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Friday, December 9, 2011

Divide and conquer

A brilliant new bit of Republican strategy has come out just in time for the holiday season, as reported on by Rachel Maddow of MSNBC. In this time for goodwill toward your fellow man and the spirit of giving, the GOP is doing their best to crack the already shaky unity of the 99% down below.

What is being proposed is an extension of the payroll tax cut, a little bit of a boost for the extra expenses around the holidays. Like a Christmas bonus from the federal government! Sounds great! But how in the world are they planning to do this in the midst of an economic crisis that has nearly left the fed in default? By hacking off unemployment benefits at the knees. With the money they will save on unemployment spending by tightening eligibility and reducing benefit duration by almost 40 weeks, they'll toss us a few pence to spend on a scrawny Christmas goose.

The problem is that this pits us against our own. No matter how the vote on this initiative falls, there is going to be anger directed at exactly the people with whom we should be uniting. At any moment, in this economy, you can lose your job. There virtually is nothing like "job security" any more. If your company can find someone to do your work for cheaper, they'll have you out on your ass, saying something about "tightening our belts" and waving tiny American flags to show that they only meant it in patriotism. If this vote goes through, we've just forsaken our unemployed for a minuscule pay-day, leaving them even worse off than before and ourselves gaining very little at their expense. But I don't think that's what Republican leaders are counting on.

No, I believe they are counting on this measure being voted down, because it gives them more firepower than ever. If it is voted that unemployment benefits need to stand where they are, it will halt this tax break for the rest of the working and middle class. And that is a brilliant way to insinuate even more resentment and anger into the working 99%'s feelings against their non-working brethren. Divide and conquer. If you can get friends to turn against friends in need for their own self-interest... well, you've just reinvented the American Dream. Those defending unemployment will be socialists and those defending the tax cut will be heroes--who are you going to vote for? It's a brilliant see-saw measure that is worthy of some kind of complex-but-extremely-boring dystopian political movie plot. Shame that Philip K. Dick isn't still around to write it.

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