How the illusion of one thing can can deceive us about a more important issue
There ‘s an enticing and yet deceptive ad going around many commercial internet websites that shows a very busty woman posing next to a claim that there is a secret sleep aid. The women in the photo above is not the one I’m referring to but I was pretty sure it would do what the ad intended – get your attention. In viewing this ad one is led to believe that there is a sexual connection between this product and one’s desire to find a non-drug remedy for a sound night’s sleep. After clicking on the ad with the busty woman it becomes clear immediately that her well-endowed breast had little to do with the sleep aid but only served as a come on for either horny men or small breasted women.
Believe it or not, this ad has something in common with Grover Norquist’s assertion that all tax hikes are bad and deficit reduction can only happen from spending cuts. They both seduce potential advocates or supporters with something they’ve alluded to but has no basis in reality. To my disappointment the busty lady in the sleep aid ad was not connected to the fantasies she stirred in my mind. Likewise, the promise that conservatives make when they sign Grover Norquist’s oath to never raise taxes in any way, shape or form and how this will rejuvenate our broken economy is a facade that appeals to capitalist purists and people who haven’t paid much attention to the real world of economics lately.
I suspect the sleep aid will promise to be the cure-all for my insomnia but will point out at the end of the ad – in small, legalese print – caveats that will protect them from libel suits down the road when many consumers find that it fell way short of the claims it made, BEFORE you laid your money down. I have been duped enough times to know that such miracle cures are hardly ever valid and yet … there is always this hidden belief that perhaps THIS TIME it will be different. Here’s the ad you get after clicking on the photo of the large breasted women. Notice the caveats in small print at the bottom of the page.
Norquist, The Tea Party goofs and many otherwise serious conservatives continue to believe that deficits are the sole factor of too much spending and that only deep spending cuts will erase our national debt. Never mind the fact that during the nineties under Clinton there were taxes increases combined with some measured spending cuts and the economy saw one of its best decades in quite a while. Now follow that with the spending-only policy in the Bush administration along with deep tax cuts and we go from a federal surplus to a record deficit in less than three years.
For the eight years under Bush/Cheney we continued to borrow money from China, Germany and other foreign nationals to pay for these tax cuts and two wars on the other side of the world. The result was the slowest economic growth in half a century. The economy eventually crashed under the weight of non-regulated financial industries who went crazy with predatory lending to people who had no collateral, sometimes not even a job and then sold these insecure mortgages off to other banking and financial interests, who had inadequate capital to cover their losses if the borrower defaulted. It might even surprise some of these angry anti-government types to discover that these pre-Obama practices set the stage for the $1 trillion deficit we faced shortly after Barack Obama was inaugurated in January, 2009.
So what do outraged but ill-informed conservatives voters do? They turn out in record numbers in 2010 to vote for those pie-in-the-sky promises from an extremist group of people who have no depth of historical knowledge about economics. The Tea Partiers assert that our problems stem from spending that needs to be curbed and ignore the borrowing that’s been going on for the last eight years necessary to pay for what tax revenues were lost with the Bush tax cuts in 2001.
As a result people were put in office who are poorly qualified to address our core economic issue today – high unemployment. Capitalist ideologues who believe fully in the premises made by philosopher Adam Smith over two centuries ago and perpetuated to further extremes by the like of “free market” devotees Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman in the mid 20th century, have convinced enough cult followers that an unrestrained free market will make life comfortable for most, if not all people within such an economic system.
The fact that it never truly has and that even under the most unrestrained periods in our economic history poverty affected about 1 in 7 Americans, seems to be ignored by such narrow-minded people. According to recent census data, the actual number of people who are classified as poor, 43.6 million, is “the largest number in the 51 years for which poverty estimates have been published.”
Not surprisingly though capitalism has had its rich rewards for many but most specifically those that fall within the wealthiest 2% category. In fact this wealthiest group continues to make gains while many of the remaining 95% are actually growing poorer than many of their parents before them. In big part this is due to the tax cuts that Grover Norquist and many foolish Tea Partiers continue to promote. Most of the tax revenue from the time WWII ended helped fund projects that enabled a strong middle class in this country as it also addressed the social needs of those who fell outside the grasp of the free markets’ “invisible hand”.
The argument made by this fringe element can rightfully say that less taxes do increase personal wealth but when your wages are at or even slightly above the poverty level, such savings have no real bearing on your ability to pay market prices for essential good and services. Most may be able to keep up but are hard pressed to save, while those who can’t continue their downward spiral into poverty.
Only the very wealthy benefit from tax cuts because their cut will often amount to sums that exceed a middle-income wage earner’s annual salary. Most if not all of this will be put into further income earning measures like stocks and products that cater to the very wealthy. What jobs result from this activity are hardly significant to most people looking for good paying jobs.
The GOP, Tea Party and Grover Norquist worshippers are not concerned about the plight of the economy because their wrong-headed notions honestly believe that the free-market will correct what ails us. This of course is an ideological belief and presumes that government intervention in the form of higher taxes is sure to prevent “real’ recovery.
Never mind that human greed has and does continue to intervene for the sake of profits and personal wealth as previously good paying American jobs find their way over to the cheaper labor markets abroad. Never mind that as these neo-conservatives and neo-liberals continue to reduce the deficit by eliminating government positions, the U.S. labor market isn’t able to pick up these surplus workers and thus the unemployment rates continue to climb. The middle class is slowly eroding because ideology is overriding what has worked well for us for nearly a century.
We’re all suckers to some degree by the fantastical and enticing claims that promises wealth, health, beauty and social acclaim. But at what point do we learn when we’ve been duped and that those who claim to have our best interests at heart are really working behind the scenes to promote only their own self-interests?