Over the last several weeks, it has been difficult to ignore the whining that has been going on throughout much of the so-called “online left” — and even some in the mainstream press — over the utter collapse of the Build Back Better bill, mostly due to opposition to said bill by extremely conservative Democrats Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin. While it is entirely true that Manchin and Sinema are morally reprehensible characters who are irredeemably corrupt puppets of corporate America, it is not true to say the bill they very well may have killed was anything to write home about. The bill is a watered-down hodgepodge of policies which progressives assume will help Americans and their families get back on their feet after suffering for over two years due to the economic catastrophe brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are multiple problems with this premise. First, while aid from the state can certainly be helpful as a temporary means of providing a financial cushion during difficult times, it doesn’t solve the underlying issue of workers being exploited to the point where they are unable to support themselves or their families. The problem isn’t only about money. It’s also about capitalist exploitation, and there is nothing in Build Back Better designed to address that because the state, which is designed to protect the owners of private capital, is not interested in altering the capitalist status quo.
The second problem, as alluded to above, lies in the bill itself and in how much it has been watered down by both Democrats and Republicans. The spending in the bill, as of this moment, totals less than $2 trillion. According to Politico, the original Build Back Better Act was supposed to cost $3.5 trillion (after the first proposal of $6 trillion was rejected). Vox reports that many of the provisions in the bill will expire after a short time. For instance, the expanded child care provision will expire after 3 years, and the expanded preschool program, which was originally supposed to be universal, is set to expire in 2028.
An additional problem concerns the bill’s tax policy. According to Vox, while the bill indeed raises corporate taxes, it also cuts taxes primarily for wealthy people in blue states. To add insult to injury, the bill contains a tax on e-cigarettes, which would clearly have a negative impact on low-income smokers. This bill accomplishes little more than rewarding wealthy liberals and punishing everyone else in the country via tax increases and temporary programs disguised as a pathetic expansion of America’s already meager “safety net.” So-called progressives can mourn what looks to be the inevitable death of the Build Back Better Act, but anarchists should not shed a single tear.
We cannot rely on corporate-backed bureaucrats to come to our aid, even in stressful times like the COVID-19 pandemic. The American government, particularly at the federal level, has consistently shown incompetence and indifference throughout this ongoing crisis. As a result, many Americans from all political persuasions are hesitant to trust the government. According to a Pew Research poll published in May 2021, only 2% of Americans say they “just about always” trust them, and 22% say they trust them “most of the time.” The poll also shows that trust in the government is at an all-time low.
People are tired of relying on empty promises and double standards from their leaders. It’s time to act for ourselves. We don’t have much left to lose. Through decentralized cooperation and mutual aid organizations, we can find a way to survive and flourish on our own. We should not rely on the government or corporations to rebuild and recover from the pandemic. Instead, why not use it as a springboard for a new movement free of government intervention and controlled completely by the people? Unemployment has been a popular subject of discussion as of late. Unemployed people could use this opportunity to either form worker co-operatives or figure out what their own dreams and talents are and then manage themselves.
The COVID era has been a trying time for everyone and has undeniably brought a lot of fear and uncertainty into a world already steeped in chaos and corruption. The good news is there is still time to reverse course and change society for the good of everyone. Do not mourn the death of the Build Back Better Act. It’s time to “build back” ourselves.