The Austerity of Hope

By Richard Thayer

This past Wednesday Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi presented incoming Speaker John Boehner with an over-sized gavel to match his ego thus beginning the shift of power from the Democrats to the Republicans.

Leading up to the 2008 presidential election we heard a great deal about the audacity of hope (based on the book of the same name). We believed in it. We voted for it.

To a certain degree we saw that audacity rewarded in certain areas of our culture in 2009 and 2010, and we saw it fail in others. The economy did begin to turn around, narrowly avoiding a financial disaster unmatched since the Great Depression.

But even with the Democrats in power–the people that by and large support middle-class issues–the victories middle-class Americans won were hard-fought and, unfortunately, didn’t include the mid-term elections. That was one big fight and we lost it. Bummer.

So the audacity of hope we had entering the 2008 elections has dimmed considerably over the last several months, especially in the area of employment. And the national debt.

Now with the passing of the 111th Congress and the inauguration of the 112th, a new era has dawned in America. Stand up and salute Americans!

We have now proudly entered the into “The Austerity of Hope.”

Austerity is one of the Republican Party’s favorite words. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, you will.

Simply put, austerity in this context means doing more with less.

The mantra for 2011 and 2012 will be: “Cut! Cut! Cut!”

There will be attempts to cut, among other things, Social Security, Medicare, health care (the debate to repeal the health care law that Congress passed in its last session begins next week), the public sector workforce (they–you–make too much money), wages, benefits, and unions. These cuts could include a day of mail delivery. And then letter carriers (those who still have a job) will have Saturday and Sunday off every week. And then, later, you’ll have Saturday, Sunday and Monday’s off. And then, later…

Yes, everyone must sacrifice: the young, the middle-aged and the elderly. Everyone!

Except for the wealthiest. Bankers, large corporations, Wall Street, etc., will be exempted from the A word. (Sigh of relief.) If there’s any cutting to be done, it will be your taxes.

Yes, for the 2 percent of the wealthiest among us, yours will remain “The Audacity of Greed.”

Congratulations.


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