There is a great scene in “Casablanca” in which Rick talks to an émigré couple about getting out of town. Because it’s so good, I’m reproducing it below. The title quote reminds me of America today.
The greed and disinterest in one’s fellow human being, especially if poor or disadvantaged, that Romney and the Republicans embody is the greatest risk to America today.
A businessman doesn’t understand the feedbacks of an entire economy. He lives in a detached world, concerned only with his income statement and balance sheet. Austerity in extremis will kill the economy.
The devil has a large portion of the American people by the throat. If Romney is elected and the Republicans do what they’ve said they will do—cutting taxes even more on the wealthiest, increasing military spending and starting new wars, gutting support for research, education, social services—America will become like Brazil.
We will become a full fledged banana republic. The social class and income of the parents will largely determine that of the child. The sliver of very wealthy families at the top will own most of everything, including the house your children will live in, and they will groom their children to positions of quasi-royalty. Like Tagg Romney, who makes a million dollars a year of capital income in the business his father set up for him. The rentier class will live in a world apart from their countrymen.
Obama is weak and pathetic, but he understands this, and may do something to mitigate the damage caused by the epoch of deleveraging and increasing inequality that we’re living through.
If Romney wins, the devil may have America by the throat.
Annina: We come from Bulgaria. Oh, things are very bad there, Monsieur. The devil has the people by the throat. So, Jan and I we - we do not want our children to grow up in such a country.
Rick: So you decided to go to America.
Annina: Yes. But we have not much money and...traveling is so expensive and difficult. It was much more than we thought to get here. And then Captain Renault sees us, and he is so kind. He wants to help us.
Rick: Yes, I'll bet.
Annina: He tells me you can give us an exit visa, but, but we have no money.
Rick: Does he know that?
Annina: Oh yes.
Rick: And he's still willing to give you a visa?
Annina: Yes, monsieur.
Rick: And you want to know...
Annina: Will he keep his word?
Rick: He always has.
Annina: Oh! Monsieur. You are a man. If someone loved you very much, so that your happiness was the only thing that she wanted in the world, but she did a bad thing to make certain of it, could you forgive her?
Rick: Nobody ever loved me that much.
Annina: And he never knew. And the girl kept this bad thing locked in her heart. That would be all right, wouldn't it?
Rick: You want my advice.
Annina: Oh yes, please.
Rick: Go back to Bulgaria.
Annina: Oh, but if you knew what it means to us to leave Europe, to get to America. Oh, but if Jan should find out. He is such a boy. In many ways, I am so much older than he is.
Rick: Yes, well, everybody in Casablanca has problems. Yours may work out.