Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A star shines at the Daily Kos

It never rains but it pours! Yesterday Barack Obama was in my backyard, today Robert Reich took the time to post as a diarist on the Get Out the Vote thread on the Daily Kos:

Concentrated income and wealth at the top has robbed America’s middle and working classes of the purchasing power they need to keep the economy going. They can no longer make it up by borrowing against their homes. The housing bubble burst, as it inevitably would. That could mean many years of high unemployment and economic insecurity – unless steps are taken to reverse course.

Reforms that would widen the circle of prosperity include exempting the first $20K of income from payroll taxes, and applying the payroll tax to incomes over $250,000. Eliminate income taxes on all family incomes up to $55,000, and make up the shortfall by raising the marginal income tax rate on incomes over $1 million. Provide universal early childhood education and free higher education, repair the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, and give Medicare for all. Finance all of this with a carbon tax and a reduction in military spending.

But none of this is possible in a democracy dominated by a few at the top. The concentrated income and wealth has also concentrated political power. Vast sums of money are being channeled into campaigns. Because of the Supreme Court’s grotesque decision in Citizen’s United vs. the Federal Election Commission, these political payoffs are being made in secret.

And the widespread fear and insecurity felt by average citizens has made them easy prey for demagogues – many of them backed by this money – who seek to direct the anger against government, immigrants, and the poor.

Those demagogues say the choice is between more or less government. The real choice is between the privileged and powerful, and the people.

Progressives know this but at this critical juncture many are opting out.

Why? Because of a tragic asymmetry in American politics. The far right is fueled by cynicism about government. The progressive left is fueled by idealism about government. So when government seems to fail – when a leader like Barack Obama doesn’t accomplish nearly what many of us hoped he would – the deepening cynicism ignites the right, while it disillusions the left.

Yet if we allow our cynicism to drive us out of politics, they win completely.

We are facing a perfect storm of concentrated income and wealth at the top, a torrent of money distorting our politics, and a needy nation that’s become deeply cynical about democracy. If we are to survive the storm, every one of us must redouble our efforts. We must organize, energize, and mobilize: To take back America from the privileged and powerful who are intent on corrupting it and using it as their own; to create a new prosperity that’s widely shared, and a democracy that works for all of us.

The above excerpt demonstrates how Robert Reich's post is of exceptional quality. But even more impressive to me was his willingness to stick around, and participate in the post-post discussion. Here's one of my favorite comments:

The most important thing we can do is keep our sanity and sense of humor, along with our indignation at what is happening to our democracy and economy. We must not allow ourselves to fall into cynicism, nor allow ourselves to become so burnt out and exhausted we have no energy for the long haul. We must be patient, and expect progress to unfold gradually over many years. We should work for our children and their children. Beyond all this, we should frame the large issue properly and cogently (to me, the choice between the privileged and powerful or the people) but also fill in the details with proposals that make common sense. And then we must work to mobilize, organize, and energize. Work at the local level. Link up with other locals. Use the Internet but don't use it as a substitute for person-to-person engagement. Build politics from the bottom, just as we must build the economy from the bottom. And beware of hubris. We don't have all the answers.

No comments: