~ A Mating Dance, But Not For Us

The invitation said eight o’clock, but the doors don’t open until well after ten.  Music and laughter is in full swing.  It wafts out to us as we wait in the rain.  We enter the ballroom, cold and wet, but with our heads held high.  Our designated seats are in a corner far removed from the action on the ballroom floor.  We pretend it doesn’t matter.

Politicians dance by in a blur of colors and lights.  Most are shielded from view by a wall of pundits who feverishly describe the glittering mirrored ball overhead while loudly arguing the merits of various champagnes.  We eagerly watch and wait, but no politician swoops in to court us or lead us onto the dance floor.  The most we get is a cheerful wave from across the room.

We try not to worry about the millions of lost jobs, homes, and financial stability.  But we know our history.  Whenever we citizens aren’t married to a champion or even a helpmate in our government, the burdens of the future falls heaviest on us.  That is that future we fear, yet we are not quitters.

We dutifully attend each election dance.  Dressing in our best party clothes.  Seeking the familiar through our party glasses and taking comfort from its rosy hue.  Ever hopeful of finding that special one.  Ever hopeful that this time our love of country will be reciprocated.  Secretly dreaming of a white knight who will ride in and save us.

Too soon the midnight hour is struck.  The music stops.  The pundits fade away.  For the first time we step onto the dance floor, but it is empty.  No politicians remain.  And the cold reality of our fear slowly seeps into our hearts and heads.

The party is over and we are all alone.

In his recent editorial, The real deal on the debt debate, Joe Scarborough points out that congress isn’t being honest with the American people.  But in his list of truths, Scarborough leaves the biggest, most important point buried in the middle and hardly discussed.  Yet, this one truth is precisely why all the other points exist.  It is the reason why all this dancing is required.  It is why the American people will never win.

Both parties and Obama want to must keep Wall Street happy.

That is what the debit ceiling dance is about.  It is what all our political dances have become.  Efforts to keep Wall Streeters and Corporatist happy.  Of course that is no easy task.  They are a fickle, greedy group with no real loyalties.  Just piles of money to buy political power.  So the Democrats, the Republicans, and the president must ever dance to prove their worth and worthiness.

There is no dancing for us, though.  We stop being viewed as potential mates for either party long ago.  We are now the bait.  We are the red meat being staked out to feed the real mates of our parties and candidates – the Wall Street and Corporatist wolves.  Our current debt ceiling debate is just another mating dance to establish who — which party, what candidates — are best able to serve up their read meat constituents to their hungry wolf contributors.

Our government is dancing for the wolves.  And it is the wolves with whom they go home.

Just read the J.P. Morgan’s Eye on the Market report for July 11, 2011:

profit margins have reached levels not seen in decades

… S&P 500 profit margins increased by ~1.3% from 2000 to 2007.

… reductions in wages and benefits explain the majority of the net improvement in margins.

… US labor compensation is now at a 50-year low relative to both company sales and US GDP(see EoTM April 26, 2011).

labor compensation is now firmly negative in real terms.

If Main Street Consumers were still the critical factor in the American economy and our body politic, how do we explain this transfer of wealth which started well before the recession, well before the crash of the housing market, and well before unemployment reaching 9%? How do we explain that jobs, the life blood of Main Street America, have yet to be addressed in any serious way?  Why do we hold to account greedy labor and union benefits, but not greedy corporatist and greedy financiers?

 … lingering excess labor supply from the recession is one reason, but the 2 billion people in Asia joining the global labor force over the last two decades is another.  … EM [emerging market] wages for production workers remain well below US levels3.   Another factor helping profit margins: increased US imports of intermediate goods from Asia.

A race to the bottom with wages won’t fix this.  The Philippines have only now reached a whopping 5% of US hourly production wages.  We need to create a manufacturing base in the US and develop a plan and an industry to lead us into the future.  But is anyone talking of a plan?

And what about the debt ceiling debate.  Again, according to the J.P. Morgan report, this is ‘what we know for sure about the US Federal debt ceiling debate’:

The government has already run out of money from traditional sources.  

since May 16, 2011, the US Treasury has been raiding the cash, securities and borrowing capacity of government employee retirement and other funds.  

Of $270 billion of such balances which existed in May, around 75% has already been used up.

the present value of unfunded entitlement obligations (e.g., future debt) dwarfs the existing debt.  That’s why there’s so much talk about a deal to stabilize the long term trajectory of the budget deficit.

In whose interest was it to ignore the problem until our government emptied every last bit of taxpayer money out of the coffers.  Could it be the bankers, foreign governments and industries that were fed the 13 – 14 trillion by our government through bailouts and guarantees?  Could it be the military industrial complex, FIRE (finance, insurance and real estate), oil and auto industries who benefit from generous tax breaks, protected status and how we calculate GDP?

Seriously, do you see the American people as the winners here?

And if you are wondering what the J.P. Morgan report predicted for how the debt ceiling dance is going to end?

… We believe that the deal will be composed of 80% spending cuts and 20% revenue/tax increases (rather than 50-50), and will be closer to $2 trillion than $4 trillion. 

Yes, Wall Street and the Corporatist will win again.  They always do.

But when do we stop going to the parties expecting to dance?

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  1. [...] for the fact that 25 million Americans are unemployed or can’t find full time work, real compensation is at a 50 year low, and U.S. homeownership rate fell to the lowest level since [...]

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