Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bachmann Says U.S. is 'Bananas'

During an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" with show host David Gregory, Michelle Bachmann, the Minnesota Congresswoman and candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination suggested that the United States was spending like a "' banana republic or 'Greece'."  Continuing her ongoing denunciation of all-things Obama, the Congresswoman again laid the blame for Washington spending, the federal deficit and the national debt at the feet of the President.  Go here for the full interview of Ms. Bachmann.

What Congresswoman Bachmann again fails to admit is that she was a member of Congress during the final two years of the Bush Administration.  Years that added hundreds of billions of dollars to the federal deficit.  She also fails to admit that during George W. Bush's two terms in office, more debt was added to the federal deficit in those eight years than during the entirety of our nation's existence.  That the reason for those massive deficits were two wars (one of convenience, one more rooted in necessity) that were entirely unfunded, the largest reductions in tax rates (in terms of dollars saved by the taxpayer) in our nation's history (without any commensurate reduction in spending), and the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program (alone adding $700-800 billion to the deficit over 10 years), which was hamstrung by the pharmacuetical manufacturers who essentially wrote the legislation by not allowing the federal government to seek quantity discounts from those same companies for the drugs the plan was intended to cover. 

What the Congresswoman also fails to either understand, appreciate or perhaps simply doesn't care is that if the United States has, in her mind (a frightening thing to contemplate, in and of itself), begun acting like a 'banana republic', it's not because of government spending or the federal deficit.  Rather, any resemblance to "banana-dom" is tied directly to the ever-expanding wealth disparity in the United States.  In an interesting article written by the late-Christopher Hitchens for Vanity Fair magazine, the writer provided readers with an excellent, and somewhat telling (and some might say clairvoyant), description of what a banana republic is.  This is shared, in part, because it seems fairly safe to say that while Ms. Bachmann knows the term 'banana republic', it is not entirely certain that she knows what it means.  And her denunciation of the U.S. acting like such a country affirms that suspicion.

"In practice, a banana republic is a country operated as a commercial enterprise for private profit, effected by the collusion between the State and favoured monopolies, whereby the profits derived from private exploitation of public lands is private property, and the debts incurred are public responsibility. Such an imbalanced economy reduces the national currency to devalued paper-money, hence, the country is ineligible for international development credit and remains limited by the uneven economic development of town and country." (Banana republic. (2011, December 17). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:00, December 19, 2011, from

Hitchens goes on to opine that what typifies a banana republic is when, ". . . a money class fleeces the banking system, while the very trunk of the national tree is permitted to rot and crash. . . .  ." (Ibid.)

In many respects Ms. Bachmann's declaration is somewhat correct, in that the United States is, in many ways, "a country operated by a commercial enterprise for private profit, effected by the collusion between the State and favoured monopolies, whereby the profits derived from private exploitation of public lands is private property, and the debts incurred are public responsibility."  One could look at conditions in the U.S. today and see striking similarities between the aforementioned 'definition' and the way our "free enterprise" system and the federal government works to each others rather lop-sided benefit; "free enterprise" reaping whirlwind profits while public debt goes through the roof.  However, where Ms. Bachmann stumbles is when she attempts to place blame for our tarnished fiscal condition at the feet of "big government spending."  It is NOT government spending that has resulted in private corporations making billions upon billions of dollars in profits.  Those are the result of previous administrations in Washington turning a blind-eye toward or even advocating for monopolistic corporate mergers that have given fewer individuals nearly overwhelming influence and power over this nation's financial, business and political policies.  And all the while as Corporate America was actively and effectively "raping and pillaging" the American taxpayer and consumer, the federal government, particularly when controlled by Republicans, provided the wealthiest of Americans their lowest income tax rates in six decades, coupled with loopholes and a capital gains tax rate that is less than half the highest income tax bracket for those same wealthy individuals.  Throw into that mix the completely disingenuous and fairly destructive practice of "privatizing" more and more of what the federal government had done in years and decades past, which only guarantees even MORE money flowing from the American taxpayer directly into the pockets of private companies/corporations, and you effectively not only have the monopolistic business environment, but you also have a government which has done nearly all that is within its power, short of handing them the keys to the White House, to ensure that those monopolistic businesses continue garnering ever-greater profits and influence. 

No.  Ms. Bachmann was not entirely wrong in suggesting that the United States has begun to resemble a banana republic.  Where she was wrong was in attempting to suggest that blame for such an ignanimous description of our nation be blamed on the current administration.  Like it or not, America did not reach the conditions in which we find it today in just the last 2+ years.  America today is the result of decades of "Trickle Down Economics," a political party that is hell-bent on making sure the U.S. has only two economic classes (the wealthy and their servants), and an electorate that has seen its influence over elections and policy continually diluted, wittled away, and in some instances, largely co-opted or done away with altogether. 

And what is probably the most ironic thing about Ms. Bachmann's appearance, past statements, and even her current candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, is her hubris-laden suggestion that she, and she alone, is the person best equipped to "bring America back."  If it wasn't for the fact that she hopes to run for President, the most powerful individual on the surface of the planet, her determination and steadfastness in the face of scathing dismissals as being 'irrelevant' or 'poorly informed' would almost be admirable.  Almost.  Instead, her laser-like focus on the Presidency, and her almost rabid belief that she knows the cures for all the nation's ills, is fairly frightening. 

As if the threat of the United States possibly being "Newt"-ered isn't enough to cause someone to contemplate a renewed faith in a higher power and the hope for deliverance from bombastic inanity, the haunting specter, and spectacle, that would be a "Bachmann Presidency" is reason enough to question how in Hell does someone of, at times, marginal intelligence and unchecked bravado and braggadocio find themself being a contender for the nomination to run for the Presidency on behalf of the Republican Party?  America has always been proud to promote itself as the "land of opportunity."  Where anyone can, with enough hard work and determination, reach untold heights of personal and professional success if they so choose.  But when the Michelle Bachmann's of the world come even THIS close to the "levers of power," we need to rethink how such a bizarre concurrence of events could have happened.  And strive to make sure that this particular bolt of lightening does NOT strike twice.

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