So, did you have an exciting New Year's Eve? I sure did. I wore a tacky necklace made out of purple beads and a plastic shot glass, watched a bit of Twilight Zone marathon, switched over to CNN to watch the orgy, and switched off the TV the minute the ghoulish ricti of Shrillionaire Mayor Mike Bloomberg and his union-busting, Occupy-evicting girlfriend Diana Taylor appeared. It could always have been worse. At least he wasn't tonguing Lady Gaga this year.
"It could always have been worse" is the conventional wisdom of the Great Fiscal Cliff Averting deal apparently reached last night when I was all wrapped up in little Billy Mumy turning people into jack-in-the-boxes. At least we are waking up to a temporary continuation of unchained Social Security checks, and another measly year of subsistence unemployment benefits for a handful of jobless people, and not being turned into jack-in-the-boxes. So who can really begrudge the rich for getting their permanent tax cuts on their first half a mil, and the spawn of millionaires never having to pay a single penny of tax on the first many millions of their inheritances? It's a balanced approach. That is, if you equate pensioners eating a third meal with Paris Hilton being able to buy a third Porsche. Or conversely, pensioners scrimping on medication at the same time Paris Hilton writes out a check to the IRS on the petty mad-money million not stashed away in an offshore account.
Paul Krugman has a cogent rundown of What It All Means. My response:
Look at this way. The Republican-spawned phrases "fiscal cliff," "kick
the can down the road," "job creators". and "double down" have now all
been banned from the lexicon by Lake Superior University. Of course, the
GOP will balk at this list, accusing the college of elitism because of
its very name, and because it makes fun of rich people.
But to be
serious (they should also have banned that one, along with "grand" and
"bold"), the worst thing about this deal is that the gifts to the
wealthy are permanent, and the crumbs thrown to the poor and middle
class will be gone in a few years at most. As far as I'm concerned, this
is political malpractice. It's a crime that the crisis of unemployment
is not being addressed, other than to sustain a minimal standard of
living for the chronically jobless for a maximum of only one more year
-- and for only relatively small group of people.
we'll be called purist ideologues for not falling in line with the
"don't let the perfect be the enemy of good" pragmatism that is trying
to disguise itself as the new progressivism. But this time around, I do
see some of the Obama personality cult being chipped away, which is a
hopeful sign as far as citizen resistance is concerned.
our elected leaders will have to be watched like hawks (they forgot to
remove "deficit hawk" from the lexicon, too!) as they try to bargain
away the New Deal under the auspices of yet another manufactured crisis.
Happy New Year, everybody!