Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Neither Party Telling The Truth On The Budget–The Paul Ryan Plan Is Evil

Former Ronald Reagan budget director David Stockman has written a New York Times opinion column that people should read.

(Above–David Stockman)

From this column entitled The Bipartisan March Towards Fiscal Madness—

It is obvious that the nation’s desperate fiscal condition requires higher taxes on the middle class, not just the richest 2 percent. Likewise, entitlement reform requires means-testing the giant Social Security and Medicare programs, not merely squeezing the far smaller safety net in areas like Medicaid and food stamps.Unfortunately, in proposing tax increases only for the very rich, President Obama has denied the first of these fiscal truths, while Representative Paul D. Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, has contradicted the second by putting the entire burden of entitlement reform on the poor. The resulting squabble is not only deepening the fiscal stalemate, but also bringing us dangerously close to class war. This lamentable prospect is deeply grounded in the policy-driven transformation of the economy during recent decades that has shifted income and wealth to the top of the economic ladder. While not the stated objective of policy, this reverse Robin Hood outcome cannot be gainsaid: the share of wealth held by the top 1 percent of households has risen to 35 percent from 21 percent since 1979, while their share of income has more than doubled to around 20 percent….In attacking the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent of taxpayers, the president is only incidentally addressing the deficit. The larger purpose is to assure the vast bulk of Americans left behind that they will be spared higher taxes — even though entitlements make a tax increase unavoidable. Mr. Obama is thus playing the class-war card more aggressively than any Democrat since Franklin D. Roosevelt — surpassing Harry S. Truman or John F. Kennedy when they attacked big business or Lyndon B. Johnson or Jimmy Carter when they posed as champions of the little guy. On the other side, Representative Ryan fails to recognize that we are not in an era of old-time enterprise capitalism in which the gospel of low tax rates and incentives to create wealth might have had relevance. A quasi-bankrupt nation saddled with rampant casino capitalism on Wall Street and a disemboweled, offshored economy on Main Street requires practical and equitable ways to pay its bills…So the Ryan plan worsens our trillion-dollar structural deficit and the Obama plan amounts to small potatoes, at best. Worse, we are about to descend into class war because the Obama plan picks on the rich when it should be pushing tax increases for all, while the Ryan plan attacks the poor when it should be addressing middle-class entitlements and defense.”

Nobody is telling us the truth on any of this stuff. Which makes sense in a way I suppose because the American people don’t want to know the truth on these budget matters.

Beyond President Obama’s lack of candor, one thing we must acknowledge right away is that Representative Paul Ryan’s budget plan is evil.

The Ryan plan is an assault on the poor, and it is an affirmation of a states rights/small federal government viewpoint that has always been the hallmark of the most regressive and narrow political elements in our nation.

You can bet that if we go backwards on our social safety net, we will also go backwards on civil rights, worker’s rights, and all sorts of personal freedoms. The states rights/small federal government view of our nation has always been accompanied with severe restrictions on the liberty of Americans not seen as equal by the political supporters of extreme limited government.

You can care about the budget deficit and still see the Paul Ryan plan for what it is. The Republican idea for our nation is no more than giving money to the few at the expense of the many, and weakening government to the point where the people will have no chance against big wealth. It is an evil plan and we should not be afraid to say so.

Nor should we be afraid to ask Barack Obama and other elected Democrats to tell us the truth.

Most of all, we should not be afraid to ask ourselves and our fellow citizens to do what is required to meet the challenges of the day.

April 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 4 Comments

Regardless Of Massachusetts Outcome, We As Liberals Must Become Harder And More Realistic About What We Are Facing

In the U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts, people are going to have to decide if we are going to live in a nation run by racist Tea Party mobs, or in a country where there is hope for the future and some measure of progress.

I don’t have a vote in Massachusetts.

All I can say is that if we live in a country where populism means the rich get richer and insurance companies dictate public policy, then we must work harder than we’ve been working so far.

Win or lose in Massachusetts, it is clear to me that liberals and progressive need to become harder and tougher people.

Our political fights today are quite often about good and evil and we must be willing to see it as such.

Our political fights have often been about good and evil. Why would it not be so today?

None of this means that we lose who we are.

It is simply clear enough that winning a big national election victory is not nearly all that is required.

We must do more. We need a clear-headed view that bad people do bad things and we have an obligation to try and stop what they are doing.

We have an obligation to make our nation and our world better.

January 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Puritans, King, And This Blogger Agree—Evil Is An Active Force In Life

In his Albion’s Seed–Four British Folkways In America, author David Hackett Fischer writes about five major Puritan doctrines and ideas that were brought to Massachusetts from England in the 17th century.

(Here is information about Puritanism in New England.)

These five were depravity, covenant, election, grace and love.

Here is what Mr. Hackett writes about the idea of “depravity”—

“…depravity…to Calvinists meant the total corruption of “natural man” as a consequence of Adam’s original sin. The Puritans believed that evil was a palpable presence in the world, and that the universe was a a scene of cosmic struggle between darkness and light. They lived in an age of atrocities without equal until the twentieth century. But no evil ever surprised them or threatened to undermine their faith…. They believed as an article of  faith that there was no horror which mortal man was incapable of committing. The dark thread of this doctrine ran through the fabric of New England’s culture for many generations. ”

While I’m not religious, I do suscribe to some of these ideas about so-called depravity. Life is often a battle between good and evil. And there is nothing so horrible that it can’t happen.

Maybe I find agreement because on one side of the family I’m descended from Puritans off the boat in 17th- century Massachusetts. Or maybe it is because I’m an ideologue and can relate to fanatics. Or it could just be that I have lived in our world and these are the conclusions I’ve reached.

Evil is not just about brutal acts in foreign nations. Evil is a relevant term for our leaders lying to get us to declare war on nations that pose no threat to our security. Evil is a relevant term for the willful mismanagement of our economy for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many.      

Martin Luther King saw evil as an active force in the universe. Here is what he said in his great sermon “Unfulfilled Dreams”  

“….. you must face the fact that there is a tension at the heart of the universe between good and evil. It’s there: a tension at the heart of the universe between good and evil. Hinduism refers to this as a struggle between illusion and reality. Platonic philosophy used to refer to it as a tension between body and soul. Zoroastrianism, a religion of old, used to refer to it as a tension between the god of light and the god of darkness. Traditional Judaism and Christianity refer to it as a tension between God and Satan. Whatever you call it, there is a struggle in the universe between good and evil.”

Like Martin Luther King, I’m hopeful that evil can be challenged and, at times, overcome. It is good that while evil is a fact of our existence, so is the ability to fight back with faith, reason, kindness and hard work.

(Please click here for the best Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List on the web. I’ll be updating it with two new titles early in 2009.)

December 24, 2008 Posted by | Books, Colonial America, History | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment