I recently received an email that began with the question
“If any other of our presidents had doubled the National Debt, which had taken
more than two centuries to accumulate, in one year, would You have Approved?”
This seems like a rather innocuous question. After all, the only thing
it actually says is that it took two centuries to accumulate the national
debt. The question does not even say Obama doubled the debt.
Instead it asks if you would approve if any other president had done this and
allows you to come to this conclusion on your own.
What most people fail to realize is that as you think about
this question the complex of negative feelings and associations that exists in
your mind regarding the debt crisis is brought to the surface, and your
conclusion that Obama doubled the debt becomes part of that complex. As
a result, simply by asking this question the person who wrote it is able to
connect those negative feelings and associations, including your conclusion
about doubling the debt, to the way you think about Obama. The writer
doesn’t actually tell you what negative associations and connections to make.
He simply leaves it to your imagination to come to conclusions, fill in the
details, and make the connections without actually telling you what to do or
think in this regard.
This technique is quite common in propaganda. It uses
innuendo to generate ideas in your mind rather than clearly stating what it
wants you to think, and there is a reason why this technique is used. By
asking the question in the form “If any other of our presidents . . . would
You have Approved?” it focuses your attention on whether or not you approve.
This may seem to be a perfectly harmless way to ask a question, but it is not.
By focusing your attention on whether or not you approve, the propagandist is
directing your attention away from the insinuated accusation that Obama
doubled the debt, and in order to answer the question you are actually asked
you have to assume this accusation is true without actually thinking about
whether or not it is true.
As you ponder the question, all of the negative feelings
you have toward the debt being doubled are being connected to Obama in your
mind whether the accusation that he did this is true or not. The only
way you can keep this from happening is by consciously thinking about the
accusation and rejecting it. The problem is that most people don’t even
know what the national debt is let alone whether or not Obama actually doubled
it in a single year. As a result, it is very difficult for most people
to consciously reject this accusation even though it is patently false.
The Net National Debt increased
29.3% during Obama’s first year in office and by
20.0% during his second year. Neither increase even comes
close to the 100% increase insinuated in the question. The Gross
National Debt increased by even less, only
13.4%, during Obama’s first two years in office.
The Dangers of Propaganda
The reason propaganda is so dangerous is that the complex
of negative conclusions, feelings, associations, and connections that build in
your mind as a result of propaganda are derived from false information.
Much of this complex is a figment of your own imagination, guided by the way
in which the false information is presented to you by the propagandists, and
as your exposure to propaganda grows the complexes created in your mind by the
propagandists grow as well. The effect is to drive you deeper and deeper
into the imaginary world the propagandist is creating for you, and further and
further out of touch with reality.
This process gives the propagandist the power to control
the way you think as he guides the creation of this imaginary world for you,
and given the way in which this world is created—by suppressing rational
thought and playing on your prejudices, insecurities, and ignorance to
generate fear, anger, and hatred toward the subject of the propaganda—when
you succumb to propaganda you are susceptible to believing just about
anything, no matter how outlandish it may be.
Things begin to make sense simply because they are consistent with the
imaginary world the propagandist has created in your mind, and eventually you
become convinced that only the propagandist makes sense, and those who see the
real world as it actually is are nuts. And all of this takes place
without the propagandist actually telling you what to think. You are
able to figure it out all by yourself, or so it seems.
For the past forty years the American people have been
literally bombarded by an onslaught of propaganda that has been very effective
in controlling the way people think.
Not only has it deluded a substantial portion of the population
into believing outlandish things that are trivial—such as that Obama is a
secret Muslim or that he was not born in the United States—it has deluded a
substantial proportion of the population into believing things that are
outright dangerous, the most obvious being that Saddam Hussein participated in
9/11 and was threatening our country with nuclear weapons. But this is
only the most obvious example of how dangerous the delusions created by
propaganda have been. The most dangerous delusions have to do with our
economic and political systems.
Antigovernment Propaganda and
Over the past thirty years those who fund the
propagandists—the Wall Street bankers,
corporations, hedge fund managers, corporate executives, and countless others
who live in the rarefied atmosphere of multimillion and billion dollar
fortunes and who earn tens of millions of dollars in a single year—have
been able to convince the American people that our government is our enemy and
that we must defend ourselves against this enemy by dismantling the agencies
our democracy has put in place to regulate the economy. The implicit
assumption that we must dismantle our government in order to save ourselves
from our democracy is a rather strange idea if you think about it, but for
those who live in the imaginary world of the propagandists this makes perfect
sense. After all, government regulations limit our FREEDOM, and in a
FREE society the government has no right to tell us what to do. End of
discussion, end of thought.
It is obvious when you think about it, however, that the
reason those who fund antigovernment propaganda wish to get rid of our
regulatory agencies is that they can benefit greatly if they don’t have to
abide by government regulations—that is, if they don’t have to provide safe
working conditions for their employees; if they don’t have to ensure that the
food, drugs, and other consumer products they sell are safe, and if they are
not prevented by the government from creating environmental and economic
catastrophes in the wake of their economic endeavors.
Make no mistake about this: Antigovernment propaganda
is not about your freedom to live your life without government oppression in
the imaginary world the propagandists are trying to create in your mind.
It’s about the freedom of those who fund this propaganda to prey on the weak
and vulnerable without fear of government intervention in the real world in
which you and those who fund this propaganda actually live. If you have
any doubt about this, consider the effects of their forty year campaign to
deregulate our financial system.
Under the guise of making you free, those who fund
antigovernment propaganda managed to dismantle much of the regulatory system
put in place since the 1920s to prevent the kinds of reckless and
irresponsible behavior on the part of financial institutions that led to the
Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression of the 1930s. Beyond that they
managed to cut the funding that went to the financial regulatory system and to
put people in charge of what little remained of that system who did not
believe in regulation and who were willing to ignore their responsibility to
enforce existing laws and regulations against fraud and predatory lending
And what did the financial institutions do with your new
found freedom from government regulation of the financial system? They
took the opportunity to turn our financial system into a giant casino as
predators crawled out of the woodwork and corrupted the system virtually
The result was the
Drexel Burnham Lambert,
Ivan Boesky, and countless other
junk bond, and
Savings and Loan frauds that led to the
junk bond and
commercial real estate bubbles of the 1980s.
In the 1990s, the
Global Crossing, and
WorldCom frauds along with countless more
insider trading and
investment advisor frauds led to the
telecom bubbles. Following the dotcom and telecom bubbles the major
commercial, savings, and investment banks decided to securitize subprime
mortgages that were fraudulently obtained by the likes of
Fremont Investment & Loan, and
CitiFinancial and to distribute securities backed by these fraudulently
obtained mortgages throughout the entire world.
All of this was a direct consequence of the deregulation of
our financial system, the defunding of our regulatory agencies, and the
refusal to enforce existing laws and regulations against insider trading,
stock manipulation, fraud, and predatory lending practices. And how did
those who funded the movement to deregulate our financial system in the name
of your freedom make out as a consequence of this deregulation?
The answer to this question can be seen in the following
graph constructed from the official IRS statistics assembled by
Piketty and Saez and made available on line in the form of an Excel
http://elsa.berkeley.edu/~saez/TabFig2008.xls. This graph shows how the
average real income of the top 0.01% of the income distribution changed since
As is shown in the graph, the income of this group remained
relatively stable during the pre-deregulation period from 1960 through 1980
then increased sporadically from 1980 through 2008 as deregulation began in
earnest. The average income of this group,
2008 prices, stood at $5.4 million in 1980 and reached a high of $36.4
million in 2007. What is particularly interesting in this graph,
however, is the way the sporadic spikes in income correspond to the epidemics
of fraud that occurred during this period.
The average real income of the top 0.01% increased from
$5.4 million per year in 1980 to $15.9 million in 1986—a 194.4% increase
Drexel Burnham Lambert,
Ivan Boesky, and other
junk bond, and
Savings and Loan frauds of the 1980s.
WorldCom, and other
insider trading and
telecom bubble frauds of the 1990s the average income of this group
increased from $10.4 million a year in 1994 to $29.8 million in 2000—a 186.5%
During the subprime mortgage fraud the increase was from
$16.3 million in 2002 to $36.4 million in 2007—a 123.3% increase.
And how did the rest of us fare through all of this?
The bursting of the
junk bond, and
commercial real estate bubbles caused by the frauds of the 1980s created
the first financial crisis in the United States since 1929 as some
savings institutions failed, along with
banks. It cost the American taxpayer
$130 billion to clean up the mess as we bailed out the insured depositors
in these failed institutions, and over 3 million people lost their jobs in the
1990-1991 recession brought on by this crisis. The bursting of the
telecom bubbles caused by the frauds of the 1980s led to the
2001 recession where, again, over 3 million people lost their jobs,
but all of this pales in comparison to the disaster brought on by the bursting
of the housing bubble
created by the
subprime mortgage fraud.
According to the
Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, over 8 million people lost their jobs
since the housing bubble burst in 2007. Four million families had lost
their homes by the end of 2010 and another 4.5 million families were seriously
behind in their mortgage payment or in the process of foreclosure. “In
the fall of 2010, 1 in every 11 outstanding residential mortgage loans in the
United States was at least one payment past due but not yet in foreclosure.”
Nationwide, 10.8 million families—22.5% of all families with mortgages—owed
more on their mortgages in 2010 than their houses were worth. In
Florida, Michigan, and Nevada more than 50% of all mortgages were underwater,
and the Commission projected that by the time this crisis is over as many as
13 million families could lose their homes.
It cost the taxpayer
$700 billion to fund TARP in order to bail out the banks that caused this
380 banks had failed by June of 2011 since this crisis began, and the FDIC
is going to have to shell out countless hundreds of billions of dollars before
it is over. Then there is the effect of the ensuing recession on increasing
the deficit in the federal budget to over a trillion dollars.
This is what forty years of propaganda and deregulation
have wrought, and this is what the antigovernment propaganda is all about.
It has nothing at all to do with your personal freedom as the propagandists
would have you believe. It is about the ability of those who fund this
propaganda to make money at the expense of the rest of the population through
fraud and corruption, nothing more.
Good Government Isn't Free
The idea that deregulation will make you free is not the
only dangerous idea that those who fund antigovernment propaganda would have
you to believe. Equally dangerous is the idea that we can have good
government without paying for it. Not only is this idea absurd on its
face to anyone who thinks about it, we have been operating under this
assumption for the past thirty years, and it clearly hasn’t worked.
We cut taxes in the 1980s and 2000s, and we have been
cutting government programs one after another for the past thirty years.
This, clearly, has not led to a better education system, a better
transportation system, or better law enforcement. Our environment and
public health have not improved, and cutting taxes and government programs did
not lead to economic stability or prosperity.
All that was accomplished as a result of this policy was a
failure of government to protect the public from those who would prey on the
rest of us as the special interests took over our government. Those
government programs and services that provide for the common good were cut
while those that serve the special interests were expanded. The
result was a reduction in taxes paid by the wealthy, an increase in taxes paid
by the not so wealthy, and an explosion in the national debt. This sort
of thing is inevitable when people are focused on the propaganda and fail to
think about the substance of what the propagandist is asking them to believe.
In the imaginary world of the propagandist you are asked to
believe that all of the waste, fraud, and abuse in government is to be found
in the social welfare system, in the government regulatory agencies, and in
the general operations of the government. In this imaginary world we can
achieve all of the benefits of good government without having to pay for them
by simply cutting taxes, eliminating welfare and government regulations, and
cutting the size of government.
But in the real world, welfare, the regulatory agencies,
and the general expenditures of the government comprise a very small part of
the budget. In the real world
the bulk of the budget is in Defense,
Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and if we truly want to balance
the budget and pay less taxes this is where the cuts must be made—in defense,
Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—not in the regulatory system, welfare,
and the general operations of government.
Focusing your attention on cutting taxes, welfare, and the
regulatory agencies gives those who fund the propagandists a free hand to do
what they will with the rest of the government. That serves their ends
very well, but it doesn’t serve the ends of the rest of us. And it all
makes sense in the imaginary world of the propagandists—if you don’t think
Social Security, Medicare, and
Ignoring the reality of the federal budget and relying on
tax cuts and eliminating welfare and government regulations to solve our
problems has led to a serious imbalance in the federal budget. At the
same time, a substantial portion of the electorate believes that we can
maintain Social Security and Medicare while we cut other government
expenditures to bring the budget back into balance without raising taxes.
This belief is simply a lie fostered by propaganda, and it is relatively easy
to understand why those who fund the propaganda that fosters this lie want you
to believe it.
After all, they make fortunes when the government doesn’t
regulate their behavior, and if they don’t pay taxes they don’t have to give
any of that money back. What’s more, the multi millionaires and
billionaires who fund antigovernment propaganda simply do not care about
Social Security and Medicare. When you are making tens of millions a
year and have hundreds of millions to fall back on, you don’t
have to care about Social Security or Medicare or unemployment compensation or
Medicaid or food stamps or any other social-insurance program that ordinary
people must rely on when they reach old age or when they find themselves
unemployed in the midst of an economic catastrophe brought on by unregulated
bankers and speculators.
When you are making that
kind of money and have that kind of fortune you can live off your
wealth whether you are employed or not, in a gated community with private
security guards, and you can hire a phalanx of lawyers to protect your rights
against those who would take unfair advantage of you. In other words,
you can live your life just as the wealthy elites in third world
countries live their lives where wealth controls the government and the
government serves only the elites.
All that the people who fund antigovernment propaganda care
about is taxes, and as I said above, so long as they don’t have to pay taxes
they don’t care about Social Security or Medicare, and they most certainly do
not care about the national debt. This last point is extremely important
to understand because so long as they don’t have to pay taxes, those who fund
antigovernment propaganda actually make money off the national debt.
They not only collect the interest paid on this debt,
the more the government borrows to finance purchases, the greater the profits
they can add to their bank accounts. They simply do not care about
the national debt so long as they don’t have to pay taxes in order to finance
government expenditures because
those expenditures increase their wealth.
It’s all so simple in the imaginary world of the
propagandist. All we have to do is keep cutting taxes, welfare
expenditures, and regulations, and the government’s fiscal problems will just
go away. There is no need to cut Social Security, Medicare, or Defense
in this world or to raise taxes in order to balance the budget. All we
have to do is cut taxes. In the real world, however, this is nonsense.
The national debt must continue to increase until we either raise taxes or cut
Social Security, Medicare, or defense, but it cannot continue to increase
forever, at least not faster than GDP. Sooner or later something has to
When we look at Social Security we find that over the past
thirty years Social Security has built up a
$2.5 trillion trust
fund that by everyone’s
estimate should carry the system through 2036. This trust fund is
invested in United States government securities backed by the full faith and
credit of the United States government. But if this trust fund is to be
used to finance the Social Security System
it must be converted into cash, and the only way the
government can convert it into cash is either through taxes or by borrowing
money. And the only way the government can avoid having to borrow money
or come up with the tax revenue needed to redeem Social Security's $2.5
trillion trust fund is by eliminating Social Security benefits. This is simply a
real world fact, and no amount of propaganda can change this fact.
As a result, the viability of the Social Security System
depends crucially on the fiscal soundness of the federal government, and in
today’s world the federal government cannot be made fiscally sound without
raising taxes. And this does not mean simply raising taxes on the top 2%
of the income distribution. In order to make the federal government
fiscally sound and at the same time maintain essential government services at
the levels people want them to be maintained—specifically, in order to
maintain Social Security and Medicare—not only must we raise taxes beyond the
top 2% of the income distribution, we must eliminate tax loopholes such as the
special treatment of income from capital gains and dividends. If we do
not do this, not only will the federal debt continue to grow and the
government not be made fiscally sound, the government will not have the
revenue needed to redeem the
$2.5 trillion worth of
government bonds in the Social Security trust fund, and
the viability of Social Security will be seriously in doubt.
Not only is it impossible to maintain Social Security in
the real world without raising taxes, it is impossible to maintain Medicare
even if we do raise taxes unless we also totally reorganize our healthcare
The entire American healthcare system is a mess. Our
crazy-quilt, patchwork healthcare system is the least efficient among the
developed countries of the world.
JAMA2) We spend more
per person and as a
percent of GDP than any other country that has better health statistics
than we do. At the same time, we rank
51st in terms of life expectancy,
51st in terms of infant mortality,
24th in terms of the availability of doctors, and
37th in terms of the overall performance of our healthcare system.
Our multiple-third-party payment system, whereby providers
decide what services patients need and how much to charge while insurance
companies or the government pick up the tab virtually guarantees continually
deteriorating quality and increasing costs since there is no incentive in this
system to deliver quality healthcare services in a cost effective manner.
It also virtually guarantees that a continually increasing share of the
healthcare costs will be passed on to the government as these costs rise and
fewer and fewer people are able to afford these rising costs.
Every advanced country in the world that has better health
statistics and lower healthcare costs has abandoned the cost ineffective
multiple-third-party payer system for a
single-payer, universal healthcare
system that provides government subsidized healthcare for all—paid for through
taxes—where costs are controlled through government negotiated prices.
They pay higher taxes than we do, but their higher taxes are more than offset
by the savings in insurance premiums and lower healthcare costs—not to mention
the fact that they are healthier than we are, and they live longer than we do.
The simplest, most efficient, and most cost effective way
to provide a comparable system for the United States would be to extend the
Medicare program to the entire population. This program works, and the
institutions necessary to run it are already in place. It would take
very little effort to retool Medicare to meet the needs of the entire
population compared to the massive and wasted effort it is going to take to
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
This is the real world choice facing the American people
today: We can either increase taxes and reorganize our healthcare system
and thereby maintain Social Security and Medicare, or we can refuse to increase
taxes and cut Social Security and Medicare. The only alternative is to
continue to increase the national debt until the system collapses, and anyone
who tells you otherwise is either deliberately lying to you or is living in
the imaginary world created in their mind by propagandists and is totally out
of touch with reality.
It’s only when you insist that the government be financed
through taxes that those who fund the antigovernment propaganda machine
acknowledge this choice. They then point at the national debt, allege
that we can’t afford Social Security and Medicare, and demand that these
programs be cut. This makes perfect sense in the imaginary world of the
propagandist, if you don't think about it, where it is conveniently ignored
that the reason we can no longer afford Social Security and Medicare and at
the same time balance the budget is because of the massive tax cuts that were
given to force cuts in the rest of the government—tax cuts that, as strange as
it may seem, led to the explosion in the national debt in the first place and
didn’t solve our problems.
The Moment of Truth
The reality of the choice facing the American people today
is made quite clear in
The Moment of Truth report written by
Alan Simpson and
Erskine Bowles, the co-chair of the President’s
National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. This report
puts forth a comprehensive plan to resolve our deficit problem that includes
both Social Security and healthcare reform as well as a reform of the tax
In dealing with Social Security, Simpson and Bowles
recommend cutting benefits to cover 73% of the expected shortfall in Social
Security revenues over the next 75 years and expanding the Social Security tax
base to cover an additional 43% of the shortfall. (Presumably, the
redundant 16% is there to maintain the Social Security trust fund so that it
will not have to be converted into cash.)
In the process, the Social Security benefit payout
structure is reduced in such a way that the majority of those who participate
in the system will get far less out of it than they pay in. As can be
seen from the following graph from the
Strengthen Social Security website, reducing the payout structure in this
way has the effect of converting Social Security from an insurance program in
which the expected benefits are proportional to the contribution the
beneficiary is expected to pay, into a welfare program in which the expected
benefits for high-wage earners are disproportionately lower relative to what
they pay in than they are for the low-wage earners.
This is not Social Security as we know it.
What’s more, under the Simpson-Bowles scheme this welfare
program would be financed through the payroll tax—a highly regressive tax that
takes a much larger proportion of the incomes of low and middle-income earners
than it takes from high-income earners. This is hardly an equitable way
to finance a welfare program. The burden of financing a welfare program
should fall heaviest on those who can afford to pay. It should not fall
heaviest on the backs of the working poor as Simpson and Bowles propose.
In dealing with healthcare, the main thrust of the
Simpson’s and Bowles’s recommendations is to reduce the third-party payer
problem by forcing healthcare recipients, both public and private, to pay a
larger proportion of the cost out of pocket. But this scheme can only reduce costs to
the extent the government doesn't intervene, and those who cannot afford to pay
are forced out of the healthcare
system since to the extent the government picks up the tab for those who
cannot afford the added cost there is no saving. As with the
Simpson-Bowles scheme for Social Security, this is not Medicare as we know it.
This scheme begs the question: How many of those who cannot
afford to pay the added costs should be allowed to suffer or die for want of healthcare
in order to minimize the cost of healthcare for those who can afford to pay?
It is the ultimate death-panel plan whereby those who cannot afford the added
costs are allowed to suffer and die. The only alternative is for government to pick
up the tab which will inevitably increase the cost of healthcare for the
When it comes to taxes, the Simpson-Bowles report
recommends treating dividends and capital gains as ordinary income, closing
corporate tax loopholes, and a few other changes that will make the tax code
more progressive. It then goes on to recommend the top marginal income
tax rate paid by the wealthy be decreased from
35% to 28%, that the marginal income tax
rate paid by middle-income earners be set at
22%. It also recommends that
the lowest income tax rate paid by the not so wealthy be increased from
10% to 12%, and that maximum
corporate tax rate be cut from
35% to 28%. These changes in tax rates are particularly interesting.
If this tax rate structure is passed into law it will mean
that the combined
employee/employer payroll tax rate plus the income tax
rate in the lowest income bracket will equal 26.3%—less than two percentage
points below the maximum marginal rate corporations and multibillionaires will
pay. Those in lower end of the middle tax bracket will face a combined
marginal rate of
36.2%—8.2 percentage points above
the marginal rate multibillionaires and corporations will pay.
The wealthy were given massive tax breaks over the past
thirty years as the top income tax bracket was cut from
70% to 35%, the capital gains tax was cut from
28% to 15.7%, the top tax bracket on dividends was cut from
70% to 15%, the maximum estate tax rate was cut from
35%, and the top corporate tax rate was cut from
50% to 39.3%. At the same time, the payroll tax rate paid by
lower-income earners was increased from
15.3% in order to build up the combined Social Security and Medicare trust
$2.9 trillion. These trust funds were then lent to the government
to partially compensate for the revenue lost from the
above tax cuts.
In the meantime we deregulated our financial
system and allowed our financial institutions to create epidemics of fraud
that ultimately led to the worst economic catastrophe since the Great
Depression. And now—in the name of fiscal responsibility and in order to
‘save’ Social Security and Medicare—we are supposed to reward those who
perpetrated this fraud by cutting their taxes even further as we drastically
cut Social Security benefits and increase the cost of Medicare to its
recipients? Something is terribly wrong here, and yet, in the imaginary world
of the propagandist this all makes sense—if you don’t think about it.
Instead of allowing you to think about the substance of
their recommendations and how we got into this mess in the first place, the
Simpson-Bowles report focuses your attention on the seriousness of the fiscal
problem that has resulted and asks you to believe that their scheme is a
reasonable bipartisan compromise on the part of all interested parties. This
makes perfect sense in the imaginary world of the propagandist where the
substance of the proposed changes in Social Security, healthcare, and taxes
are ignored, and the way in which we got into this mess in the first place is
ignored as well. When we look at the substance of the proposed changes
in light of the way we got into this mess in the first place, it makes no
sense at all.
The fiscal problems we face in the real world today are the
direct result of the massive tax cuts given to the wealthy over the past
thirty years combined with the massive increases in defense expenditures
squandered in Iraq and the devastating recession brought on by the fraudulent,
reckless, and irresponsible behavior of those who run our financial
institutions that was made possible by financial deregulation. Clearly,
these problems could be solved by simply rescinding the tax cuts that created
our fiscal problems in the first place,
increasing the payroll tax base to cover a larger portion of earned
dedicating the estate tax to contributing to the Social Security trust
fund, treating capital gains and dividends as ordinary income, extending
Medicare to the entire population, controlling defense expenditures in a
sensible way, and reregulating the financial system to keep those in charge of
our financial institutions from creating in the future the kind of mess they
have always created for us in the past when they were free of government
This isn’t rocket science. Anyone who looks at the
numbers and thinks about how we got into this mess should have no trouble
figuring this out. It’s called paying for what you get. If you
want good government you have to pay for it, and the way you pay for it is by
paying taxes. What’s more, I am quite certain that if given a choice
between increasing taxes, funding Social Security, and extending Medicare to
the entire population or adopting the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles
report, the vast majority of the American people would choose to junk the
Simpson-Bowles scheme and choose to increase taxes and extend Medicare as I
have suggested. Unfortunately, we are not going to be given this choice.
How Things Work
Most Americans want good government and would be willing to
pay for it if they were given a choice, but, as I have said, we are not going
to be given a choice. This is
a real world choice. It’s not a choice that exists in the imaginary world
of the propagandist, and our major political parties are not willing to defy
those who have created this imaginary world in order to give the American
people a real world choice.
It is obvious that the Republican Party is not going to
give the American people this choice. The Republican Party is dead set
against any kind of tax increase. Its leadership as well as its
membership is firmly ensconced in the imaginary world of the propagandist
beyond any hope of redemption. After all, the Republican Party created
most of this imaginary world in the first place.
To a Republican, anyone who even thinks about increasing taxes is
nuts. There is no possibility at all that the Republican Party will
offer this choice to the American people.
It is also obvious that the Democratic Party is not going
to give the American people this choice. The leadership of the Democratic Party is dead
set against doing anything that will endanger the flow of cash it receives
from the Wall Street bankers, hedge fund managers, corporate executives, and
countless others who earn tens of millions in a single year and who most
definitely do not want their taxes increased and whose ultimate goal is to
eliminate all social-insurance programs, not just Social Security and
Medicare, but unemployment compensation, food stamps, welfare, Pell grants,
and all other government programs that do not serve the interest of the
multimillionaires and billionaires who fund the antigovernment propaganda
machine. So long as the government funds these programs with borrowed
money, they don’t care since, as noted above, this
adds to their profits and bank accounts. It is a different story if
the government tries to fund these programs with taxes.
This puts the leadership of
the Democratic Party in an awkward position since a significant portion of its
base is not firmly ensconced in the imaginary world of the propagandist and is
willing to look at the world as it really is. As a result, the
leadership of the Democratic Party is forced to talk about increasing taxes or
controlling healthcare costs through a
single-payer option or extending
Medicare to the entire population, but it is not willing fight for these
proposals by turning them into campaign issues and explaining to the American
people what their options are. Doing this would not only threaten their
campaign contributions, it would threaten their ability to move into the
private sector with six or seven figure incomes after they lose the next
Instead, in an attempt to
placate their base, the leadership of the Democratic Party talks about these
issues just enough to blame Republicans for blocking whatever it is that the
Democrats say they want to accomplish. At the same time, they are
careful to make certain that nothing actually gets done that will offend those
who feed them the cash. Thus, there is also no possibility that
the Democratic Party will offer a real world choice to the American people,
and there does not seem to be a third party out there willing to take on the
This is the way our political system has worked for the
past thirty years where the imaginary world of the propagandist has ruled
supreme, and there is no reason to expect this will change anytime soon.
As a result, we can expect nothing to get done toward solving the fiscal
problems of the government until after the next election, and that election
will be fought in the imaginary world of the propagandists where the
Simpson-Bowles scheme will be presented as the only sensible way to look at
Those who try to talk about the substance of this scheme
and relate it to how we got into this mess in the first place will be vilified
as unpatriotic, ignorant, and selfish—obstructionists who are only looking out
for themselves rather than for the good of the country. Besides, they
are obviously just plain ignorant and lack the mental capacity to understand
how serious the problem is. Otherwise, they would be able to figure out
on their own why the Simpson-Bowles scheme is the only framework in which it
is possible to solve our fiscal problems.
Once the election is over, and the Republicans have taken
over the Senate and increased their majority in the House—and the losing
Democrats have moved on to their six and seven figure incomes in the private
sector—we can then look forward to some form of the Simpson-Bowles scheme
being passed by Congress. The final bill will not contain those
provisions that are progressive, such as treating capital gains and dividends
as ordinary income, and its passage into law will mark the end of Social
Security and Medicare as we know them, but it will be signed into law no
matter who the president may be.
If Obama survives the carnage of the next election there is
certainly no reason to think he will veto such a bill. After all,
Obama’s main goal in life is to bring people together in order to get things
done, and the bill he will be asked to sign will most certainly get things
done. There is every reason to believe that after bemoaning the fact
that he doesn’t approve of all of its provisions, Obama will dutifully sign it
If Obama does not survive the next election, there is every
reason to believe that the new Republican president will also bemoan the fact
that he or she also does not approve of all of its provisions, but will sign
the bill into law anyway, and then retire to the inner sanctum of the White
House and break out the champagne.
The new law will not restrain healthcare costs as the
government attempts to balance the disgrace of allowing the poor to suffer and die for
want of healthcare in the wealthiest country on Earth against minimizing the
costs to those who can afford to pay. And even though the new law will
undoubtedly grandfather in a significant portion of those who have a stake in
the current Social Security system as a payoff for their support, it will be
only a matter of time before Social Security benefits will begin to fall—even
for those who were bought off—as those not grandfathered in come to realize
the unfairness of financing a welfare program through a payroll tax.
Since the new law will neither restrain healthcare costs
nor provide government services at the level people desire, the government
will continue to concentrate on cutting taxes, welfare, and government
regulations. The special interests will continue to expand the
government in ways that serve their ends; they will continue to cut whatever
they can from those programs that serve the common good, and the federal debt
will continue to grow.
In the meantime, our educational, transportation, public
health, environmental, and social insurance systems will continue to decline
as our criminal justice system continues to grow, and we will continue down
the path we have followed over the past thirty years toward becoming the
wealthiest third world nation on Earth. In the imaginary world of the
propagandist, this will continued to be explained to the American people as
being the inevitable result of the socialistic policies of liberals in spite
of the fact that, in the real world, there hasn’t been a liberal president at
the head of our government since Lyndon Johnson left office on January 20th,
1969; virtually all of the liberals were purged from Congress in the 1980s and
1990s, and liberals have been a relatively insignificant minority in our
government ever since.
All of this will take place through a grand compromise in
the imaginary world of the propagandists with all of the major players granted
a seat at the table. The American people will be allowed to sit on the
sidelines, never being told by those in charge what their real world
alternatives actually are, and this will all make perfect sense in the
imaginary world of the propagandists. And all you will have to do to
figure it out on your own is listen to the propagandists—and don't think about
The above is taken from the paper
How Propaganda Works in
which I have examined this piece of propaganda in detail.
The way in which this propaganda is created by suppressing rational
thought and playing on your prejudices, insecurities, and ignorance to
generate fear, anger, and hatred toward the subject of the propaganda is
Some Notes on Right-wing
The way in which deregulation of our financial institutions led to the
current economic crisis and how this crisis is related to the Crash of
1929 and the Great Depression that followed is explained in
Where Did All the Money Go?.