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"A national budget that abandons the Public and the freedoms it gives us is selling America's very soul. Such a budget is the Devil's Budget. It uses numbers for an evil purpose: to rob us of our basic everyday freedom."

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, 08/11/12. (photo: Jason Reed/Reuters)
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, 08/11/12. (photo: Jason Reed/Reuters)

Romney, Ryan and the Devil's Budget

George Lakoff and Glenn W. Smith, Reader Supported News

22 August 12


merica was born with a great soul, a moral view of Democracy in which citizens care about their fellow citizens and join together to take responsibility not just for themselves but for each other, for America as a union, a joint enterprise. The government's job was to carry out that moral vision and to do so it created what we call The Public, the provision of basic protection and empowerment for all.

From the beginning of America, the Public provided roads and bridges, public schools, hospitals, a national bank, a patent office, police, a justice system, public buildings and records, and more. Since then the Public has expanded as public needs have expanded - sewers, clean water, public transportation, public health and disease control, scientific research, the internet, GPS, an energy grid, parks, and much, much more.

The Public provides freedom, the freedom to use what the Public provides to live a decent life and to start businesses. Without the public, there would be no American way of life, no freedom to live a decent life, to run or work in businesses, or work as a public servant. The Public carries out the work of America's soul.

Budgets are moral documents. National, state, and local budgets are commitments about where and how to carry out the work of America's soul, or to abandon it. A national budget that abandons the Public and the freedoms it gives us is selling America's very soul. Such a budget is the Devil's Budget. It uses numbers for an evil purpose: to rob us of our basic everyday freedom.

Who would propose a Devil's budget, and why?

First, why? A significant number of Americans do not share America's founding moral vision. They have a different one. Democracy in America provides the liberty to seek one's own interests and well-being, without being responsible for the interests or well-being of anyone else. It's a morality of personal, but not social, responsibility. The only freedom you should have is what you can provide for yourself, not what the Public provides for you to start out. America's soul, the provisions that represent citizens' moral commitment to each other, would be no more. Those who have this different moral sense will want a Devil's Budget. Let's call them extreme conservatives, who see the conservative moral vision as their highest priority.

Second, who would propose a Devil's Budget? Paul Ryan. Who wants to put it in effect? Mitt Romney.

The Devil is seductive. He is handsome, strong, charming, sincere, engages you in gentlemanly and respectful debate. He says he is on your side, that you are in a crisis. He offers to solve your crisis and makes it sound good. You too can be in the top 1 percent, part of the group with 40 percent of the wealth. He offers you freedom, freedom from dependency on The Public, freedom to care only for yourself, liberty from your fellow citizens caring for you, providing a starting point, freedom from you paying for anyone else.

The Romney-Ryan Budget is a Devil's budget. It guts The Public, America's soul - The American Way of Life that we provide for each other.

A standard American budget has a way to deal with economic problems. First, extremely wealthy Americans whose wealth has depended on The Public's provisions should pay a fair share to restore and maintain the Public. Second, the Public should invest in the American economy by putting people to work rebuilding our infrastructure, educating our young, doing research for innovation, providing better forms of energy - in short, restoring as many as possible of the freedoms that people need to live and make a living.

The money is there. America is richer than she has ever been. But much of America's wealth has been transferred from those whose labor secured it to wealthy investors and corporate managers. A sufficient portion of that wealth needs to be used by The Public for investments in our future, not drained from The Public when it is needed most. A standard budget would restore and maintain America's soul. But that is not what the Devil's Budget would do.

What Evil - with a capital "E" - would a Devil's Budget do? So far Democrats have been pointing to its cruelty: its horrific effects on individuals - death, illness, suffering, greater poverty, and loss of opportunity, productive lives, and money. All true and more. But there is a larger and worse overall Evil, one that deserves the capital "E."

America's soul resides in our relation to one another, the way citizens have from the beginning joined together to form a government whose mission is to protect and empower everyone equally, and to use that government for the sake of The Public, the system that provides the basic means for our freedom to live decent lives and pursue happiness of all kinds, whether it comes from wealth or making music, or becoming a doctor, a scientist, a businessman, an athlete, a teacher, or whatever you find fulfilling. The Public is what unites us in a common enterprise, and the destruction of The Public is a destruction of the bonds that hold us together.

The destruction of those bonds creates Evil with a big E because it institutionalizes the you're-on-your-own view of democracy, democracy as providing the "liberty" to pursue your own interests with no responsibility for the interests or well-being of others. It enshrines greed, selfishness, and dog-eat-dog competition as the governing principle of American life. The intentional severing of our human bonds is the big Evil.

Whatever callously divides communities into sets of disconnected individuals and tries to hide or erase our interdependent humanity, that is what human cultural, religious, literary and folktale traditions have long labelled Evil. We think the Devil's Budget has earned its name.

Those who advocate for such a budget may not be individually evil. That is an independent issue. Demonizing others is its own kind of evil, and we do not apply the name to Romney, Ryan or others. Perhaps many who advocate a Devil's Budget know not what they do.

The big Evil is even bigger than you might think, because it is hard or virtually impossible to reverse once it has gone on for a while.

Let's take "a while" to be until 2050. Derek Thompson, in on March 21, 2012, surveyed The Congressional Budget Office's projection of the Ryan budget estimates to 2050. Defense spending would be kept relatively constant, while what the government has left would be "0.75 percent of GDP - about 100 billion for everything besides defense that the government does." That's what is devoted to education and vocational training now. Suppose that was kept.

"It would leave nothing for infrastructure. Nothing for unemployment insurance. Nothing for food stamps. Nothing for border patrol. Nothing for the FDA, FAA, or FBI. Nothing for research and development. Nothing, even, to pay people to work in government! Do you think it's important to support our veterans with health care, education, and retirement security? Sorry. Veterans programs currently cost more than 1% of our GDP. There would be no room."

The Congressional Budget office estimates that Ryan's "long-term budget, if you project forward defense spending, would cut 91 percent from these and all other non-defense programs. Ninety-one percent." That's 91 percent of The Public gone: Medical and scientific research. Pell grants. The EPA. The NIH. NPR. The small business administration. Unemployment insurance. Regulation of corporations. Money to help state and local governments. Highway repair. Air traffic controllers. And all government employees doing everything The Public does.

This work is done by institutions that have been built up over a long time, with people who have learned to do their jobs over a long time. You don't just get the institutions back after you destroy them. They are gone. If they are replaced, they will be privatized - run for corporate profit, not for public benefit. You will pay through the nose for what you need, if you can get it at all.

The destruction of The Public is not reversible. It would be the death of the very idea of America. Here's what it would mean.

Even more, a lot more, of the nation's wealth than the current 40 percent going to the top 1 percent. Poverty up. Opportunity gone. No way for the poor and middle class to get a college education, and maybe not even a decent K - 12 education, and certainly not public pre-schools. As unemployment rises, competition for jobs gets greater, and so wages get even lower and pensions and health benefits disappear. As the public control of the airwaves disappears with the FCC, the corporate control of news rises, and objectivity of reporting gets much lower. Freedom of the press becomes meaningless. When the military controls almost all of the budget, it gets immensely strong in society, threatening civilian control of the military. When the EPA and FDA disappear, say goodbye to clean air, clean water, and safe food. Wilderness in the National Parks will not exist: it will be destroyed in the race to get at our natural resources - wood, minerals, oil and gas.

Along the way, there will be all the cruelty that Democrats are now warning against - the elderly, children, and the poor going without medical care, and so suffering and dying. The unemployed losing their homes. Our young people unable to get the education what would give the freedom to "pursue happiness" - and thus being forced into lives the keep them from being fulfilled. And much more.

In the outrage over Rep. Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" statement, the role of the Devil's Budget is getting drowned out. Rep. Akin, together with Rep. Paul Ryan, has supported kinds of budgetary legislation that would eliminate funding not only for abortion, but also for family planning, birth control, sex education, including in that legislation a provision that would define a fertilized egg as a legal person, and thus define abortion as murder. In some circumstances, even miscarriages might be viewed as crimes. It is an attempt to use budgets to exert male control over women's bodily freedom, in some cases over her very life, and over a family's freedom to decide on how many, if any, children to have.

The budget is not just an economic document. It does not just reflect an economic theory about deficits or jobs or building the economy. It is a moral document and it can be so Evil as to kill the heart of America.

America would no longer be America. Humpty Dumpty cannot be put back together again, because all the pieces will either be destroyed or owned by corporations with most of the wealth generated going to wealthy investors and corporate managers.

That is Evil with a capital E. That is what the Devil's Budget is about.

The biggest lie is that there is, or should be, no Public. The biggest lie is that Democracy is about personal freedom alone, about the "liberty" to seek your own interests with no responsibility for the interests or well-being of your fellow citizens. The biggest lie is a moral lie. If believed and carried to the conclusion defined by a Devil's Budget, it means Evil with a capital E and the loss of the American soul.

The idea of American Individualism is a moral lie. There can be no Individualism without The Public. Individualism can only begin where The Public leaves off. Individualism begins after the roads are built, after individualists have had an education, after medical research has cured their diseases, after the individualists have received from The Public land grants, grazing, water, and mineral leases, oil and agriculture subsidies, after they have received crucial patents.

Are individualists willful liars? We doubt it. To lie, you have to know that you are lying and intending to deceive. We take most individualists at their word, that they really do believe that they did everything without help from The Public. They believe it so strongly that they can't even see the hand of The Public in their success. And there is a reason for this blindness that follows from the way brains work.

You think with your brain; all thoughts are physical, a matter of the activation of brain circuits called "frames." Everything you understand uses frame-circuits that structure how you think. Without the right frame-circuits, there are facts you just will not be able to make sense of. The frames come in hierarchies, with moral frames at the top. With an extreme conservative morality, you will have an Individualism frame governing your political and economic frames. The fact that real individual achievements depend on what The Public provides to give them their start and help them along will not be comprehensible to extreme conservatives. Why? Because they do not have the American moral frame that requires both personal and social responsibility; the conservative moral frame has only personal responsibility, and the closest thing to social responsibility is imposing personal responsibility alone maximally in every area of life. This requires eliminating as much as possible of The Public. The mechanism for this is the Devil's Budget.

Paul Ryan is a personable individualist and extreme conservative. And he is smart - seen as an intellectual by his conservative colleagues because has mastered budget policy enough to construct a Devil's Budget with all the right numbers. Not the right numbers to eliminate the deficit, as Paul Krugman has observed. But the right numbers to eliminate The Public, which is the real conservative goal.

Mitt Romney knows about Devil's Budgets from Bain Capital, whose goal was to make as much money as possible for investors and major management by squeezing human values out of businesses: treating employees as resources for profit, maximizing profits by outsourcing, minimizing skill levels, eliminating unions, ending pensions, seeking tax loopholes, moving profits to tax havens, eliminating factories and firing employees, moving jobs abroad, devastating communities - whatever was necessary to maximize profits for Romney and other managers and investors. Liberty for Romney has meant applying Devil's Budgets in corporate life. The Romney-Ryan ticket is ideal for destroying the American ideal of The Public and the freedom that it provides for all of us.

In what was perhaps the first statement of the morality that lit the Soul of America, John Winthrop told his fellow passengers on the New World-bound Arbella in 1630:

...that every man might have need of others, and from hence they might be all knit more nearly together in the bonds of brotherly affection. From hence it appears plainly that no man is made more honorable than another or more wealthy etc., out of any particular and singular respect to himself...

This is the morality that informs the Declaration and the Constitution. It is the morality that led to emancipation, to universal suffrage, to the New Deal and the Great Society, and Franklin Roosevelt's Four Freedoms - freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear - with the recognition that we are all in this democratic experiment together. It is what, from the beginning, has informed the formation of The Public. It is that sense of morality that we must maintain.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+49 # Barbara K 2012-08-22 13:36
There is no cure for Stupid, but we can vote them out of office. Their only goal is to make themselves richer and holders of all power over us. We cannot give that to these devils. Get out and fight for our rights while we still can.

DON'T VOTE Rethug/Tbagger at any level, so we can get several states cleaned out too.

DO VOTE, don't ever set out another election and let this happen to us again. Vote straight Democrat to be sure you're not getting a Tbagger in there, and be sure you are voting REAL Democrats.
+5 # Observer 47 2012-08-22 17:13
Would that be "REAL" Democrats like Bill Clinton, who abolished Glass-Steagall? Or "REAL" Democrats like Barack Obama, who escalated the war in Afghanistan, broke his promise to veto NDAA, made a back-room deal with insurance companies to abandon single-payer, and has pretty much continued all the horrendous Bush policies?? THOSE Democrats? I can count the number of Democrats who publicly stand up for the citizens of this country on one hand, and they're all Progressives. The rest of the party are bought and paid for, same as the Rethugs. Voting a straight DemocratIC ticket isn't the answer, because it will only result in more of the same debacle we've had since 2000. Unless we as a nation support independent candidates who are NOT bought and paid for; unless we the sheeple insist on choices besides the six-of-one, half-dozen-of-t he-other Dems and Repugs, we're doomed. Get over the blind loyalty to the Dems, Barbara, because it represents a big part of the problem we're facing in this country today.
+15 # Ray Kondrasuk 2012-08-22 20:34

True, Clinton did sign the FSMA in 1999. But it was Texas Senator Phil Gramm (R) who engineered the Financial service Modernization Act which repealed Glass-Steagall; in his "honor" the FSMA is also known as the Gramm-Leach-Bli ley Act.

Please note that the congressional record shows that the FSMA was laid on Clinton's desk with enough bi-partison votes to dissuade the president from vetoing it
-10 # hwbatt 2012-08-22 14:18
It's like Margaret Thatcher purportedly said: "There is no such thing as society."
+2 # Mrcead 2012-08-23 06:48
Oh, if you believe she truly believed that, you are sadly mistaken. She hated what her society had become according to the values of her social group, else why all the fuss about becoming PM?
+55 # Lisa Moskow 2012-08-22 14:28
Thank you George and Glenn.

Romney/Ryan has got to be the worst Repub. ticket I have seen in my lifetime.
+20 # Jorge 2012-08-22 17:28
Yes, they are the worst. It is sad to have two classic Sociopaths on the GOP ticket. They have no redeeming qualities.
It would be useful for Lakoff and Smith to use the "S" word (Sociopath) so that the public can lower their expectations of any good from vultures like Robdme and Eddie Munster.
Also, reportedly top officials in Russia are predicting the breakup of the United States, similar to the breakup of the Soviet Union. The Ryan budget would lead to the end of the Public/Democrac y in America and thus allow the dissolution into feudal states predicted by the Russians.
+17 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-08-22 17:47
Bush/Cheney wasn't that glorious, you know, & it set things up for these slimers.
+20 # doneasley 2012-08-23 00:05
Quoting Lisa Moskow:
... Romney/Ryan has got to be the worst Repub. ticket I have seen in my lifetime.

I can second you on that, Lisa. I'm 78 years old and have never seen anything like this GOP ticket. The Regressives used to hide their agenda and achieve their goals quietly. For example, George Bush was busy funneling barrel loads of money to the rich while the GOP opposed any Dem attempt to raise taxes as "Class Warfare" or "Redistribution of Wealth". But the 2010 election gave them control of the House and a great number of state houses and legislatures. They don't control the Senate, but the stupid filibuster gives them the power to stop any legislation that Harry Reid and the Dems propose. So now they are more overt with their agenda. Dems screamed about the Ryan budget as Romney and the GOP embraced it. But the selection of Ryan as VP in waiting has put the hot spotlight on his House career, and it turns out that Lyin' Ryan has been one of the worst Right Wing crazies in the House. And now Romney - who had only looked at the Ryan budget and believed all the glowing reports, ignoring his career - has to live with him.

Anyone who votes for this ticket has to have ROCKS IN THEIR HEAD!!
+48 # Susan1989 2012-08-22 14:51
I have felt this was happening for a very long time...and now it is here. Most people are in denial as were the Jews before they were marched into train cars to be taken to the camps. We want to belikeve the worst is not true. These men and their ilk want to brea the backs of women...and anyone else in their way.
+13 # James Marcus 2012-08-22 14:57
The Devil, is now everywhere in this land, and Planet! Both Parties (go ahead. choose if you like. There is nary a meaningful difference)
We have become 'Planet of The Apes', like it or not!
+31 # jwb110 2012-08-22 15:02
Romney and Ryan, a real Axis of Evil.
-69 # Robt Eagle 2012-08-22 15:17
This is very sad. Comparing Ryan and Romney to the devil...come on, this is politics, not evil. Social welfare only works if those who need help get it when they need it, not for everything. There are so many entitlement programs and freebies that the system in America is causing it to self destruct, and the leader is Obama. Obama is doing everything in his power to cause a rift between those who have and those who do nothing, but believe they deserve something for just existing in America. It is time for personal responsibility. If you were assigned someone who was destitute and every Friday they showed up at your home or office for their welfare check, how long would it be before you refused to give them anything? Well taxes are like that, except the bum doesn't show up at your door on Fridays, it comes out of your pay check! How about instead of giving it away, they had to do something to earn what they think they deserve? Oh, no, Obama recently changed the rules that Clinton put in place and now you don't even need to be looking for a job to get your welfare. Frankly, I'm scared to death of all the give aways and programs out there that are unsustainable. Social morality? How about giving to charity, it is optional and up to the n't tax us to give to the poor.
+43 # suzyskier 2012-08-22 16:13
You are in denial. You hate Obama that is a frequent refrain from you. These people or the majority of the down and out would love to have a good paying job or some training for one, however all you republicans do is point a finger at them and make them feel ashamed because they are down on their luck, due in many cases through no fault of their own. Of course it is people like Romney who send the jobs these people could do to China. Tell me where are they supposed to go to get work? Maybe they lost their house or live in their car. You seem to lack compassion for folks who have very little without bothering to find out why. No body would choose to live like that unless perhaps they have mental health problems and a lot of them do.
+15 # doneasley 2012-08-23 00:34
Quoting suzyskier:
You are in denial. You hate Obama that is a frequent refrain from you... No body would choose to live like that unless perhaps they have mental health problems and a lot of them do.

Suzy, you're missing Eagle's point. He has thrown ALL OF US, the 99% - not just the poor - into his "Do Nothing" bucket, because he includes ALL social programs, even the ones that we pay for our entire working lives. He's either one of the rich who would benefit from a Romoney/Ryan ticket (Capital Gains taxes go to 0%), or he hates that BLACK MAN in the WHITE HOUSE so much that he's willing to vote against his own well-being.

Don't they call that being BRAINWASHED???
+20 # suzyskier 2012-08-22 16:16
I forgot to say that I wish more people would have access to this article, Americans need to read this. Hopefully this article will get picked up and printed by lots of the press (though not sure if that happens much anymore unless right wing) Anyways thank you so much for writing this, it is excellent.
-3 # Cdesignpdx 2012-08-22 23:22
Quoting suzyskier:
I forgot to say that I wish more people would have access to this article, Americans need to read this. Hopefully this article will get picked up and printed by lots of the press (though not sure if that happens much anymore unless right wing) Anyways thank you so much for writing this, it is excellent.

Ski. It is the only fun you'll have going downhill!
+16 # Elroys 2012-08-22 22:53
Let's see, now - who's got their hands in, and all over the cookie jar? If you think it's the poor, time to wake up. Shall we start with the oil industry, with over $200 billion per year in total subsidies? Shall we start with big Pharma who's deal Bush signed in 2003 has caused trillions of $ in unfunded liabilities in a few short year - the same folks who told our government that we, the people will not be allowed to negotiate prices fr a better deal in the U.S. while then negotiating with foreign countries for a better deal for the? How about the military-indust rial-congressio nal complex, that wastes more billions each yea than we can count.
The garbage you are spewing is just that - garbage. Shame on you.
+5 # jcdav 2012-08-23 20:20
Brainwashing and ignorance "work".

Have YOU ever given (or gotten) a hand up?
Or perhaps you are more of a slap down chap.
the Ryan budget is likely your cup of tea..should you be wealthy you will be more so...if you are not you will be hungry....and desperate.... and angry...and hopefully, armed....

Did you go to school? do you drive on public roads? Are you totally responsible for supplying these things on your own? I rather doubt it.

We have as a nation been in this situation before (1930's) austerity did not work (Hoover, early FDR). We borrowed and spent on infrastructure. ..we invested in the $ flowed we paid down the debt the 1950's and 1960's the middle class grew, the country prospered....UN IONS got living wages for workers (RR busted them and the benes declined) There were banking laws that protected investors (Clinton nixed these).. THE 1% were taxed @ 90% did this stunt our growth - I don't think so!
Keep squeezing the remains of the middle class and below---the resulting shit storm will clear the air.
-33 # MidwestTom 2012-08-22 15:21
The deeper in debt we go to supply benefits, the more power and wealth we hand to the bankers. Stop the wRS, INCREASE THE TAXES ON EVERYONE, AND CUT DOWN THE UNEARNED BENEFITS., AND WE WILL at least start to balancer the ship of state. To stop the wars we must eliminate all persons holding dual citizenship from the Federal government.
-48 # rmccormack 2012-08-22 15:23
The writer has it backwards - the government did not "create the Public" - We, the People, created the government, and We, the People, gave the federal government certain enumerated (and limited) powers that were not specifically reserved to the states (or to We, the People). The government is here to serve We, the People, not the other way around. And We, the People are a bit tired of the government overspending We, the People into bankruptcy. Wise up, you folks on the left simply don't get it - We, the People are going broke, just like the EU and for the same damned reasons - the government has become way too big, way too bloated and it is increasingly unresponsive to the will of We, the People. So We, the People are going to take back the reins and impose fiscal responsibility on those who care so little about We, the People going bankrupt because they are spending someone else's money. Got it?
+2 # fliteshare 2012-08-23 00:29
Having a PRIVATE central bank (Federal Reserve) is the fiscal problem.
All other "overspending" issues are puny in comparison. Much akin to emptying beer bottles from the bar into the ocean, because the Titanic is taking on too much water. It will not change the inevitable.
+17 # doneasley 2012-08-23 00:42
I certainly didn't hear any of this, McCormack, when Bush/Cheney (Deficits don't matter) spent us into a near depression, adding $5 TRILLION to the National Debt. Where were WE THE PEOPLE then?
-13 # Kiwikid 2012-08-22 15:39
Superbly stated!
+15 # Kiwikid 2012-08-22 20:24
12 red thumbs down? This is a peculiar thing - I was referring to the Lakoff/Smith article, not the comments by rmccormack which had not appeared when I wrote. Lakoff and Smith have summed up the issues beautifully - this article deserves a wider readership
+32 # Inspired Citizen 2012-08-22 15:52
"Let's call them extreme conservatives, who see the conservative moral vision as their highest priority."

No; let's call them what they actually are: reactionaries. Reactionaries led by the likes of Glenn Beck, Micheal Savage, Sean Hannity ad Rush Limbaugh.
+12 # Tigre1 2012-08-22 20:29
CONFEDERATES... not conservatives at all. Very close to proto-nazis, well on the way...
+25 # JetpackAngel 2012-08-22 16:19
They're so bad I can't help wondering how anybody is actually taking them seriously. I mean, really, how does any sentient being not born with a silver spoon in their mouth think these psychos have their best interests at heart? No wonder they keep cutting spending for mental health: they don't want anybody to be able to diagnose their most prominent sociopaths.
-23 # MidwestTom 2012-08-22 16:26
I recently visited the home of some local Chinese restaurant workers, who have been here about 18 months. The house was in a suburban neighborhood, neat and clean inside and out. These people work for minimum wage, save all that they can and have three or four family units in the house. These people are not on welfare, they share two cars, and they walk to stores that are about one mile away.

Meanwhile at WalMart you see about half of the customers paying with their Red Whit and Blu card, while there are hiring signs visible at many business, admittedly probably minimum wage and close to it. There is a big adjustment coming.
+14 # Tigre1 2012-08-22 20:33
Dear probably don't know these local Chinese restaurant workers...quite often there is a neighborhood or tong or clan association...t hat collects a percentage of everybody's pay...sometimes how it works is people present every so often at a meeting a project, an idea for a business, or buying cars, etc...the group votes/decides.. .and the COMMUNITY which is all for one and sometimes one for all...fills in where American community has been split apart by our cruel conservative slavery culture...those folks don't leave their members to float or sink on their own. YOU DO.
+10 # DPM 2012-08-22 20:50
I agree! I want my grandchildren to aspire to a Walmart, or other minimum wage job, so they can live several families at a time in one house.
What about those 10's of thousands of highly educated people that can no longer get anything but a minimum wage job? That have lost everything? Where are the jobs for those people? Neither the Republicans or Democrats have any plans to put this country back the way it was. Only to take power with the money and corruption of those on top. MT. I am compassionate enough to hope that you don't fall on hard times, in the future. You shouldn't expect any help from business or your government to get back up. Good luck.
+5 # Ray Kondrasuk 2012-08-22 20:20
As commentator Gar Alperovitz has offered...there is a two=part question to be addressed to those who feel no obligation to the Public:

When was the last time you made something completely by yourself... using tools you made completely by yourself?
+1 # DPM 2012-08-22 20:41
Well...o.k. But, will we get to keep our guns?
+15 # Art947 2012-08-22 21:50
It is interesting that the biggest "sponges" on the American taxpayers are those who live and govern from the "red" states of America. Where would Arizona be if the dams of the Colorado River were not built (by federal dollars during the Great Depression")? Where would Mitch "the Traitor" McConnell and Kentucky be today without the TVA and the cheap power that it provided? (NOTE: Kentuckians receive more in tax dollars than they pay each year!) Where would FLoridians be if Social Security didn't provide the cushion for the retirees to live on? There are hundreds of examples that clearly demonstrate that Americans are selfish bastards when it comes to the use of Federal dollars. They want to make sure that their needs are taken care of, while denying the same to others. What a pathetic bunch of ingrates!
+5 # tomo 2012-08-23 00:30
We can decide, if we want, to stop funding infrastructure. We seem well on the way to letting the bridges decay, to using the cross-my-finger s-and-hope approach regarding our levies, to dismissing teachers, firemen, nurses, and police as so many "special interests," and to economize on those who would regulate our financial industry by letting our bankers engage in "voluntary compliance" to the rules of arithmetic and ethics. What I'm suggesting is that "Devils" would not much matter if there weren't so many devil-worshiper s. Lakoff and Smith have found the enemy--and it is us.
+1 # Wyntergreen 2012-08-23 07:10
Republican = Punk-ass Chump.
+4 # 666 2012-08-23 08:09
Sorry George, you've missed the point when you make this out to be a confrontation between the social contract and Malthusian/Darw inian capitalist individualism. ("It's a morality of personal, but not social, responsibility."}

You've gotten lost in your own framing analysis. The GOP (and dem shills) might SAY it's about individualism, but their ACTIONS demonstrate their absolute advocacy of inverted collectivism / fascism / totalitarianism . For example, they've done everything possible to keep govt handouts coming to the rich while saddling the middle & lower classes with cost of doing so.

It's been clear since the 1st half of the 20th century that the ONLY real political conflict in this world is between inverted socialism (totalitarianis m) and true socialism. The idea that individuals can someone exist without society is just a way to fragment society for its ultimate assimilation.

Have the balls to call these TRAITORS what they really are "EVIL" - pure and simple. Bring back ostracism: send these F-ers to North Korea where they belong.

We've got, at best, another decade before this country is unrecognizable. The fascists & their enablers control virtually every aspect of our society.

You are absolutely right that any possible reversal of this evil "morality" will take generations. In fact, it's probably too late already & it may take centuries if the human race lasts that long, yet that itself is doubtful.
+3 # tomo 2012-08-23 13:29
I have a lot of sympathy for your comments, 666. Some of it may be just rhetorical, but between the lines I hear you calling on us to bring back the shame principle. The notion that political correctness somehow must restrain us from ever calling particular people to account is a dreadful and crippling principle. Somehow we prefer decrying "situations"--w hat I guess I am doing right now; but we consider it somehow naive to say "Timothy Geithner should never have granted no-strings-atta ched loans to malefactors of great wealth," or "Lloyd Blankfein is a thief," or "Ken Salazar should never have gotten into bed with the mining and oil industries," or "Diane Feinstein is lying when she says she had no idea W would use her vote as an excuse to invade Iraq." If we have not the courage to say such things then we deserve the murky atmosphere that is becoming all-pervasive.
+6 # D12345 2012-08-23 14:10
I understand the need to reframe the debate. But the abstract romanticism of the authors is unconvincing. "America was born with a great soul." ???

America was born first and foremost through amoral genocide; a genocide which continued for centuries. America's wealth was built on slavery on a massive scale.

Within 20 years of the war which ended slavery, the former slaves were returned to a condition very close to slavery, which exists to this day for an appalling number of people.
(see American prison system, and "Slavery by another name."_

America is the dominant imperial power in the world. (regardless of which of these 2 supposed world views is in power) There is not a single democratic government in the history of the 3rd world which has not been undermined and/or overthrown by the US.

The authors seem to think this is some sort of soul debate.

For the most part, it is the story of an upper class which will stop at nothing to enrich this class at the expense of everyone else, and the struggle of workers to resist this.

At the moment in the US...the thin upper crust is emboldened to levels not seen for many years. And the rest of the citizenry fragmented and largely demoralized.
The permanent government of the big banks, oil companies etc carry on no matter who wins.

It's not pretty

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