I think we have reached the absolutely absurd end of austerity kneejerking: Eric Cantor has asserted that disaster relief for the thoroughly devastated town of Joplin should not be added to the deficit.

Having said that, some other GOPer will prove me wrong and will seek to top that level of callousness. I can’t predict it, though. My brain doesn’t point in that direction, no amoral compass, as it were. Basic instinct for me is: see human suffering, seek to alleviate it. Not trying to be self-righteous — I think this is fairly common, despite evidence that certain segments of the electorate have lost their minds.

Sure, few political leaders will have the brazen stupidity of a Cantor, but his cost-benefit analysis is much more common among policy makers, despite their vague talk of doing the people’s work. Following the Democratic victory in NY-26, considered a litmus test of voter tolerance for Paul Ryan’s Medicare destruction plan, President Bill Clinton immediately warned his party against complacency. Something must be done! Medicare is in peril! We must not let this issue get away from us! His audience, it should be noted, were a choir what loves them some austerity preachin’ — so I don’t expect Clinton’s prescriptions for solving the Medicare “crisis” would be to raise taxes and give it more money. Sure, he will probably recommend a return to tax levels of his Presidency, but he will also urge some restructuring plan; raising the age of recipients or limits on benefits. It’s “welfare reform” all over again! And that’s the “playbook” Obama should work from, so says the chorus.

Sacrifices will not come from the top. They will come from you and me. The banking and finance officers who oversaw the destruction of our economy and gambled mortgages and robbed pension funds still enjoy their jobs or their golden parachutes. Meanwhile, librarians in L.A. are being interrogated by court-appointed lawyers to justify their work or else they lose their jobs — at least one having her blog used against her — as armed guards stand in the room. Public employees are losing the right to union representation. Social programs for the elderly, the poor, the mentally ill, the hungry, the homeless — the ranks of whom only grow as the economy continues to stagnate (or in the case of the elderly, time moves demographics along) — are all on the chopping block. Right wingers like Cantor expose the raw side of this ideology, but it’s one shared to varying degrees of harshness by his centrist colleagues. A democracy ruled by corporations does not give a shit about us; it protects its own.

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