Twenty years is long time to run a successful scam. But if there is one thing that today’s Conservatives are good at, it’s pulling the wool over our eyes as they pull the rug out from under our feet. We have to give them credit for their ability to spin the facts. Reinforcement by the corporate media hasn’t hurt their efforts either.
Since the days of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, the message by neo-conservatives and their allies in the media has been: “Cut corporate taxes. Reduce government. Eliminate debt.” Like a Gregorian chant, their mantra is repetitive and ceaseless. It’s also consistent and wrong.
And then they claimed that ‘trickle down’ economics – the theory that the riches of the wealthy will slowly make it into the pockets of the rest of us – will kick in. They called it policy. I call it a quarter-century con job accentuated by rising income inequality, precarious employment, a decaying infrastructure and the slashing of public services.
Examples of the economic failures of Thatcher, Reagan and acolytes like Stephen Harper, abound.
Unfettered corporate tax cuts do not create hiring frenzies. They do create record profits. Fortune 500 companies like General Electric now pay no tax, while middle-class workers who make the company profitable dutifully keep the country afloat.
Here is something else tax cuts create: holes in our infrastructure and social fabric. And we are witnessing the impact first hand and painfully. There is a cost to maintaining a civil society. It is one that must be shared more fairly.
Another favourite tune from economic conservatives is that balanced budgets create jobs. Really? It depends on how we reach that balance.
Conservatives like to reach a balance by job cutting and through the elimination of all those so-called entitlement programs. In other words, they do it on the backs of working people or, better said, by the sacrifices of the 65 per cent of the population who don’t support them.
Does it work? Just this past month federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was crowing about his upcoming balanced and surplus federal budgets. That same month Canada shed 7,000 jobs.
Why? Job creation could not keep pace with the number of public service jobs that were cut. Sadly, those displaced workers got the ultimate tax cut. With no job they no pay no taxes.
The Conservatives have had a quarter century to divide and conquer, pitting working people against their own interests. But this con game is coming to an end. Working people are getting it. They are seeing their disposable income vanish before their eyes. They are witnessing how the infrastructure of their cities and towns are collapsing. And they are watching how the rich get richer.
As an example, just recently Warren Buffet’s investment company, Berkshire, announced an almost $20 billion profit, up 25 per cent from the same period last year. What did they do with that good news? They purchased and then closed the Heinz plant in Leamington, Ontario, tossing thousands of people into uncertainty.
Profits for a few trump jobs for the many, again and again.
Recently, South Carolina Governor and “right to work“ disciple, Nikii Haley, announced that her state would not welcome any unionized employer. Stop the presses! Scarcely a revelation given that South Carolina already has some of the lowest wages in the United States. Wedded to the conservative game, the governor is determined to keep her people poor while maintaining a happy face for big business.
In Ontario, PC Leader Tim Hudak took great pride in saying he ended Chrysler`s bid for what he termed corporate welfare when that company abruptly said it would not honour government assistance to retool its Windsor and Brampton assembly plants.
Maybe Hudak mirrors the likes of Governor Haley: Keep unions out at any cost. Curiously, though, this is the same Tim Hudak who wants to hand out corporate welfare in the form of lower corporate tax rates to attract business. The irony appears lost on him. Not surprising. So caught up in the con game, today`s Conservatives are now trying to fool themselves.
They are the only audience they have left.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas