We’ve heard a lot lately about “going off the cliff” in reference to the expiration of the Bush tax cuts at midnight on December 31 and how the Democrats have finally found their spine and are standing firm. Just the other day, the Senate passed a bill that would lock in another year of the Bush era tax rates for those making under $250,000 taxable income but excluding those who earn more. Despite the fact that everyone agrees that the middle class deserves a continued tax break, the Republicans in the House will never stand for the wealthiest 2% being left out and the Senate bill will die a swift and quiet death. And things will proceed as usual, with nothing getting done.
All this talk about going off the cliff sounds pretty ominous and it is, if you think that taxes going back up to the Clinton era levels is ominous. Perhaps in today’s economic climate, it is ominous for those who aren’t already awash in cash. But there are far more ominous things in the offing and we’d better know what they are before we vote in November. Because that vote will usher in the next phase of what it means to live in the United States of America.
If the extremists on the far right get their mitts (pardon the pun) on the White House we can look forward to:
- The end of public education
- The end of Social Security
- The end of Medicare
- The end of any hope for a better health care system
- The end of regulations of any kind, particularly on banking institutions and big polluters
- The end of alternative energy
- The end of manufacturing in America
- The end of unions of any kind
- The repeal of Roe v. Wade
- The elimination of women’s rights
- The elimination of minority rights
We will have:
- Less police
- Less firefighters
- More guns on the streets
- More crime
- More poverty
- Higher rates of illiteracy
- Higher infant mortality rates
Oh no, you say, that will never happen. But it will. And it will get worse. When you have a country that cares only for profit and extends empty platitudes about “freedom”, you will see things that a yahoo like Newt Gingrich talked about, namely the rolling back of child labor laws. When you have a country that cares only for a religious ideology, you will finally realize the reason our forefathers left Europe to come to a place where all may worship as they please. When you have a country that cares only about world domination, you will have the sons and daughters of the disenfranchised (and that will be everyone except those who have the big bucks) sent off to fight wars for oil or territory or any other insane reason our so-called leaders can come up with. When you have a country that cares more for bankers than its citizens, you will have a country of renters, always at the mercy of their landlords, because your homes will be foreclosed and those investors Mitt loves to talk about will come and buy them up so you can rent what you once owned. When you have a country that has finally and fully made you equal with those slave laborers in China and all those backwater countries in the world where the annual income is in three or four figures, you will finally and fully realize that you are screwed. But before you know what’s happening, those who will then be in power WILL come and take away your guns so you can’t rise up against them.
We have always been a proud nation and that pride has deepened since the end of World War II, which saw the U.S. rise to the top in everything: manufacturing, standard of living, military might. Our president is referred to as the Leader of the Free World. But look at us now. The steel for the new bridge in Oakland CA they imported from China. The new World Trade Center tower is constructed with glass from China and steel from Germany. You don’t have to shop at Wal Mart to be inundated with goods from China and Taiwan. Just check out the ‘made in’ labels in stores like Macy’s. Our standard of living has steadily decreased over the past several decades and poverty has risen sharply as a result of the Bush era policies. Our military, while helped somewhat by our exit from Iraq, is still stretched thin, demanding that our volunteer force serve repeated rotations in dangerous places. Our infrastructure is crumbling. Our public schools are under-funded and gasping for breath. And it isn’t getting better because we have a Congress that is dead set on making sure that President Obama is perceived as a failure. This is not the portrait of a nation riding the wave of success. This is the picture of a nation in decline. But there is still time to reverse the trend.
There are cliffs and then there are CLIFFS. When we look at pictures of the Koch Brothers and those like them, we are staring at the bottomless pit of greed and the lust for power. They are intent on doing whatever it takes, spending however much money it costs, to buy the White House. And if they get it, they will destroy this country. They will install their puppets in Congress, in the Supreme Court and they will dismantle this Republic, leaving the rest of us to stand in the ashes of the Great American Experiment. And they will laugh in our faces when they tell us it failed because of us: because we were too stupid to be trusted with something so important. And you know what? If we let them do it, they’ll be right.
Ann Werner is a blogger and the author of two thrillers and two works of non-fiction. You can view her work at ARK Stories