The common historical comparisons thrown about these days have compared the current period to Weimar and early Nazi Germany. It is true that some of the comparisons seem to fit. There is widespread unemployment among the working class and the middle class is joining the unemployed ranks rapidly. Prices for staples, for heating and cooling, for transportation, are all rising at rates that outstrip the ability of families to keep up. Health care is becoming un-affordable despite the passage of a reform bill during the last Congress.
We even have radio and television demagogues being paid fortunes to promote racial and religious hatred. It is easy to place Muslims in America today in parallel to the Jews of Germany in the 1930’s. The hatred directed toward immigrants and toward the educated class contributes to the comparison. We seem to be bent upon placing poorly qualified candidates who attract anti-intellectuals and the teavangelist components of our society in positions of great power. The political right is bent upon shutting down government in their belief that favoring the wealthy and corporations will magically restore the country to its early industrial age status.
We need to go back a bit further in time, to the days of the French Revolution.
In 1789, the peasants and, to a lesser extent, the bourgeoisie, were burdened with ruinously high taxes levied to support wealthy aristocrats and their sumptuous, often gluttonous, lifestyles.
It was debt that led to the long-running fiscal crisis of the French government. On the eve of the revolution, France was effectively bankrupt. Extravagant expenditures on luxuries by Louis XVI, whose rule began in 1774, were compounded by debts that were run up during the reign of his even-more-profligate predecessor, Louis XV (who reigned from 1715 to 1774). Heavy expenditures to conduct the losing Seven Years' War against Britain (1756–1763), and France's spiteful attempt to poke a finger in the eye of the British by backing the Americans in their War of Independence, ran the tab up even further.
There is a great similarity between France of 1789 and the U.S. today. While we lack nobles, we can substitute financiers and CEOs who earn more in bonuses/year than the GDP of many small nations. The evangelical fundamentalist churches have replaced the Catholic Church in attempting to run the country and control the lives of people. As in France, these “Churches” pay no taxes while meddling in affairs of government. We have dept incurred by one administration, caused by beginning foreign wars, passed on to the incoming administration so that the economy is badly damaged.
The GOP/teavangelists in concert with the corporations that own Congress have taken up the position of the French aristocracy. Rather than relinquish their positions of political power and the wealth that comes from serving their corporate masters, the teavangelists are willing to destroy the nation’s economy. They seem to be operating from a position that values only great wealth. Failure to amass such fortunes seems to them to denote who is worthy of support and who is not.
Since most of the Congress lacks any real understanding of history, they are quite ready to make the same mistakes other leaders and governments have made. Thus, we find the continual demand for no taxes on the rich, no social safety nets, and leaders who appeal only to the un-educated. Then entire teavangelist wing of the Congress is feeding at the public trough while doing all they can to remove everyone else’s access to public services and to any access to a viable economy.
They, the GOP/teavangelists, sit surrounded by security guards – public employees – and fill their pockets from the corporate purses that then tell them how to vote. The people who sent them to Congress have less and less while the gap between the middle class and the “nobility” grows greater than that of France in 1789.
Like the nobility, refusing to relinquish privilege for the nation's survival, the GOP/teavangelists sit with their thumbs on the self-destruct switch. They will sacrifice the nation for their corporate masters.
Can’t afford to buy bread this week? Just wait. Perhaps some cake crumbs will trickle down.