2.05.2009

An economic holocaust

Last night, NBC Nightly News was reporting on the pushback of the digital-switchover deadline. As Brian Williams explained how millions of the elderly and the poor will be affected by the switchover, a Republican senator (I didn’t get his name) said in a soundbite, “Republicans are anxious for the digital service to begin.”

In almost every complaint about aspects of Obama’s recovery plan – aka stimulus package – Republican leaders and conservative voices have been critical of any program aimed at aiding the elderly, the poor and the disappearing middle class.

That the Republican Party, collectively, is insensitive to the needs of these Americans has become clear over the last eight years.

I caught Bill Press on MSNBC’s “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue” (LINK) Monday night, along with his old sidekick Pat Buchanan. Press, a nationally syndicated radio talk show host and author of “Train Wreck: The End of the Conservative Revolution (and Not a Moment Too Soon),” is one of the most level-headed and calm analysts on cable news.

After listening to a soundbite of Sen. Mitch McConnell, senate minority leader, blasting Obama’s plan, Press had this to say:

“I didn‘t hear Mitch McConnell complaining when they spent $700 billion to bail out Wall Street. But, now we‘re talking about $825 billion, maybe, to bail out Main Street. Suddenly, they‘ve gotten religion about spending?”

In this simple statement, Press summed up the six years when Republicans controlled the executive and legislative branches of our government.

Throughout those years, this deadly duo worked in tandem to fatten the golden corporate calf and, in so doing, cut back on programs affecting both the environment and the lives of middle- and lower-class Americans.

A second report on NBC Nightly News could not have been more symbolic of where this country finds itself today. I don’t know about you, but this one jarred me. This believer that personal possessions have sentimal value just sat down and cried. The report:

There is a growing industry in this country - buzzards, if you will, who are hired to swoop into foreclosed homes and remove all personal belonging left by evicted homeowners – as swiftly as possible. These items include everything from refrigerators and furniture to photo albums. According to the NBC report, a small percentage of this bounty is given to charities, while the bulk of it is deposited in dumps.

That a family is forced to leave everything behind because it either has no place to move personal possessions or doesn’t have the money to transport them – only to have them end up in a landfill – is simply not American.

According to RealtyTrac.com, which keeps up with such statistics, 3.1 million households submitted foreclosure filings in 2008, or one in every 54 households. Of these, 861,664 were foreclosed upon during the year.

In December, the U.S. unemployment rate was at 7.2 percent. (My state of South Carolina leads the nation with 9.5 percent. Local news reports people are lining up here to sell their plasma. What say you, senators Lindsey O. Graham and Jim DeMint?) Gallup’s models (LINK) suggest Friday’s unemployment figures will be “dismal” and will exceed the expected 7.5 percent for January.

Are you numb yet?

Far too often such statistics are dehumanizing. The people these figures represent are out there. They exist. They are losing their homes. They are unable to buy ample food. They cannot afford soaring energy costs. Too many have frozen to death this winter. In America.

I keep visualizing a scene from my favorite movie, “Doctor Zhivago,” where Zhivago’s communist half-brother watches in the shadows as the doctor breaks up a fence, stealing firewood to warm his family.

We cannot let this country slip into an economic holocaust where forgotten people die from apathy.

Not while we can still do something about it.

3 comments:

Papamoka said...

I love that quote by Press! Great post BJ and I have to agree with your sentiment. President Obama has to steer this ship out of the troubled waters but it seems our friends on the right side of the aisle are tossing the deck chairs and everything else into the water. Fellow passengers included.

airth10 said...

Remember when Cheney said that Reagan proved that deficits don't matter. He said that as Bush&Co. was starting to run up the greatest deficits America had ever seen. Republicans thought that with deficits they could in time, and with a populous backlash, starve government of funds, therefore diminishing government's size, as Republicans hoped.

Remember when Clinton raised taxes in his first term and Republican screamed that it would hurt the economy. But it didn't. In fact the economy grew amazing well.

The point is that all Republicans seem to do is just spin their wheels and get nowhere, except into brick walls.

Frodo Carryingwaterforthebigguy said...

Our young President has already admitted to the fact that he has trouble sleeping, because he is worried about how the economy is affecting so many of his fellow Americans. We have a really smart guy up there on Pennsylvania Avenue, and not unlike his predecessors named Lincoln and Roosevelt, he has a superhuman challenge before him. He took it on, not because it was going to be easy, but because he knew it would be hard.
Frodo knows that people are suffering, and that it can indeed get even much worse. It is important to remember that that is the reason Obama is pushing the "other side" to act, and to act now. Mitch McConnell be damned.