OK, so we somehow managed to keep the Tea Party people from dragging the whole country off a cliff, with unknown, but certainly disastrous consequences. Now what?
Here’s what: the rich will continue to get richer, everyone else will be worse off. Unemployment will increase and remain resistant to solution. No news there. We’ve been marching that direction for a long time.
Conservatives have almost reached the establishment of the status they say is best. Basically it amounts to, “Abandon ship! Every man for himself!” Of course, there are still a few things to get out of the way. Social Security, Medicare, the EPA, Interior… The final solution is to pare government down to its absolute minimum, with almost no tax. Except for the military, of course, which will continue to spend nearly as much as the rest of the world’s militaries combined, with its usual gross inefficiency.
Controls on greed will continue to decline, and devastation of our life support system will continue to increase as rape of our resources and destruction of the natural beauty of our country goes unchecked. Attempts to make America and Americans more responsible in their lifestyle will be delayed indefinitely. Incidents of infrastructure collapse will increase, because there will be reduced funding for such things. Crime will increase, because there will be reduced funding for crime control. And much, much more, because it’s time we stood on our own two feet. (This doesn’t apply to mega-corporations or banks. They will continue to enjoy the benefits of socialism when the next self-created financial disaster rolls around.)
So that’s what’s coming, eventually. You will be responsible for everything that happens to you all your life. If you can’t find work, it’s your own fault. If you get sick, you pay for treatment. When you retire (if you retire), you will live entirely on your own savings. The government will give you no help, because “the government is the problem”.
But if you do actually get a job, the pay will be inadequate, because capitalism decrees that pay must be as low as possible to maximize profit for the rich, and there will be no unions to protect your interests. You will be unable to buy a house. Medical insurance will take up a large part of your pay. Your retirement savings will be inadequate. It will take two incomes for a family to survive.
My sketch may seem a bit extreme, but this is the Tea Party conservative ideal. People who think this is a grand idea don’t seem to have any idea what it will mean in practical terms. They just want small government and low taxes.
There are two fundamental things wrong with their whole scheme.
First, what they are calling for amounts to a sort of imaginary retro-Stone Age framework, where it is the family against the world. But there never was such a world. Even before we were a separate species, our Homo predecessors were social creatures. We lived in groups. We had community. We had cooperation. We worked for our common interests.
What conservatives are calling for is the dissolution of our natural tendencies toward community and cooperation. Destruction of democracy and equality. This is not in our genes, and attempts to force such a society (or lack of society) on us is doomed to failure from the outset, a brief experiment in dismal living a bit like wartime life in reduced circumstances. The American nightmare.
Second, they assume, after Ronald Reagan’s continuous harping on the thought, that government is our enemy, and is incapable of doing anything right. News flash: most of what the government does is highly efficient, was hammered out in democratic ways, and fulfills real needs. Do these people really believe that we each should be responsible for, say, the street in front of our house, or our libraries? Do they really believe that a person who gets cancer and can no longer work should simply die because the treatment that would restore him to productive citizenship is too costly for one family to bear? Do they not realize that the effects of such a disaster are guaranteed to continue for at least the next generation? There are thousands of ways our government at every level provides for us that are simply not possible for us to do as individuals.
The Tea Party and conservative ideal will not provide the happy days and carefree life they envision, where everyone is able to provide for herself, and everyone is happy. What they espouse is in actuality a dystopian hell.