Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Rose By Any Other Name

Branding, as anyone in advertising will tell you, is crucial in marketing a product or idea. With the right name--and a big enough budget--you can sell just about anything to just about anyone.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Republican Party's newest magic elixir (drum roll please): The Path to Prosperity! Catchy, isn't it? Path is such a friendly word. Makes you think of elves on a quest or Winnie the Pooh and his cuddly pals. Sunny days and green trees. And who can argue against prosperity? No one, that's who.

OK. The name is great. Mom and apple pie and the Path to Prosperity. But what's in the plan? Uh...well...

Turns out this Path is paved with the bones of the middle class and the poor. The Grand Oligarchs' Party has gone all in on this one. No hemming and hawing, no phony populism, none of that friend of the small businessman bullshit. The corporate bosses who control the GOP have decided the time has come to eradicate the last vestiges of The New Deal and The Great Society. Time to do away with all of those nasty social programs that might actually help people. Turns out people are a drag on Prosperity! In fact, the only way to guarantee prosperity is to cut taxes on the rich and the corporations. (Which, as we shall see, is essentially the same thing.)

A little background: Almost all American corporations are controlled by the same 1 percent of the population that owns 42 percent of the nation's assets (5 percent of the population owns 69 percent). Oh, you own stock? Good for you. You take your hundred shares and try to throw your weight around at the next shareholder's meeting. Go on. Rich people enjoy a good laugh just as much as the rest of us.

Now, corporations are by their very nature amoral entities, much like the current majority on our Supreme Court. Humanity doesn't really enter into their reasoning. What matters is the bottom line. And in this case the people who own our country see a lot of money going to kids, old people, poor people, students, the sick and the disabled, money that could be, indeed should be, going to them. What to do, what to do?

I've got it! Let's scare the hell out of everyone. We'll tell the people we're broke and the only way to fix things is to cut back on what we'll call "entitlements". Creepy word, "entitlements". Sounds like something you don't really deserve. Like you're trying to get away with something. Maybe even like you're trying to steal from the rest of us. Yeah, that's it! You lazy bastards are trying to steal from me and my family! You're what's wrong!

Like New Coke, Compassionate Conservatism was a washout. And since coming up with new ideas isn't really a Republican strong point, they've decided to just re-brand the old ones. This time they're calling it the Path to Prosperity, because Paul Ryan's Final Solution, while more to the point, might frighten the children, the elderly, and certain sensitive adults.

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