‘Christian Right’ Is An Oxymoron
I cannot think of two ideologies more diametrically opposed to one another than Christianity and right-wing conservatism. Yet, in U.S. politics no two words get conjoined more than “Christian Right”.
How is it that people who claim to live according to the compassionate teachings of Jesus Christ — alleged champion of the poor and the meek — simultaneously, and with straight faces, attempt to impose sociopath Ayn Rand’s world vision of selfishness upon their fellow citizens?
In one hand conservatives cling to The Bible, proclaiming themselves to be morally-superior to the opposition. In the other hand they brandish that book’s antithesis, Atlas Shrugged, like a loaded revolver with which to thin the American ‘herd’.
Let’s break down the two ideologies to show the implausibility — if not the impossibility — of their co-existence within the same rational, logical mind:
Their political ideology is largely built upon their beloved Ayn Rand’s “anti-altruism” philosophy. She sums it up here in her 1959 Mike Wallace interview:
Rand: … [man’s] highest moral purpose is the achievement of his own happiness, and that he must not force other people, nor accept their right to force him, that each man must live as an end in himself, and follow his own rational self-interest.
Wallace: [In a Newsweek review, a critic writes] you are out to destroy almost every edifice in the contemporary American way of life, our Judeo-Christian religion, our modified government-regulated Capitalism, our rule by the majority will. Other reviews have said that you scorn Churches and the concept of God. Are these accurate criticisms?
Rand: Yes … If I am challenging the base of all these institutions, I am challenging the moral code of altruism. The precept that it is man’s moral duty to live for others. That man must sacrifice himself to others, which is the present day morality.
Wallace: What is self-sacrifice? You say you do not like the altruism by which we live. You like a certain kind of Ayn Randist selfishness. […] We’re taught to feel concerned for our fellow man, to feel responsible for his welfare, to feel that we are — as religious people might put it: “children under God and responsible, one for the other”. Now why do you rebel? What’s wrong with this philosophy?
Rand: But that is what in fact makes man a sacrificial animal. That man must work for others, concern himself with others, or be responsible for them. That is the role of a sacrificial object.
In the spirit of Ayn Rand, conservatives prioritize tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens and corporations, while imposing deep draconian spending cuts — and thereby pulling the rug out — from the poor, the elderly, and the most vulnerable amongst us.
Now contrast their conservative political ideals with what they claim to be their heart-felt religious ideals: Christianity (as quoted from the Bible):
Prov. 29:7. The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor; the wicked does not understand such concern.
1 John 3:17. But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?
Acts 4:32-35. And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet; and they would be distributed to each, as any had need.
Mt. 6:24. “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Money.”
Prov. 19:17. He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his good deed.
Prov. 14:31. He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.
Obviously, the conservative right’s political and religious belief systems are steeped in GROTESQUE and INSURMOUNTABLE contradictions. One could logically conclude that you cannot be both ‘disciples’ of Jesus Christ AND Ayn Rand (who detested both religion and moral responsibility to others).
Considering the significant role the Evangelical community played in getting George W. Bush re-elected in 2004, the Left would be wise to drive a wedge between these ideological contradictions, and effectively split the conservative base, once and for all.
Because never before has Ayn Rand’s cruel “anti-altruistic” ideology been so close to becoming an American reality. And never before, in my lifetime, have conservatives been so eager to proclaim themselves to be Ayn Rand ‘disciples’.
UPDATE (June 6, 2011):
Many Christian voters are now taking these gross contradictions outlined above, and posing them directly to Republican politicians (including Paul Ryan). Judging from the Republican responses (or lack thereof), you can see this is a topic that terrifies them: (SEE THE VIDEOS).
“Job Creators” & “Investors”: The Disconnect Between Republican Policies & Economic Stimulus
The Republican Party’s latest economic policy proposals are nothing short of pure unadulterated neo-liberalism — the radical merciless ideology foisted upon the world by economist Milton Freedman. Recent events throughout the country have been playing out like a chapter straight out of Naomi Klein’s hugely important bestseller, The Shock Doctrine.
First the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2%, then the calls for deregulation, union-busting, and privatization; followed by — surprise! — severe austerity measures. These policies, if fully enacted, will accomplish little more than transferring trillions of dollars to the wealthiest individuals and corporations, and in doing so crushing the lives of average Americans.
Any ‘trickle down’ effects yielded from extending Bush tax cuts for the wealthy — which added nearly a trillion dollars to our national debt — would have been negligible at best. But they will literally be jack-hammered to oblivion if followed by the Republican-proposed Draconian measures.
Their calls for deep spending cuts in the public sector (both at Federal and State levels) will translate into whittling away all safety nets for America’s elderly and most vulnerable, while issuing pink slips for teachers, cops, firemen, postal employees, librarians, etc.
Instead of paying teachers to educate our children, and cops to fight crime, taxpayers will instead be writing their unemployment checks. That is, until Republicans can finally figure out a way to terminate unemployment insurance as well. Meanwhile, our national infrastructure continues to crumble beneath our feet.
And their proposals do absolutely nothing to stimulate the economy. Unless you believe that sacking public workers will magically reduce unemployment, and somehow stimulate consumer demand (the driver for economic expansion).
Rather than subjecting lower and middle-income Americans to severe austerity measures, our economy would be best served by doing the very opposite. Policies that help to improve the financial bottom-line for struggling Americans guarantees an economic spark, if only because these Americans have little choice, but to spend every last dollar they make on necessities (i.e. they put ALL of it right back into the economy).
Unlike lower and middle-income Americans, the wealthy have the luxury to hoard each and every penny netted from their tax cuts. And few of them will be enticed to invest in a recessionary environment where risks are abnormally high.
How many millionaires are out stimulating the economy right now by purchasing third or fourth homes here in the U.S., when economists are now forecasting a double dip in home prices? How many are considering starting up new businesses, dependent upon consumer spending, when consumer bankruptcies just hit a 5-year high?
For wealthy individuals who do choose to invest, many will wisely target foreign companies, foreign mutual funds, foreign real estate, and multinationals who do business where economies are still growing. In other words, the ‘trickle-down’ part of Republican economic policies will actually occur in China, India, and elsewhere.
The supply-side ideology is based upon a faulty and outdated model that conveniently ignores competition for investment dollars overseas, and is largely dependent upon exaggerating the discretionary spending behavior of the wealthy.
As for corporate tax laws, two-thirds of all U.S. corporations dodged paying a single penny in taxes between 1998 and 2005. And how did these corporations repay the favor? By shifting their labor investments overseas, to countries where the cost of labor is extremely low, and where few if any environmental protection laws exist.
Cisco just released their international salary report showing that the average annual salary of their technical professionals in India ($14,508) is just 1/4 of what their American counterparts make ($62,993). And yet their Indian employees work 56 hours per week, on average — that’s 25% more hours than their American counterparts (45 hrs).
To rub some serious salt into the wounds, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that U.S. corporations (not even including Wall Street Banks) were sitting on close to $2 trillion in cash — the highest corporate cash reserves in over 50 years! — and still refuse to hire in the United States:
Rather than pouring their money into building plants or hiring workers, nonfinancial companies in the U.S. were sitting on $1.93 trillion in cash and other liquid assets at the end of September, up from $1.8 trillion at the end of June, the Federal Reserve said Thursday. Cash accounted for 7.4% of the companies’ total assets—the largest share since 1959.
The cash buildup shows the deep caution many companies feel about investing in expansion while the economic recovery remains painfully slow and high unemployment and battered household finances continue to limit consumers’ ability to spend.
Yet, Republicans contend we must deregulate our industries further to help corporations cut their costs — at the expense of the environment and consumer protections — and desist from demanding they pay their fair share in taxes — all so that they will have the money they need to “create jobs”.
NO informed American — outside of wealthy individuals and corporate profiteers — could possibly support the Republican Party’s economic policies.
Which begs the question: how does a political party, which serves only the interests of its wealthiest contributors, continue to successfully legislate policies that work against the very interests of the American people?
Since their ideology is unsupported by the facts, they hire “word doctors” who coin misleading phrases to be repeated over and over again. Phrases that are both simplistic and somehow ‘intuitive’ to a non-discerning public.
This has remained their tried and true method for selling destructive economic policies to the American people. Take Frank Luntz, probably the most famous of all conservative “word doctors”. He coined the phrase “government takeover of healthcare”, which became the talking point for the Republican Party during the health care reform debate. It helped spur the Tea Party into storming Democratic town hall meetings during that period — terrified that “Marxists” were coming after their Medicare.
Their current economic play-script is inundated with two phrases: “job creators” and “investors” — to be used in place of “corporations” and “wealthy individuals”. These phrases — more or less the equivalents of “fair and balanced” being used to describe Fox News ‘reporting’ — are now the cornerstone of the entire Republican economic policy narrative.
Take Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Virtually every sentence that comes out of his mouth includes the phrase “job creators”. Check out his Twitter account and count the tweets where he reiterates the phrase “job creators”. In fact, he created a website called AmericanJobCreators.com where he asks “job creators” to tell him what kinds of consumer protection regulations he should dismantle on their behalf.
The guy is a corporate lobbyist’s wet dream.
And our obsequious President — instead of showing leadership on this issue and dismantling this fictitious narrative — first capitulated on extending Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2%, then capitulated to Issa back in January on the argument that deregulation helps create jobs. In doing so, he legitimized what he knows to be untrue, making it next to impossible for his party to now push for MORE regulation and RAISE taxes on wealthy corporations and individuals without immediately being branded as hostile to “job creators”.
The Conservative Party in Canada, having noticed the success their Republican counterparts across the border were having with this “job creators” phrase, quickly employed it as their own anti-tax slogan.
But make no mistake about it. Our current economic plight was created by:
- Bush’s deregulatory policies leading to a financial meltdown, and the ensuing AIG and TARP bailouts.
- Bush’s misleading us into unnecessary & expensive wars.
- Bush’s granting the wealthiest 2% nearly $3 trillion in tax cuts over the last decade.
- Two-thirds of all corporations having evaded paying a single penny in taxes from their trillions in profits over the last decade.
- Corporations having moved our higher paying jobs overseas to low-cost labor countries.
It is not due to a lack of investing capital by cash-hoarding, tax-evading corporations and the wealthiest 2% (the so called “job creators”) — which remains the Republican rationale for cutting taxes and deregulation.
Yet, somehow the lives of the rich and powerful keep getting easier — more comfortable — while the burden for the reckless calamity they unleashed on this country slowly, but surely — thanks to a combination of an emboldened right-wing and a compliant, timid President — gets shifted onto the backs of the American people in the form of harsh austerity measures.
Milton Friedman’s legacy continues to haunt us.
Alan Greenspan To GOP: Let Bush Tax Cuts Lapse
The former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan, is now rebuking the popular GOP Supply-Side talking point (as trumpeted recently by Mitch McConnell) that tax cuts increase revenues, and therefore help reduce deficits:
“They should follow the law and let [Bush’s tax cuts] lapse,” Greenspan said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Conversations with Judy Woodruff,” citing a need for the tax revenue to reduce the federal budget deficit. […]
Greenspan, in a telephone conversation after his Bloomberg TV interview was taped, said his position is that all the expiring Bush tax cuts should end, for middle-class and high- income families alike.
Ending the cuts “probably will” slow growth, Greenspan, 84, said in the TV interview. The risk posed by inaction on the deficit is greater, he said.
“Unless we start to come to grips with this long-term outlook, we are going to have major problems,” said Greenspan, who led the U.S. central bank from 1987 to 2006. “I think we misunderstand the momentum of this deficit going forward.”
Here, he more or less lays responsibility for the huge deficit problems we now face at the doorsteps of the Bush Administration:
Greenspan said reducing the deficit is “going to be far more difficult than anybody imagines” after “a decade of major increases in federal spending and major tax cuts.”
Ironic, this coming from the guy who foolhardily endorsed Bush’s 2001 tax cuts, thereby helping to lay the ground work for the massive deficit expansion.
Regardless, this will hopefully take some of the wind out of the GOP/Tea Party sails — these self-proclaimed ‘fiscal warriors’. After all, they have championed two grotesquely incompatible positions: debt reduction AND tax cuts.
Tax cuts have long been the cornerstone of the Republican platform due to their obvious political popularity. But the GOP has recently made debt reduction their ‘call to action’. After they bequeathed a tumultuous economic disaster to an incoming President Obama, the GOP knew he would be forced — as was called for by every credible economist in the world — to increase federal spending to keep the country from spiraling into a full blown depression. It gave the GOP a quick recipe for attack: “Obama is just another big spending ‘socialist’ Democrat, intent on creating runaway deficits”. They hoped to shift at least some of the blame for the staggering deficits they created onto him. Disingenuous?–obviously, but they knew their low-information (propaganda devouring) base would swallow it, hook, line and sinker, and they did.
But a week ago their credibility as self-proclaimed ‘deficit hawks’ was called into question by none other than Chris Wallace (their own mascot) on The Fox News Channel (their home field). And the ensuing fallout continues to reverberate across the main stream media and blogosphere.
The Washington Post recently posed the following question to the GOP:
The issue is whether the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans should be extended, adding another $678 billion to the deficit over the next decade. The tax cuts, it’s worth remembering, passed originally in 2001 with the argument that the surplus was so large that rates could be cut with budgetary room to spare. Now that the fiscal picture has deteriorated so badly, the questions remains: How are you going to pay the $678 billion? And if you don’t, how are you going to justify the added damage to an already grim fiscal outlook?
If the GOP hopes to have any chance at recasting themselves as ‘deficit hawks’ to anyone left of their wing-nut base, they will have to address this glaring contradiction. They cannot continue to defend tax cuts for the rich, and still claim they intend to be fiscally prudent next time around.
According to the CBO (as reported by Financial Times):
The Joint Committee on Taxation confirms that extending George W. Bush’s tax cuts “would increase the federal budget deficit by cumulative $2.567 trillion between 2011 and 2020.” It adds:
But that would also deepen a growing structural deficit caused by the cost of providing healthcare and social security to an ageing population.
The Congressional Budget Office projects that the national debt will balloon to 87 per cent of gross domestic product by 2020 and 185 per cent by 2035 if the tax cuts are extended and discretionary spending grows in line with the economy.
The Republicans want to extend all the cuts, while most Democrats support proposals by Barack Obama, president, to extend them only for households with incomes below $250,000, lowering the cost to $2.154 Trillion.
Democrats have accused the Republicans of hypocrisy when they block spending on economic stimulus in the name of cutting the deficit.
It’s obviously time to roll back ALL of Bush’s tax cuts. President Obama, show some leadership on this!