Media Center

World wearying of ‘disaster legislating’

Since its publication in 2007, Shock Doctrine, a book by Canadian author Naomi Klein, has opened the eyes of readers to the tactics used by the rich and powerful to get what they want at the expense of the poor and middle class around the world.

In the book Klein describes how the wealthy who never think they have enough, use the shock caused by real or contrived disasters to pass authoritarian laws and austerity budgets to effect a greater transfer of wealth and power from the 99% to the 1%.

The shock can be anything that shakes our sense of security. Attacks such as 9/11, and economic disasters such as the Great Recession are the pretexts used to make drastic changes that citizens are told must be made now to remedy the situation and avoid even greater cataclysm.

And so 9/11 was used as a reason to erode American civil liberties, and the Great Recession is being used to pass austerity budgets that cut things that people really need so that the taxes of the rich can remain criminally low.

Klein calls this “disaster capitalism,” but the technique is also used to enact laws favorable to the well-off that could not have been passed otherwise – something I call “disaster legislating.”


The latest example of this has been playing out in the U.S. Congress for some time now.  Republican intransigence on everything from budgets to political appointments appears to push the nation to the edge of one catastrophe after another.

In this way conservative types hope to achieve legislative goals that they couldn’t under ordinary circumstances.  They hold the nation hostage over debt ceilings, fiscal cliffs and sequesters by blocking vital legislation until responsible Members give in – not willing to subject their constituents to the consequences of inaction.

The filibuster – the favorite tool of Senate reactionaries – ensures that the will of the minority will prevail on any bill 40 senators don’t like.  And the Speaker of the House dares not allow a bill to come to the floor that the tea party opposes, even if he knows that a majority of House Members favor it.


The GOP prefers to play a reckless game of “chicken” rather than put people back to work and really get our economy moving again.

And these cowardly corporate flunkies have the gall to blame people earning “too much money” for our nation’s woes while so many workers can’t even make a living wage.

Fortunately, however, voters seem to be catching on.  They’re weary of the constant crises devised by petulant politicians who sit on their hands until they get what they and only they want.

Workers want good jobs, not handouts.  They want to be able to have a sense of pride in their ability to provide for their families.  They want their dignity back.

But GOP members seem to have the sensitivity of Nero who, as the tale goes, “fiddled while Rome burned,” and blamed it on others.

Don’t be fooled.  Demand that your representatives in Congress take you and your family’s financial wellbeing seriously.

And if they don’t – you know what to do at election time.