• Too loud, too late
    October 07,2013

    A very vocal minority in our country seems to believe that our problems are mostly government and social programs. They scream for “cutting taxes,” “shrinking government” and “cutting spending.” It seems to me that they are far too loud and much too late in their concern.

    These people see the number of Americans who receive benefits from one or more social programs and ask, “How can we continue to support these millions of people?” Shouldn’t the first question be “Why is our economy in such shambles that millions of Americans need help to survive?”

    When I try to answer the latter question, I always end up staring at globalization and the real effects of giving corporations and Wall Street special treatment. Why does Apple rake in billions in profit from sales to Americans, but employ so few Americans? Same for Nike and all the major footwear giants. How often do you call a major corporation’s customer service line and speak to someone in America?

    Why do GE, ExxonMobil and many other corporations often pay zero — zero — in income taxes despite billions in profits? Why do investment managers get to treat most of their income as capital gains and pay a lower rate than police officers or firefighters?

    With ever fewer jobs, lower wages for any new jobs and tax dodging by those who benefit from “offshoring,” exactly what does this vocal minority think the people injured by these phenomena are supposed to do?

    I hear no loud complaints about these things. Nor did I hear them back when financial institutions issued trillions of dollars in “credit default swaps” before the great 2008 meltdown. After all, in 2007, the 25 largest U.S. banks held $14 trillion in credit default swaps — the nation’s gross domestic product was only $13.84 trillion.

    But it’s safer to criticize ordinary people scrambling to get by in our corporatized global world. And easier to memorize (and shout) a few slogans.



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