Does It Matter What the Public Wants or Needs?

Does It Matter What the Public Wants or Needs?
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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a fellow with CAF.

Does it even matter what the public wants anymore?

I guess that's a rhetorical question these days because more and more obviously the answer is no. It matters what the plutocrats want, and they know how to get what they want. Public opinion is "engineered" or at least "managed." When it can't be managed it is ignored and the effort shifts to our elected officials, who are led to believe the public wants what the plutocrats want using elite opinion leaders, astroturf, front groups or flat out cash.

According to polls (and most of these by overwhelming margins):

Things the public doesn't want:

  • Tax cuts for the rich. For example, this morning's Progressive Breakfast hilited:
  • Another poll shows support for ending Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. McClatchy:"...51 percent want to extend the tax cuts only for households making less than $250,000 a year, and 45 percent want to extend the tax cuts for all... Those who want to extend all of the tax cuts, including for the wealthy, include Republicans, tea party supporters, conservatives, Southerners and Westerners, Independents were closely divided, with 49 percent for extending only the 'middle class' tax cuts, and 48 percent for extending all of them."

    P.S. Campaign for America's Future and CREDO Action have a petition, Tell Congress: Don't extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Click the link, and add your voice.

  • Cuts in social security. Isaiah Poole wrote last week in "Nobody's Buying The Cut-Social-Security Line",
  • A whopping 82% of respondents in the poll oppose Social Security cuts for the purpose of deficit reduction, while only 15% support cuts. What's particularly telling is the striking uniformity of opinion across the political spectrum: 83% of Democrats, 82% of Republicans, 78% of independents and 74% of Tea Party supporters.

    P.S. Campaign for America's Future has a petition, Tell President Obama to Reject Social Security Cuts. Click the link and add your voice.

  • Cuts in Medicare. Republicans figured this out, and ran ad after ad after ad (after ad after ad) telling voters that Democrats should be thrown out of office because they cut $500 billion from Medicare. You saw the ads. (and saw them and saw them and saw them.)
  • Cuts in anything. (Actually, polls show that the public wants cuts in foreign aid.)
  • Corporate-written "free trade" schemes. As Leo Gerard points out in "Corporate Rewards: Controlling U.S. Trade Policy",
  • In a September poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, 53 percent of Americans said so-called free trade agreements have injured the country. Only 17 percent said those trade schemes benefited the United States. Disgust with these deals spans party lines, including Tea Partiers, 61 percent of whom said they're bad for America.

    Things the public wants:

  • Jobs. The official unemployment rate is 9.6%. The total including "underemployed" is 15.9%.
  • In a poll released Monday, 73 percent of voters say it's too early to cut back benefits for those who are struggling to find work as unemployment rate hovers at 9.6 percent...

  • A plan to revive American manufacturing. Election Day Poll: Voters Weren't Backing Extreme Right Agenda,
  • Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement that "America is falling behind" in the global economy and that "we need a clear strategy to make things in America, make our economy competitive, and revive America's middle class."

  • Rebuild America's Infrastructure. From the poll cited above,
  • Significant majorities in the poll also supported new investments in infrastructure through a national infrastructure bank, and a five-year strategy for reviving manufacturing in America

    So there are things the public clearly wants and doesn't want. These things are significantly at odds with the things the plutocrats want. If we are still a democracy we will get the things the public wants. If we have completed the transformation to a plutocracy we will get the things the plutocrats want. That's the definition of the terms.

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