Updated The Christian Science Monitor's coverage of the draft proposal from the co-chairs of the Cat Food Commission starts this way:
The Democrat and Republican who cochair President Obama's debt commission haven't offered a magic fix for federal deficits, but they've tried to make one point loud and clear: Answers to America's fiscal challenges will involve "shared sacrifice.""Shared sacrifice." Oh, my. What a high-sounding phrase. What a wonderful, "we're all in this together" sound bite. Group hug, gang, and a round of Kumbaya!
What a pile of unmitigated crap.
There are a hell of a lot of people in this country who over the past couple of decades have done their share of sacrificing, their share and more. They have seen their wages stagnate, their real household incomes fall, their household economies maintained only by working more hours.
We - millions of us - have lost our jobs, some of us so long ago that unemployment benefits are a memory. We have lost our health coverage and with it our access to health care. Growing numbers of us have lost our homes as foreclosures rise and rise again, foreclosures often driven by outright fraud by the banking industry. More and more of us have sunk into poverty and seen our children go hungry. We have seen our futures darken, our hopes that our children will be better off than us shrivel, and discovered too often that the light at the end of the tunnel is just a neon arrow pointing down another tunnel.
And now we are being told that we "all" have to "sacrifice." We "all" must "share the burden." We "all" have to "share the pain." And we are being told this by the very people who have gained, who have gotten richer, fatter, more comfortable, more secure, even as we, like Alice, have been doing all the running we can do, to keep in the same place. They are the ones who now dare to tell us that we "all" have to do our part so their stock portfolios won't be damaged in some future financial crunch.
So tell us, Erskine Bowles, tell us, Alan Simpson, tell us any of you sitting in your clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, with your white collars and cut fingernails,* tell us what you are going to sacrifice. Tell us what part of the pain you are going to bear. Not vague generalities about groups and classes with charts and graphs and bullet points, but you, yourself. How great will be your "sacrifice?" How great will be your burden, your pain?
Because I say to you that if we "all" must sacrifice, if we "all" must bear our burden, I say to you that the amount of sacrifice in the decades to come should be directly proportional to the amount of gain in the decades just past. That those who have gained the most should give up the most. And that those among us who have already sacrificed, already lost, have already borne their share and more, should not be expected to sacrifice, should not be expected to be the widow giving her two mites to the treasury until after - after, I say - you prove that you will do more than the rich who cast in only what they thought they could just as well do without.**
You want to talk about "sacrifice?" Fine. Show us your cards. Put up or fucking shut up.
Updated with the link to the Taibbi piece and thanks go to, again, Blckdgrd for the tip.
*Look up quotes from C. S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters. No link because in any I found, the relevant quote was buried in a long list of others and so the link was pretty useless. You're on your own.