Paul Krugman, Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University, and a New York Times columnist, provided commentary on a recent speech given by President Obama, and Mitt Romney’s response to said speech.
Romney was recently off-put by the President’s emulation of Teddy Roosevelt’s progressive ideals, insisting that Roosevelt would not have been satisfied with the Obama administration’s policies.
Krugman’s commentary in the New York Times reports: “Last month President Obama gave a speech invoking the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt on behalf of progressive ideals… Mitt Romney insisted that where Roosevelt believed that ‘government should level the playing field to create equal opportunities,’ Mr. Obama believes that ‘government should create equal outcomes,’ that we should have a society where ‘everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to take risk.’”
So, Mr. Romney is adamant in the distinction between himself and Obama. He would have you believe that the President wants poor people to live a life of luxury on the backs of the wealthiest taxpayers. But Romney is the real champion of the people; he would do away with the entire social safety net, to ensure that the poor have nothing to fall back on. If they fail because they are poor (a trait that is inherited), then so be it. At least then, we would have a fair playing field.
But wait… Do we have a fair playing field? In America, our success is determined by our skills and our motivation, right? That’s what they’ve been telling us all throughout our public education. Why would they lie?
Well that’s part of the issue. The ruling class would have you believe in the illusion of upward mobility. That is their greatest weapon; convincing the oppressed that they are not oppressed.
Now, I’m careful to make this connection, but in light of the recent death of North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-il, I think it is important to compare the mythology sold by each nation. Take as an example, the North Koreans who were broken by the death of their supreme leader. Videos circulated the internet of citizens bent over in tears, devastated by the news that Kim Jong-il had died.
Kim Jong-il, a brutal and oppressive dictator, convinced the people of his nation that they have it the best in the world. They have opportunity. They live the good life. They are safer here than anywhere else on the planet. To North Koreans, these are not opinions, these are facts.
I am not suggesting that Americas are disillusioned to the same degree as the citizens of North Korea, but they are certainly disillusioned in the same way. Americans are born and raised on the idea that we all have the opportunity to succeed in any field where our abilities trump the competition.
But as Krugman reports: “Americans are much more likely than citizens of other nations to believe that they live in a meritocracy. But this self-image is a fantasy: as a report in the Times last week pointed out, America actually stands out as the advanced country in which it matters most who your parents were, the country in which those born on one of society’s lower rungs have the least chance of climbing to the top or even to the middle.”
The reality of the situation is, among developed nations, America fairs the WORST in upward mobility. But how is this possible? How could a nation as a whole be so disillusioned as to buy into and support the supposed omnipotent benevolence of a nation that is little by little, disassembling their civil liberties and potential to succeed?
It all depends on the perspective. If you are amongst the highest earners in America — the CEOs, the high level executives, and the like — then your potential to succeed and prosper is being protected. Your civil liberties (and in fact, the liberties of your corporations) are being protected.
Both parties that “occupy” the halls of congress are unquestionably guilty of vulgarly serving the interests of the wealthy. That goes President Obama, the same as it does for Romney and all the other GOP “hopefuls”. Some still defend Obama as the beacon of HOPE for the average American, a force against the apathetic corporate forces that pull the strings behind the scenes of both congressional houses. But even they are disillusioned.
Obama (and the democratic party in general) is made of the same fabric as his rivals. Only a corporatist President—dedicated to the needs of his biggest campaign contributors—would spend hundreds of billions of dollars bailing out the same financial institutions that were responsible for the recession in the first place. Make no mistake, Obama is not a president of the people.
The only nominee who is wholeheartedly committed to creating a level playing field is Dr. Ron Paul. And though his end is admirable, I’m—personally—very nervous about his means. So that leaves us in a tough position. Do we vote Frick (Obama), Frack (Romney), or the well-meaning but misled geriatric case that is Ron Paul?
Krugman suggests: “Teddy Roosevelt would not have approved (of Romney).”
I’ll do him one better. Roosevelt would not have approved of anyone involved. Romney, Obama, Gingrich, Santorum, they are all the same: levelers of the lower class.