Tuesday, April 09, 2013

It didn't work...

It is time to declare the Thatcher-Reagan experiment over.  It was a failure.  It didn't  create a better society.  In fact, what has emerged at the end of this forty years of history is an obscene maldistribution of wealth, a new aristocracy, and a general decline in the lot of the poor, the working poor and the middle class.  Our new aristocracy is the nobles of the financial sector, who control the movement of capital in the economy, and take a little bit on everything, despite adding little in value.  The other beneficiaries of the last forty years has been the fossil fuels industry which plans to take the whole planet down with them as the approach the end of the resource that they have been exploiting all along.

Morally decent people everywhere see the individual pieces of this social policy disaster, but are only now connecting all the dots.

What we have experienced was a forty year Thermidor -- a furious counter-revolution to the

progressive vision of a better society which emerged in the early 60's.  Thatcher-Reaganism started out as successful merger of corporate capitalist lobbying with a Nixonian exploitation of cultural resentments, sweeping to power here in the USA in 1980.  Now, it lingers on as desperate manipulation of every anti-democratic gizmo of our system by the GOP's legislative branch to stop, delay, and eviscerate any break with St. Ronald's reactionary legacy.

The institutions of moral decency, especially the churches, have been coopted or silenced or marginalized during the Thatcher-Reagan Thermidor.

Now, the Liberal Church should take up the cause of improving the living standards of ordinary Americans.

1. The minimum wage should be increased.
2. Social Security benefits should be increased, not diminished.
3. The right to unionize needs to be extended and implemented, especially for low wage service workers.
4. Undocumented workers should be mainstreamed into the conventional labor market.
5.  National health care reform needs to be pushed forward -- the expansion of Medicaid in the states, but ultimately a single payer system.
6. We should improve the general standard of living for all by reinvigorating the public sector: better public transportation, better public schools, better libraries, better parks, clean and safe streets, better policing, better criminal justice administration, better mental health services.
7. We should make public investment in energy efficiency in homes, buildings, and energy infrastructure, lowering energy costs for all.

These ideas seem crazy now.  They seem crazy because the Thatcher-Reagan counter-revolution declared them crazy.  They would not have been crazy in 1965, but part of a broad liberal consensus.

We went another way in 1968, and doubled down on that choice in 1980.  At this point, I think we can say that overall, it didn't work out the way that was promised.

Let's face the facts and change.

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