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9 August 2011, 12:00 pm One Comment

Politics: Turning and Turning in the Widening Gyre

Submission by Joseph Varisco, first-time contributor

On Tuesday, 2 August 2011, our representatives — flying under a 61% poor performance rating (Survey of 1,000 Likely Voters June 24-25, 2011 Rasmussen Reports) — put citizens’ futures on the firing line with their tweaking fingers at the trigger. The impacts of the final compromise on the ‘debt-ceiling crisis’ will be run through the usual mill of analysis for the next several months: insiders, political talking heads, and elected officials will point fingers to polarize their bases, but the actual path of their hubris may never be known. The decision is nothing less than acrid. For those individuals already feeling malnourished by our country’s economic state, it offers a daftly inspired mirage which upon approach reveals nothing more than a dysphoric desert reality. It is increasingly evident that the bargains to maintain the promises of American social institutions have ended in a stalemate between those that have and those that have more. Thus, as professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University and New York Times columnist Dr. Paul Krugman forebodes in his article The President Surrenders, “…how can American democracy work if whichever party is most prepared to be ruthless, to threaten the nation’s economic security, gets to dictate policy? And the answer is, maybe it can’t.”

We are more then halfway into 2011. Status update: there are two military conflicts/confrontations/combat operations/squabbles or whatever politically convenient term now defines Iraq and Afghanistan and the most recent short-lived military expedition throwing bombs around Libya aiding the resistance. The country’s unemployment rates hover at 9.1% according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics. Despite the dancing of digits and statistics it is evident that more than one system is failing and we’re still staring in the face of collapsed industry when levels of the long-term unemployed and under-employed near 18.1% (Gallup, 5 August 2011).

Yet the anxiety and concern of the people amidst compounding issues were met with our “Representatives” on Capitol Hill engaging in a staring contest over the past month. The literally last-minute bill ought to cause some consistent feelings of indigestion across the country. It is in the settling of the desert dust that we discover how very few are pleased with the outcome, except for the sterling upper echelons of society, corporate titans, energy giants, Wall Street moguls and the silver-spooned houses of the elected officials themselves – in short, those that set the standards. These standards now include: cuts in emergency unemployment, federal loan availability to students, veteran affairs, environmental protection services, transportation/public works projects and Medicaid. Partisan conflicts t in Washington have become a charade of negotiations between these upper-crusters under the guise of performing what their constituents need. A snapshot of arguments reveals this charade via the exclusion from the bill of closing corporate loopholes and denying an increase of taxes on the wealthiest income earners, just one of the many policy failures reported by Standard & Poor’s as a reason for their lowering of the U.S. credit rating for the first time in 70 years.

While the rest of the Hill pat themselves on the back with boisterous claims about how “the engine still works” even if it is no longer under warranty and has not been serviced for 20 years, the middle class dips further into a double-dip recession. The international communities including the G20 and G7, representing the world’s leading economies amid a European economic breakdown, are showing signs of panic as they rush to discuss emergency response strategies. China, the largest stakeholder in U.S. federal debt and typically resisting commentary, has released public statements criticizing the United State’s recent economic policy, saying America needs to “(c)ure its addiction to debts.”

President Obama addressed the nation the evening of Monday, August 1st prior to the final approval of the Senate on the debt compromise, taking to his familiar one-of-the-people speaking platforms to state, “Is this the deal I would have preferred? No.” Obama continued by saying of the decision that “(i)t ensures also that we will not face this same kind of crisis again in six months, or eight months, or 12 months and it will begin to lift the cloud of debt and the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over our economy.” Perhaps that desert mirage looks better riding high above in a sterling jet while the intrusive truth of time rapidly approaches those left in the sands below. However, it is a virtual guarantee that this topic will be a central campaign issue during the approaching presidential elections, where President Obama may be held accountable to angry citizens with a less hopeful future, not his typical voter base. The President’s words offer little consolation according to the 5 August 2011 U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics report for what the middle class civilian labor force can expect to be an ever tighter squeeze on unemployment and job markets, which leave minorities (approx. 12.6% unemployment), veterans (13.3% unemployment) and an entire generation of college graduates (approx. 6.3% unemployment) locked in a stagnated state of how to manage the daily impacts of debt crises, carrying only an I.O.U. on an expired social promise.

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