Last week both the Keystone Progressive blog and Matthew Major in an editorial in the Chambersburg Public Opinion wondered openly and out loud where was Congressman Shuster? On Monday about 5 o’clock my phone rang and I was to be part of a telephone town hall hosted by the Congressman. A summary of the meeting that I was part of until 6:30 pm could be summed up this way:
“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterday’s have lighted fools,
The way to dusty death. Out out brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And is heard no more: it is a tale,
told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
William Shakespeare- MacBeth
Usually communication is a two way enterprise. Yesterday’s phone conference was little more than a campaign robo-call where Congressman Shuster informed us of little more than the Republican talking points until after the November 2012 election. When it came to jobs and the economy we were told that the route to salvation was more of the failed economic policies of George Bush. Tax cuts for the rich, deregulation, and massive social program spending cuts are the prescription not for jobs creation but for massive civil unrest in this nation. This is the prescription that was followed in all the nations in the Middle East where the citizens participated in the Arab Spring uprisings as a consequence.
No matter how hard Prime Minister Cameron tries to pretend that it was just thugs and criminals these are the ideas that were the real cause of the Riots in the U. K. as social scientists, who have already begun to study those arrested in the rioting noted. They found there is a clear and incontrovertible link between the nations austerity programs and those who rioted. They uniformly came from the poorest neighborhoods and those most affected by the consequences of the governments economic decisions to cut social supports as part of monetary austerity.
That was also coupled with the idea that government regulation costs jobs yet Shuster never gave one bit of proof of this assertion because in fact there is none. Nor is there any proof that drilling in Marcellus Shale is either safe or will create anywhere near 100,000 jobs. Theo Colbrun an endocrinologist from Colorado has already identified almost 65 cancer causing agents spilled routinely in drilling sites that would make most pad sites hazardous waste dumps.
Pennsylvania has almost 7 million acres, or one fourth of the state already leased for drilling. Much of this is in some of the most well preserved forests on the East Coast. Hunters have every right to wonder if any areas will still be usable for hunting and fishing. At the Sportsman’s Alliance meeting on Marcellus Shale at University of Pittsburgh Johnstown campus we were informed that Marcellus Shale might create 14,000 jobs not the 100,000 Shuster touted yesterday as he tried to make this sound like a universal gold rush. One can surely look at West Virginia and see what a gold rush mountain top coal removal has been for that state. The whole jobs versus self protection lie is one of Shuster’s biggest whoppers.
The jobs will only be in Pennsylvania for a short time. The problem, as West Virginia is finding out with Mountain top coal removal, is the damage that is done to the environment will last far longer than the jobs and some is permanent.
Then there is the whole fraud of Republican attacks on what Congressman Shuster called Obamacare. I am stilll waiting for just one Right Wing Republican to give just one cogent arguement for why we don’t need a Medicare for all plan. Its Socialism does not count because I want a system that works and our privatized system of delivery only works completely for the richest among us. The only ones who don’t want government healthcare are the private insurance companies and the pharaceutical industry who want to continue to gouge us to the tune of $500.00 a bottle for thirty pills, an actual charge for medication a friend of mine was once placed on briefly.
The rest of Shuster’s phone town hall meeting in which he claimed he talked to 10,500 of us was more standard Republican fare about ending the EPA, privatizing the schools, once again despite anyone being able to verbalize how that will actually fix education, and the evils of Unions. The moral to this part of the story is that in Shuster’s world America can nolonger afford clean air, clean water, and CEO’s damn sure can’t afford to have their workforce paid a descent wage and holding corporate management just as accountable as they demand the workforce be held accountable. Shusters economic ideas are from the Master-Slave economic theory of labor relations. The irony of Shuster’s Union busting stance is that he gets money from one of the largest unions in America, the Chamber of Commerce which is a union of business owners. He also failed yesterday to delineate why CEO’s had a right to a contract that specified terms and conditions of employment but the workforce only works at the whim of the employer.
My mind began to wander behind the litany of falsehoods Congressman Shuster was telling such as Social Security is one of the biggest causes of the deficit and we can’t tax the job creators. Social Security is a separate tax and is currently in a surplus and in a trust fund. it can be paid in full until 2036 if we do nothing now so not one dime of the deficit is the result of Social Security. Medicaid is experiencing problems because of George Bush’s giveaway to the Pharmceutical industry. This is not about the size of government it is really about making government personally profitable so it is a pernicious lie to pretend that Republicans care one whit about avereage Americans over health care, they don’t so move on. It doesn’t make them terrible people it just means we need to take care of ourselves because we don’t share common needs and what is good for the wealthy is not at all in our best interests.
As for the job creators, back when I ran a small business it was demand for goods and services that created jobs not the Rich. Business is in the business of making a profit so all the talk of business bringing all the money they have moved offshore back if we don’t tax corporate America is a pipe dream. They have the money right were they want it in some sweatshop low wage country. You want to create American jobs Republican style? Then tell them you will work for thirty five cents an hour and they will be glad to create jobs.
Shuster’s phone town hall reminded me of another Sound and Fury written by William Faulkner about the Southern aristocracy and how debauched, mentally ill and dysfunctional they had become. This was not the South of Gone With the Wind. If William Faulkner were writing today he would have had to write about the delusional, sick and dysfunctional nature of our politics. We pretend truth is a lie and absolute lies are the truth. We do not seek solutions to our problems we seek ideological purity at all costs. This country suffers from severe ethical and moral dry rot and both parties and our president are to blame. A for profit and privatized finance of our elections is the moral and ethical cancer causing agent. It seems we would rather live in a deluded fable of our past like Faulkner’s Compson family did than confront our demons and face the harsh reality that we are not exceptional nor God’s chosen people we are just like everyone else. This realization would enable us to make some hard honest choices and become the grand creative nation we once were. The problem is that is not the Republican myth and admits much of the New Deal was correct, even if it is Socialism. So that is why Congressman Shuster’s town hall beckons us to believe the delusion, keep them in power, and thus is full of sound and fury while signifying nothing.