Over the past two weeks the world bore witness to the tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombings, the death of one bomber and the capture of another. Additionally, the world witnessed the collapse of a known defective factory complex in Bangladesh which killed more than 300 and perhaps as many as 500 workers, simply and obscenely because the factory owners refused to heed the clear warnings by government inspectors to close the building, and instead ordered their employees to show up for work.
These and other sudden shocks to the global human psyche over the past two weeks diverted attention away from more mundane issues such as the insane budget sequester that the USA committed upon itself. it seems that the (former) “government of the people” is now largely controlled by the same interests that are responsible for the Bangladesh disaster…the very rich and very powerful capitalist for-profit corporate folks.
Capitalism, properly regulated, is a very good economic system with some very desirable characteristics. But unregulated/unbridled capitalism has the potential to create very wealthy and powerful owners and very impoverished, endangered and abused workers. Capitalism alone, unconcerned with safety inspections, is responsible for the factory collapse in Bangladesh and the resulting deaths.
The GOP, having been kidnapped by the Tea Party, espouses the concept that the more breaks and perks they give to the very wealthy and powerful, the better off everyone will be. Thus, the GOP refuses to allow taxes to rise on the very wealthy and powerful, not even to the point that their percentage of tax paid would equal that of the average middle-class wage earner. In a way, the GOP is correct: The more they protect the very wealthy and powerful from a tax increase, the better off the GOP and its elected officials will be. And why?
Because the very wealthy and powerful repay their GOP minions with huge political campaign contributions, which they then get to write off their taxes as a business expense, further decreasing their tax burden!
Armed with this knowledge of basic math, one can understand (and still disagree with) the stubborn “no more taxes on the very wealthy and powerful” stance that the GOP stands by, which resulted in the sequester. More precisely, $85.4 billion in across-the-board meat-cleaver budget cuts went into effect in March, but weren’t really felt by anybody until April. And during that interim, the GOP kept claiming that no one would even notice the cuts. They gloated about their victory in reducing government spending. That is, until the GOP started to suffer themselves, or more precisely, their very wealthy and powerful masters started to suffer because of sequestration.
You see, the very wealthy and powerful frequently fly. They need to attend meetings in the Cayman Islands (where the bulk of their money lives) and elsewhere, after all. Some own their own corporate jets, while others are perfectly content to fly commercial airlines (first-class, of course; however, it is a myth that first-class that passengers arrive at their destinations sooner than passengers in coach, but don’t tell them!). Nonetheless, whether in corporate jets or commercial airliners, ALL planes flying in the US National Airspace System must be controlled and kept safe by Air Traffic Controllers, who are generally staffed to traffic demands.
The proper number of Air Traffic Controllers working to keep all those airplanes full of the very wealthy and powerful safely separated was reduced because of sequestration, which forced a 10% reduction in Air traffic Controller staffing nationwide. That translated roughly into a 10% drop in airspace capacity on each air route. This caused 10% of aircraft to be delayed as demand increased at 8am. That multiplied throughout the day until during afternoon or evening rushes, the delays were now be 3 hours or more at busy airports. Three hour delays are unacceptable to the very wealthy and powerful.
The very wealthy and powerful duly complained to their GOP (and even some democrat) congresspeople. In a bizarre act of bipartisanship, congress overwhelmingly passed legislation granting the US Secretary of Transportation the power to restore full funding to end the air traffic controller furloughs so that the very wealthy and powerful could return to their normal schedules and flight arrival times. Nice.
Of course, this primarily benefited the frequently flying very wealthy and powerful and their congressional tea baggers, who astutely left Washington DC immediately after passing this excuse for legislation. They had no concern for, nor did they fix, the locked-out project Head Start kids, or the unemployed, or seniors dependent upon “Meals on Wheels” or countless other “people” programs that the very wealthy and powerful and their congressional puppets have no use for.
After all, a poor, destitute, hungry unemployed senior or a pre-schooler can’t possibly provide them anything like the political campaign contributions of gazillions of dollars, endlessly flowing from the very rich and powerful like a supercharged sewer pipe on steroids during a flood.