Saturday, March 07, 2009

Defend the American Dream – stay asleep

Hi everyone,

Yep, I'm finally cribbing from myself -- from an entry about a year ago... the last time these True Believers met.

What's most peculiar to me is that they're still trying to convince everyone to accept the economic principles that have thrown the entire world economy into turmoil. Why would anyone do that -- if they were awake, that is?

Right, they wouldn't. QED.

Saturday's column.

Defend the American Dream – stay asleep

They're having a big pajama party at the Midwest Airlines Center in Milwaukee today called “Defending the American Dream.” They’re going to need their jammies too, since, after the last few months, it’s pretty clear the American Dream only works when you’re asleep. The group hosting this event, Americans for Prosperity, might also think about changing their name to Americans for the Prosperity of Some Americans.

Anyway, waking up is grouchy business, but here we are.

The speakers list is a Broadway Lullaby Review of happy comfy bedtime stories designed to keep us safely dozing while America’s economy crashes and our treasury is looted.

Incidentally, the inherent irony in the list increases as we go along, so have another sip of coffee and prepare yourselves.

Scott Walker is scheduled to speak, presumably about how he’ll help Milwaukee County residents by refusing federal funds designed to help Milwaukee County residents. His speech should serve as a warm up for his run for governor – where he probably hopes to refuse federal funds for people from other parts of Wisconsin too.

Rep. Paul Ryan is scheduled to appear, humming the nap-time favorite “If we continue to lower taxes on the top 5 percent, the way we have during the past eight years, the economy will suddenly act in a completely new and wonderful way. Really!” His speech should serve as a warmup for his run for the U.S. Senate.

At 11:30 the Defender of the American Dream Award goes to state Rep. Jim Ott, former TV weatherman since elevated by the Flat Earth global-warming-is-a-hoax-conspiracy theorists to an expert in atmospheric physics. I suppose Rep. Ott, who insists the president of the Weather Channel understands climate change better than the world scientific community, deserves one of these Stay Asleep awards. He’s a great example of what sleepwalking can do for your sense of self-preservation.

But the most telling speaker is the dreamiest of them all, embodying the economic somnambulance these people represent. It’s Samuel J. Wurzelbacher – yep, Joe the Plumber. He’s a perfect example: he’s called Joe the Plumber, but his first name isn’t Joe; he claimed to be a plumber, but wasn’t licensed; and he became famous because he believed a tax plan that would have cut his taxes was a bad idea. He’s even written a book, although his scheduled three-hour book signing in Washington, D.C., last week didn’t make it through the first hour.

So, let’s see: Politicians running for office on the economic theories that got us into this pickle and a working class hero who can’t figure out his taxes? I feel drowsier and better about America just knowing these guys are in Milwaukee.

OK, back to being serious. The last few months have woken up a lot of Americans to the burglary going on under our noses during the last eight years, but this group of sleeping-pill salesmen is hitting the snooze button in Milwaukee this weekend trying to lull us back into a dreamland where the realities of a lousy job, declining wages, and health care costs that bankrupt more families each year melt away in a haze.

Unfortunately, you can only roll over and go back to sleep so many times before you notice the morning light: despite all these tax cuts, median household income in the US is off .6 percent between 2000 and 2007, and down 5.5 percent in Wisconsin. The number of people in poverty in the United States is up 1.2 percent during the same period, while, in Wisconsin it’s up 1.7 percent.

So, where do you get the brass to stage a day-long orgy of self-congratulation for years of shifting the tax-burden from the wealthy to the shoulders of people at the bottom of the economic system – and still leave room for cake?

These people have spent years convincing Americans, like Joe the Plumber, to vote against their own economic self interests. How do you do that? You stage circuses and hand out glossy easy-fill prescriptions in Milwaukee to make sure all those people at the bottom continue to believe that dreaming is better than living.

The downside? When those folks wake up, or when the cake runs out, they’re going to be irritable.

And to those of you who are awake now, let’s paraphrase Edmund Burke: All it takes for evil to triumph is for people of good will to stay asleep.

The unemployment rate in West Bend topped 10.5% this past week. I have to ask whose prosperity these people are really interested in. My guess, their own rather than their country's.



Anonymous said...

Personally, I believe the left has know one that is courageous enough now to speak of any new ideas. If one of them has any ideas they are so afraid with the likes of Rush Limbaugh will chew them up and spit them out. The Conservative media attack dogs have frozen the Republican party in time. That's fine with me, I am enjoying the right eat their own. Larry

Mpeterson said...

Hi Larry,

I couldn't agree with you more. I like Jim Hightower a lot -- but I was also fond of saying that I hadn't seen a *real* Democrat since Jimmy Carter was President. I'm also pretty much unable to distinguish liberal from conservative anymore since these labels have become insubstantial political tokens rather than meaningful expressions of a point of view. Neo-cons can be spotted easily by their toxic blend of true believer, Free-Market cultism, and fundamentalist Puritanism.... Those people aren't any more 'conservative' than the man in the moon... but 'conservative' sounds better than "Falangist."

As for the Liberals... gasp. My sense is Mr. Reagan simply ran over them so fiercely that they never really recovered. I don't like knee-jerk spending programs any more than I like knee-jerk tax cutters.

And all of this is why Mr. Obama is such a relief. Anyone who says "we need to spend the money now to get working people back to work -- but we need to balance the budget" is what I've been waiting to hear for... well, about 30 years.

(Although, I have to admit to enjoying the irony of Bill Clinton being the most fiscally responsible President during that period.)

I see the Republican Oligarchs are bringing Newt back. At least we'll have someone intelligent to argue with again.

But yeah, it is a pleasure to watch them eat their young. :^)


Anonymous said...

Ah, yes Newt. I am anxiously awaiting his second coming. I recently revisited the "Contract for America". Remember that document House Republicans published in the always thought provoking magazine "TV Guide"? If I remember correctly Newt at the same time was the one to really push the Christian family value issues along with the contract and a visited to his terminally ill wife in the hospital with a request for a divorce because he was having a affair with the church choir lady and he wanted to marry her now. Anyways I don't think that contract worked out very well for us. It's almost a hoot now to read, but they really believed in this contract. I always thought if a person breaks a contract they have to do something because they broke a promise. My question is, what did we get from them for not keeping their promise. George W. Bush? Yikes! No more contracts from Newt please!

Larry T.