Saturday, September 03, 2005

It's All About Politics, cont....

As much as the mouthbreathers on the Right want to make this about the immorality of the victims, what needs reiterating is that it was not the poor who broke the social contract in NOLA. Government in general, and American government in particular, has always been about protecting those with lotsa stuff from the people who make the rich's lotsa stuff possible. In exchange for not engaging in continuous revolution against those who benefit from the laborers' work, the wealthy promise those workers a level of comfortable living including, but not limited to, food, shelter, and protection from crime. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, it was the government that abrogated the contract first. It was the absense of government fulfilling its obligations that led to anarchy, not anarchy leading to the absense of government.

The friction between Conservatives and Liberals runs precisely on the fault line of the negotiations between what the powerful owe the broad majority of Americans who make their wealth and power possible. One end result of Katrina is that the fault line has been revealed as the fractious dividing line it always has been and always will be. When the powerful Conservatives in this country press for anti-bankruptcy laws, press for lowered minimum wages, lower safe workplace standards, lower regulations on polluters (it's not the rich that live near the toxic waste zones); press for less money for inner-city transportation, less money for Head Start, less money for public health clinics - when they cut funding for any and all programs that benefit the workers who make the rich rich and the powerful powerful so that the rich and powerful can become even richer and more powerful - they are negotiating the contract between the haves and have nots. This IS politics.

This is an administration who's first and primary goal is to further entrench, further enlarge the power of the richest and most powerful - who want to overturn all the gains negotiated for the not rich and not powerful by Liberals through New Deal and Great Society programs, through Civil Rights Acts, etc. Conservative ideologues believe, in Grover Norquist's suddenly obscene metaphor, that government needs to be shrunk to a size in which it can be drowned in a bathtub. It believes the rich and powerful owe NOTHING to those people who make them rich and powerful - worse, that the not-powerful should be grateful to be allowed to make the rich richer. George Bush, in this grotesque photo-op to the Gulf Coast yesterday, spent far more time bemoaning the looting than he did the loss of life. That wasn't scripted. Property IS more important to Conservatives than human life.

I'm not advocating Communism. I'm not advocating Socialism. I am asking, if now is not the time to reexamine the contract between the classes in America, when is? If now is not the time to question again what kind of country we want to live in, when is? And that's politics.


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