Alex Blaze

America Is Not Broke

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 08, 2011 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: America, bloomberg, broke, economic policy, ENDA, john boehner, LGBT, Michael Moore, transgender

Michael Moore had a column yesterday at Truth Out, responding to the biggest rightwing lie since "Saddam Hussein has WMD's":

michael-moore.jpgAmerica is not broke.

Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you'll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it's not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.[...]

The truth is, there's lots of money to go around. LOTS. It's just that those in charge have diverted that wealth into a deep well that sits on their well-guarded estates. They know they have committed crimes to make this happen and they know that someday you may want to see some of that money that used to be yours. So they have bought and paid for hundreds of politicians across the country to do their bidding for them. But just in case that doesn't work, they've got their gated communities, and the luxury jet is always fully fueled, the engines running, waiting for that day they hope never comes. To help prevent that day when the people demand their country back, the wealthy have done two very smart things:

If you prefer numbers, if you want a second opinion, or if your head explodes when you hear Michael Moore's name, Bloomberg said pretty much the same thing yesterday:

House Speaker John Boehner routinely offers this diagnosis of the U.S.'s fiscal condition: "We're broke; Broke going on bankrupt," he said in a Feb. 28 speech in Nashville.

Boehner's assessment dominates a debate over the federal budget that could lead to a government shutdown. It is a widely shared view with just one flaw: It's wrong.

"The U.S. government is not broke," said Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy for Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. in New York. "There's no evidence that the market is treating the U.S. government like it's broke."

The U.S. today is able to borrow at historically low interest rates, paying 0.68 percent on a two-year note that it had to offer at 5.1 percent before the financial crisis began in 2007. Financial products that pay off if Uncle Sam defaults aren't attracting unusual investor demand. And tax revenue as a percentage of the economy is at a 60-year low, meaning if the government needs to raise cash and can summon the political will, it could do so.[...]

Cost of Insuring Debt

Financial markets dispute the political world's conclusion. The cost of insuring for five years a notional $10 million in U.S. government debt is $45,830, less than half the cost in February 2009, at the height of the financial crisis, according to data provider CMA data. That makes U.S. government debt the fifth safest of 156 countries rated and less likely to suffer default than any major economy, including every member of the G20.

Creditors regard Venezuela, Greece and Argentina as the three riskiest countries. Buying credit default insurance on a notional $10 million of those nations' debt costs $1.2 million, $950,000 and $665,000 respectively.

"I think it's very misleading to call a country 'broke,'" said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist for IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts. "We're certainly not bankrupt like Greece."

There's lots more at Bloomberg. It's a paper for financiers, not rubes, so they don't mind telling the truth about economics every now and then. It's hard to be a robber-baron if you don't know how the world works, just as it's to control a populace that does. It's also easier to get people to give up what they have if you threaten them with something even worse.

This is also pretty much what we're asking for when it comes to employment anti-discrimination legislation. We want the ability to hold a decent job with dignity, to have enough money to live a decent life on, and the peace of mind of doing it while knowing that sexual orientation and gender identity and expression won't make us feel different, not just get the words "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" on the books to satisfy an ego trip.

We want our piece of the pie, but the pie has been shrinking away as the wealthy take more and more wealth away from everyone, queer and straight. Without addressing that reality, we're basically fighting with straight people who may be more economically oppressed than we are over some scraps. When discussing the pie, all pie issues need to be addressed.

This isn't a call to coalitional politics among queers (coalitions between whom - nonprofits? coalescing how - with press releases?) or superficial pluralism among liberals (as if they're on the brink of solving economic inequality). This is a reminder that most of us are negatively affected by income inequality, by the cheats and criminals (if our system were more sane) on Wall Street who crashed the economy and took us hostage until we gave them a ton of money and now want us to lose our jobs, pensions, health care, and quality of life so that they can get ready for the next go-round.

That a minority of LGBT people aren't negatively affected by this and have abandoned the rest of us, telling us that it doesn't really concern us because it's not about sexuality or gender, is a mere footnote.

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Rick Sutton | March 8, 2011 10:31 AM

It's not so much that my head explodes when I see Michael, but I'm afraid he's going to explode.

Michael, dude, dial in a salad. You're a national treasure. We need you around for a long, long time.

Moore's right. It's the days of robber barons and monopoly wielding tycoons all over again.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | March 8, 2011 10:56 AM

In 2007, as the current Depression began, 43.7% of the wealth in the US was owned by 1% of the population, the looter class.

93% of the wealth in the US was owned by 19% of the population, the looter class, their managers and lawyers, big farmers, cults and cult leaders, politicians and other nonproductive people.

7% of the wealth in the US was owned by 80% of the population, the working class and working farmers, the people who actually produce, wealth as opposed to those who accumulate or manage it.

For the looter class and part of the class of managers there is a pronounced recovery. They accumulated wealth after getting trillions in loans and grants from Obama and Bush as corporations and companies slid into bankruptcy and paid a tiny share of their tax share because of Bush and Obama.

Now Congress - both parties - and the White House are on a rampage aimed at cutting all social programs, including Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security, driving down wages by maintaining high unemployment and destroying unions using a convoluted game of soft cop and hard cop.

In this situation liberals will prove to be the enemies of working people or at best befuddled onlookers and sympathizers.

The political solution to these devastating attacks on our standard of living is to enter or create and build unions and to encourage the AFL-CIO leadership to unleash their Labor Party with the deliberate intent of ending the viability of the Democrat and Republican parties.

Rick Sutton | March 8, 2011 11:05 AM

Well, Bill, we finally agree.

The public policy pendulum has never swung so far right. Except for those brief moments when Roberts, Alito and Clarence Freaking Thomas were confirmed by the Senate. Lord help us.

Scalia I can take because he's brilliant. The other three, esp. Thomas, tombstone may contain an apology to succeeding generations.

Whenever a zealous prosecutor gets close on some top-level corruption cases, they're litigated out of the universe. And a few other cases make it to SCOTUS--Citizens United being a prime example--where decades of existing law are swept aside by barely-functional idiots like Clarence, who's goaded on by a far-far-rightwing wife who earns huge dollars pushing even scarier public policy objectives.

Hell, Bill, according to this court, corporations are now people. |

People worldwide ought to be offended as hell about that.

I'm strongly hoping Michael Moore's next expose will be on SCOTUS. It's the sleeping ugly giant on all kinds of issues, most of which can lead to even further economic disparity. Saddle up.

Angela Brightfeather | March 8, 2011 12:57 PM

So, the big questions seems to be, when do we wake up from this nightmare and how long will it take?

People are beginning to see the light, but they are far from mounting protests and demanding their share of the pie at this point. Anyone over the age of 65 that has taken care of their parents and seen them pass on, knows full well that for the vast majority of us, whatever you cherish or own outright, will be diminished one day, if you last long enough, to a 14' by 14' room and if your really lucky it might have an attached bathroom. That is if your lucky.

My Mother in law is 95 years old, and it took 30 minutes for me to move everything that she now owns, from one room to another when they wanted her to change rooms in her nursing home, and she has it far better than most Americans her age, with three square meals a day and nursing attendents making sure she is Ok and that she takes her meds. All for the cost of her SS check at the end of the month.

The most successful people I know are the one's who after 65, are able to hold onto what they have earned all their life from working like dogs and fighting in wars that were fabricated to keep our attention focused elseware. Now we have to be scared to death by people like the Republicans telling us that we have to give up more of what we have earned to support our grandchildren. Hell, we will end up giving everything we have to our granschildren and everyone else who stands in line to take it or bid on it when we are gone. Is it asking to much from them that we at least end up after all this by having a 14' by 14' room with an attached toilet and a some spam?

There have always been pigs in the world who want to own everything or acquire what everyone else has. From Alexander the Great to House Leader Bohener the coupling of greedy pigs and those who will do their bidding have always been around. The one thing that I don't understand is that they can't seem to grasp that no matter what they gather and accumulate between them in as dishonest and greedy a way as possible, they will all end up with me and you in that 14' by 14' room, suckng on a straw and wondering where all their "things" have gone. If that room is on a palatial estate, or just of the highway next to a tenement, it won't make any difference, we are all heading in the same direction.

If these so called "public servants" really understood what they are doing to others and the fact that we all share the same fate in the end, the average American might not have to revolt to get treated fairly in his or her lifetime. But the fact is, that we are heading into a time when the only way to obtain what a person needs to live until we get to our 14' by 14' room, is to overturn the system or steal what you need from far it appears that stealing or hiding from the truth seems more easy for most.

Certainly, when we pay people 80 million dollars to play baseball or football and then justify that by saying that their "career's" only last three or four years. Or we have corporations sitting on 3 Trillion dollars in offshore accounts that refuse to spend it or use it to hire Americans or start new businesses, unless our government allows them to bring it back into the USA, tax free, and we don't recognize that as being bullied into submission.....then Michael Moore should not be the only person who should be screaming out loud and mad.

Justus Eisfeld Justus Eisfeld | March 9, 2011 7:51 AM

The only bankruptcy that America is facing is moral bankruptcy. As a European it never ceases to shock me to see in what kind of desperate poverty large parts of the people in the US live.
Most rich people get rich one way: by not letting other people share in their wealth. The logic not to tax their wealth, in order to give them leeway to invest, is particularly perverse given how they got their money in the first place. They were unlikely to share when they made their millions, they are equally unlikely to share once they are sitting on them.

You are exactly right, Justus!!!