The Beltway Budget Battle will not be over for some time, even if its silly first phase has ended. Government shutdowns make conservatives salivate, as public workers are forced to prove their "non-essential" nature for all the world to see. Can anyone think of a worker less essential than a lawyer, an insurance man, or a corporate CEO? It's unlikely that any of them were affected by the government shutdown, but those who think it means nothing to have three-quarters of a million citizens stay home from their jobs are those who will bring this country to ruin. Unfortunately, they are in control of all branches of government.
The President has had a chance to show some gumption—after his pollsters told him it was safe—while the Republicans have made bigger fools of themselves than is usually the case. This could help re-elect Clinton in '96. Nevertheless, this debate should receive more consideration from citizens, who are paying, and will pay even more as long as the farce continues. The extreme right insists that the budget can be balanced in seven years, while the extreme center says it may be balanced in seven years. This is a battle between a guy who beats his wife every night, and a guy who only beats his wife twice a week.
Whether the budget needs to be balanced at all doesn't come up for discussion, but accepting the idea that the nation must accomplish what its average citizens cannot, where do we make cuts in order to achieve this balance? Neither Clinton's New Democrats nor Gingrich's Old Republicans want to do anything about the most bloated, wasteful and murderous government bureaucracy the world has ever known: The Pentagon. Clinton has given it more money than it asked for, and later looked like a peacenik when the idiot right wing asked for even more.
This massive nest of welfare chiselers has been bleeding the country for more than 50 years, first to fight the alleged communist menace, and now to stand fast against the hallucinatory "something" menace. Let's see, we have terrorists, possibly from Oklahoma, and the Unabomber, possibly from Northern California, so let's have more aircraft carriers, tanks and missiles scattered around the world. Let's put our troops in other nations so they can support local prostitution, even if occasionally freaking out and raping children, as in the notorious case in Okinawa. This case has Japan, facing its own crisis of finance capital in a banking scam that makes our S&L; fiasco look tame, close to telling us to take our troops and get the hell out. But what is the focus of the budget cuts? Environmental protection, education, health care for seniors and poor people, and tax breaks for the rich. Our bankruptcy is moral far more than it is financial.
The income inequality gap grows wider every day. Yet none of the infantile antics in Washington include mention of this serious problem. There is a growing chasm between the richest Americans and the rest of us, who can be forgiven for seeking relief from term limits or other bogus solutions peddled by a variety of political hustlers. It's easy to heed the call of such notions, given that nothing else seems to be offered, except by a few who tend to speak to themselves rather than to the people. A genuine critique of corporate capital was never more needed, yet it is not often heard, and even then barely understood for being so rarely encountered.
While politicians engage in the intellectual equivalent of a food fight, the nation's rich and working classes move further apart from one another. Anger and cynicism increase, affording great opportunities to the moral cretins among our political leadership, and to the intellectual dwarfs of radio airhead land. Disgust with what prevails has more people seeking alternative solutions, but that can backfire when they run into the massive wall of financial power. And still, we arm foreign despots, build nuclear weapons, prepare for megadeath warfare, and screech about the great cost of "entitlements" seemingly paid to the undeserving.
While Americans are indoctrinated to adopt market methodologies of individualism that call for personal esteem, they are also reduced to having the lowest social esteem of any developed people on earth. How else could we tolerate so much poverty, crime, urban and rural degradation, environmental pollution and other manifestations of a collective snake pit, rather than the social realization of something called the American Dream? How can we put so much of our wealth into killing and jailing and still call ourselves leaders of the world in anything but criminal waste and perverted morality?
It has something to do with our representatives, who range from the near-moronic right to the almost slack-jawed center, with a left that is barely heard. That left had better begin talking to someone other than itself, or its favorite minority group of the moment. We don't need an assault on government, a balanced budget or another vain attempt to save a token number of people from a token group of sufferers. The band-aid effect of failed social programs must be replaced with something that works for all the people, not just some. We need a complete transformation of our political economic system, and that begins with a critique of capitalism. That is what our nearly non-existent left should work to create, before reality un-creates much more than any single minority group.