Sunday, February 20, 2011


By Ivan G. Goldman

“We’re broke.”

The House speaker says it, the Wisconsin governor says it. In fact, Republicans and their Blue Dog pals use these two words as an excuse for everything from depriving babies of their formula to punishing NPR for occasionally reporting facts. Once they get a slogan working for them, these people stay with it. After all, repeating slogans is so much easier than making sense.

And this time, oddly enough, the slogan is true. Government’s broke, along with at least half our citizens and most of the world. But just how did government get so broke? Well, let’s look at Medicare, for example.

The Republican-Blue Dog Coalition passed a Medicare prescription bill that made it illegal for government purchasing agents to bargain with drug companies. They publish their prices, government pays them. But wait, the same drug companies sell their wares for half-price in Canada and still make a profit. That meant the government must be prevented from making an end-run at the border and re-importing drugs from Canada. So the drug companies that wrote the legislation made that illegal. Their excuse for this was so impossibly stupid I can’t bear to repeat it. Let’s just say it makes sense if you accept the proposition that Canada is an undeveloped country whose products are probably swarming with rat feces.

Some other things that wrecked our finances: Two useless, multi-trillion-dollar wars. In one of them we continue raining billions of dollars on the bandits in the Afghan government and they divvy up the loot with the enemy, so we end up paying both sides. How can anyone as smart as Obama be so frightfully dumb? Meanwhile we keep raising the Pentagon allotment even though we’ve been the only superpower for two decades.

Our pals in Washington cut taxes for super-wealthy folks and made sure they stayed cut, no matter what. At the same time the banks were deregulated and they promptly created packages of worthless mortgages. They managed to sell them by paying off the ratings agencies. When their whole stinking garbage heap collapsed they got away clean. No one went to jail, but millions of homeowners who bought at the wrong time lost their life savings. Because the value of real estate dived, so did property taxes, putting unsustainable strain on local and state governments.

See a pattern? The formula is simple.

1. Perverted thieves pass laws that prevent us from putting locks on the doors.

2. They burglarize us.

3. They complain that “we” are broke.

4. They find patsies that include schoolchildren, disabled people, and organized labor and make them pay the price.

This isn’t Egypt. Not yet. But give the Egyptian demonstrators credit for not only knowing they were getting screwed but also knowing who was screwing them and why they were so broke.

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