The headline in today's San Francisco Chronicle says, "Poor, students feel pain in new budget."
The Democratically controlled legislature, lead by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, has passed a new budget which cuts the state's support for poor people, who'll be getting less medical care and welfare support, eliminates services for disabled people, closes down state parks, and increases the cost of tuition for students who want to go to one of the state's public universities.
At the same time, the state will cut its sales tax from 8.25% to 7.25% and drop vehicle licensing fees by almost 50%.
In other words, faced with a budget crisis, the great state of California is going to stick it to the poor, the needy, the sick, the old, and the young who want to get an education, while cutting back two highly regressive taxes--disproportionately benefiting wealthy Californians.
And these are the Democrats!
In Ohio, the Republican governor has produced a two-year budget plan that dramatically changes Medicaid benefits and slashes state support for education and financing for local government. Critics say the Republican plan will lead to lay offs of teachers and cops.
But the governor is proud that his budget keeps in place an $800 million cut in personal income taxes.
From coast to coast, and in the halls of Congress, where President Obama is pleading with the Republicans to consider raising a few taxes on business if he'll make considerable cuts in social programs, America is racing headline the wrong direction.
We are taking a country that is already the most unequal advanced capitalist economy in the world, and making it more unequal.
We are trashing schools, slashing social services--and safeguarding the privileges of the wealthy.
It's worth taking a minute to review the bidding, as they like to say at country clubs where bridge is the game of choice.
How did we get here?
We got here because the super-rich of Wall Street turned the American economy into a casino. With them as the bank. They got to use our money. When the game went well, they got even richer. When the game went belly up, we lost our money--and they got even richer.
Now, in the interest of--well, I'm not too sure what it's in the interest of, actually; maybe in the interest of continuing to play make believe that America is a land without social classes and a country where the game isn't rigged--something, our political leaders seem trapped in brain-lock.
We have huge financial problems, so let's stick it to the poor and the vulnerable, punish our children, who need the best education they can get to have a shot at competing in the global economy, and instead safeguard the interests of the wealthy.
Remind me again: what is it that rich people do for America? Do they actually create jobs? Produce valuable goods and services? Those 11,000 Americans whose combined wealth is greater than the combined wealth of America's poorest 23 million citizens--what do they do that they deserve even more tax breaks?
America has always been the nation on earth that is racing the fastest to get to the future.
Now we're running as fast as we can, in the wrong direction.
I hope we either change direction right now, or else get wherever we're headed soon, so we'll at least have more time to put right all the things we're getting wrong.
All Rights Reserved 2009 (c) Alan Webber, Rules Of Thumb