Did Bush Leave Us Bankrupt, Corrupt, Ungovernable?

by: DaveJ

Sat Feb 06, 2010 at 18:00

When you sell the farm, the farm's gone.

Is it already too late for America?  I'm starting to think that the anti-tax, anti-government conservative movement that started in the mid-70s, elected Reagan and led to the terrible Bush Presidency may have effectively destroyed the country, leaving it bankrupt, corrupt,ungovernable, ruled by a wealthy elite -- and we're only now just starting to realize it.   To cover tax cuts we stopped maintaining the infrastructure and started borrowing.  To satisfy their  hatred of government we increasingly stripped away rule of law, regulation, and belief in one-person-one-vote.  We are seeing the consequences of all of that coming back to roost now.

Reagan left us with massive debt and ever-increasing interest payments. Bush left us with $1.3 trillion deficits and a destroyed economy that would force further increases in the borrowing for years - to be blamed on Obama.  The "free marketers" gave away our manufacturing base that will take decades and massive capital investment to recover.  Obama can try, but it may just be too late to do anything about the borrowing.  We need massive investment in jobs and infrastructure, and a national economic/industrial plan.  But, with their own Reagan/Bush debt as ammunition, conservative ideologues continue to block every effort at investment to get out of the mess we are in.

DaveJ :: Did Bush Leave Us Bankrupt, Corrupt, Ungovernable?
The conservatives destroyed the regulatory structure of the government.  They removed the inspectors, administrators, regulators and replaced them with corrupt cronies.

The conservatives killed off, contracted out or sold off - "privatized" - so much of our in-common resources and heritage of public structures.  Water systems, oil and mineral leases, government functions, elements of the military, etc.

The conservatives destroyed the rule of law, leaving behind public perception of rule by cronyism, favoritism and mob.

The conservatives destroyed public understanding of democracy, leaving behind a one-dollar-one-vote system that their Supreme Court just formalized, along with a corporate media that works to keep people uninformed.  And to make matters worse, now the telecoms can argue before Federalist Society judges that their "speech rights" are violated by rules making them carry labor and progressive websites over the internet lines they control.  And forget about the idea of them ever letting anti-corporate-rule candidates raise money on "their" internet.

I hate to reference Friedman but this from last week has been sticking in my mind.  He says the world is looking at the mess in the US and is turning away from democracy as a result.

[Foreigners] look at America and see a president elected by a solid majority, coming into office riding a wave of optimism, controlling both the House and the Senate. Yet, a year later, he can't win passage of his top legislative priority: health care.

"Our two-party political system is broken just when everything needs major repair, not minor repair," said ... who is attending the forum. "I am talking about health care, infrastructure, education, energy. We are the ones who need a Marshall Plan now."

Indeed, speaking of phrases I've never heard here before, another goes like this: "Is the 'Beijing Consensus' replacing the 'Washington Consensus?' " Washington Consensus is a term coined after the cold war for the free-market, pro-trade and globalization policies promoted by America. ... developing countries everywhere are looking "for a recipe for faster growth and greater stability than that offered by the now tattered 'Washington Consensus' of open markets, floating currencies and free elections." And as they do, "there is growing talk about a 'Beijing Consensus.' "

The Beijing Consensus, ... is a "Confucian-Communist-Capitalist" hybrid under the umbrella of a one-party state, with a lot of government guidance, strictly controlled capital markets and an authoritarian decision-making process that is capable of making tough choices and long-term investments, without having to heed daily public polls.

It is too late to recover?  

Accountability is a first step.  If the current administration would hold the corrupt actors accountable, maybe we could begin to restore governance.  And the public would know who to blame for what has happened to us, enabling them to support policies that will get us out of this.  But so far they won't.  If they won't even investigate torture and illegally invading a country why should we expect any accountability for the financial collapse, corrupt government contracts, bribery, embezzlement, corruption and other crimes of the Bush era?

More equitable distribution of the fruits of our economy is another step.  Our system worked so much better back when the top tax rate was 90%.  The returns from our investment in infrastructure were more widely shared.  And back when it took many years to build a fortune businesses had an interdependence with their communities.  Executives needed the schools and roads and other public structures functioning well. They needed long-range business and community planning.  But just imagine trying to do something about the concentration of wealth today.

So where do we go from here.  Is democracy over?  Is rule of law a thing of the past?  Is predatory monopoly control by the largest corporations the way things are and will be?  Does the world now move to governance by a wealthy elite?

Or is the winter and the rain and the snow just getting to me?

What are your thoughts?

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I feel your pain, and I mean that seriously (0.00 / 0)
DaveJ, I have been having similar thoughts lately. Keep in mind that the looting of the country during the Bush years, especially towards the end, was all part of the Repub plan to make the country ungovernable for the next guy - so they could, as you say, blame everything that's wrong on the inheritor and not the cause of the problems.

Is it over for the U.S.? Is the country ungovernable? I don't know the answer. All I know is, we can't afford to give into despair. "Where do we go from here" is the most important thing to consider. In the meantime we just keep doing everything we can - writing, signing petitions, standing up, speaking out - to act as a bulwark against the Vandals who are bent on looting this country back into the dark ages.

And as the great leftist signer/songwriter Charlie King would say,

"Count it all joy anyway."

For now (4.00 / 2)
America is fucked. Congress is corrupt. People can't even think about this countries problems without getting a migraine. At least not me. When are we going to start electing brave people who aren't greedy and not reelecting those who are? When are people going to start actually educating themselves about politics and think for themselves? Unless officials start making bold moves by standing up for what's right, instead of deflecting blame all the time, this country will only get worse and people will start moving out. People are just starting to tune out altogether.  

Extraordinary progressive star in the making

And actually... (4.00 / 4)
...the Democrats have been in on it too...the "free traders" that destroyed this country are in firm control of both parties.  That is really the problem.  All you have to see is Rahm Emanuel is the Chief Of Staff to the President and the all the other appointmenst made, and that is enough to say this is a garbage administration.  The fundamental changes that needed to take place in this country were not supported by either party and though it is probably too late still are not.  Really the leadership of both parties are the enemies of the American middle class.


Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me-and I welcome their hatred. - FDR

"the free traders" is Clinton. (4.00 / 2)
He's the ass in chief that gave away manufacturing, and Obama is another Clinton - only worse.  Obama has no ideals. He denegrates idealism.   If the man had one principled bone in his body, he'd be bloody and victorious instead of a smug loser.

I think this country is ungovernable and that change is hopeless because progressives are hopeless.  They have no power and yet condescend to teabaggers who have real power.  Learn a thing or two?  No way.  

[ Parent ]
Why do you say (0.00 / 0)
Why do you say "Obama is another Clinton"?

Obama has been taking on China with enforcing trade deals.


Seeing The Forest -- Who is our economy FOR, anyway? Twitter: dcjohnson

[ Parent ]
Talk talk (4.00 / 1)
Just another speech with no actions following it up. Blah.

[ Parent ]
No (4.00 / 1)
No, Obama HAS ALREADY imposed big tariffs on Chinese steel items, tires, and other things that they have been flooding our markets with in violation of trade agreements.  


Seeing The Forest -- Who is our economy FOR, anyway? Twitter: dcjohnson

[ Parent ]
Ok, that's a point. (0.00 / 0)
Haven't seen this in the news yet. The Obama team really has to push harder on the media to report their accomplishments! Imho taking a harrd line stance against China is a popular topic and should be used by Dems as a talking point.

[ Parent ]
Really, tell that to the workers... (0.00 / 0)
..who are working in industries strugling under Chinese competition. Doing good is great,  but also tell the public what you're doing!

[ Parent ]
You have nailed one of the problems here (4.00 / 1)
Not only getting news out about accomplishments and changes, but the big one is getting news out about what the Republicans are doing.  In particular, the public just doesn't know that the Republicans have filibustered every major bill and nominee.


Seeing The Forest -- Who is our economy FOR, anyway? Twitter: dcjohnson

[ Parent ]
And they also don't know that the Dems are often doing the right thing! (0.00 / 0)
Really, imho this is a big issue. The Obama admistration is going tough against the Chinese, who killed millions of US jobs, and almost nobody knows anything about that! Damn, I dunno if this is the media's fault or that of the Dems, but this isn't good. The public has to be informed about such stuff!

[ Parent ]
Yes, it is too late (4.00 / 1)
We are a declining empire. All the signs are there. I would argue that within a generation or two we will be a regional power, but that's about it. It does not mean we will not have a great deal  of power, but compared to the height of our power we will be competing with the other spheres of influence including China and the EU. Each has their problems, but in many ways some of the fundamentals for growth are possible in those regions that are not present here.

How can you put the EU and US in the same sentence. (4.00 / 3)
If we transferred the money we spend on the military and the Bush/Obama wars to social safety nets and infrastructure, we'd all be home free.  Who the hell needs an empire when they can have a socialist government instead.  

[ Parent ]
THe EU isn't socialist (0.00 / 0)

[ Parent ]
Nope. (0.00 / 0)
And our leader are doing all they can to make us more like the US. Damn.

[ Parent ]
I left out military spending (4.00 / 2)
Jeeze, I left out the massive, massive military spending -- more than all other countries combined -- and cost of two simultaneous wars...


Seeing The Forest -- Who is our economy FOR, anyway? Twitter: dcjohnson

Yes, ungovernable for now (4.00 / 1)
Ungovernability is the only thing that really counts in your litany of America's woes. The US is ungovernable at the federal level because of the demise of playing nice in the Senate. It will remain ungovernable until the Senate switches to majority rule or devises some way of penalizing senators at a level commensurate with the amount of sand they throw in the works. Many states are also ungovernable because of insurmountable restrictions on spending. But fix the senate and most of the othe problems coul be fixed in short order - unfortunately we're stuck with the stacked judiciary for a while, although some FDR-style political theater about empeaching Roberts or expanding the court would go a long way toward keeping them less activist, I think.

Internationally, developing countries would have been better off without almost all the meddling that the US has done in the last half century. But that doesn't mean the Chinese model is better, and you shouldn't repeat the story that China's huge expansion shows the efficiency of top-down management over democracy. China is hugely inefficient, with corruption at every level beyond anything we have here (yet) and profits being created out of poisoning people and the environment. More than that, though, the Chinese expansion has been fueled by currency manipulation that has itself done big damage to other developing countries. By keeping the currency devalued China underprices its labor force so that other developing countries can't compete.

not a parliamentarian, but (0.00 / 0)
Did you miss the recent diary about the dems not having 50 senate votes for a public option?

The "gentelmens agreement" in the senate can be changed whenever the majority wants to. If, in fact they still operate under Roberts Rules Of Order. The adopted rule requireing a super majority to change the adopted rule requireing a super majority to do business can be changed by majority vote supporting a motion, and second to affect such change.

At least that is my understanding, haveing attended and chaired and participated in over 650 meetings governed by Roberts Rules Of Order.

Really, the senate dems (for whatever reason) don't want to change this "rule".

Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob..... FDR

[ Parent ]
Things may have to get worse before they can get better (4.00 / 3)
And they probably will. But no, I don't believe that we're on an unstoppable downward spiral. As an empire, perhaps--and if so then it's not a minute too soon, as empires are nothing but trouble. But as a constitutional democracy, I don't think it's over, although clearly, we're in for a shitload of trouble and a very tough slog in the near to mid term as we try to wrestle control back from the oligarchs, who are determined to solidify their consolidation of money and power.

My big fear is that Dems will prove unable and unwilling to do what it takes to fix things, things crash, the far right takes over, and we have a situation similar to Germany in the 30's. This is a genuine possibility, and it'll take some real courage, effort and smarts to avoid it. But even if it does happen, they will eventually self-destruct, and we'll go back to a more sane way of doing things. I just hope it doesn't take such a disaster to get things back to sanity.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

OMG! I was just trying to convey similar thoughts to my wife yesterday! (0.00 / 0)

What did Grover Norquist say? (4.00 / 1)
"I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

Some have taken that as a rather vivid metaphor; for several decades now I have believed that the right wing in this nation has been intending to do almost literally that.

Where they can, they take what they can get: enriching the already-rich with tax cuts while consciously hamstringing government with declining revenues; they empower their oligarch friends at the nation's expense; they impoverish and enslave what is left of the middle class, making the majority of Americans wage-slaves to consumerism and rampant indebtedness.

It did not matter to the Bush-era executive branch that the National debt skyrocketed: money was spent enriching the military-industrial, financial and healthcare ruling class, and the resulting debt simply made what's left of the national government increasingly, and perhaps irreversibly, dysfunctional.

Executive summary: this country's been very deliberately fucked-over by the right wing ever since Reagan.

God only knows what sort of world they think they'll be living in after the Federal government collapses, but God knows they've got enough guns to pretty much take care of themselves.

- bp

good comment (0.00 / 0)
Especially liked the "Executive summary".

One note- They don't have ALL of the guns!

Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob..... FDR

[ Parent ]
I started thinking this after seeing Obama v Republicans (4.00 / 1)
I think I've been resigned to the thought that Obama is smooth-talking fraud who has no sincere interest in doing the right thing for the country. There's something comforting about this resignation.

Since then, I've been feeling a lot worse. He really got me to believe (again) that he's been trying to do good, maybe even that he's been doing his best, and that his talents and insight are unprecedented in modern politics.

So if this guy is doing his best and he still can't govern us, maybe the country really has become ungovernable. It seems like we're in a death spiral, and all the long-term investments that might get us out are the very things we're refusing to do.

Now we Americans need to quickly adjust to our new role as global betas. It's not a shameful thing. Europe - the continent that basically stopped running the world seventy years ago - should be our role model. What makes Europe a nice place to live is that since WW2, they've been planning for their retirement by making a huge investment in infrastructure and (perhaps too slowly) food and energy independence. They're all about sustainability - the left and right parties there agree on this, but emphasize different aspects of it. They're thinking about how their welfare and retirement system is to survive in perpetuity. They're thinking hard about how they will feed their stable population without importing food. The right are also thinking about how to keep more brown people from moving in, but that's also a form of sustainability thinking: Europeans like what they have, and they want to design their institutions so that they can keep it no matter what the rest of the world does. Basically, they're planning for continental retirement.

We're not. I mean, Europe is far, far ahead of us is this, and we're not even thinking about planning for the post-imperial times. It's scary. This is the worst possible time to have an ungovernable country, because this is the very time when our reigns need to get yanked and we need to set off in a drastically new direction, in fitting with our new diminished role.

it is all about money (4.00 / 1)
The overwhelming flood of money is almost impossible to resist for long. And I know there are exceptions, like Joe Biden, but most people don't have that level of willpower.

Read that the border patrol on our southern border has to move agents geographically every few months so they won't become too familliar with the locals. This is to prevent the offering of large bribes by drug smugglers.

The amount of money available to elected reps to sell out the public is many orders of magnitude greater than can be offered by drug gangs. And all they have to do is pretend to believe the right wing lies. Then they can pretend to be following their political beliefs. And save face.

Becoming convinced ouy system of government has been defeated by insatiable greed.

Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob..... FDR

I don't know if this country is ungovernable or not.... (4.00 / 1)
....but I do know that the two current major political parties and their policies are catastrophic for this country.  We need a new party with very different policies than the two established parties.  I just read the 1912 Progressive Party Platform, and it makes you want to restart that party.



Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me-and I welcome their hatred. - FDR

Yes, (0.00 / 0)
but not just Bush.

Were that it was only one man... it's a whole culture.


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