If I understand the moral positions of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan correctly -- and I think I do -- the Republican candidates for president and vice president hope to strengthen society by forcing the poor and the middle class to become more self-sufficient.
Ryan has called "safety net" social programs "hammocks" for people kept in dependency by an overly generous government. He would like to end the federal Medicare program and replace it with payments to help seniors purchase private health insurance.
In the Ryan world, hard-working citizens would save money for rainy days and be prepared to fund their own retirement and health programs and would enjoy the self-respect that comes from true economic independence.
At least, that's what I think he is proposing.
His position has one potential problem, however.
The problem is that when people try that, they too often find their security and independence destroyed by people like Mitt Romney.
Romney didn't get rich by building companies and creating jobs. Romney got rich by buying up struggling companies, looting their assets, pocketing millions and selling those companies.
In some cases, Romney and his colleagues instituted better management practices and helped those companies avert bankruptcy. In other cases, they didn't avert bankruptcy.
In many cases, the better management practices involved slashing research and development, trading assets for debt and laying off workers who spent their lives building their companies.
The thing is that, whether they helped companies or hurt them, Romney and his colleagues made lots and lots of money.
As I see it, the biggest potential threat to America in the years to come is neither war nor recession. The biggest threat is a growing conviction among working men and women that the game is rigged, that no matter how hard they work, no matter how loyal they are to their employers, no matter how responsible they are in their personal lives, someone they've never met can destroy their security on a whim.
That's why I think the Republican budget proposals -- Ryan's proposals -- are so dangerous. He not only wants to cut government spending on programs that help the poor and the middle class, he wants to take the money saved and hand it out in the form of tax cuts for the very wealthy.
He says the government will make up for that seeming unfairness by cutting other tax breaks for the rich. Do you believe that would actually happen? I don't believe that would actually happen. That never happens. Ever.
What I think would happen once the proposals espoused by Romney and Ryan were actually adopted is that the cynicism on the part of working people whose real wages haven't increased since the days of Ronald Reagan, would grow exponentially.
And that can never be a good thing for a democracy.
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