A lot of folks in Washington talk a big game about “accountability” when it comes to just about anyone that isn’t them.
“Teachers need to be held accountable for bad test scores!” say those with no educational background themselves. “The poor are lazy freeloaders!” say those who haven’t had to work a day in their life because a number of them are trust- fund babies. Millionaires go after single mothers, the elderly and the working American, calling them “entitled,” or “totally dependent on government,” in the words of Mitt Romney.
I think it’s about time the people in Washington were held accountable for what it is they’ve been doing for the past four decades.
For 40 years, wage growth in this country has stagnated. Our industrial base has steadily been eroded by a combination of Washington-encouraged outsourcing (with tax breaks for corporations that move jobs overseas) and technological change. The number of Americans on welfare has skyrocketed in the midst of this recession, which was in part engineered by a deregulation of the financial sector.
Education is steadily being sold off to the highest bidders. We are being told we need to get a college degree to get ahead even while we have a shortage of good plumbers, electricians and other labor intensive jobs. Worse, those going to college are being saddled with student loan debts that threaten to destabilize the entire economy when (not if) the bubble bursts.
Washington tells us we have a spending problem, and we need to get our finances under control. I agree with the latter but not the former. We have a revenue problem when the wealthiest people in the country can get away with not paying taxes or paying significantly less than hardworking Americans. Some of the most profitable corporations dodge taxes outright or actually get money back from the government.
Washington is responsible for just about all of this. While nobody could have foreseen the rise of Germany, then Japan and now China as industrial competitors, something could have been done to save manufacturing in this country.
Wages could have been sustained by policies that promote unions. Our trades could have been promoted with apprenticeships and our universities made tuition free.
Americans need to hold Washington accountable in the same way that so many of its entitled, infantile millionaires tell us we need to be held accountable.
Column By Devin Griggs. Devin serves as vice president of finances for the Murray State College Democrats.