"Fiscal Cliff Scare Talk Follows Shock Doctrine Script" is a cross-post from the Campaign for America's Future blog, by Dave Johnson.
Anyone who has read The Shock Doctrine understands exactly what this “Fiscal Cliff” scare is.
If you have already read The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein, you have probably been rolling your eyes at all this “Fiscal Cliff” scare talk. “Here they go again” you’re thinking….If you haven’t read the book, you should. You really, really should.
The Phony ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Scare
At the end of the year the Bush tax cuts expire. When this happens tax rates will rise modestly to where they were when Clinton was president. Also at the end of the year budget “sequestration” occurs. This means that the various cuts Congress approved to end the debt-ceiling “crisis” will begin to phase in. (Remember, the debt-ceiling “crisis” was when Republicans refused to allow the country to honor its debts, holding the economy hostage, unless they got deep budget cuts in the things We the People do for each other.)
That’s it. That’s the “crisis.” All of the people who had been hysterical about the budget deficit “crisis” are now hysterical that taxes will go up and spending will go down. Go figure. Maybe—just maybe—I shouldn’t even say it—these “serious people” weren’t…serious…when they said they were worried about the deficit. You see, the hysteria now is because tax rates at the top will go up (cutting the deficit) and because a big part of those budget cuts (cutting the deficit) is military spending. Unfortunately the sequestration also cuts important things that help a lot of people and our economy. But these cuts do not take place all at once (a “cliff”), they will be phased in over time, and Congress can act at any time to halt any of these cuts.
The “Fiscal Cliff” is not a cliff and the language itself is intended to scare people. The name itself is designed to create panic, evoking disaster imagery of people and the economy falling off a cliff. It is the latest manufactured “crisis” and we are all supposed to be terrified and demand immediate and extreme solutions.
Again, the very people screaming loudest about deficits are the people who passed tax cut after tax cut, and military spending increase after military spending increase and started war after war. Then these same “serious people” terrify the public, telling them that budget deficits will lead to the destruction of the country—and soon. After a decade of screaming “9/11,” “9/11,” noun verb “9/11,” they screamed “deficit, deficit, deficit.” Now they scream, “fiscal cliff, fiscal cliff, fiscal cliff.”
Then after the public is suitably stirred up and terrified, they offer “solutions” they say are necessary to cut the scary deficit (that they caused, for this purpose).
And the fixing all has to happen right now, in the “lame-duck” Congress, before those new legislators We, the People elected can take office.
The ‘Grand Bargain’
The “serious people” are pushing for a “grand bargain” that they say will “solve” the “deficit problem” “once and for all.”
Of course, nothing in any “grand bargain” can bind Congress, and any part of this “grand bargain” can and will be undone by Congress at the earliest opportunity.
The outline of this “bargain” involves “tax reform” and “getting a handle on entitlements.” Tax “reform” does not involve raising tax rates on the wealthy, it “reforms” taxes by getting rid of various deductions and lowering tax rates. “Getting a handle on entitlements” means cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and the rest of the things that We, the People do for each other—the things we are entitled to as citizens in a democracy.
(Note—Social Security by law can not and does not contribute to the deficit—they just threw it in because it is “in crisis.” The Social Security “crisis” is that under certain economic projections its funding might run a bit short many years down the road. Compare this possible future shortfall to the huge, vast, bloated, enormous military budget, which, unlike Social Security, has no separate funding mechanism and runs 100% short every year. But that is not a “crisis.”)
So a fix for a budget problem caused by cutting taxes, massively increasing military spending and crashing the economy will be “solved” by…not fixing those things. Once again the income and wealth of the country will be shifted away from We, the People and upward to the same 1% who have been benefiting from everything in our economy since the election of Ronald Reagan and the disaster-capitalism formula: cut taxes, raise military spending, then use the resulting deficits to scare people into accepting extreme “solutions.” Rinse and repeat.
The Shock Doctrine
The Shock Doctrine is a book by Naomi Klein that describes a “disaster capitalism” strategy used by wealthy and powerful people to take advantage of crises—even causing crises—to herd people into accepting “solutions” to those crises that really just enrich the 1% at the expense of the rest of us.
In times of crisis (real or perceived) the public is in a state of shock, distracted and ready to grasp at straws to get out of the panic. This is the perfect time for “serious people” to come in and offer pre-planned “solutions.” These solutions usually involve privatizing public institutions and wealth, cutting public services, cutting taxes on the rich, seizing property, lowering wages and pensions…well, just look at Europe’s “austerity” and you get the picture.
This shock-doctrine disaster capitalism model has become standard practice. We see this happening over and over again: crises occur or are manufactured, the media whips people into a panic, and then the “solution” is introduced. The solution involves a “reform” that transfers wealth or institutions into a few private hands.
The Real Problem and Real Solution
We have a jobs problem, not a deficit problem. The best way to deal with the deficit is to put Americans back to work. The real job creators are working people with money in their wallets. We can’t cut our way to growth. These are not just slogans, these are solutions to real problems.
We need to invest in our economy, restoring and modernizing our infrastructure, retrofitting our homes and buildings to be more energy efficient, upgrading our public schools and universities and fighting to create the manufacturing ecosystems for the new industries of the future. All of these investments create jobs while they are under way and pay off by improving our economy for the long term.
Inoculate yourself by reading The Shock Doctrine. Inoculate your friends by telling them about the book and how this game works, over and over again.