In his latest article, George Lakoff discusses how The Devils Budget proposed by the opponents to President Obama will eventually destroy the soul of our democracy by defunding all of its Public infrastructure: public protection, public empowerment, public education, public roads, public libraries, public security and safety, etc.
The effects of The Devil’s Budget are hidden behind the Noble Lie of balancing the budget while further enriching the ONE%. As Lakoff discusses, there are other bigger lies behind this budget.
Here are some excerpts from the article:
America’s soul resides in our relation to one another, the way citizens have from the beginning joined together to form a government whose mission is to protect and empower everyone equally, and to use that government for the sake of The Public, the system that provides the basic means for our freedom to live decent lives and pursue happiness of all kinds, whether it comes from wealth or making music, or becoming a doctor, a scientist, a businessman, an athlete, a teacher, or whatever you find fulfilling. The Public is what unites us in a common enterprise, and the destruction of The Public is a destruction of the bonds that hold us together.
The Congressional Budget office estimates that Ryan’s “long-term budget, if you project forward defense spending, would cut 91 percent from these and all other non-defense programs. Ninety-one percent.” That’s 91 percent of The Public gone: Medical and scientific research. Pell grants. The EPA. The NIH. NPR. The small business administration. Unemployment insurance. Regulation of corporations. Money to help state and local governments. Highway repair. Air traffic controllers. And all government employees doing everything The Public does.
The destruction of The Public is not reversible. It would be the death of the very idea of America. Here’s what it would mean.
Even more, a lot more, of the nation’s wealth than the current 40 percent going to the top 1 percent. Poverty up. Opportunity gone. No way for the poor and middle class to get a college education, and maybe not even a decent K – 12 education, and certainly not public pre-schools. As unemployment rises, competition for jobs gets greater, and so wages get even lower and pensions and health benefits disappear. As the public control of the airwaves disappears with the FCC, the corporate control of news rises, and objectivity of reporting gets much lower. Freedom of the press becomes meaningless. When the military controls almost all of the budget, it gets immensely strong in society, threatening civilian control of the military. When the EPA and FDA disappear, say goodbye to clean air, clean water, and safe food. Wilderness in the National Parks will not exist: it will be destroyed in the race to get at our natural resources — wood, minerals, oil and gas.
The biggest lie is that there is, or should be, no Public. The biggest lie is that Democracy is about personal freedom alone, about the “liberty” to seek your own interests with no responsibility for the interests or well-being of your fellow citizens. The biggest lie is a moral lie. If believed and carried to the conclusion defined by a Devil’s Budget, it means Evil with a capital E and the loss of the American soul.
The idea of American Individualism is a moral lie. There can be no Individualism without The Public. Individualism can only begin where The Public leaves off. Individualism begins after the roads are built, after individualists have had an education, after medical research has cured their diseases, after the individualists have received from The Public land grants, grazing, water, and mineral leases, oil and agriculture subsidies, after they have received crucial patents.
Here’s what Lakoff says about the two candidates pushing this budget:
Paul Ryan is a personable individualist and extreme conservative. And he is smart — seen as an intellectual by his conservative colleagues because has mastered budget policy enough to construct a Devil’s Budget with all the right numbers. Not the right numbers to eliminate the deficit, as Paul Krugman has observed. But the right numbers to eliminate The Public, which is the real conservative goal.
Mitt Romney knows about Devil’s Budgets from Bain Capital, whose goal was to make as much money as possible for investors and major management by squeezing human values out of businesses: treating employees as resources for profit, maximizing profits by outsourcing, minimizing skill levels, eliminating unions, ending pensions, seeking tax loopholes, moving profits to tax havens, eliminating factories and firing employees, moving jobs abroad, devastating communities — whatever was necessary to maximize profits for Romney and other managers and investors. Liberty for Romney has meant applying Devil’s Budgets in corporate life. The Romney-Ryan ticket is ideal for destroying the American ideal of The Public and the freedom that it provides for all of us.
Lakoff concludes with the historical morality that gave America its soul:
In what was perhaps the first statement of the morality that lit the Soul of America, John Winthrop told his fellow passengers on the New World-bound Arbella in 1630:
…that every man might have need of others, and from hence they might be all knit more nearly together in the bonds of brotherly affection. From hence it appears plainly that no man is made more honorable than another or more wealthy etc., out of any particular and singular respect to himself…
This is the morality that informs the Declaration and the Constitution. It is the morality that led to emancipation, to universal suffrage, to the New Deal and the Great Society, and Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear — with the recognition that we are all in this democratic experiment together. It is what, from the beginning, has informed the formation of The Public. It is that sense of morality that we must maintain.
‘Taking American back’ means implementing the soulless vision of America promoted by people like Ayn Rand and her libertarian followers. Destroy all that is Public and they will destroy the nurturant democracy of America. America will no longer be able to protect and empower all citizens or provide equal opportunity. America will become a plutocracy of the rugged individualistic ONE% as Romney/Ryan take America back.