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Republican lies about our government
Once again, the Republicans have been caught lying through their teeth about the Democratic administration of President Obama. The details were published by the New York Times in an op-ed by Paul Krugman a few days ago; I'll give you the meat and you can read a copy of his piece that follows if you're interested in his rhetoric.
Tim Pawlenty the outgoing governor of Minnesota (those poor Minnesotans!), who apparently wants to be our next Republican president, had an op-ed article published in which he declared that the government (local, state, and federal) had added 590,000 jobs "since January 2008" while the private sector had lost nearly eight million. The truth is that government employment has fallen as well in that period. Since January 2009, when Obama actually took office, total government employment has dropped by three hundred thousand jobs. This is the result of state budget shortfalls that have forced layoffs of teachers, firemen, and police officers as well as less essential state employees. There was a temporary increase in federal employment due to the census (a mostly bipartisan-agreed process that hired many minimum wage workers) which has since disappeared.
Another Republican lie (which wasn't attributed to any one Republican liar) is that "government regulators have been vastly increased." In fact, the only federal department which has increased employment is the Department of Homeland Security, which I believe the Republicans approve of (correct me if I'm wrong.)
Lies like this, which are repeated endlessly by "dittoheads" and other Republican apologists, do tremendous damage to the reputation of our goverment and decrease (if that's possible) even further our esteem for the people who protect and serve us every day. The Republican lie that "government is always the problem, not the solution" can only be supported by more and more specific lies like these.
In fact, we need government to do things for us that we can't do for ourselves. We need government to build and maintain roads, airports, and mass transit facilities. We need government to protect us with policemen, jails, and courts. We need government to provide a source of capital to start small businesses. We need government to protect us from those who would blow up our buildings and airplanes and assassinate those who work in our interest abroad. We need government to stabilize our currency and protect it from the depradations of foreign governments and speculators who want to profit at our expense.
Notice that I haven't yet mentioned welfare, retirement income, or health care, the big bugaboos of the Republicans and the smallest of the costs of our government. Remember that retirement income is supposed to be, and is, paid for, not by taxes, but by individual contributions over the working life of each person. What's more, health care is supposed to be paid for by individual insurance premiums even though we are all "required" to be insured by the new, horrifying "Obamacare." Of these items, all demons in the Republican imagination, only welfare is paid for by taxes, and welfare is a tiny proportion of those taxes.
If welfare is so wonderful that people would rather collect welfare than work, suppose we try that. First, you can't get welfare if you can work. Even if you can't work, you still can't get welfare unless you're female with dependent children. "Able bodied" men who don't work can only collect a pittance called "general relief", not even enough to pay for a single room in a flophouse. There are hundreds of thousands of people, some in families, who are homeless because they can't get welfare, or even if they get general relief, it's not enough to put a roof over their heads.
The only way to get comfortable at government expense is to commit fraud. No one, not even if she's a Democrat, condones fraud. However, the Republicans aid, abet, and encourage rich people to commit fraud every day. The Republicans commited blatant fraud in Florida on the wholesale to win the 2000 presidential election. Who knows how many other states fell victim to secret Republican fraud in 2000?
What fraud in Florida, you ask? For example, the state government paid a private firm with Republican contacts to go through the voter rolls and strike everyone who might not be eligible to vote because of felony convictions (and other issues.) The results, never double checked, were tilted heavily against blacks (who vote over 90% Democratic in presidential elections), many of whom had already had their voting rights restored or were never actually convicted in the first place. Over a hundred thousand people, mostly black, were wrongfully stricken from the voter rolls, with no appeal, as a result. This subterfuge alone tilted the rolls so far in favor of Bush that hanging chads were merely icing on the cake.
The ugly fact is that Republicans are on the losing side of history because, according to our census, our country is becoming more and more non-white. Hispanics are the big winners, and they vote Democratic in large majorities. Republicans know this, and they have been mounting an all-out disinformation campaign ever since Nixon became their favorite in 1968. Over forty years of shameless Republican lies have muddied the waters of political discourse. Democrats appear to have become discouraged, disorganized, and disunited even though they are decisively in the majority, at least among the bottom 98%.
Only the truth, repeated in contradiction to everyone every time they repeat these nauseating lies, can help us regain our confidence in our government. Only voting by everyone, every time, can bring back the protections and service that we desperately need from our representatives and stop the depradations of those who would continue their special privileges at the cost of the welfare of the whole people.
So vote, vote, vote! Speak out every time you hear these lies, and contradict them with the truth! Government must be here to protect us from the business community and the rich who would oppress us, the poorer 98% of the people!
A cut and paste copy of the op-ed follows:
The Humbug Express, by Paul Krugman (published in NYT Online 12/32/2010)
Hey, has anyone noticed that "A Christmas Carol" is a dangerous leftist tract?
I mean, consider the scene, early in the book, where Ebenezer Scrooge rightly refuses to contribute to a poverty relief fund. "I’m opposed to giving people money for doing nothing," he declares. Oh, wait. That wasn’t Scrooge. That was Newt Gingrich — last week. What Scrooge actually says is, "Are there no prisons?" But it’s pretty much the same thing.
Anyway, instead of praising Scrooge for his principled stand against the welfare state, Charles Dickens makes him out to be some kind of bad guy. How leftist is that?
As you can see, the fundamental issues of public policy haven’t changed since Victorian times. Still, some things are different. In particular, the production of humbug — which was still a somewhat amateurish craft when Dickens wrote — has now become a systematic, even industrial, process.
Let me walk you through a case in point, one that I’ve been following lately.
If you listen to the recent speeches of Republican presidential hopefuls, you’ll find several of them talking at length about the harm done by unionized government workers, who have, they say, multiplied under the Obama administration. A recent example was an op-ed article by the outgoing Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who declared that "thanks to President Obama," government is the only booming sector in our economy: "Since January 2008" — silly me, I thought Mr. Obama wasn’t inaugurated until 2009 — "the private sector has lost nearly eight million jobs, while local, state and federal governments added 590,000."
Horrors! Except that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, government employment has fallen, not risen, since January 2008. And since January 2009, when Mr. Obama actually did take office, government employment has fallen by more than 300,000 as hard-pressed state and local governments have been forced to lay off teachers, police officers, firefighters and other workers.
So how did the notion of a surge in government payrolls under Mr. Obama take hold?
It turns out that last spring there was, in fact, a bulge in government employment. And both politicians and researchers at humbug factories — I mean, conservative think tanks — quickly seized on this bulge as evidence of an exploding public sector. Over the summer, articles and speeches began to appear highlighting the rise in government employment and issuing dire warnings about what it portended for America’s future.
But anyone paying attention knew why public employment had risen — and it had nothing to do with Big Government. It was, instead, the fact that the federal government had to hire a lot of temporary workers to carry out the 2010 Census — workers who have almost all left the payroll now that the Census is done.
Is it really possible that the authors of those articles and speeches about soaring public employment didn’t know what was going on? Well, I guess we should never assume malice when ignorance remains a possibility.
There has not, however, been any visible effort to retract those erroneous claims. And this isn’t the only case of a claimed huge expansion in government that turns out to be nothing of the kind. Have you heard the one about how there’s been an explosion in the number of federal regulators? Mike Konczal of the Roosevelt Institute looked into the numbers behind that claim, and it turns out that almost all of those additional "regulators" work for the Department of Homeland Security, protecting us against terrorists.
Still, why does it matter what some politicians and think tanks say? The answer is that there’s a well-developed right-wing media infrastructure in place to catapult the propaganda, as former President George W. Bush put it, to rapidly disseminate bogus analysis to a wide audience where it becomes part of what "everyone knows." (There’s nothing comparable on the left, which has fallen far behind in the humbug race.)
And it’s a very effective process. When discussing the alleged huge expansion of government under Mr. Obama, I’ve repeatedly found that people just won’t believe me when I try to point out that it never happened. They assume that I’m lying, or somehow cherry-picking the data. After all, they’ve heard over and over again about that surge in government spending and employment, and they don’t realize that everything they’ve heard was a special delivery from the Humbug Express.
So in this holiday season, let’s remember the wisdom of Ebenezer Scrooge. Not the bit about denying food and medical care to those who need them: America’s failure to take care of its own less-fortunate citizens is a national disgrace. But Scrooge was right about the prevalence of humbug. And we’d be much better off as a nation if more people had the courage to say "Bah!"