There are basically four groups of American voters:
1, Corporatist robbers (and associated wannabe flunkies);
2, Trump fans;
3, Hillary cultists; and
4, Bernie “berners.”
The Big Capitalists and corporatists are mainline Republicans and Democrats (1), who by and large voted for Hillary Clinton this last time because she was the current face of the money-grubbing robber elite (they vote for any Repub or Dem who is the current main front for the Big Money).
The Trump fans (2) are by and large poor dumb honest bigots, many down-and-out.
The Hillary cultists (3) are by and large pale-face suburban-type dishonest bigots (and their “poor relations,” the associated darker-skinned, poorer, Stockholm-Syndromed-to-Dems, wishing-and-hoping-in-vain, and reliably suckered “minority” voters).
The awakened multi-generational anti-corporate anti-neoliberal insurrectionists are Bernie people (4).
The election of 2016 was a battle between the American people and the corporations (the Big Money robber elite), and that election was lost by the American people in July 2016, when Hillary Clinton and the DNC influence-peddling mafia (including Obama) sidelined Bernie Sander’s campaign: the authentic will of the vast majority of the American people (to this day!). The Democratic Party has no continuing legitimacy ever (and the Repub Party, a wannabe-fascist national-robbery conspiracy, is only very slightly worse).
The contest in November 2016 was between two would-be figureheads fronting the Big Money management of the USG, and Trump won that contest because Hillary was odious to groups 2 and 4; and group 2 had no other option (as Bernie was out) for registering their just complaints (no jobs, no income, poisoned water, and government didn’t care about them), and Trump appeared sympathetic (e.g., anti-TPP) while Hillary was decidedly hostile to them (pro-TPP, “single-payer healthcare will never happen,” “[blue collar] jobs are never coming back,” “[you’re] irredeemables…deplorables”).
So, the real “civil war” and “economic war” in the US is between group 1 versus groups 2 and 4 (group 3 is/are the associated wannabe flunkies of group 1). It is imperative that Berners and Trump fans realize that they are fundamentally on the same side (except for the Group 2 bigotry). The most important force for revitalizing America, and kicking out the corruption eating it out, would be a strong coalition of groups 2 and 4 to become very active behind Bernie’s initiatives, AND for the dismissing of group 3 — to Mars if possible — the Hillary cultists, who are the single biggest impediment to any useful progress in America (the second biggest impediment is the obdurate bigotry of Trump fans of all colors).
Group 1 can never be dismissed (with anything less than 1793 French methods), but as in the F.D.Roosevelt administration, it can be regulated given enough popular pressure. Group 3 are deplorable parasitic airhead irredeemables. There is no reason to ever listen to, or pay attention to, or respect any irredeemable Hillary cultist. Theirs were the key votes for Trump, whose administration actually began on 25 July 2016. The Democratic Party, under the control of Hillarists and the DNC, is a political Dracula bloodsucking on the American people. It needs to be killed with a stake driven through its DNC heart, so it fades into dust blown away in the wind, and only then can a new and REAL DEMOCRATIC party, under Bernie and Berners be formed, and the 2+4 Coalition can begin putting some straitjackets on Group 1 for the good of the nation, and world.
Given the amount of ignorance, superstition, fear, bigotry and greed in the USA, it is no wonder that Donald Trump is president. He is a reflection, not an aberration.
I stand corrected (on my characterization of Trump fans in Dracula Dems): Trump voters were motivated by bigotry more than by economic hardships. From the article linked below:
“…whether it’s good politics to say so or not, the evidence from the 2016 election is very clear that attitudes about blacks, immigrants, and Muslims were a key component of Trump’s appeal,…
“Racial identity and attitudes have further displaced class (economics) as the central battleground of American politics,…
“Race trumped economics,…
“…evidence suggests that racial resentment is driving economic anxiety, not the other way around,…
“Always remember: You have to identify the disease before you can begin work on a cure. In the case of support for Donald Trump, the results are in: It isn’t the economy. It’s the racism, stupid.”
So, Trump really is the image of White (and anti-immigrant Black) America: racist to the core. See the article at this link:
Trump is Wall Street’s puppet whose strings are being pulled through his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Trump has kicked his Goebbels — Steve Bannon — into a corner, but Trump hasn’t had Bannon thrown out of Mister T’s clubhouse yet because Bannon is useful as a political mannequin to focus the attention of the Neo-Nazi rubes, and keep them attached to the Trump brand, as the most reliably conned component of Trump’s demographics.
Hear this slaves!: your bigotry is the slave-masters power over you.
A psychological disorder is:
“Any personal construction which is used repeatedly in spite of consistent invalidation.”
— George Alexander Kelly (1905-1967), http://oaks.nvg.org/george-kelly.html.
Kelly’s definition is the oldest likely source of the several quotes that have been blended into the well-known saying attributed to Albert Einstein (1879-1955): “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Originally published on 21 January 2011:
21 January 2011
The re-posting here was prompted by the following.
“Deaths of despair” are surging in white America
23 March 2017
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.
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?
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
Here is Cornel West’s summation of the Obama Administration:
Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama
9 January 2017
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”).
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.
Yvette Carnell (the political commentator on Facebook, a Black woman) is right: it is a battle for the crumbs between America’s (the U.S.’s) minority populations. And it is the natural clannishness and tribal-centric focus of these many races and ethnicities, in their economic competitiveness, that is their greatest contribution to the continuing domination of the dominant culture and the dominant “race” in our White capitalist society.
Freedom versus Equality
The Cuban Revolution brought to power a centralized authority — Fidel Castro — who the Americans called a dictator, who could impose a vision of racial, sexual, and eventually sexual-orientation non-discrimination on the entire Cuban society. This Cuban Revolutionary vision extended to the liberation of African Blacks from colonialism and apartheid, and this Fidelista vision transformed the Cuban people, moving them beyond the Spanish colonial and Catholic racial and sexual hierarchies and prejudices that existed in Cuba up to the mid 1960s. Cuba was transformed from the top down into a society of great equality because of a great dictating power. (1)
In contrast, the United States is a society of great inequality because of a great degree of freedom from top-down restraints on individuals — especially on those with means — so they can pursue their many schemes of personal enrichment by the legally-accepted exploitation of weaker and poorer people. So, for the winners in America’s capitalist competition for self-aggrandizement America is “free” and Cuba is a “dictatorship.”
While to the Cubans who have been liberated from poverty, oppression and corruption, and have then been uplifted with state-provided physical security, healthcare and education, the obviously racially prejudiced and exploitative American capitalist elite are rabid imperialists and even fascists, whose “liberty” is exclusively the liberty of slaveowners to globally expand their temp-gig and prison labor plantation economy. The equalized Cuban socialists see American democracy as the democracy of property owners whose voting power is equated with the magnitude of their wealth, whose ultimate power rests on the micro-fragmentation of American society (by racism, sexism, anti-socialism, anti-unionism), and where the degree of one’s personal enslavement is equated with the depth of poverty that one can “freely” achieve.
Envy Enslaves Us
Black Americans resent White Americans for not loving them, and they resent all immigrants and their American-born descendants for getting in the way of that yearned-for love. The divide and conquer program of dominating colonizers continues in the United States, with the many minorities set into vicious labor competition with each other for the economic crumbs falling off the feasting table of the White capitalist elite. So, Black Americans deeply resent the Spanish-speaking people in “their” country, the one they believe they have priority rights for minority benefits and preferences, because their ancestors paid early and heavily during slavery for those yet-to-be received “reparations.”
It is true that every immigrant and immigrant group that lands in America aims to improve their economic condition, and they take advantage of whatever opportunities the system allows them. This is a threat for American Blacks because they see themselves as still struggling to own the opportunities available at the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. They resent the fact that all immigrant groups do better than they do in the battle for the crumbs in American capitalism. They also resent being conned by elite White neoliberals like Hillary Clinton, and their own self-aggrandizing Black mis-leadership class, to believe “we are all in this together” with other minority groups with whom they experience bitter labor and economic competition.
Capitalism Is Racist
There is overt discrimination by everybody. Every minority individual and group, given the opportunity to make employment decisions, will hire their own. So, it is easy to find Latinos (“Hispanics” to the Gringos, and the Blacks Stockholm-Syndromed to them) excluding monolingual Blacks from job calls (e.g., Miami), and Blacks being excluded in favor of Latinos by temporary job agencies because of White employer preferences (e.g., Chicago). Here in Oakland, California, it is also unfortunately easy to learn about instances of personal attacks on Latinos (and Chinese) by Blacks (I have seen such, and heard from people involved). Social media exudes vituperativeness in this regard (e.g., comments by some Black Oaklanders about Mayor Libby Schaaf, a White woman). Also, I have seen Chinese patronage-by-hiring enclaves within a large corporate structure, a very closed form of Affirmative Action. Basically, every race and ethnicity one can imagine prefers their own kind when doling out advantages.
Humans Prefer Division
Every American, of whatever type, is a racist without exception. Individuals who object to this characterization only do so to defend their egos. We humans are all just a species of primate (and there is only one “race” of humans, who happen to have some variety of physiological features and pigmentation). Like our primate cousins the chimpanzees, we fragment into troops that maintain fierce rivalries with other troops (we myopically see other human “races” as other species) for territory, resources, food: wealth. This basic human characteristic (flaw) has been used by imperialists, colonizers and race-dominating slaveowners for millennia to keep the “natives,” the plebes and the slaves at odds with each other, to ensure the rule of the dominant minority over the squabbling, oppressed and exploited majority.
The chronic toxicity of American racism and race-consciousness is such that today a perfectly acceptable vision for many Americans would be the idea that President-Elect Donald Trump could uplift Black Americans — the descendants of slaves, not the more successfully competing modern black immigrants from Africa — by offering a down payment on reparations in the form of making them (exclusively) the well-paid construction workforce in his mega-project of building a 3,201 kilometer (1,989 mile) wall along the Mexican border, to exclude potential labor competition to the English-only American underclass.
Prejudice Is The Self-Worth Of The Defeated
People imbibe their defining racist attitudes (ignorance) with their mother’s milk, it is passed down through families and by their “traditional culture.” Most people do not make the effort to gain the intellectual sophistication and the moral character needed to grow out of this prejudicial ignorance, and to evaluate other individuals on the basis of their personal merits and flaws, instead of as symbols of abstract concepts called “race.” Most people form their personas — their images of themselves and their foundational ideas — early in life (usually by 14 years of age) and are loath to alter them because doing so is sensed as a loss of confidence, a diminution of self. So, they are stuck for life with the misconceptions of their youth, however acquired.
But, each new generation always absorbs some new attitudes that are in general circulation in the local and world societies of their formative years, and in that way the consensus attitudes of larger populations (both ethnic-tribal populations and regional-national populations) glacially evolve. What I conclude from the efflorescence of popular racist ignorance in this present Brexit-Trump period is that the pace of attitudinal evolution about “race in America” is indeed exceedingly slow. One would have thought that a century and a half after the end of the Civil War that racism would be absent in the United States; but no. So, the half-life for the decay of American racism may be in millennia instead of centuries. It is conceivable that climate change will wipe out humanity with Americans still being stupidly racist, sexist and capitalist.
(1) Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (13 August 1926 – 25 November 2016)
0. I am out of synch with Americans today, old and young, and it is better for me to keep it that way even if it seems isolating. I would do best living happily as a quiet, invisible loner.
I am unable to engage with society without puncturing other people’s idea bubbles, because I am unable to keep my analytical mind from seeking the foundations of those ideas and the limits of those bubbles. I usually find the foundations weak, the limits narrow, and the bubbles flimsy – but held to be sacred. Trying to expand those bubbles (to “be helpful” and “inform them”) or pop them (to be critical and “wake them up”) just creates hostility, and that produces disturbances (when I lose my patience), which then suck the oxygen out of my good spirits, and poisons some of the time I could otherwise be spending enjoying my own thoughts and actions.
What I have now been taught, in these modern times, is that I would do best to “respect others” by simply saying nothing to them as they babble on without interruption, even as they fall off their own delusional cliffs and ensnare themselves in their own chosen sufferings. I get it: It’s your life and you’ll choose how to live it and fantasize about it.
For my part, it’s best I do my thing alone without seeking an audience, which seeking is just a waste of time that yields no appreciation, nor has social benefit. People only have an interest in me to sell me something (get money), or for me to play a supporting role in one of their self-focused social dramas (women are big on this), or to be a momentary entertainment fill-in.
Since there is such a wide variety of human types, the above analysis is not true for everyone.
1. You never help anyone by calling them stupid, even if it’s true. Stupidity is like gravity, it’s constant and impervious, and you can’t do anything about it – unless it’s your own. I must be patient about the reality of stupidity, for my own good.
2. Everybody is racist.
3. Attention deficiency is the norm. Most people do not have an attention span greater than 20 seconds. I think this is why hand-held electronics are so popular, and reading paperbacks in public is so rare.
4. I’m on my own (and it’s best). Nobody cares about what I think, say or write. And, I feel the same way about most other people.
5. Conversation is dead. Most people prefer to talk than to listen, where “talk” is either actual audible verbalized output, or broadcast written speeches, or internal mental self-talk.
6. Thinking is dead. Most people do not think reflectively and use logic, they react emotionally selecting instantaneous judgments from a list of pre-programmed prejudices. They only “think” mechanically and procedurally (like robots) to implement the task at hand, whether that task is a chore (something they “have to” do), or a step in self-focused activity (something they “want to” do).
7. Americans have been trained to vote on the basis of avoiding their fears (i.e., emotionally). Where fear is lacking, voting decisions can be based on personal biases (more emotions) and personal pecuniary impact (the beginnings of thought). The character of political candidates, and the public good (or damage) of the policies they would champion, are not thoughtfully considered by the majority of American voters.
“The most frightening feature of the civic melancholia in present-day America is the relative collapse of integrity, honesty, and decency — an undeniable spiritual blackout of grand proportions. The sad spectacle of the presidential election is no surprise. Rather, the neofascist catastrophe called Donald Trump and the neoliberal disaster named Hillary Clinton are predictable symbols of our spiritual blackout.” – Cornell West (3 November 2016)
8. Political amnesia and personal denial are the psychological anesthetics of choice. Voters never notice and never remember the damages their winning candidates cause, so they can remain willfully ignorant of their own responsibilities in helping to create those damages. For example: Ronald Reagan’s “trickle down” and butchery in Central America, Bill Clinton’s “welfare reform” and deregulation of the banks, George W. Bush’s Iraq War, tax cut for the rich and US financial collapse for the not-rich, Barack Obama’s generous giveaways to and protection of Wall Street, whistleblower persecutions and drone massacres. Have Reagan, Clinton, Bush and Obama voters ever taken ownership of the disasters, catastrophes and persecutions they backed?
American identity-politics voting on the basis of vanity (latest version: “first woman president”) subsequently requires many foreign brown-skinned dead bodies in tribute to “the cause,” and the camping out on sidewalks in the homeland of more and more “deplorables” and “welfare cheats,” and every other kind of out-of-scratch nonperson. I pity America’s exploited and discarded Red Necks, now raging with neofascist ignorance, as mirrored by their hero Donald Trump; and I am disgusted by the smug narcissistic vanity of America’s comfortable parasites, emoting or conniving and colluding, as mirrored by their heroine Hillary Clinton.
9. Predictions: Hillary Clinton will win the election on November 8th. The Electoral College vote will be decisive, but the popular vote will be close. Hillary Clinton will follow through on her promises to Goldman Sachs (Big Money), Saudi Arabia (Big Oil) and Israel (War Inc.), but will entirely ignore the Democratic Party platform (dumping the Bernie Sanders Democrats the morning after getting their votes), except as a useful repository of progressive rhetoric she can cherry-pick for use as political camouflage when needed. The mainline Republicans (finally able to ditch Trump and his Tea Party excludeds) will stonewall President Hillary in the same way they stonewalled President Obama, as a careerists versus careerist battle for political power, except at those times and in those areas where Big Money, Big Oil and War, Inc. tell them to cooperate to meet the owners’ needs and wants, just as they did during the Obama Administration. Hillary is closer (more pliant) to the Big Owners than Barack was, but she’s unlikely to be as adept as he was at managing the public. So, the Big Game will go on as before, but it may not look as pretty at the retail level of infotainment. The treacly celebrations of “breaking the glass ceiling” and “first woman president” will be overlong and overplayed despite quickly wearing out for all but Hillary’s sentimental cultists.
10. It’s time for me to renew my Zen.