Lots of very smart people have been talking about the debt ceiling extortion.... oops, I mean "compromise" (here and here, to start), and I certainly have nothing new to add to the debate. But I'm going to anyways.
I am beyond heartbroken and disgusted by this new legislation. The entire purpose of government is to provide for the protection and benefit of all of its citizens. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that "you get what you personally pay for" in terms of widely beneficial services. Nowhere did the Founding Fathers write that the government was only to benefit the wealthy, and that if you did not have money, you were not entitled to the benefits and protection of the federal government. We are ALL American citizens, regardless of the size of our bank accounts or ability to hire workers.
But we have now officially moved from a democracy/republic to a corporatocracy. The GOP (I'll get to the Dems in a minute) wasn't even trying to hide its agenda: tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, higher taxes/lower services for the rest of us. They gave lip-service to 'shared sacrifices", but when it was pointed out that 90% of the country's population was sacrificing and that 10% (or less) was living high, the response was a shrug.
And the Democrats - the "party of the people"... where were you in this? You control two of the three parts of the Legislative branch. Where's your spine? Why didn't you stand up for the rest of us... those who have no voice, those who are too busy trying to feed their families that they have no time for the political process, those who cannot pay high-priced lobbyists to look after their interests? That's what we hired (elected) YOU to do. Can we fire you now?
I've long felt that this country's structure was not Left vs Right, liberal vs conservative. What we have here, boys and girls, is a T graph form of government. Go get yourself a scrap piece of paper; I'll wait. Now draw a horizontal line across the paper, and a vertical line from that line to the bottom. Write "Democrats" on the left side of the vertical line and "Republican" on the right side. Now put "Corporate Overlords" above the horizontal line. THIS is what governance in America looks like - Corporate Overlords (the wealthy, special interest groups, lobbyists, multi-million-dollar corporations) on top, throwing down crumbs for the left and right to fight over. Crumbs in the form of the Culture Wars - civil rights, reproductive health, social justice, gun control, immigration.
In What's the Matter With Kansas?, Thomas Frank argues that conservatives, especially in the "heartland", routinely vote against their own economic interests because the GOP has convinced them to pay more attention to Culture War issues than to their policies as a whole. So Uncle Bob and Aunt Martha will vote for Rancid Ronnie Republican who promises to fight gun-control laws and women's health clinics, even though the economic policies of Rancid Ronnie will cause Bob and Martha to lose their family farm. In fact, Rancid Ronnie will convince them that it's those evil Lib'rals and dirty hippies who caused their farm to be foreclosed on. Never mind how that happened; just believe it.
The Culture Wars are killing this country, because they allow the Corporate Overlords to distract us while they bleed the country dry. They're like the aliens in Independence Day, going from planet to planet, using up the resources until the planet died, then moving on to the next target. Their allegiance is not to country or community, but only to profits.
How do we fix this? I have no idea. All I know is what Molly Ivins implored us in her last column:
We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action ... Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous..... Hit the streets ... We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, "Stop it, now!"
She was speaking of the Middle East wars, but it's just as true regarding the corporate takeover of America. We MUST raise our voices, write our Congresscritters, call our local representatives, send letters to the editors... whatever it takes.
It's only our country that is a stake.