Over the last thirty years, Republicans, conservative Democrats, and their well-to-do allies have perfected a twelve-step program that has worked to transform America.

  1. Cut taxes and establish loopholes and subsidies for the rich and the corporations, to redistribute wealth upwards, drown government in red ink, and justify slashing of social programs.
    a. Lowest tax rates in decades for the well-to-do.
    b. Capital gains taxed at lower rate than earned income.    See CRAMER IS RIGHT: The Hedge-Fund Tax Loophole Is Outrageous, Simons Strategy to Shield Profit From Taxes Draws IRS Ire, and Questioning the Dogma of Tax Rates.  Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.
    c. Social Security cap at $113,700, exempting most of a rich person’s income from Social Security taxes.
    d. International corporations allowed to avoid US taxes by shipping profits overseas.
    e. Many large corporations, such as GE and Apple, pay no taxes at all.  Many corporations (especially Big Oil) receive subsidies.
    f. Lowered estate taxes.
    g. Anti-tax initiatives (like Washington State’s 1-1053) that benefit the super-rich.
    h. Lax enforcement of existing tax laws.
    i. Wall Street bailouts of AIG, Goldaman Sachs and other politically connected banks and corporations.
  2. Maintain the country in a perpetual state of war, to enrich military contractors, to open markets for oil and other resources, and to justify decreasing funding for human needs.   Support regressive regimes and, when convenient, instigate coups.
  3. Keep politicians dependent on private campaign donations.
  4. Manipulate elections by: vote rigging (including the use of hackable electronic voting machines) by gerrymandering , and by suppression of minority turnout (e.g., restrictive anti-fraud laws that require voters to show photo IDs, purging of voters lists, shortening the time for submission of absentee ballots, and provision of insufficient voting machines).
  5. Manipulate news and concentrate the ownership of media, to hide the truth and mislead the public. This is accomplished both by owned media (Fox News, AM radio stations) and by well-funded right-wing think tanks that market misinformation, character assassination, and attack ads.
  6. Blame government, taxation, teachers, unions, and regulation for the nation’s problems. See Teaching People to Hate Their Own Govt. Is at the Core of the Project to Destroy the Middle Class.
  7. Corrupt, privatize and mismanage government agencies and the military, to enrich well-connected corporations and to destroy the People’s trust in government. Conservatives exploit public anger at government waste and corruption that they themselves are largely responsible for. So, conservatives win twice by their corruption and mismanagement: they profit directly from the kickbacks, and then they win at the polls when voters express their disgust with government waste.
  8. Exploit bigotry, religion, patriotism, and fear to divide the people and to distract them from the important issues.
  9. Destroy unions, education and public sector employment. Slash wages, raid pension funds.
  10. Export jobs overseas, via tax laws that reward such exporting and via “Free Trade” agreements that also weaken environmental and other regulations.
  11. Oppose regulation: of Wall Street, of toxins, carbon, health care, insurance, the mortgage industry, and financial transactions. Oppose all government initiatives and regulations that might inconvenience the corporations, help the middle class and the poor, reduce dependence on oil, or lower health care costs.
  12. Corrupt the courts and criminal justice system, by politicizing the Justice Department, stacking the courts with right wing ideologues, refusing to approve Democratic presidents’ nominations, privatizing prisons, protecting torturers, prosecuting whistle-blowers, and pursuing a senseless war on drugs that enriches drug gangs, harms minorities, and disenfranchises African Americans.  White collar crime, insurance fraud, and credit card fraud are rampant and largely unopposed, since the police and FBI are underfunded.

Quite a lot to fix.  First we gotta fix #5 by developing an effective progressive media that educates the public about the issues.

For further resources, check out Government is Good.

by Don Smith

The twelve-step program that works, but probably not for you