13 February 2013

Drivel or Republican Vision?

Republicans have been accused of being out of touch with reality, of creating an alternate reality, and of being unaware of real Americans' hardships, and many other epithets, rest assuredly.  While the same can be said about most Americans' awareness of the rest of the world, Americans who on Valentine's day will buy diamonds that were torn from the earth by forced labor (by those whose limbs have been left in tact) and harvested through blood conflicts, Americans who sport clothes with tags that read "Made in Taiwan" or "Made in Vietnam" and are about the most international characteristic of 99% of the population of the entire Midwest, Americans who purchase the latest Apple product with little to no regard for the cheap labor that assembled the machines (or the tricky profit schemes Apple uses to maximize profit), Marco Rubio's response to the State of the Union address did little to dispel the notion that Republicans are quite clueless. 

The blindfold that covers their eyes and allows them to bellow at us with bravado and bluster to of course naturally accept their call for freer markets, lower corporate tax rates, and more growth through larger tax cuts may be rosy-colored but their coffers really see black.  That's the sound of high-financed lobbyists ringing the token bell.

Whether we believe that lower corporate tax rates would mean more money circulated within our shores is second fiddle to the fact that while most Americans have seen little to no growth in their wages, corporations have been raking in record profits.  No matter how the message gets parsed, no matter how many iterations it flows through the resulting whole of a re-explained trickle down economy is still just what it sounds like, voodoo economics.  And no matter what it's called, whether it's referred to euphemistically or boldly cited, or how it's explained, it's still just a mess beyond salvaging because it's a route that doesn't flow through or in this case flow down.  As has become intolerably obvious to most of us, over the last 50 years (it has been that long, just think about Hubert Humphrey's message) the wealth has accumulated at the top and has stayed there.

Any reasonable observer ought to question the central theme of Mr. Rubio's ideological backwash that a freer market would solve the nation's economic questions and put the country on the track of real growth, without regard to the 2-3% growth we've seen over the past few years.

Despite the partisan ballyhoo and sales pitch, a truly free market does not exist, never has, and never will.  Mr. Rubio and his fellow Republicans would never allow the federal government to drop patent laws or intellectual property in favor of open source information or a free flow of ideas.  Instead the government regulates which companies can produce merchandise and who owns those ideas.  Corporations hire patent lawyers en masse to file endless streams of patent claims on things that do not exist and very likely never will if they have their way.  In a free market, there'd be no limitations or sanctimonious attention paid to the protection of ideas that are locked away in aging files by aging filers in aging file cabinets in dusting aged offices.  There would have been no lawsuit between Apple and Samsung over the design and functionality of the Galaxy.

Likewise, in a free market, a company would save money by hiring cheap expendable labor preferably those that heal quickly or are too young to unionize and complain too much.  The perfect employees are those that cannot defend themselves, are nearly illiterate (hence the burgeoning child prostitution rings around the world), and are desperate for work.  A truly free market would indeed be rid of the hurdle of child labor laws or minimum wage mandates.

In a free market a company capitalizes on spending the least amount of money while selling the most merchandize.  Safety within a factory or place of business in a free market takes a back seat.  Witness the Apple plants in China. And heaven forbid were a majority of Americans to visit the sweatshops of Vietnam in places like Hue where the average work day is about 14 hours and the average pay is about 5 USD a week to see where those labels are actually sewn onto the shirts on our backs because then what would obese Americans wear to cover the negligent signs of overexcess?

But then Republicans would have to do away with OSHA, which many probably do want to have away with.  There could be no safety in work-force laws mandated by the government.  The safety of workers would be left to the devices of an amoral free market economy in which, many free market supporters argue, the markets would take care of themselves.  Consumers, that is people who buy the crap that capitalists invest their money in, would buy the products that are created with integrity.  Clearly this is exactly what has happened with De Beers, Nike, Apple, etc.  Instead just the opposite phenomenon has occurred.  Cheaply manufactured and cheaply built products out sell more expensive longer lasting products.  That's the business model of Walmart.  Buy cheap, sell cheap, earn more due to lower wages and planned obsolescence of manufactured goods, which ensures a returning share of buyers.  There are plenty of government regulations protecting Walmart's interest, let's be very clear about that. 

The Republican ideal argument of a free market is as far from reality as what most Americans are watching on their glowing blue-light electronic boxes right now, more than likely since it's a cheaply made programming alternative, known as "reality TV".  A free market would mean that while one car plant is assembling cars with safety belts, another manufacturer could pop up with the same design but sell a cheaper car without safety belts.  For reasons that are obvious to anyone who does not believe TV represents reality, corporations would never allow for a truly free market, likewise nor should we to be sure.  At present most of the corporate, patent, and intellectual property laws protect the massive corporations like GE from smaller ma and pa shops from snatching their ideas and underselling the big guys.

It's a pipe dream that Republicans are selling and they sell it hard because it sounds like they have something to offer, when really it's the same old schmooze and and the same old song just with a very slightly different dance.  In the end it's offering nothing new; it's status quo politics.  Mr. Rubio explained that he'd like to see more money being circulated, more growth through entrepreneurship.   But it's pretty difficult to attain that when most of the money that is supposedly circulating is essentially coagulating at the top in a way eerily reminiscent of the massive floating garbage patch in the Pacific.

To take just a brief sampling of a few occupations in America and their average earnings, look to the government for some interesting statistics.  According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics waiters and waitresses earn a median pay of $18,330 per year or $8.81 per hour.  CEOs and top executives meanwhile earn a median pay of $101,250 per year or $48.68 per hour.  Physicians and surgeons earn $166,400 per year or $80.00 per hour. Of particular interest in our increasingly service-oriented economy, cashiers earn $18,500 per year or about $8.89 per hour.   Quite a few politicians are aghast when workers beg for a higher federally mandated minimum wage.

The question that the information must beg from the incredulous fact checker has to be about who the Republicans are claiming will circulate the money.  Top wage earners have no interest in spreading their wealth amongst the lowest wage earners, that's been made abundantly clear, except in instances when tips are rewarded for servitude provided without overdone sycophancy perhaps; even in those rare circumstances generosity is easier to obtain from the typical RUF soldier than your run-of-the-mill Bob Parsons. 

Naturally we should all look upon the views expressed by Mr. Rubio and Mr. Obama with dubious certainty.  Mr. Obama's credibility has been severely damaged by the drastic overreach of his administration through its ever-expanding use of executive power and privilege.  But for posterity's sake at least his vision includes, even if only in rhetoric, a glimpse of the real plight in America - that of the impoverished and the defenseless.  But overall the messages are lacking of any authentic or compelling sense of urgency or call to action.  Yet, if America can't get some realism out of its elected leaders where will it come from?  There definitely ought to be no lack of clarity in our urgency to lump the Republican vision in with the so called reality of American Housewives Dancing Idol, or whatever new fad counts for "television" today, as dreadfully imperceptive.  I think I'll stick with Downton Abbey for a veritable illusion of reality.

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