Angry thoughts went through my head as I signed my tax check to Illinois. We don’t have a budget. Legalizing marijuana is seriously being considered to bring in more revenue that will be an excuse to spend more. Every taxpaying 401(k) employee in the state owns a share of our enormous public pension debt. Lawmakers are getting fat and happy while Illinois’ finances deteriorate past the point of recovery.
Whether from spending in the name of deficit reduction, bolstering the federal budget, bumping up the debt ceiling, or killing jobs with bad legislation, Congress has done everything possible to nurture its economic train wreck.
When the government runs out of money and political support for spending billions to prop up Americans who aren’t making it in this economy, it looks to businesses to pay more in the name of providing opportunity and erasing inequality. Will paying a liberal living wage and giving more paid leave raise the bottom, or just raise the bar on the backs of America’s employers?
The economy category has posts on federal spending, debt and deficit reduction, labor laws and policies, and the tenuous relationship between the government and the businesses who keep Americans employed. We have head less and less about these issues as the country embraces the illusion of an economic recovery and the rhetoric turns to the fundamental struggle between right and left: is the government responsible for making our economic lives better, or is this the job of free market capitalism?
Like many ordinary people there is nothing different or special about me. I’m white. My parents aren’t immigrants. Neither am I. The gender I was born with is the one I’ll stick to. I’m straight. My job does not make me rich but I don’t make minimum wage, either. I work and pay taxes. Since my home is in Illinois that means lots of taxes that are never enough.
Democrats won’t see the humor in a big U.S. auto manufacturer hanging up plans for production in Mexico. They won’t admit that they have already handed us the solution to manufacturers leaving the U.S. for cheap labor elsewhere. Cheap labor is already here. We can thank ridiculous policies that only make sense to those who are too wrapped up in liberal self-indulgence to see the big picture and question its validity.
How does it feel to live your life as the punchline of a bad joke? Working class Americans can answer that. They listen to the same joke and the same promises every four years even though everyone knows the truth: the working class must fail so others can prosper. Success is not part of the future because the failure of lower income workers keeps the left in business.
Every time we choose a new president we decide our nation’s future, or at least that’s what we are told. It’s almost never true. Even the brashest, most out of control presidential act can be stopped dead in its tracks by a simple court decision. Money matters a lot more than who is in charge and in politics that means fighting over debt and spending, a battle with much higher stakes than bickering over who gets to be our national figurehead.
It should not be a shock that President Obama sees workers as a collective instead of individuals pursuing goals and careers. He has a habit of viewing things from the left. Somewhere below his Oval Office perch employees fill slots in an economy he still wants to engineer. This was painfully evident in a talk about skills training at a community college in Michigan.
Show me a country where competition isn’t fueled by greed and I’ll show you a country not worth living in. In America greed makes us great. Just look at the lines at your local convenience store when the lottery jackpot soars. Quick, easy money is an impossible lure. People want to be rich. No matter what values we endorse, deep down we know that rich is great and greed gets us there.
Trying to connect the dots between housing, equality, and success in a way that makes sense is quite a stretch, even for Barack Obama. Our incomes are not secured by our equal protection rights. Neither are our houses, though they had a lot to do with the bad mortgages for unaffordable dreams that helped cause the president’s Great Recession.