On Ideology vs. Reality

 

 Unemployed workers line up in futile search for work

 

Republicans Scoff at the Unemployed

Of all the outrageous things the Republicans in Congress have done to frustrate or block any attempt President Obama has made to deal with the crisis their policies created under eight years of George Bush, the decision to go home for the 4th of July holiday without extending unemployment benefits ranks near the top.  In an economy where there are five unemployed workers for every available job nationwide, these cold blooded ideologues have cut unemployment benefits to those who rely on it for survival.  This could amount to over three million Americans if the Grand Obstructionist Party continues to have its way.

In some states the situation is even worse.  In Oregon for instance, there are approximately 10,000 job openings but 210, 000 workers are seeking employment.  That’s twenty to one, and the labor economist tell us that the actual situation is worse than these numbers indicate because many workers have been out of the labor force so long they don’t even show up in the unemployment statistics. Alas as the Democrats attempt to address the crisis in the working class as the struggle to put bread on their tables, the GOP adopts Marie Antoinette’s attitude on the eve of the French Revolution: “Let them eat cake!”

Hence one is forced to wonder whether the Republicans are heartless or just stupid.  Based on their rhetoric and behavior however, we can be certain that the policies they advocate bear no relation to the economic realities and thus can offer no relief to desperate workers.  Their arguments are a series of paradoxes. On the one hand they cling to the dogma that only the private sector can create jobs but they blame President Obama for not creating jobs. 

Yet the only way the President can create jobs is by making the government the employer of last resort through expanding much needed public works projects like rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure or economic stimulus programs.  But the Republicans routinely oppose both approaches.  Instead they cling to the same bankrupt arguments about unemployment benefits causing workers not to seek work – Senator John Kyl of Arizona says: ““Continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work.” And their only solution to joblessness is to reduce regulation and taxes on the corporations and investor class. 

In other words they advocate a return to the same policies that got us in the mess we are in.  This has led the Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman to divide the Republicans into the “heartless” and the “clueless.” Clearly, the GOP has chosen ideology over reality.  It is a testament to the irrationality of American politics, fueled by the abysmal ignorance of much of the electorate – “Boobus Americanus” – that the Republicans are predicted to make a strong comeback in the coming Congressional elections.  

 A hint of what ought to be the Republican’s fate is contained in the testimony of the official ideologist for Yuri Andropov – a former KGB chief who became Russia’s leader and died in office only a couple of years before the fall of the Communist Party – the Russian Communist system collapsed because “when reality contradicted our ideology we chose ideology over reality.”  Hence in a rational political culture the Republican Party would cease to be a serious factor in American politics, not contenders for power in the coming elections.

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Playthell Benjamin

Harlem New York

July 6, 2010

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