April 14, 2011

Slouching towards Ragnarok

Recent political events have made me think of Naomi Klein's 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. In it, she argues that economic elites and their political allies have a pattern of taking advantage of natural or human-made disasters to push through an extreme agenda that would never fly in normal times.

We're seeing that unroll right before our eyes as extremists in Congress are taking advantage of deficit hysteria to push through a radical budget bill developed by Congressman Paul Ryan. Short version: it would gut Medicaid, dismantle Medicare and dramatically spending on programs that benefit ordinary Americans--while extending tax cuts for the wealthy.

Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said in a webinar yesterday (I'm paraphrasing but it was pretty close to this) that when you look at the details, the Ryan plan is more about redistributing wealth upwards than reducing the deficit.

If this goes through, it would basically be closing time for the middle class.

However, there is something you can do. The Coalition on Human Needs is urging people to call their representatives toll free at:


and deliver a message something like this:

I am a constituent and I strongly urge you to vote NO on the House Budget Committee's Budget Resolution. It would slash Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, education... in fact, all the investments that help Americans to be economically secure. It denies vital help for low-income and middle class people while giving trillions of dollars in tax cuts to millionaires and big corporations. Please reject these extreme proposals - they would weaken federal protections in a recession and stall economic growth for us all.

The House is likely to vote on the measure this week so now is the time.

OBAMA'S PLAN. Here are reactions to the president's deficit reduction proposals from Dean Baker with the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

WEST VIRGINIA AND THE CIVIL WAR. Here's an item about our progressive past from the Washington Post.

ON THE OTHER HAND, here's an item from the New York Times about our not-so-progressive present.


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