry about themselves or their children freezing in the dark when they come home at night, perhaps...Just perhaps there might be a personal incentive to work harder on prevailing over their situation, rather than succumb to those fertile grounds for a welfare state, depression and inertia.

The inability to see this as an 'economic stimulus' issue and couching it as an 'energy issue only' is a convenient oversimplification that neglects to take into account the dependence of the North American economy on energy.
No 'go', no 'grow', no 'd'oh'.

Will some abuse this to the point of dependency? You bet...Just like some corporations become addicted to their strenuously lobbied financial largesses provided by the state through bailouts and tax rebates, it can happen.
Is that a reason not to grant it? Of course not, for much the same reasons that we may reject accepting the premise that if we were to cut off or sharply reduce such regular 'corporate welfare' it would immediately be injurious to the state, and thus all its inhabitants.
If people should not beseech the state for assistance, neither should corporations.

Some of this also falls under a topic that Republicans often struggle with - Giving a shit about their fellow humans in less fortunate straits than themselves.
The 'I've got mine' attitude, so brazenly worn as a symbol of success and self-reliance but really signifying nothing more than unenlightened selfishness, is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to personal growth in the West.
How can you truly profit if your brothers and sisters go without?

Now, let's get down to the shilling floor:
'...how about we put some lasting trust back into the system by slashing government spending and finally sending the signal to businesses that taxes won't be going through the roof next year?

After all, no business owner -- including small-business owners like me -- are going to start expanding if they believe that our tax rates are about to skyrocket. That's why we've got to take away that uncertainty, cut corporate tax rates -- which are the second-highest in the developed world -- and watch as American businesses once again bail us out by creating thousands of jobs that pump billions of tax dollars back into Washington.'

Quickly dispensing with this blatant touting for his corporate masters, so hard on aging knees, the facts are this: economies, even the most successful ones, cannot continually expand without some sort of eventual contraction.
Since the last seven years in America have seen massive tax cuts paired with disinvestment in infrastructure brought on by hard budgetary choices at the state level, never mind such artificial expansion - In order to keep even meagerly solvent at current levels, a heightened degree of reinvestment in the supporting fabric of the nation is inevitable.
The good news? This is a recoupable expense that creates eventual economic opportunity and growth. Funny how investing in your infrastructure works to make things better, hmm?

Unfortunately, those timorous souls who dithered and dallied, fretting over the perfect golden opportunity to expand after over half a decade of spoon-fed tax cuts (as opposed to their compatriots who took their tax savings offshore to invest in foreign economies) will just have to wait until the next boom cycle to get off the fencepost. Hard luck - No guts, no glory.

The fact is, Glenn, whether you and your rich friends like this or not...There's a certain degree of maintenance that has to occur in a capitalist democracy.
It's not all just 'take' - In order to maintain the flow of income, you have to give back a little.
Think of it as greens fees...The difference between playing on a PGA-class course and a schmeggy pitch-and-put is correlative to how much you put into its maintenance.

Unless you like digging your balls out of deep holes, that is.