The Greater Good – Part 1 of 2

America Held HostageThere is a lot of craziness that can be rationalized using the words “greater good”.  Too often the only participants are those with a bizarre and dangerous imagination and with a vested interest in the outcome.  That applies to the separate issues of America’s budget and the U.S. debt ceiling. 

There is a small band of far right wingers who are holding hostage all the rest of the Republicans.  The result of that is that together they are holding hostage the welfare of every citizen of The United States of America.  Even more, by threatening to default on our national debt they are also holding hostage the entire world economy.  Gun to the head of America and the world.  All that matters is what they want.

Perhaps these far right legislators are true believers for whom their ends justify any means, no matter the pain they to cause hundreds of millions – and to perhaps billions – of others.  Lying and bullying are okay, they believe.  Those are just tools to achieve their goals.

They are funded by unimaginably wealthy individuals for whom ever more power, money and control are all that matter.  Those legislators and their fabulously rich benefactors are all hostage takers, packed with hubris, self-interest and a complete lack of concern for others.  “They are bold and proud and certain in the way of clever children blessed with too much self-esteem,” in the words of Ben Fountain’s brilliant 2012 best seller, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. The ruination of America is of no concern to them.

For these megalomaniacs, it is all for the greater good.  Theirs.

Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
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4 Responses to The Greater Good – Part 1 of 2
  1. Dan Wallace Reply

    Ok, Jack, let’s agree that bullying and hostage taking are ignoble tactics. But let’s also assume for a minute that you and I agree that being $16.75 Trillion (yes, Trillion) in debt, with that debt increasing by nearly $2 Billion PER DAY (, and that being in the company of the handful of countries around the world like Greece, Grenada and Lesotho, whose national debt exceeds their GDP ( is not good. Given the utter lack of political will on the part of just about any of our leaders to do anything serious about this (serious = genuine tax reform and genuine entitlement reform; why? because that’s where the money is; see “Willie Sutton”) how would you suggest that those who see this as a genuine problem get something done about it?

    I’m asking in all seriousness. Not to defend the Tea Partiers, who have a broader agenda of which I’m deeply suspicious (i.e., I don’t think Obamacare will work, but only because I think it’s trying to solve the wrong problem, not because I think it’s immoral; right answer for the Tea Party on this one: “You lost. Shut up and let it play out.”). But I genuinely don’t understand what the “big money interests” have to gain from a gov’t shutdown (wouldn’t they be hurt as much or more as anyone else?), and I genuinely don’t know how to muster the political will to solve the debt problem when the electorate has made it pretty clear that it either doesn’t understand the problem or doesn’t want it solved.

    Can you help me here?

    • Jack Altschuler Reply

      Dan, regarding the “big money interests,” here’s just one.

      The far right wingnuts want Obamacare defunded in exchange for a real budget and the raising of the debt ceiling. Following the dictum of Deep Throat, follow the money. That is to say, identify who benefits from de-facto repeal of Obamacare, forced on the nation by budget hostage taking? Arguably, the medical insurance companies may benefit from the program in the short run, as millions more Americans are forced to buy insurance. On the other hand, they can no longer refuse to cover preexisting conditions, children can be on their parents’ policies longer at an insurance rate that is lower than if they were to purchase individual coverage, there will be no caps on coverage, premiums are capped at 80% of experience, etc. All of those decrease profit for huge medical insurance companies.

      All of that is to say that it is likely the medical insurance companies will not like Obamacare. Beyond the relatively short term described above, there will be far more impact on those companies when Obamacare leads to Medicare for all. So that is one of the “big money interests.” They won’t benefit from a government shut down, but they’d be quite willing to have that happen if it leads to an end of Obamacare.

      Regarding mustering the political will to solve the debt problem, all I can come up with is education leading to motivation. Most Americans are hunkered down in their own world and are clueless about the enormous impact of issues going on all around them, so much controlled by and benefiting the rich at the expense of everyone else. Generally, less than half the eligible voters show up on the first Tuesday of November and not many of them are well informed. Yet it will take an informed electorate (thank you, Thomas Jefferson) for this democracy to work, to make their voices heard and to bend politicians to the will of the people.

      Margaret Mead told us, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Beware a small group of Tea Party extremists, or woe be to all of us because they are not about fixing the debt problem; they are about aggregating power for themselves.


    I think that we have to look beyond the far-right (Tea Party) legislators and see who’s behind it. It’s groups like ALEC, Kochs, and Fix the Debt and other corporatist, right-wing, and neo-con front groups that are determined to have it their way. What’s their way: privatize Social Security, (which has nothing to do with the debt), talk about a chained CPI when all you have to do is have everyone pay into it until they retire, insist on lower taxes for the rich when they’re paying record lows right now, blame Obamacare and confuse the public so that they’re diverted away from the real issues of the day. They don’t care because they own us and they want all government and regulations out of the way so they can privatize everything (post office, schools, prisons, etc.). Two problems: Democrats have been brainwashed by Fix the Debt and the Conord Coalition and are carrying their water for them back to their district. Brad Schneider, Tammy Duckworth, Bill Foster have all had meetings in their district saying we must cut these social programs like Social Security.

    We are diverted away from the McCutcheon case coming before the Supreme Court October 8, which will end all restrictions on handing as much money as you want to your favorite politicians of the day. And there’s virtually no talk about the Trans Pacific Partnership, the free trade agreement on steroids that will be rammed down the throats of Congress with a fast-track up/down vote and will also end the rights of our Constitution and regulations as we know it (and which has already been partially destroyed by the Supreme Court). Their scheming is “brilliant.” And essentially, they’ve done what fascist or communist countries have always done, take over the press–and that’s essentially what they’ve done. No one has any idea what’s going on–they just regurgitate the garbage–“we must cut Social Security; Obamacare is bad.”

    May I add that in my humble opinion, Obama is part of the problem–Pritzker, Summer, Blankenfein, ties to Wall Street, chained CPI, charter schools, XL pipeline, fracking, standing before an Amazon warehouse as a model for American jobs, spying on Americans, prisoners held without trials, an American Jobs group that includes the job cutters like (Immelt) GE, American Express CEO, and hundreds of other head honchos of companies that have shipped our jobs overseas, never talking to union heads, and on and on. So Obama has drunk the water of Fix the Debt and other right-wing so-called think tanks who talk about reforming taxes, but never will. We only have a deficit problem (which we don’t) for two reasons: they’ve outsourced everything, the jobs here are too low-paying for the average worker to pay reasonable taxes into the system, and the wealthy have so many loopholes we have little revenue coming in, his GE buddy, Immelt, and his corporations, along with Apple, pay zero in taxes, and the average corporate tax rate comes down to 6 or 7%, the rest shipped to tax havens overseas. So as they take the country down this week, think of the whole massive plot behind this. They don’t care one iota about us–but they may take the value of their stock options down with it–as well as my retirement money.