Austerity Hits America

Time to Suffer

The Government will neither propose nor implement measures which may infringe the rules on the free movement of capital. Neither the State nor other public bodies will conclude shareholder agreements with the intention or effect of hindering the free movement of capital or influence the management or control of companies. The Government will neither initiate nor introduce any voting or acquisition caps, and it will not establish any disproportionate and non-justifiable veto rights or any other form of special rights in privatized companies. No further special rights will be introduced in the course of future privatization projects.

— Memorandum of Understanding on Specific Economic Policy Conditionality, 9 February 2012, EU and Greece

Due to the high economic financialization, more than half of the profits in the real economy come from the returns of financial activities. If we exclude the factor of virtual economy, the U.S. actual GDP is about 5 trillion U.S. dollars in 2009, per capita GDP about $ 15,000.

— Dagong, Surveillance Report for Sovereign Credit Rating of the United States of America

“Game Over”, so to speak. The dark times are here in America. You are on your own. The federal-state-local governments are broke. No more benefits for hungry children, homeless veterans and civilians. No more full-time employment with benefit packages. Stagnating wages and income inequality are the norm. But Hey! Let’s cut taxes.

Austerity means that Capital will now be allowed to flow uninhibited through the United States of America. National Parks and forests will be privatized or sold off to financiers. America’s national museums—normally offered free of charge to the public—will be privatized and admission fees instituted. Public schools are for sale. Art is for sale. People are for sale. The infrastructure is for sale.

Just take a look at the plight of Detroit, Michigan right here in the good old USA. You are looking at the future of America.

Like the Locusts described in the Bible, Capitalist Locusts will loot the United States. They will rejoice in the suffering of the nation. “Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth… They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone. And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them.” (Revelation 9:3-10)

There is a bright side though. Since most Americans will be stripped of tax breaks or benefits and denied wage increases, they will soon be competitive with low wage workers in Asia and South America. Americans with a steady job and a full health insurance benefits—normally defined as the Middle Class—are fearful of monetary ruin and homelessness. This state of fear is compounded by a broad, anxiety ridden American national security consciousness. The bargain made by Americans with their government over the past 12 war-years goes something like this: “Alright, I will sacrifice some of my rights enshrined in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights if you—US, State and Local government/corporate contractors—can guarantee my security.”

US, state, and local governments are a sham. They and their corporate/private contractors who run the national/economic security machinery are not able to hold their part of the liberty-for-security bargain. Sandy Hook, the Boston Marathon Bombings, and 16,000 homicides a year testify to that. In this dark American environment, as in much of Europe, this question needs to be asked, “Isn’t selling off social programs, cutting wages, robbing pensions, shutting down government programs to help children a form of terrorism?”

Last Gasps: Social Security

One of the most sinister pieces of propaganda floating through the corporate media is that the US Social Security System is insolvent and needs to be privatized. The destruction of the one program that remains the strongest social contract between the young and old in America is about to be offered up for sacrifice by US President Obama and like-minded Democrats/Republicans in the US Congress. To paraphrase a line from Total Recall, “Your life is just a dream.” And from The Who’s Quadrophenia, “We are the slaves of the phony leaders, breathe the air they have blown you.”

As William Greider put it back in 2009, “Targeting Social Security is a smokescreen designed to reassure foreign creditors and avoid confronting the true sources of US indebtedness. The politicians might instead address the cost of fighting two wars on borrowed money or the tax cuts for the rich and corporations or the deregulation that led to the recent financial catastrophe and destroyed vast wealth. But those and other sources of deficits involve very powerful interests… Social Security has accumulated a massive surplus—$2.5 trillion now, rising to $4.3 trillion by 2023. This vast wealth was collected over many years from workers under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act to pay in advance for baby boom retirements. The money will cover all benefits until the 2040s—unless Congress double-crosses workers by changing the rules. This nest egg does not belong to the government; it belongs to the people who paid for it. FICA is not a tax but involuntary savings.”

But the US government has been borrowing from the Social Security funds to pay down debt and fund other programs like US military action in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. Now, of course, they do not want to pay it back as that would require finding a few trillion dollars to dump back into the social security system. America has paid a hefty price for its wars in lives and treasure.

Sacrificing Social Security has been part of Obama’s game plan all along. As the partial government shutdown of 2013 continues, Greider’s comments back in 2009 are right on the mark. “Barack Obama is again playing coy in public, but his intentions are widely understood among Washington insiders. The president intends to offer Social Security as a sacrificial lamb to entice conservative deficit hawks into a grand bipartisan compromise in which Democrats agree to cut Social Security benefits for future retirees while Republicans accede to significant tax increases to reduce government red ink.”

John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in political and national security affairs. He wrote The Raptor's Eye, and his latest book is US Army Human Terrain System. He can be reached at: captainkong22@gmail.com. Read other articles by John.