Bankrupting America

March 28th, 2012

A follow-up to It’s Us and Highway to Economic Hell, inspired by the Bankrupting America commercial on MSNBC this morning.


“If you’re family’s like mine, you’ve had a tough three years. We’ve been working hard, sticking to a budget, making sacrifices so we don’t spend more than we make, living within our means. If we can do it, why can’t Washington? …We’ve tightened our belts. Washington should too.” — Bankrupting America commercial



“The government isn’t a separate thing
Capable of suffering.
When we ‘punish’ the government, it’s the American people who suffer.
Times are already tough. Should we make them tougher?” — Newsericks


Your boss calls you into his office.

“I know you’ve had to tighten your belt over the last few years,” he says. “So we think it’s only fair that the company tighten our belts too. So we’re firing you to cut costs.”

“What?” you say incredulously. “That doesn’t help me, it hurts me.”

“But it’s only fair,” your boss says. “You’ve had to sacrifice, so we are going to sacrifice too. By firing you (and a bunch of other people, of course). And we’re canceling our equipment modernization program.”

“Wait a minute,” you interject, momentarily distracted from your own impending unemployment by that last part. “But we need that modernization program in order to stay competitive. Our production line equipment hasn’t been upgraded in years, and we haven’t even been given the funding to maintain it. If we don’t get that modernization program, we’re not going to be able to compete.”

“But these are tough times,” your boss explains. “We have to cut back. We have to stick to a budget just like every American family does.”

“But that’s crazy,” you reply. “The modernization is a financial no-brainer, because the lease on the new equipment is $3 million per year, and we’re losing more than $7 million per year in ruined product and lost work time. Not doing the modernization will make our financial situation much, much worse.”

“We are spending more than we’re making,” your boss explains. “We have to cut, and you can be damned sure that we’re not cutting my $10 million bonus.”

You don’t have a chance to respond to that, because that’s when Security grabs you and drags you out of the building.


Here’s the commercial. When Bankrupting America talks about shared sacrifice, they’re talking about sacrifice that’s shared between the working and middle class, on top of which you have this idea of theirs (and the GOP as a whole) that America must make Washington pay for our sin of past profligacy with righteous suffering. As I describe in It’s Us, Republicans seem to have hoodwinked many Americans into believing this idea that “Washington” is a separate entity which should be made to suffer like the American family is suffering. That’s an easy mental leap to make for many, since Americans are used to seeing the government as a separate other thing. But when one applies the same logic to a company, as I’ve done above, the absurdity of that logic becomes obvious.

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