It’s time to start revising the “first draft of history” with respect to what co-blogger Mr. MacGregor refers to as “the fear years” but which I might call the Age of Fraud.
In broad strokes, the world in the 90s seemed to be transitioning—finally—into one where total war seemed to be a thing of the past and an “Information Superhighway” would bring us closer together. There was a lot of political drama, from the 1994 Republican Revolution through the impeachment of a President, but nothing like the kind of policy disagreements we see now. Between Alan Greenspan and airstrikes, it seemed, everything else was a minor detail.
Huge waves of corporate fraud bookended the Bush years. His election was, in part, thanks to doubts about the economy many had after the spectacular tech bubble burst in early 2000. Shortly thereafter, we found out that Enron, which seemed to be the quintessential Republican company (and it was!) was a house of cards built on a foundation of air. And there were more. There was even more graft with Medicare Part D and huge tax cuts for the wealthy, which, at the end of this period would fuel the other bookend of fraud.
While all of this was going on, of course, the conquistadores in the administration were enabled by 9/11 to embark on a new map of the middle east. By choosing Iraq, they allowed Osama bin Laden to live another 10 years and distracted us from Iran, which, in the meantime, has on and off again actually started producing nuclear weapons technologies and actually sponsoring terrorist attacks against our allies.
In the Bush years we lived in total denial of other important issues such as climate change and healthcare reform—if it weren’t for two movies we might have never talked about these issues the entire time.
More quietly, the anti-government mentality metastasized within the minds of the very people who were running it and this lead, among other causes, to the destruction of a major U.S. city.
Not long after the rejection of all of this failure finally swung control of Congress, people started to take notice of the fact that a toxic combination of low interest rates, a sluggish stock market, and accretion of wealth at the top, thanks in part to Bush’s tax cuts, had begun to create a bubble in real estate, which everyone considered a safe investment. But there was so much speculation. And, of course, the self-hating government provided no oversight.
Thus was the primary piece of wealth of most middle-class Americans destroyed. And the fallout put more Americans that the statistics could measure into unemployment, underemployment, or employment at a reduced wage.
The Baby Boomers had finished shitting on their children and had unleashed a colonic on their grandchildren just in time for them to retire and burden the state welfare system, after doing nothing to keep them in the middle class by making college or healthcare affordable, and, for the most part, putting home ownership out of reach.
And there we stood until the election of the next President, who, now into his second term has not been able to completely unwind all of this, or make progress on things that should have been handled in 2003 not in 2013. America is at least 10 years behind and I don’t think we will ever catch up until there is a complete accounting planted into the public conscience about what transpired in the fraud of war and the fraud of wealth that occurred during these years.