Incarceration Nation

Shutdown: Method to the Madness

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

The government shutdown and countless furloughs have ended as of this date.  However, the can has just been kicked down the road—or until January15—when this absurd standoff will continue and the majority of American people will once again be subjected to stress, anxiety, loss of income, business, and worse.  Meanwhile, the dysfunctional, highly-paid wealthy elites on Capitol Hill will continue their bleeding of the poor to protect the super-rich. (Check out Obama’s new Commerce Secretary, billionaire Penny Pritzker!)

It’s simple:  Tax General Electric, Microsoft, Apple, et al! I.e., take it from these huge corporate multi-nationals paying no or very low taxes, getting tax rebates, and/or hiding their enormous profits in foreign tax havens. The same greedy-guts are attacking the social safety net for the country’s struggling people, including its most vulnerable: infants, children, disabled, seniors.  The fight over healthcare is really ridiculous since the so-called Affordable Care Act will be anything but affordable to millions of Americans while giving the medical bureaucracy a huge windfall, not to mention the guaranteed premiums to the insurance companies.  Universal healthcare (a la France or Cuba) is the real elephant in the healthcare room.  It seems to me that while this reactionary congress is weakened and dysfunctional, we should move on knocking it out, and replacing it with a real people’s government with universal human rights for all and a redistribution of the nation’s wealth and resources.  Power to the people!

When unpopular politicians set the stage for a government shutdown, there is a method to the madness: by hook or crook, they are the architects of austerity.

This strategy shreds any remnants of trust in the competence and ability of government, and sells the ludicrous notion that the private sector is the solution to societal problems.

These forces have prevailed in some parts of Europe, forcing governments to shed social services to the poor, the unemployed and the young. Those governments have created crises, but they have hardly solved them. Indeed, they have exacerbated them.

Such societies aren’t merely unequal; they have stoked social and class conflict.

Several decades ago, American economists (from the Chicago School of Economics) preached austerity throughout Latin America.  Their economic recipes brought chaos, disaster and mass pain.

Naomi Klein has written movingly about such experiments, which ripped nations apart, in her 2007 work, The Shock Doctrine.

Now, it is here—disguised—but here.  Schools are closing; repressive institutions are multiplying, and jobs are paying less and less.

Meanwhile, the “one percent” (remember Occupy?), the richest percentile of Americans, have made more money recently than at any previous period in the nation’s history.

This isn’t just a conservative program; it is also a neo-liberal program that prays at the holy altar of Wall Street.

The neo-liberal program of surrender to market forces has strengthened and energized rightist tendencies, and made the market the very center of national life: not the People.

So, schools close one day; governments shut their doors the next.

The Market prevails., September 30, 2013