The last three and a half years have seen hundreds of billions of dollars flow into the hands of the largest corporations and most wealthy persons at the cost of ballooning deficits and skyrocketing national debt. It’s been celebrated by those who’ve benefitted most, and sold to ordinary people as an economic piñata that will eventually produce a flood of goodies for them.
How different from the previous eight years when the same people berated Obama’s frugal economic policies that produced slow, steady growth and a declining deficit, labeling them spendthrift, irresponsible, and debt piled on future generations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has blown their cover, but the game is not over. They’ve got two moves left, with one already employed to good effect: convince a large portion of the public that the pandemic is overblown, the response unnecessarily draconian , and reopening business as usual is in everyone’s best interest. It’s a line that been skillfully sold with all the class of late night infomercials for hydroxychloroquine, disinfecting sprays and ultra violet lights. Scenes of crowded beaches and bars are proof that it works. I think of them as giant petri dishes. Let’s wait a few weeks and see what happens.
The second will resurrect the bogeyman of deficits and debt with a demand that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other social programs be cut to stem the hemorrhage. Already toyed with, it ill be employed in force as the presidential campaign heats up. It will be sold as the fiscally responsible thing to do, the very thing needed to restore a booming economy. The old shibboleths of the undeserving poor and welfare leeches will be trotted out. The ancient arguments will again be made that personal accountability and the discipline of self sufficiency are eroded by social welfare programs. A flag waving coda will raise the specter of looming socialism turning America into another Cuba. None of it is true, but the pitch has worked before, and it might again.
It would be cruelly immoral to burden the least able, most vulnerable with the cost of paying for profligate spending to enrich of the most able and wealthiest. That alone should be enough to put a stop to it, but selfishness is a powerful drug, especially if enough people can be convinced that protecting the well being of others means less for themselves. It isn’t easy to understand that undermining the social safety net would not restore the economic fortunes of the many, but would benefit a few speculators and others able to direct government spending to their own industrial interests. It would be a case of socialism for oligarchs and laissez-faire for the rest.
I don’t know how, but sooner or later, the conservative, evangelical and Trump voting public needs to wise up and recognize that they’ve been had. They’ve been had by Trump, by oligarchs manipulating tea party populism, and sadly, by conservative evangelicalism that loves everything about Jesus except what he taught.