Monday, December 16, 2013

FDR's New Deal vs. Republicans' Raw Deal

Above: President Franklin Roosevelt and his fellow New Deal policy-makers envisioned an America where citizens worked together, sharing prosperity. In the past 30+ years, as we've steered away from New Deal policies & principles, and have embraced trickle-down economics instead, the middle-class is being decimated while the top 1% keeps vacuuming up all the wealth. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Above: This chart, from a 2011 Mother Jones article, shows how worker productivity has increased.....and also how the wealthy have hoarded all the profits from that extra productivity. But remember, according to right-wing extremists, it's really food stamp recipients and public school teachers who are the "takers." (!) 

Above: This Mother Jones graph highlights the impact of trickle-down economics on America. As you can see, trickle-down economics works best if you're already wealthy. For the non-wealthy, it means stagnation. Add in higher prices, and you have the death of the American Dream. And indeed, for most Americans the American Dream is just that--dead. As Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz stated in 2012, "The life chances of a young US citizen are more dependent on the income and education of his parents than in any other advanced industrial country for which there is data. The belief in the American dream is reinforced by anecdotes, by dramatic examples of individuals who have made it from the bottom to the top -- but what matters most are an individual's life chances. The belief in the American dream is not supported by the data."

Labor leader Leo Gerard recently wrote, "In response to massive unemployment, bread lines, homelessness and misery, FDR gave America Social Security, unemployment insurance, minimum wage, public works jobs and collective bargaining. He gave hope to everyday Americans. In the decades since then, Republicans have tried relentlessly to destroy the New Deal. They weakened collective bargaining rights in 1947. They delayed minimum wage increases and opposed stimulus to create public works jobs in the Great Recession. They want to privatize Social Security and voucherize Medicare...Republicans have redoubled their efforts to kill the New Deal. They're intent on crushing the social insurance programs that enable Americans to care for one another when tragedy or natural disaster or hard times hit. Republicans want to enshrine in law their belief that workers must display devotion and loyalty to employers, but corporations bear no reciprocal responsibility to pay living wages and keep pension promises. Theirs is a raw deal."

What a shame that so many Americans don't understand American history. They don't understand that the New Deal set the stage for our nation's prosperity. Our post-World War II economic expansion occurred along New Deal roads, across New Deal bridges, inside of New Deal buildings, and out of New Deal airports. The New Deal was the infrastructure for our economic growth. 

Today, we have a choice: We can either have another, even stronger New Deal, or we can have a plutocratic banana republic. Unfortunately, it looks as though we've chosen the latter (see, e.g., "Look at the Stats--America Resembles a Broken Banana Republic"). 

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