Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Recovery going according to plan

I am often criticized for making claims like "recovery going according to plan," as if there is a room full of evil, old white men dressed in tailored business suits, sitting around a mahogany table, plotting on how to enrich the 0.01% at the expense of everyone else.

In practice, our political system only responds to the needs of the wealthy, so any concerns of the poor or jobless largely get ignored:

Perhaps the most shocking study the authors cite comes from Martin Gilens, a political scientist at Princeton University. Gilens has been collecting the results of nearly 2,000 survey questions reaching back to the 1980s, looking for evidence that when opinions change, so too does policy. And he found it—but only for the rich. “Most policy changes with majority support didn’t become law,” Hacker and Pierson write. The exception was “when they were supported by those at the top. When the opinions of the poor diverged from those of the well-off, the opinions of the poor ceased to have any apparent influence: If 90 percent of poor Americans supported a policy change, it was no more likely to happen than if 10 percent did. By contrast, when more of the well-off supported a change, it was substantially more likely to happen.”

For example, the fact that there are 3.3 job seekers for every job opening (and the fact that it has been this bad or worse since 2009) is not a problem our political system cares to solve because it does not affect the rich.  Joblessness has been a problem for years; Wall Street didn't have to wait years to get bailed out.  Similarly, the fact that the Great Recession and "recovery" resulted in the replacement of middle class jobs with low income jobs is a good thing to the ruling class, not a bad thing (60% of job losses in the Great Recession were middle class jobs, whereas just 27% of jobs created since the "recovery" started are middle class jobs; 58% of jobs created since the "recovery" are low wage jobs).  This is a great recovery for the rich, but bad for everyone else.

The immigration debate and further exposure of the liberal Democrat myth

Image: Latino protesters against President Obama's immigration policy (source)

I hope to write much more about immigration reform as the debate unfolds.  But the question that progressives conveniently ignore is the question of who undocumented immigrants actually have in their corner.

The myth of the liberal Democrat extends to immigration.  Listen to progressives, and Republicans are cruel xenophobic reactionaries happy to allow businesses to exploit undocumented labor, while Democrats like Obama defend the human rights of the oppressed.  Interesting, then, that, as President, Ronald Reagan signed into law a bill that ultimately provided amnesty to 3 million undocumented immigrants:

Reagan "knew that it was not right for people to be abused," Simpson says. "Anybody who's here illegally is going to be abused in some way, either financially [or] physically. They have no rights."

Reagan said [so] in a televised debate with Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale in 1984.

"I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though sometime back they may have entered illegally," he said.