American Decline (continues)

When we say the American Empire is in decline, what do we mean? Is it the decline of:

1) The U.S. economy (and consequently U.S. political power) in relation to and in competition with the other national economies, the regional groupings of economies (like the E.U.), and the aggregate world economy?, or the decline of

2) The industrial mode of economic organization of society?, or the decline of

3) The capitalist model now controlling the U.S. economy in its industrial mode (as opposed to, say, a socialist model whether of democratic form or of command form as in China)?, or the decline of

4) The competence of the economic managing elite, and the influence of white males as the demographic group devising and directing public policy, controlling the national economy and ensuring their demographic group is most favored in the distribution of national prosperity?, or the decline of

5) The standard of living, physical health and security, mental state and personal development of the majority of the members of the public?

We can abstract these five aspects of a national economy, respectively, as its:

1) power,

2) organization (as an industrial mechanism or as a social relations network),

3) purpose (capitalist or socialist),

4) leadership (ability and demographics), and

5) living conditions (the typical experience of daily life).

Clearly, any person’s view of the state of the economy will depend on which of these five aspects they most identify with; and any media account of the state of the economy will be crafted to resonant with the biases of the intended audience.

Economic Power

People in the corporate and political leadership classes will gauge the health of the economy on the basis of its power in relation to the international competition. The remora class of analysts, commentators, consultants and promoters, who base their livelihoods on the sale of information and “suggestions” to the executive classes, will also fabricate their interpretations of current events on the basis of the economy’s power.

Economic Organization

Critics of the industrial mode of economics will focus on the mismatch between the performance of our current economic machinery and the human and societal needs of the public, which is required to support this economy. Ivan Illich (1926-2002) wrote three books in the 1970s (Deschooling Society, Tools For Conviviality, and Medical Nemesis) arguing quite effectively that many of the institutions of the modern industrial state impede their own supposed purposes; he focused on education and medicine in particular.

For example, the educational “funnels” sought today so as to insert more knowledge more quickly into student minds are so burdensome (too much homework, “one-size-fits-all” regimentation, politically circumscribed curricula) that they work against the natural impulse to intellectual exploration by children and young adults, and rob them of the time to follow their natural inclinations toward discovering and learning at their own pace. Children are conditioned, programmed and trained to be passive receptacles rather than being nurtured to become self-directed learners and creators.

Another example of industrial mode counterproductively is the high-volume production of automobiles, which enables suburban sprawl. The unavoidable result is the clogging of increasing longer commute routes between suburban homes and city jobs. The losses to individuals in hours-per-day of living-time spent commuting, and the societal costs in air pollution and the national security liability of oil dependency, are all well known.

A “convivial” (Illich’s term) solution would be to group residential and work areas close together within smaller well-planned cities and towns linked by networks of intra-urban and inter-urban public transportation systems (trolley, bus, train). Such convivial towns and neighborhoods (structured around the natural scale of human interactions) would harken back to earlier times when every city block was not far from a park, and had a bakery, produce store, meat and fish store, druggist and newsstand along it or “just around the corner.”

The industrial mode requires that people serve the efficiency goals of a delivery system so it operates at its lowest cost per item moved. For example, the “big box” stores one must drive to, because they are beyond walking distance from home, and because no one can carry all the bulky items and large quantities one is required to purchase in order to get the array of supplies needed for home-life. How much easier stepping off a bus or trolley a block or two from home after work, and within half an hour buying one easily-carried grocery bag filled with all the supplies and fresh food needed for the next few days.

Another Illich concept is that of the “radical monopoly.” This occurs when a technical system or method appears to be most effective at meeting some common need, and as a consequence of its popularity makes alternatives so economically disfavored that the use of the dominant technology becomes effectively mandatory. This might be acceptable in the case where a more convenient technology replaces a less convenient one, such as personal computers replacing typewriters; but it might be detrimental when the radical monopoly consumes large amounts of energy and pollutes (which we could recast as “requires a wasteful consumption of environmental potential”). The automobile transportation required by suburbia is one such radical monopoly.

Another radical monopoly is western medicine in the form of a pharmacologically and technologically intense industrial mode of centralized medical practice. A convivial alternative would be to have doctors (and their clinics) distributed throughout the well-planned towns mentioned earlier, so that one lived on every block, and every resident would have their “personal physician” living within walking distance. Hospitals would still exist, but patients would most likely enter them as a planned visit arranged by their local doctor, rather than as the only option in an emergency. This latter health care system is used in Cuba.

People address the problems of their daily lives by applying a wide array of tools: hand tools, kitchen and food storage appliances, transport vehicles and transportation systems, electronic devices and electrical power networks, houses and housing systems, drugs and medical devices and health care systems, and many other technical entities from simple pocket knives to trans-national social, monetary, judicial and government systems. Illich called all such entities “tools.”

His central point was that “A convivial society should be designed to allow all its members the most autonomous action by means of tools least controlled by others.” Illich chose the term “convivial” to designate the opposite of “industrial productivity,” his concept of a society of autonomous and creative interaction between people, and between people and their environment, “where individual freedom was realized in personal interdependence.”

Tools that allow for many possible uses, as determined by the creativity of the user, and are not restricted to a narrow purpose by their designer, are convivial. Simple hand tools, like a hammer, are convivial tools. More complex examples are the telephone, in that the telephone company cannot restrict the nature of your conversations; and AC electrical power, in that the power company has no control over what you plug into an electrical outlet. In contrast, machines made for industrial productivity can only be used in a few ways, which is the intent of the designer so as to control and “own” the benefit of the tool’s use. The specialized machinery in any factory assembly line, big box stores, and “personal” computers with proprietary and purposely exclusive operating systems are examples of non-convivial tools. Non-convivial tools require humans to become their servants, who operate them in set ways to achieve unique purposes of benefit to the tool designer.

It is easy to see that centralized systems of supply (e.g., food) and service (e.g., medical) are industrial and non-convivial, they require people to “line up” and operate them in a set fashion (e.g., through inflexible bureaucracy, and customer service telephone holds), so the system providers can minimize their costs and maximize their returns. Conversely, decentralized systems of supply and service delivery — as we envisioned earlier in our hypothetical well-planned towns — would not operate at the lowest cost physically possible per item moved, but they would enable a much richer and freer living experience to the wide variety of people who were using and paying for these systems. This is conviviality.

Economic Purpose

An economy is a man-made procedural structure integrating the operation of the financial and commercial interactions engaged in by the members of its society. Every economy, however primitive and disorganized, or sophisticated and highly organized, is an artificial and intentional construction. It is built to a purpose by people, it is not an organism arising out of nature. So, no economy is based on natural and unbreakable laws. Every economy is a game, and is rigged. Just exactly how any particular economy is rigged is the purpose of politics.

Generally, economies are recognized to serve two purposes: capitalist and socialist. The capitalist purpose is the accumulation of private profit at general expense, and the socialist purpose is the support of varieties of social and humanitarian needs at general expense.

Most national economies today have some mixture of capitalist and socialist purposes, though usually the capitalism dominates. For both, the industrial mode is more popular. Capitalist big box stores aim to maximize the profits to the owners, while socialist big box stores aim to minimize the cost to the state for distributing the goods they dispense. Similarly for capitalist and socialist service dispensaries in the industrial mode (e.g., health care).

Both capitalist and socialist economic purposes can be organized in either the industrial or convivial mode. The socialist purpose industrial mode was forcefully promoted by Stalin. As Illich wrote:

“In 1931 Stalin translated ‘control over the means of production’ to mean the increase of productivity by new methods used to control the producer [the subject population]… Since then a socialist policy has been considered one which serves the industrially organized productivity of a socialist country. Stalin’s reinterpretation of Marxism has since then served as a form of blackmail against socialists and the left.”

Fifty-three percent of the U.S. federal budget is spent on pure Stalinism, known simply as the Pentagon, a non-convivial radical monopoly used for political intimidation.

Social Security is another example of a socialist purpose within an otherwise capitalist U.S. economy, that purpose being the dignified management of the transition from taxpaying productive life for old people to their taxpayer-supported maintenance and death. Another socialist purpose proposed for the capitalist-dominated U.S. economy, but so far rejected, is that of universal health care. Publicly funded education through college and child-care are similarly as-yet rejected socialist purposes (note that socialized child-care is a way to ease the strain of industrial mode employment of women; the convivial alternative is socializing the costs of mothers caring for their own children).

Realize that all of these socialist purposes can be addressed in either an industrial or a convivial way. Too often the choice between an industrial organization or a convivial one is ascribed to either a capitalist or socialist motivation (whether as a recommendation or criticism).

This author’s preference is for convivial socialism, probably because he lives in a capitalist-dominant industrial economy.

Economic Leadership

The leadership classes of the United States are disproportionately populated by white males, and also include attendant females and accepted minority individuals (tokens) who service the class-race ascendancy imperatives. The whys and wherefores of this are well known. The essential public responsibility of an economic leadership class is to be competent (and, it should go without saying, to be honest).

Economic Living Conditions

The conditions of daily life in the U.S. are noted and reported on by the journalists of ethnic minority and working class life. At this time there is an economic depression for the working class because of the collapse of the housing market and financial bubble of 2007 [The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, which implemented the $700 billion emergency bank bailout Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), was signed into law on October 3, 2008], and because of the permanent loss of U.S. jobs outsourced to China and other minimum labor-cost economies.

The U.S. population has a capitalist utility as a market — a mass from which to extract cash and dump goods into — but this population is largely unnecessary as regards productivity (Pentagon industries excepted). Much cheaper foreign labor can produce the goods needed to absorb the retail cash from the U.S. market. How the U.S. population is supposed to get this retail cash in the first place does not seem to be a matter of concern for U.S. capitalism’s economic planners.

Food, energy consumption and entertainment, often in combined forms such as “fast food,” flashy oversized automobiles, giant plasma-screen home-theater systems and hand-held video-viewing telecommunications devices (telescreens aplenty), are popular retail goods. Like the soma and feelies of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, they serve the political purpose of pacifying the U.S. population so it conforms itself to the service of the capitalist industrial mode economy that profits from them. In rural communities in California’s Central Valley, Mexican-American children of farm-worker parents play with iPods in homes with dirt floors.

Decline And Expectation

The experience of economic decline is a matter of expectation. Investors in stocks, bonds, real estate and currencies might fear a decline of the U.S. economy when the productivity of foreign economies surges relative to that of the U.S. Changes of this type are the result of: continuing progress in less-developed nations, changes in labor and resource availability, the unexpected twists and turns of international politics, and the occasional influence of geophysical forces (e.g., natural disasters and climate effects).

Investors might also fear a “downturn” of their expectations if there is a serious possibility that sectors of the economy might be reorganized in a convivial fashion (meeting people’s needs instead of just extracting cash from them), or worst yet become nationalized.

However, if a working class family is now covered by an industrial mode national health care plan, it could easily experience better economic conditions even if the cost of the plan actually reduced the national gross domestic product, and the economy’s power relative to the international competition. That family would feel even richer if their health care were available through a convivial system of neighborhood-based physicians and clinics, even if the Wall Street Journal were to assure them that they were now living in an even weaker national economy. In reality, no wealth would be lost. Quite simply, the profit potential of investor fantasy in an industrialized mode capitalist economy would have been used to provide the people-centered national health care benefit. A potential wave of private profit, and chips for financial speculation, having been smoothed out into a rising tide of socialized benefit.

This is an evolving planet, and some can view changes in demographics as an economic decline. This is race-based thinking, something like tribalism; it is primitive, ignorant and very popular.

The fertility rate of whites is lower than that of nonwhites in the U.S., and the fertility rates of northern latitude and industrialized countries are lower than those of less-developed and tropical latitude countries. This is the glacially advancing demographic steamroller that flattened the apartheid regime of South Africa, will eventually inundate the Israeli colonial project in Palestine, and is darkening the complexion of North American and European life.

For some of the most insular and least cosmopolitan populations of white North Americans, the visible changes in the complexion of the leadership classes — still predominately white but now routinely mixed in with non-white personalities — is too jarring a reminder of their own social and economic stagnation, and they express their resentment over their own unacknowledged backwardness by a rejection of any society with nonwhite members of equal status. This in turn is voiced most honestly as simple racism (against Latinos, blacks and muslims in the U.S., and muslims and blacks in Europe), or disingenuously nuanced as anti-government sentiment, by which they mean opposition to the socialized purposes of the national economy because such socialized activity is by definition racially integrated. These are the Tea Party people.

These resentful whites, angry at the imagined loss of their assumed race-based socio-economic privileges rail about the illegal immigrants (a.k.a. Mexicans) “taking” jobs and “getting free government benefits” which they have to pay for through their taxes (this is usually just the overblown hyperbole of simple misers resenting taxation). Yet, they never seem perturbed that 53 cents of every tax dollar they hand the government goes straight to the Pentagon and funds the most wasteful and destructive subsidy on Earth, at a societal cost far beyond that actually created by undocumented immigrants.

But, these resentments grow out of fears born out of ignorance, and logical argument can do little to break through to the emotional engine driving this mindset. These people see loud, uncouth and very rich nonwhite people on their televisions; they see as their president a black man whose sophistication and intellectual attainments they will never match; in their towns and shopping malls they see Mexicans, walking in large family groups and chattering in an undecipherable lingo, and obviously spending money, where did they get it?

It all comes back to hammer the painful point home: “things aren’t as I expected, I’m not special, and they’re making me pay to have it this way.” This mindset sees national social and economic decay in the darkened complexion of the national demographic, and harrumphs about “taking the country back.” Tea Party politicians will try to actualize their faction’s guiding delusion by disabling as much of the socializing purpose of the national economy as will return the country to a more racially segregated and white-favored past, without the loss of subsidies popular with white people, like Medicare and the military. In this work of social regression they will be the useful idiots of the capitalist ownership class, for whom industrialization is profit, conviviality is taxation, and socialism is expropriation.

Decline? Yes Or No For Five Factors

1) Decline of economic power? Yes.

China and India combined hold 36% of the world population (2.49B of 6.89B). The 2010 GDP third quarter growth rate for India was 8.9% and for China 9.6%. These rates are representative of their respective economies during the last three years (though all economies experienced some dip near the 2008 U.S. banking collapse). The growth of U.S. GDP during the 2010 third quarter was 2.6%, and the average U.S. growth rate over the last 15 quarters was 0.49%. The U.S. population of 311.9M is 4.5% of the world total.

If we take the GDP (in 2009 $) of India, China, the U.S. and the World ($1.31T, $4.99T, $14.12T, $58.14T) and divide each by their respective population (1.155B, 1.331B, 0.312B, 6.893B) we arrive at a productivity per capita (GDP/#) of, respectively: $1134, $3749, $45,270, $8438. Note that we are assuming that every single person in the country (and World) is a “worker” who contributes to the GDP; hardly exact but usefully indicative.

We can compare the performance of two different economies by forming ratios from pairs of GDP/#, to arrive at:

— the number (at top of the resulting fraction) of U.S. workers that produce the same absolute output ($ amount) as

— the number (at bottom of the resulting fraction) of workers from India, China, the U.S. and the World, respectively,

— as: 1/40, 1/12, 1/1, 2/11.

So, the output of one averaged U.S. worker equals that of 40 averaged Indian workers (as defined here), or 12 averaged Chinese workers; and 2 averaged U.S. workers produce as much as 11 averaged World workers.

Performing the same exercise but this time comparing India, China, the U.S. and the World to the averaged World worker, we find, respectively (World/country): 2/15, 4/9, 11/2, 1/1. So, 2 averaged World workers produce as much as 15 averaged Indian workers, 4 World to 9 Chinese, 11 World to 2 U.S. (and 1/1 for World to World).

If we assume that the third quarter 2010 growth rates remain constant, then (by simple exponential extrapolation) the Chinese economy will match the total output of the U.S. economy in 15.8 years, at $21.2T (unchanging $).

By a similar extrapolation, India’s economy will match that of the U.S. in 39.9 years, at $39.4T. The estimated averaged Chinese “worker” productivity in 15.8 years will be one quarter that of the averaged U.S. worker then, and a similar calculation for Indian productivity at GDP parity yields 23% that of the U.S. in 39.9 years. (These calculations used national populations projected for 15.8 years and/or 39.9 years in the future; the projections were calculated using constant population growth rates of 1.3%, 0.5%, 0.9%, respectively, for India, China and the U.S.)

The sheer size of China’s population compared to that of the U.S. means that it must inevitably outpace the U.S. economy, as long as China’s productivity increases over time (and there is no revolutionary improvement in U.S. productivity). India follows the same trend but at less than half the pace.

2) Decline of economic organization? Neutral (yes and no).

The U.S. economy is as highly organized as it ever was, in its overwhelmingly dominant industrial mode. There has been no overall decline of organization, nor modal shift to conviviality (the no part).

However, there are significantly fewer industrial sectors today than existed three decades ago. The range of possible industrial production has diminished because of the permanent loss of major portions of the manufacturing base (the yes part).

In brief, civilian manufacturing industries have largely been “outsourced” to replace American labor with lower-cost foreign labor (primarily Chinese). Those portions of the domestic productivity base that have not been abandoned are strictly, even obsessively, organized along the industrial mode.

The haste, one might say panic, with which U.S. capitalist planners tossed domestic manufacturing labor overboard and walked away from domestic manufacturing physical plant suggests there has been little useful thought about the future economic impact of a swelling population of the permanently unemployed, and expanses of decaying industrial ruins (http://jalopnik.com/5110995/the-ruins-of-detroit-industry-five-former-factories).

The outsourcing gimmick has kept “the economy” (as experienced by U.S. capitalism’s management, ownership and investor classes) robust and competitive (factor #1). However, the detritus of mega-capitalist “open loop” schemes of wealth generation, in this case entire industries and their skilled domestic labor populations, is just too large a burden to dump onto the public for reabsorption and regeneration, without cost to the schemers. There will have to be “taxes” on future “earnings” to help pay for the reintegration of the jettisoned industrial capacity into a new type of all-are-included domestic economy.

The political conflict at hand is between capitalist exploiters and speculators, who wish to escape paying for the waste and societal damage of their schemes, and the working class taxpaying public (most of the people), which deserves receiving sizable payment for damages caused to the commonwealth, because the people of that public will do all the work of reprocessing abandoned industrial ruins and unemployed industrial workers into a new regrouped national community, with cleaned-up reusable sites, and revitalized neighbors, colleagues and co-workers.

3) Decline of capitalism and shift to socialism? No.

It would be wonderful, but circumstances have yet to decay to the point where they batter most Americans severely enough so they question their childhood indoctrination to capitalism (think Berlin or Tokyo, 1945).

Health care is the single issue that draws most interest to socialism in the U.S. today. The pressure for socialized medical care arises out of the stresses of the industrial mode of employment and service delivery.

I suspect that most Americans (U.S.) would lose interest in socialized medicine if they had access to a convivial capitalist health care system they could afford. An individual might state it this way: “If I have to be just one of the herd in some industrial medical system, then I’d rather it were government-run and taxpayer funded. At least then I wouldn’t have the added anxiety about paying for the indignity, nor even about being able to get it when I needed it. However, if I could get quick and easy access close to home anytime, and a professional to deal with the hospital for me when that was needed, I’d be happy to pay dues comparable to a swim club.”

4) Decline of economic leadership? Yes.

There has been an absolute decline in the competence of economic leadership, certainly since the days of John Maynard Keynes and John Kenneth Galbraith, and especially since the onset of the Reagan Administration (and Thatcherism in England), with its rabid Chicago School ideology (e.g., Milton Friedman’s “free market”).

The logical terminus of Reaganomics was the bank crash of 2008, though today’s economic managers remain witless before it, their minds still possessed by the free market cult. How can anyone think that the economic managers, ministers, experts and regulators, who collectively gave us the economic crisis of 2007 to the present, are competent? Unfortunately, neither these incompetents nor their Reaganomic mindset — which has eviscerated the American economy as a living experience, as opposed to an investment climate — have been swept off the scene so an authentic recovery and effective reforms can be started. Present U.S. fiscal policy is the equivalent of trying to blow air back into a burst balloon. Somewhere, Santayana’s ghost is laughing.

As described earlier, from a Tea Party perspective there has been a decline of the leadership elite by virtue of demographic titration. This is really a public health problem regarding epidemic mental illness.

5) Decline of the standard of living? Yes.

This is the great theft in the U.S. during the late 20th and early 21st centuries. A specific instance is the abandonment of the American skilled industrial laborer, but the overall scheme affects every working person: the socialization of vast speculative losses and the costs of capital flight from civic responsibilities.

As long as the political problem of reintegrating the U.S. economy, so it includes all workers in an equitable sharing of economic gains, remains unsolved, even unaddressed, then the standard of living will continue to decay, and with it prospects of long term profitability even for members of the elite economic classes.

“Big capital” uses its money to forestall any political engagement on this fundamental issue, and too much of the public accepts being distracted and pacified by high-tech trinkets, toys and endless entertainment streams, to focus on the work needed for their own education in reality, and the commitment needed to organize politically in the public interest.

When a quorum of the public wakes up (Yoo Hoo! Stop watching and believing TV!) and comes together to take action, the capital interests will be forced to negotiate for their survival, and that will make it possible to actually reform the economic machinery of the country, to re-rig the game in the public’s favor.

Conclusions

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, respectively: yes, neutral, no, yes, yes.

The economy-as-lived by Americans has declined steadily for three decades, and sharply after 2007. This economy is in a depression now, with no indication of imminent improvement. Further decline is inevitable unless an extensive recovery scheme is implemented (think non-militarized Keynes plus significant financial reforms plus large and permanent cuts in military spending).

The economy-for-investors, which hosts financial speculation, is growing slowly. However, it is a non-convivial shell game that excludes a large population of unemployed and underemployed people, except as members of a public dump used to absorb cast-off banking corporation liabilities and environmental damage. This is politically unsustainable in the long term. An economy that produces livelihoods for everyone is needed.

The long term solution to both problems is a reorganization and reorientation (a.k.a., ‘re-purposing’) of the U.S. economy, by dissolving and recombining the economy-as-lived and the economy-for-investors into a re-integrated whole. Of necessity, the result would have significantly more socialism and some more conviviality. A public that could accomplish this reform would understand that “lost” potential profits (which could have been had from the old economy-for-investors) would only have gone into risky and destabilizing gambling activities, and “lost” potential subsidies (like the excessive Pentagon favoritism in the old economy-as-lived) would only have gone into wasteful military adventurism and consumption. The new economy would produce living wealth.

How do we achieve this? Politics. Impossible? Remember, the barriers are all in our minds, collectively.

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Originally published on 21 January 2011:

American Decline
21 January 2011
http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/01/21/american-decline-2/

The re-posting here was prompted by the following.

“Deaths of despair” are surging in white America
23 March 2017
https://youtu.be/56k4TCJvVZQ

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Russian-Hacked USA, and Other Follies

Tonight (10 January 2017, President Barack H. Obama delivers his televised farewell address. In 10 days, Donald Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States of America. Below are some of my thoughts at this juncture.

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On “Russians hacked the election making the USA have Donald Trump as president, and not Hillary Clinton”:

Reading the commentary and all the comments here (on Juan Cole’s blog, “Informed Comment,” on 6-9 January 2017), I think your consensus is:

#1, that the public exposure of the Podesta (Clinton, DNC) e-mails did sway the election “to Trump,” specifically away from Clinton; and

#2, that this was a bad thing, a cause for anger, and that the perpetrators of these leaks should suffer retribution from the US Government.

On point #1: there has been no doubt cast on the veracity of the leaked e-mails, therefore if a portion of the public was swayed to vote “away from Clinton” because of these e-mails then they were swayed by truthful information that had previously been hidden from them: “transparency.” I favor transparency, and believe it serves the public interest.

On point #2: If voters being swayed by the exposure of truthful information of public interest is “a bad thing,” then those who believe this prefer voters being fooled and “guided” by powerful insiders (Orwell called them the Inner Party).

Those angry that insider (mainly DNC) plans went awry are angry at the workings of democracy with better informed voters. Why not be angry at the betrayal of fair-play and democratic principles that thwarted the Sanders campaign (the most popular option nationally)? Why not be angry that such a monumental betrayal of public trust was done for the benefit of extremely corrupt and deceitful insiders (H. Clinton and associates)?

The effort to pin blame on “the Russians” for spoiling the insider’s succession gambit is just a poor and cowardly excuse to deflect attention from the Inner Party’s colossal failures:

– to devise an economy that serves the public (the major grievance of Trump voters, also Sanders voters), and

– to maintain (not corrupt) the institutions and mechanisms of democracy (the popular will having an influence through voting, the major grievance of Bernie, 3rd party and anybody-but-Clinton voters).

If killing the messenger (Assange, “the Russians,” mystery hackers, or whoever you most want to hate) is your reaction for being shown the truth, then you are condemned to be the victim of your own follies for a long time.

Trump was elected because the public consensus is that voting now has no influence on public policy — so real people can’t get what they need and want from it — but it still can sometimes be used to throw a Molotov-cocktail-by-ballots into the cozy connivances of the Inner Party.

Who is responsible for letting it get to this point? The Russians?

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My view of the significance of President Obama’s administration (2009-20016) to American history is linked below. I wrote it in 2008.

Obama and the Psychic Auto-Shrink-Wrapping Called Race in America
http://www.counterpunch.org/2008/03/20/obama-and-the-psychic-auto-shrink-wrapping-called-race-in-america/

Here is Cornel West’s summation of the Obama Administration:

Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama
9 January 2017
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/09/barack-obama-legacy-presidency

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It is as likely that American capitalists will preserve the Social Security Trust Fund and Publicly Funded Education, as that the Chinese will end trading in rhino horn, elephant tusk and bear liver. These are the Golden Cities of Cibola and the Fountains of Youth, which the obsessed conquistadores of temporal power can never refrain from lusting after.

Climate Change is the still wet graffiti of collective world greed pressed within the geological strata of the future.

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The Conservative Bible, and Equality vs. Freedom

The Conservative Bible and Creed

The Conservative Bible, rule #1:
The rich have the right to steal, the poor do not have the right to live.
The Conservative Creed, tenet #1:
I am perfect, all my problems are caused by other people.

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The Conservative Bible, rule #2:
The greater the wealth, the more it is deserved.
The deeper the poverty, the more it is deserved.

The Conservative Creed, tenet #2:
Wealth, by definition, means living on capital gains, not wages.
Wages are a necessary evil for the upkeep of the servants.

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The Conservative Bible, rule #3:
Human rights can never be interpreted to infringe on property rights.

The Conservative Creed, tenet #3:
Failure to turn a profit or increase share value are the only justifiable complaints against corporations.

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The Conservative Bible, Lesson#1, Morality & Society

Morality (Good versus Evil, Good versus Bad):
1. Anyone or anything that makes money and accumulates wealth is “good.”
2. Anyone or anything that costs money, and accumulates debt is “evil” or “bad.”
3. The magnitude of one’s goodness is given by the magnitude of one’s wealth.
4. The magnitude of one’s evil, or badness, is given by the magnitude of one’s debt.
5. A person of neutral moral value balances losses with income, and debts with assets.

The only social value is money.
The only social responsibility is to enrich oneself.
The greatest social problem is government.
The problem of government is to minimize its size and cost consistent with its function.

Government is the minimum bureaucracy necessary to maximize wealth enrichment; it:
1. Maintains military forces to protect wealth (the “good”) from foreign threats.
2. Maintains internal security forces to protect wealth (the “good”) from domestic threats.
3. Maintains military forces to enhance wealth enrichment by opening foreign markets.

Government is the source of the ultimate social evils:
1. Taxes: the imposition of losses on enrichment.
2. Regulations: the imposition of restrictions on enrichment.

The most important organizing principle in society is the corporation.
Opposition to corporate society is communism, the most dangerous idea of all time.
Socialism is the excess overhead cost of government from coddling the unproductive.

There is no such thing as “greed,” one is either:
1. productive: by being morally responsible to enrich oneself, or,
2. unproductive: by being criminally negligent to be poor.

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The Conservative Bible, tenet #4:

All of humanity fits into five categories:
1. Friends: provide dividends
2. Peers: provide investment
3. Workers: provide profits
4. Layabouts: create expenses
5. Enemies: create losses.

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Liberal Intolerance vs. Conservative Intolerance

Conservatism (n.), the irrational fear that somewhere someone you think is inferior is being treated as your equal.

Liberalism (n.), the comfortable presumption that your attitudes mark you as a superior and deserving individual.

“Conservatives” and “Liberals” are the two varieties of capitalists.

The critique by conservatives about “liberal intolerance,” a.k.a. liberal intellectual and political orthodoxy, cuts both ways; “conservative intolerance” to counterarguments is just as prevalent. Both of these simply reflect the ignorance, shallow-mindedness and fears of two large groups of people with opposing biases.

People who are good critical thinkers (not many of these) and open-minded (not many of these either) so as to continuously evolve their opinions and beliefs on the basis of new learning (from whatever source) based on facts (real ones) can enter into political discussions and arrive at useful results. Such useful results can include an agreement about the actual facts of a given issue, and then forthright statements of what each of their personal preferences and biases are, and that their only unresolved differences are about how they each choose to feel about those agreed-upon facts.

A good example for observing this is climate change (CC). The facts are indisputable, the only real differences are how “conservatives” and “socialists” feel about it (“liberals” – one of the two types of capitalists – feel pretty much the same as conservatives about CC, but they don’t really want to admit it). Socialists fear CC more than conservatives, and want to make whatever “economic sacrifices” are necessary to prevent it. Conservatives fear any obstruction to their prime concern of immediate personal enrichment more than they fear any harm from the “slow” changes to Earth’s habitability caused by CC.

With facts forthrightly admitted, two opposing “feelings about the facts” can intelligently engage in discussion to explore these two sets of feelings in an effort to spark deeper thought in the opposite party, which deeper thought (if honest) can induce an individual to critically examine their own sources of willful ignorance and fear.

You can’t change someone else’s mind, only they can do that for themselves. However, a refusal to acknowledge facts is a sign of a closed and socially dead mind. Closed-minded people, who lack the intellectual honesty and courage to be forthright about their actual motivating preferences, biases, fears and bigotries, become hostilely defensive when they sense their biases being challenged. That’s when you get clashes of bullying bluster and bombastic bigotry against snide, arrogant, dismissive and patronizing outrage.

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Why are Republicans so mean-spirited? What is it that’s eating at them and keeps them so angry about the pittances the poor get? They have a tremendous envy of the scant happiness the poor may enjoy, and a sad compulsion to act malevolently toward them. Why? How can they have happy lives harboring such bitterness? Why can’t they just live and let live? This is what I have never ever been able to understand. It seems like a wound that won’t heal: a horrible abscess of the soul and a poisoning of the brain. The materialism and wealth accumulation that consumes their lives seem like attempts to create a monumental artificial beauty that masks the repulsive and tragic corruption hollowing out their humanity. This is why Republican-type people seem so fake to me, soulless androids trapped by limited programming for hostility, which is advanced by deceit and masked by denial, and which is based on resentment of those deemed inferior. I think their ongoing and unacknowledged anger is an unconscious eruption of protest and rebellion against the repression of their own humanity.

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Equality vs. Freedom

Conservatism (n.), a political economy that rewards wealth and punishes poverty.

Liberalism (n.), a political economy that rewards wealth without rancor to the poor.

Socialism (n.), a political economy that equitably maximizes social benefits instead of inequitably maximizing individuals’ profits.

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Conservatives (n.), self-imagined victims of the poor who they persecute in revenge.

Liberals (n.), self-imagined humanitarians who believe they deserve advantages and appreciation.

Socialists (n.), people who want fairness to govern the politics of their society.

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Conservatives and Liberals are both capitalists, want limited government (“freedom”), and are thus anti-socialist (anti-“equality”).

Socialists are anti-capitalist, and thus favor a state-managed economy (“equality”).

Democratic Socialists are a hybrid of Liberals (capitalists) and Socialists (anti-capitalists), their political economy is state-regulated capitalism for the elimination of poverty, managed by a democratic process (“Freedom” moderated by “equality”).

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People vs. the Purpose of Government

Every American is guaranteed the right to try to become wealthy on their own. The purpose of government is to protect the wealth of those who have successfully profited from their right to seek wealth. The degree of that protection is proportional to the amount of wealth.

Government is not the problem, the people are the problem. If the government can just defund the people it will have all the money it needs (from taxing the people) to spend on the really important things: billionaire bonuses (need-baseless untaxing); controlling world fossil fuel reserves (power hoarding); wars for Zionist expansion (Modern Manifest Destiny); free Wall Street speculation insurance (single-payer Fortune-care); corporate welfare (job security for oil, pharma, war tech, etc., billionaires); intelligence, robotic and special military forces to control the world (real bomb delivery by White Pentagon House laptop); and domestic occupation forces to corral the people away from wealth-safe, toxin-free and government-only areas (IDF, Internal Defense Force). Public voting remains a problem to government security, and needs to be replaced with access-controlled private voting by purchase of candidates. “Voting is so precious it has to be rationed.”

The people do not have constitutional rights to: dignity, respectful treatment, clean water (everywhere), food (and also real, organic and non-GMO food), health, health benefits (whether publicly funded or employer-based), housing, winter heating, financial security, family planning & reproductive rights (services, equipment and accessories), truthful news media, good public education, full-time living-wage employment, vacations, determine terminal care actions for self with medical assistance (everywhere), and exclusively publicly-funded elections with open primaries and debates open to all candidates. These are all privileges, and privileges are awarded on the basis of competitive bidding by privilege buyers. A variety of private charities offer some of these privileges to the public in many regions of the country, on the basis of their own assessments of individual need and merit.

The burdensome overhead on government for populist benefits must be eliminated to reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of protecting wealth and property proportionately, and of accelerating capital gains.

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Climate Change Is Inevitable With Trump Or Hillary

US population distribution by states (2013)

US population distribution by states (2013)

Election 2016 by counties

Election 2016 by counties (D. Trump = red; H. Clinton = blue)

As of April 1, 2010, the date of the 2010 United States Census, the nine most populous U.S. states contain slightly more than half of the total population. The 25 least populous states contain less than one-sixth of the total population. California, the most populous state, contains more people than the 21 least populous states combined. (from Wikipedia)
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Most U.S. People Live “Near” the Big Water

The 9 most populous states (each with > 10M people): CA, TX, FL, NY, IL, PA, OH, GA, NC, have seashore (Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf) or lakeshore on the Great Lakes.

The next 4 most populous states (MI, NJ, VA, WA, ranked 10-13) have seashore or lakeshore on the Great Lakes, and populations between 7M and 10M (each).

Ranked 14th is AZ, the first landlocked state (population between 6M and 7M).

Of the 16 states ranked 15-30, 7 have seashore (Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf) and 3 have lakeshore (Great Lakes), the remaining 6 are landlocked. All have populations between 3M and 7M.

The last 20 states have populations between 0.5M and 3M. There are 7 states with seashore (Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf), none with lakeshore (Great Lakes), and so 13 are landlocked.

Of the 37 states below rank 13:
all 20 landlocked states are included,
14 have seashore (Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf)
3 have lakeshore (Great Lakes).
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Whether Trump or Hillary is US president, Climate Change will continue unabated

In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton won the population centers and the wealth zones; Donald Trump won the countryside (see maps). The peasants and proletarians revolted against the self-satisfied and arrogant cosmopolitans, and backed an avenging berserker they hoped (hope again!) would save them economically, and thus preserve their insular and primitive cultures. This revolt is a reaction to the supreme failure of the Democratic Party to care about the impoverished and ill-educated lives in the despairing countryside. Bernie Sanders would have swept this election. The American people lost the general election to the billionaires and the corporations on 25 July 2016, at the DP convention in Philadelphia. The Trump presidency is the direct result of Hillary Clinton’s ambition and the Democratic Party’s complicity with it.

Under a Trump presidency, billionaires and corporate bosses will openly and in full public view run the country to their personal advantage, paid for by the continuing impoverishment of the citizens and degradation of the natural environment. Many hope that by political legerdemain Hillary Clinton can be installed as the president instead, on January 20, 2017. Then, they would be relieved to know that the billionaires and corporate bosses running the country to their personal advantage, paid for by the continuing impoverishment of the citizens and degradation of the natural environment, would do so discretely out of public view.

In my view, we will never stop (let alone reverse) climate change, because the addiction to fossil fuels is universal and incurable. Basically, all the personal excuses worldwide boil down to something within the range of: “I’ve got to have it to survive,” and “I’ve got to have it to profit.” Climate change is the exhaust product of capitalism (whether of “free market” or “command economy” style), and no one is willing “to miss out” on getting more power NOW to “survive” and “profit.”

Socialistic frugality to economize and thus forestall climate change could only happen under a “dictatorship,” with a top-down enforced regimen of shared economics, as under Fidel Castro in Cuba. This is impossible globally, as well as in almost every country.

I have no doubt that essentially the same policies and trends would have occurred under a Hillary Clinton presidency as under a Trump presidency. There would be big differences of style between the two, but little differences of timing. The desperate peasants who voted for Trump simply hoped to get some economic lift by getting skilled-labor jobs in Trump’s promised America-first unleashed smokestack economy (factories and mines on the prairies and in the hills, but also Wall Street pulling the strings). There was no such hope for the peasantry in Hillary’s likely economy of outsourced smokestack industries, H-1B domestic tech industries (IT and Bio-tech) and an unleashed financial industry (high-tech along the coasts, and investment banking everywhere). It’s kind of like picking between “Ford” and “Chevrolet” economies with billionaires in the drivers’ seats either way. The gas, oil and coal will be hammered, pumped and dug up, and burned to inflate fortunes.

The one advantage of a Trump presidency and economy is that it will hit most of us with an instantaneous jab of pain and burning sensation, like the sting of a bee puncturing public consciousness, and cause an immediate mass reaction seeking to swat the offender.

In contrast, a Hillary Clinton presidency and economy would hit us like the stealthy sting of a tick, which regurgitates a highly infectious anticoagulant during its bite so it can linger draining your blood until you eventually become aware of a persistent pain and a possible enduring disease.

It was never in the public interest to support Hillary Clinton to “avoid” Donald Trump, whether before or after the November 8 election. Post-election efforts going into fantasies promoting Hillary (importuning Electoral College electors to switch their votes in favor of Hillary, while sopping up conspiracy theories aiming hatred at the Russians, and blame away from the real culprits) would be better spent on planning resistance to Trump’s policy initiatives. I suspect that within two years (mid-term elections) that disillusionment with Trump will have already become visible among the ranks of Trump’s populist supporters. Then the members of the Sanders Revolution will have the opportunity to begin combining forces with disillusioned Trump supporters, and ideally also reformed and reeducated Hillary supporters (though these are likely to be the most obdurate, i.e., brainwashed), and a second populist wave might beneficially inundate the electoral spectacle by 2020.

However the politics of the next four to eight years unfolds, two conclusions seem clear:

You cannot have capitalism without gross inequity and climate change.

You cannot have socialism with ignorant, greedy and self-centered people.

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Donald Trump’s Medal of Honor Citation

Classified Citation for the Secret Medal of Honor, for Donald Trump

In the Classified History of the United States, Donald Trump will go down as one of the greatest heroes of the early twenty-first century, for almost single-handedly saving the republic from the anti-capitalist insurrection of Bernard Sanders, thus allowing our neoliberal economic order, guided by its Wall Street conservators, to continue without any foreseeable domestic threats for the remainder of the century.

Donald Trump accomplished this feat by his uncanny insights into public relations, his personal investments and losses, and his unsurpassed personal sacrifices in accepting near universal condemnation for his public policies, and opprobrium for his personal behavior. By willingly exposing himself to the public as the villainous foil to our designated successor for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, and carrying through with this boundlessly difficult and distasteful role to the bitter end, Donald succeeded in repelling a majority of the American public into the embrace of Hillary Clinton, and thus satisfactorily under our continuing control.

Donald single-handedly ruptured the Republican Party, creating the opportunity for it to repudiate its obstreperous and discredited populist “Tea Party” elements, and to realign itself once again under the full control of its long-standing and stable professionals of our bipartisan national leadership class. By creating what has been called “the most powerful negative pole of political policy and activity ever exhibited in an American presidential election,” Donald caused the fragile and insecure positivity of Hillary Clinton’s “political pole” to be exponentially enhanced in public perception. As a consequence of this felicitous enhancement, the luster of Bernard Sanders has been significantly dimmed, and the rabid enthusiasm of his anti-capitalist followers has been satisfactorily quenched into a mass disappointment that has excellent prospects of enduring as long term apathy.

Barack Obama has been the most successful tool for public guidance we have ever been fortunate to acquire, so it was natural we would once again turn to the Clinton-controlled Democratic Party for his successor. Hillary Clinton is the outstanding choice for that role, because of her lifetime of loyalty to our interests, and the singular confluence of politically useful characteristics she possesses: her female sex, which immediately guarantees her capturing half the votes in America, her absolute freedom from moral impediments, her salubrious cupidity (the bedrock of her loyalty), and her mastery of dissimulation and political manipulation. Where this “dream candidate” has weakness is in the area of easily rallying the public, and we had great apprehension earlier in her campaign with the surge of Bernard Sanders in opposition to her. It required the coordinated efforts of our operatives in the Democratic Party, the media, the corporate donor class, and the Obama Administration (including the president himself) to bring the Sanders insurgency to heel. But, essential to making the anti-Sanders counteroffensive successful were the enormous contributions of Donald Trump in the public sphere, as described earlier.

Truly it can be said that no man has knowingly shown greater loyalty to our class interests, and at greater sacrifice, than Donald Trump. For his unbounded and effective energy, sacrifices and success in our interests, we bestow on Donald Trump the Secret Medal of Honor.

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National Character & Old Gals for Empire

The Character of a Nation

The lower the moral and intellectual development of the masses, the less effective are democratic processes for solving national problems, improving the lives of people, and making wise use of national resources.

Elites can only control and exploit a people who have allowed themselves to become culturally primitive, socially degraded and disunited.

The fate of a nation is set by the character of its people.

 

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Old Gals Just Want To Have Fun (with Hillary’s Bill)

The easiest way to destroy a man’s career today is to accuse him of being nasty to the ladies. However, this is only true for abusers of women who are unpopular with women, like Donald Trump. Abusers of women who are popular with women, as John Kennedy was and Bill Clinton remains, are immune from such censure. A majority of American women retain favorable opinions of Bill Clinton, and many thousands would be delighted to flop on their backs and spread their legs for his enjoyment, despite him being a narcissistic sexist clod.

This masochistic devotional fervor is all to the benefit of Hillary Clinton’s political ambitions. She is America’s Livia Drusilla who aspires to be America’s Margaret Thatcher, and now seems likely to gain the White House to become America’s most successful influence peddler, much to the delight of the Wall Street banksters by whom she is bought and paid for. Hillary Clinton is cashing in on the yearnings of a majority of America’s older female voters, for compulsory celebratory recognition.

This is the popular force that is overwhelming any concern over climate change, nuclear war with Russia, securing fair and just futures for America’s youth, and stopping the “genocide by indifference” [1] that accompanies American foreign policy and imperialism. Such is the force of American middle-aged female vanity longing for adoration.

So, screw the kids and their desires for worthy futures in Bernie’s revolutionary social democracy; screw the brown people in foreign lands getting bombed to support American weapons sales; screw the dumped American labor force whose jobs are offshored and whose housing unaffordable in order to fatten the Wall Street take; screw the future desperate patients of Veterans Administration hospitals, who will have absorbed the incoming from America’s wars-of-tomorrow; and screw everybody who is going to get burned out or washed away by climate change, necessary to fill the corporate treasure chests.

For too much of the older double-X portion of the electorate, the self-image paragon to be deified is Hillary Clinton, along with her co-enabling super-predator Bill Clinton, barking and humping at the end of a long leash. Everybody else, worldwide, will just have to suck it up and bow down to the old girls’ triumph in becoming vicariously powerful; it’s their turn to come out on top. Nothing else matters.

[1] Robert Pearsall.

Voting For Against

Voting For Against

There’s a sucker born every minute, and they all vote for the lesser evil.

Bernie Madoff is in jail for life for running a Ponzi scheme that defrauded the rich. His colleagues running similar scams are free, rich and celebrated because they defraud the working and workless poor. From their legally protected offshore treasure chests they fund the lesser evilism of a rigged electoral system that keeps governments under control by corruption that shakes down the public to slop the troughs of the high rollers.

Election night is always a heartbreak for the old-timers who’ve seen the lesser evil scam cycle over and over again, and wish they could see it killed off before they die.

Election night is a big yawn to the nonchalant youth busy playing in their chill sandboxes without a thought to their unbroken futures as sucker carrion and cannon fodder.

Election night is an exciting drama to the vain shallow-minded selfish useful idiots who think what’s good for them is good for the country, and that either of those is offered by lesser evilism.

Today’s politicking is a furious clash between hot air and vapid prattle, devoid of truth while demurely united in criminality, to entrance the hollow-headed with a circus that spoofs attentiveness, so as to allow the hidden hand to continue stealing the public bread.

To be alert, compassionate and ethical is to resign yourself to being marooned in a moral wasteland on a lost planet.