If this was 1954, or even 1964 and the Soviet Union had declared climate change to be real and man-made real and they planned to fill their country with solar panels and wind turbines to fight it, Democrats would have jumped on the alternative fuels bandwagon and kicked major ass to make sure we beat them to it. It wouldn’t even matter if it was real. If the Russians thought it was real, it would be real. Period.
Before 1981, when Ronald Reagan became president and we started going down the unfortunate path we find ourselves on, we were actually on our way to weaning ourselves from our oil addiction. More than 34 years ago, we had been through two oil supply crises, both caused by the fact that oil was no longer a market-based commodity, but a tightly controlled product that was dirty and which had the potential to ruin our economy. And we were taking care of the problem. The federal government had instituted a number of conservation methods and they were investing heavily in alternative energy production, including solar, wind, geothermal, and other resources. As of 1981, it was projected that we could reduce oil production by between 3-5% every year for decades. which would have put us in excellent shape heading into new century. It would also have prevented the price volatility we experience now.
However, modern-day Republicans are pure cynics. They understand the cost of everything and the value of nothing. The first thing Saint Reagan and the Republicans in Congress did with virtual control of government was to roll back almost all of the energy initiatives Democrats had passed previously, and sent us backwards on conservation and renewables. Not only that, but Republicans essentially crashed the oil economy, causing record low gas prices, and insinuated that there was so much oil, we’d never pay over $1 again. Not only did they discourage increased CAFE standards and conservation efforts and cancel funding for for alternatives, but they encouraged everyone to buy the biggest worst gas guzzler they could, which set us up for the most self-destructive era in our history. To this day, our situation with regard to energy is precarious. Sure, at this moment the price is low, but it could double at any time.
Not only that, but Republicans essentially crashed the oil economy, causing record low gas prices, and insinuated that there was so much oil, we’d never pay over $1 again. Not only did they discourage increased CAFE standards and conservation efforts and cancel funding for for alternatives, but they encouraged everyone to buy the biggest worst gas guzzler they could, which set us up for the most self-destructive era in our history. To this day, our situation with regard to energy is precarious. Sure, at this moment the price is low, but it could double at any time.
We also face the specter of climate change and the dangers that brings to our coastlines, our farms and a great number of other industries. Oil prices are also more volatile than ever (no, the current prices won’t last), and after 34 years of Repubicans runing our government, our economy is as dependent on oil as ever. Meanwhile, other countries, including China and most of Europe, have decided to increase their focus on replacing oil, and new industries are popping up in those countries
For 34 years, we’ve been told by Republicans that we can’t do anything about any of the problems we face. We can’t afford to wean ourselves from oil because everything else is too expensive and impractical. We can’t afford to do much of anything except waste hundreds of billions of dollars on building a war machine we will never use. Think about all of the things we’ve been told we can’t do by Republicans, that other countries are doing as a matter of course.
- Every other industrialized nation in the world has a universal health insurance system, and we finally have the beginnings of on, but Republicans would rather kill that than improve it and make it more efficient.
- Most other industrialized nations are building robust transportation infrastructures, including better highways, but also modern public transportation projects, including high tech energy efficient rail projects. Republicans keep killing such projects here, claiming we can’t afford such extravagances.
- Most other industrialized nations are modernizing their energy infrastructure and building out solar, wind and geothermal infrastructure, because the future is coming. Republicans here keep killing those projects and investments, claiming that we can’t afford those, either.
- Other nations are using public money to build out a new manufacturing base that will last for a century, in solar panels and other technologies that will be needed all over the world in the future. Developing economies won’t be able to afford an oil-dependent economy; they’ll need to develop in a sustainable way. Yet, Republicans are willing to cede those markets and the developed wealth to the rest of the world, at the same time thy claim we can’t afford to invest in them.
The Republicanization of the United States should infuriate you. The country who once built the largest economy in the history of the world by investing in infrastructure and new technology is now scared to death to do anything but save money. We have become a “can’t do” nation under their leadership, and we are in danger of going from being the richest country in the world to being a second-rate power.
Five years ago, Republican policies led our economy to crash. In the process, the American people “lost” about $29 trillion in wealth because the GOP encouraged greedy people to create financial instruments and markets that had no rational purpose for existence, except to generate wealth for the people at the top of the economic pyramid. The “Republicanization” of America is bad for us. This “can’t do” spirit has gripped us primarily because the GOP’s has as its main theme that government can’t work, and it sets out to prove that premise every chance they get. They constantly cut the hell out of budgets for things we need as a people, and siphon the money to their political benefactors, who are too rich to pay taxes, according to Republicans.
After a generation of this crap, it’s time to say, “Enough!” The election of Saint Reagan marked the end of the most prosperous era in American history and the beginning of our emergence as a “can’t do” nation. Compare the 34 year period between 1946 and 1980 with the subsequent 34 year period, and you’ll see that we used to be “can do” and now we “can’t do” much of anything.
What changed? Democrats used to run the show, and now Republicans do. Democrats learned something from World War II that no modern Republican could ever learn. In those days, the government invested huge amounts on infrastructure. We built schools; we built town squares; we built cities out of dust. We demonstrated to the rest of the world how to build a world-class infrastructure that made our economy the envy of the world.
We became a manufacturing power, sure, but more importantly, we began to take care of our own. We set up a mortgage system that made home ownership a reality for millions of families. Beginning with the GI Bill, we set up systems whereby just about anyone in the country could get a good education, including college if they wanted to, for an affordable price and experience the American dream, whether that was to be a doctor, lawyer, auto mechanic or factory worker. At the same time, the American worker was able to support a family well on a single worker’s income. We were the manufacturing capital of the world and our goods were considered the best in the world. We thrived because Democrats regulated commerce to keep the markets fair for everyone, including rich and poor. Did they over-regulate in some cases? Absolutely. But when you look at the overall effect, what they largely did was done right.
We tried to tackle our biggest problems. We addressed poverty by developing a safety net to help protect those who fell through the capitalist cracks. When large corporations were shortchanging their worker on safety, the Occupational Health and Safety Act was passed. When the country finally started to take pollution seriously, the Environmental Protection Agency was created and we passed Clean Air and Clean Water legislation. We created the FDA and FTC and other agencies to protect the food supply and to make sure consumer products were safe.
Now, look where we are. After so many years of Republican cuts, foodborne illness is setting records. Last year saw the largest number of vehicle recalls in history. After years of environmental improvements, we are starting to see progress slowing and even reversing in some cases. All of this is because of the GOP’s “can’t-do” attitude.
It was during the Democratic Party era that we also passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, and hundreds of other progressive laws that were designed to make life in the United States the envy of the world. Since 1981, however, all of those have taken a major hit, because Republicans need to prove that government doesn’t work, and that such programs don’t work. They are proving those premises wrong by taking them apart piece by piece.
After a generation of Republicanization, the only thing they have done is to inflate the debt. When Saint Reagan took office, the debt was $900 billion, or 31% of GDP, down from 120% of GDP after World War II, which we spent helping defeat Nazis and the Imperial Japanese. When Saint Reagan and the elder Bush were through after 12 years, the debt topped $6 trillion, and 63% of GDP. When Baby Bush was through, the debt was 110% of GDP and increasing. It’s finally starting to retract a bit again, no thanks to current Republicans. And all of that debt was incurred to give rich people tax breaks. To recap, under Democrats, the debt soared to 120% of GDP to save democracy, while it soared to 110% GDP under Republicans so the Walton family could pay lower taxes. Pretty big difference.
Republicans think budget cutting is the key to everything. Yet, the more they cut, the worse the debt gets. That’s because their “cant do” attitude dominates their thinking. They’re also hypocrites. They complain about illegal immigration, but they cut money for border security. They complain about the cost of massive lawsuits, but they cut fundng for r OSHA inspections, cut money for the EPA, cut funding for customs inspections, and cut money for pretty much anything that makes us safer. All of those cuts put more Americans’ safety at risk, and that results in more lawsuits.
The modern Republican Party has brought us a brand of cynicism that should have no place in American government. Again, from their view, everything government does costs money but has no value. Of course, when the government agences they have cut to the bone fail in their mission, they waste no time placing blame. They don’t actually cut the budget, the simply divert funds from systems people need to have a good life to contracts that line the pockets of their beneficiaries; the people who paid to put them there. This is especially the case when it comes to their baby, the Department of Perpetual War.
Republican rule has transformed us from a nation that once believed we could do anything into a nation that believes it’s broke and can’t afford to do anything. Because of the Republicanization of America, everything is discussed based on how much it costs and whether it will make money, and that is not rational. There are some things we have to do, but we can’t with Republicans in charge. We are still the richest nation in the world, but with Republicans in charge we won’t be for long.
Democrats are not perfect; it took nearly two decades to pass Medicare and civil rights legislation, and it took until the late 1960s to even acknowledge the damage we were doing to the environment. But now, we can’t even acknowledge the problems we have and discuss solutions unless someone can make a profit. Again, that’s not rational.
The Republicanization of the United States has to stop, and we have to stop it. There will be a lot more on this between now and 2016-18-20, etc.