But a Word of Caution, Let’s Not Take Progressive Socialism So Far it Costs the Election…My comments stay mainly focused on the incompetence, buffoonery, corruption & far-right radicalization of my former GOP party which I don’t recognize anymore.  So in my rants I tend to leave the Dems alone to battle out among themselves their own agenda, teetering between center-left & progressive socialism.  But as a never-trumper, my concern with the energy among the Dem base being way out on the left, they could nominate a candidate who turns out unelectable.  As a moderate, I’d like to see a nominee who can fill that middle lane & make sure Trump is defeated, adopting similar pragmatic strategies as we see in the House: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/for-all-the-talk-of-a-tea-party-of-the-left-moderates-emerge-as-a-democratic-power/ar-AADEDjF

Progressive socialism should not leave the impression they’re going to take away our private health insurance, all the guns, tax the rich at 90% & be all for open borders which scares off independents.  Changes to established norms should be made incrementally without going to extremes by tearing down our whole system.  I think the progressive base will be energized enough to vote just because of Trump & should turn out in droves come November 2020, so strategically it may be wise to build that big tent where centrists are welcome: washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/06/28/its-party-no-ideas-vs-party-bad-ones

 
 
Dem Debates
 
Fueling my concerns, it did look like the debates this past week were progressive socialism on display, which the GOP will use against them as they deem the term socialism is their top weapon of choice.  So along with the Dem narrative moving too far left too fast in attracting their more progressive base, it also looks like the same mistakes from 4 years ago are happening again, with Dems playing identity politics & not focusing enough on crafting a more inclusive economy offering better paying jobs.  It’s why I sent a small contribution to local rep Tim Ryan a couple months ago just to help qualify him for the debate stage, that although he’s a long shot at best, his is an important voice that needs heard on behalf of workers everywhere.  That’s a main lane Trump used to win the industrial Midwest in 2016, & Dems cannot afford to cede that narrative or those states to him.  Especially winning here in Ohio is an established/proven ticket to the presidency.
 

As for a main debate headline, the media always seeks out controversy & those gotcha moments, so they seemed giddy to highlight Kamala’s premeditated trap for Uncle Joe with her personal busing story as a child: politico.com/story/2019/06/30/kamala-harris-democratic-debates.  Voters will not be swayed by a candidate’s position on busing from decades ago, but they are swayed by which candidate the media gives more airtime to (which turned into a major debacle 4 years ago helping Trump win).  What voters most want to know is can they find a job or opportunity that pays a livable wage & offers a real shot at upward mobility, plus make basic essentials like housing & healthcare affordable, since Americans overwhelmingly prefer having their own ability to earn a decent living over letting wealthy individuals & huge corporations rake in billions more.  Plus even more important than issues for the time being, we first have our democracy to save in the face of our current threat in the White House: theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/30/democrats-debates-donald-trump.

 
Not that Biden would necessarily be my first choice: www.cnn.com/2019/06/29/opinions/biden-right-democrat-electability-zelizer.  But without question, whoever wins the Dem nomination is the easy choice against Trump.  I have no reason to believe any of the Dem candidates are a con man, chronic liar, divisive white nationalist, wanna-be dictator, criminal or rapist.  And it’s highly unlikely they’d ever be suspected of collusing with a foreign adversary to rig the election, or engage in a pattern of obstruction of justice afterwards.  So a Dem prez would be a lot less headaches.  Back to the Biden spectacle from the debate & just for the record, I also opposed busing way back when (1970’s) as I recall giving a presentation on the subject for a college speech class.  At the time I felt it unnecessarily undermined the fabric, personality & cohesion of each neighborhood, be it whether they were predominantly white or black neighborhoods.  But times & public attitudes do change. 
 
And just as a side note as to how much Trump gets a pass on his despicable behavior, since there’s so much of it on display every day we’ve become numb to it, is the way our former VP stirred a ton more media controversy over his anti-busing stance a half-century ago than credible accounts of a rape against the sitting president of the United States!  Kind of mind-boggling when we think about it, the irresponsible lack of proportion.  That uneven news coverage giving Trump a pass happens on a number of different issues: cnn.com/videos/business/2019/06/30/press-grading-trump-on-a-curve-versus-the-dems.cnn.  Along with our posts this week from Parts 1 & 2, a few more articles on the rape accusation are at the bottom (along with a song for our big-stuff president), & right here are a couple interesting articles from The Guardian with takes on the debates:
 
 
 
 

Economic Indicators are Turning South

 
Being an economist forecasting future activity is a very tricky business, so nobody really knows the state of the economy until it actually happens.  But a couple points are worth making as we’re seeing signs of a slowdown.  First, the economy isn’t performing anywhere near to the level Trump claims it is.  And secondly, he has done very little from a policy or legislative standpoint to actually help the economy.  As much as we’d hate to see an economic slowdown, one strategically timed heading into 2020 could serve a greater purpose of getting this buffoonish clown out of office.  So as we can see here from the newsfeeds, the signs are there & should a recession actually take place, let’s hope it’s not too severe: 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
Short Bits
Despite being so near to full employment, there’s still too many long-term unemployed:
 
 
Interesting chart in here on the lagging income growth this past decade for blue-collar workers:
 
 
Getting woke:
 

 

Trump’s fantastic, beautiful healthcare plan is still MIA:
 
 
China deal not going too well:

 

 
Stratospheric student-loan debt prevents young people from getting started on life:
 
 
 
And our federal debt strangles the country:
 
 
The GOP spinning Dem progressive socialism plans as budget busting more than a bit hypocritical:
 
 
Us moderates hardly have a political home to reside in anymore, but anything is better than Trumpism.  And as the parties move toward the fringes, the far-right has become far more radicalized & away from the center than liberal progressives:
 
 
Like father like son, as sonny boy jr. dredges up a similar birther theory against Harris that his daddy previously had done against Obama, sending out a blatantly racist tweet:
 
 
 
A terrible court decision.  Politicians will be able to keep choosing their voters more than voters choosing their politicians, & we get stuck with extremists in the House which ensures continued gridlock:
 
 
Progressive Socialism should be Judged on the Merits, not the Title
 
The entire campaign strategy around Trump & the GOP heading into 2020 is to paint the Dems as socialists, which is quite galling when it’s the GOP who’ve gone a lot further out on their extremes than progressives: rawstory.com/2019/06/paul-krugman-busts-gop-as-much-closer-to-fascism-than-democrats-are-to-socialism.  Most of what the GOP complains about isn’t really progressive socialism at all, but are thoughtful positions by Dems trying to lift up struggling Americans like the poor working class who’ve largely been left behind.  There are certainly some ideas behind progressive socialism which goes too far & would cost too much.  So what we need to do is separate the wheat from the chaff, evaluating the various Dem ideas on their merits rather than automatically dismiss as socialism which the GOP routinely does. 
 
And as the Dems & their base pursue a wide array of spending proposals from their wish list to help those in need, we must be cautious to never undermine the incentive to work hard & invest.  Feeding a dependency mentality really could become a ticket to socialism.  But if the GOP really wanted to do some good rather than always fighting the Dems, they’d try to work with them on a bipartisan basis & find common ground for the common good.  But they keep resorting to their standard talking point the Dems are all about socialism, so here’s how the Dems could respond to those attacks as seen in this last part to the op-ed washingtonpost.com/opinions/how-democrats-can-respond-when-trump-cries-socialism:
 

This is not a left-wing or right-wing critique. You can find it in the progressive pages of the Nation and in the conservative columns of the Wall Street Journal. Even casual observers got the picture when the hard rain began to fall in 2008 and 2009. Main Street lost jobs, homes and businesses in the Great Recession, while Wall Street extracted massive government bailouts to save their megabanks and factories from the stern discipline of the market. In the coming election, President Trump hopes to wrap the word “socialism” around the neck of the Democratic nominee. And polls show that many Democrats are fine with the word. Trump will have plenty of material to work with. The best response is to remind voters that big business enjoys the cushiest of safety nets and first dibs at the government trough. Its welfare checks round up to the nearest billion. If Democrats champion socialism against capitalism, they lose. But they might win as champions of a government for the little guy against government for the rich. The key battlegrounds are those hundreds of counties across America that supported the outsider Barack Obama and later backed the outsider Donald Trump. Those folks understand, and resent, the socialism of the well-connected.

 

To my surprise, Sen. Bernie Sanders found the right note in a recent speech (though he usually sounds like a tourist trying to special-order a Taco Bell chalupa at a restaurant in Madrid. Slow . . . er. Loud . . . er.). “Overnight,” Sanders said of the Great Recession, “Wall Street became big government socialists and begged for the largest federal bailout in American history — some $700 billion from the Treasury and trillions in support from the Federal Reserve. “But it’s not just Wall Street that loves socialism — when it works for them,” Sanders continued. “It is the norm across the entire corporate world. The truth is that corporate America receives hundreds of billions of dollars in federal support every single year, while these same people are trying to cut programs that benefit ordinary Americans.”

 

Personally, I would love to see a candidate in 2020 willing to make a spirited case for capitalism. I believe it is the most dynamic force for progress and freedom the world has ever seen. But with the left wing revitalized in the Democratic Party, and fat cats running amok among Republicans, my cadre of capitalists, ready to compete vigorously and creatively on level ground, is politically homeless. When an economy at full employment still runs a trillion-dollar deficit, no party involved can plausibly claim to be in favor of small or responsible government. Instead, the 2020 election will play out against a backdrop of runaway government spending. The challenge for Democrats is to hold Trump and the Republicans accountable for their rampant corporate socialism. The Americans, many of them young, who proudly tell pollsters they are socialists may not hold those views forever. For now, they’ve noticed that the government vault swings open whenever the well-connected come calling. They sense that the game is rigged, and their answer isn’t complicated. In fact, it boils down to two simple words.

Disingenuously, the GOP keeps pointing at Venezuela as an example of socialism.  Bad example!  That’s just a failed state wrought with corruption.  Perhaps a better example is China.  Not that we’d want to copy their socialist system, but we can look to what’s working well in their economy as an object lesson on what needs fixing in our own economy, plus help us identify some of our mistakes.  One aspect is China being capable of long-term thinking, compared to the short-term mindset here where our political leadership only react to urgent calamities.  China also works with their corporations instead of being controlled by them.  Here is the final part pulled from theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/23/china-america-economic-system-xi-jinping-trump:

China’s core planners and state-owned companies will do whatever is necessary both to improve the wellbeing of the Chinese people and become the world’s largest and most powerful economy. Since 1978, the Chinese economy has grown by an average of more than 9% per year. Growth has slowed recently, and American tariffs could bring it down to 6% or 7%, but that’s still faster than almost any other economy in the world, including the US. The American system relies on taxes, subsidies and regulations to coax corporations to act in the interest of the American public. But these levers have proven weak relative to the overriding corporate goal of maximizing shareholder returns.

 

Last week, for example, Walmart, American’s largest employer, announced it would lay off 570 employees despite taking home more than $2bn courtesy of Trump and the Republican corporate tax cuts. Last year, the company closed dozens of Sam’s Club stores, leaving thousands of Americans out of work. At the same time, Walmart has plowed more than $20bn into buying back shares of its own stock, which boosts the pay of Walmart executives and enriches wealthy investors but does nothing for the economy. It should be noted that Walmart is a global company, not adverse to bribing foreign officials to get its way. On Thursday it agreed to pay $282m to settle federal allegations of overseas corruption, including channeling more than $500,000 to an intermediary in Brazil known as a “sorceress” for her ability to make construction permit problems disappear.

 

Across the American economy, the Trump tax cut did squat for jobs and wages but did nicely for corporate executives and big investors. Instead of reinvesting the savings into their businesses, the International Monetary Fund reports that companies used it to buy back stock. But wait. America is a democracy and China is a dictatorship, right? True, but most Americans have little or no influence on public policy – which is why the Trump tax cut did so little for them. That’s the conclusion of professors Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern, who analyzed 1,799 policy issues before Congress and found that “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy”. Instead, American lawmakers respond to the demands of wealthy individuals (typically corporate executives and Wall Street moguls) and of big corporations, those with the most lobbying prowess and deepest pockets to bankroll campaigns.

 

Don’t blame American corporations. They’re in business to make profits and maximize their share prices, not to serve America. But because of their dominance in American politics and their commitment to share prices instead of the wellbeing of Americans, it’s folly to count on them to create good American jobs or improve American competitiveness. I’m not suggesting we emulate the Chinese economic system. I am suggesting that we not be smug about the American economic system. Instead of trying to get China to change, we should lessen the dominance of big American corporations over American policy. China isn’t the reason half of America hasn’t had a raise in four decades. The simple fact is Americans cannot thrive within a system run largely by big American corporations, organized to boost their share prices but not boost Americans.

 

Rubin points out in her op-ed inside washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/06/25/capitalism-more-popular-than-socialism that capitalism remains more popular than socialism.  But as I keep pointing out, we’d better fix capitalism soon before we lose it.  The article also suggests the GOP accusing Dems of socialism is largely a hollow talking point.  Plus it reveals when it comes to progressive socialism, from a marketing standpoint the Dems can stay with the term progressive, but drop the socialism part.  Here are excerpts: 
 

There are a few takeaways from this.

 

First, “socialism” is a red flag for Republicans and Republican-leaners to a degree that “progressive” (which 40 percent of Republicans view favorably) is not. There’s not even all that much payoff among Democrats, since 33 percent of Democrats have a negative view of that term, while only 12 percent have a very positive view of socialism. If you want a Democratic nominee to have the broadest ideological appeal, the most unifying descriptor among Democrats is “progressive” (88 percent), not socialism (65 percent).

 

Second, it’s fair to say that “socialism” doesn’t have a uniform meaning. The number of people who view both socialism and capitalism positively (25 percent) suggests that they might view “socialist” as akin to “capitalism with social welfare components” (e.g. Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security). Meanwhile, the largest chunk of the electorate (39 percent) rejects socialism — perhaps imagining this term applies to Scandinavia, or worse, Cuba — and favors capitalism. These pro-capitalist/anti-socialist Americans likely don’t see Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as antithetical to capitalism.

 

Third, arguing about “socialism,” which Republicans have turned into a slur and Democrats have mixed views about, misses the point. The fundamental issue is the role of government in the lives of Americans. Even the Republican Party is in favor of big government these days, as evidenced by the growth of the federal budget, especially entitlement spending, and the GOP’s willingness to subsidize carbon production (e.g. coal mining). The GOP has also learned the hard way that Americans do not take kindly to efforts to take benefits away (e.g. the Affordable Care Act) in the name of “personal freedom.”

 

Rather than debate the term “socialism” or the size of government, we should focus on what we want government to do.

 

Better yet, instead of embracing progressive socialism, the Dems might be wise to call it moral capitalism, while adopting viable policies to fit that new term: nytimes.com/2019/06/24/opinion/democrats-moral-capitalism.html.  When the GOP keeps deriding Dems as wanting progressive socialism, it’s really just a word-salad title used as a smear tactic to incite fear.  By definition it’s not really socialism so much as progressive ideas seeking to bring into balance what has become a very unbalanced economy.  So instead of an automatic knee-jerk reaction from the GOP insulting & dismissing such proposals, it’d be far better to examine any ideas whether they’re feasible enough to solve some of our most entrenched structural problems.  As the article concludes inside alternet.org/2019/06/heres-what-capitalists-dont-get-about-socialism, let’s Make America Think Again!
 
Many of the ideas behind progressive socialism involve higher tax rates on wealth for redistributing to the less fortunate.  While a fundamental problem with the economy is the escalating income/wealth inequality as most of the gains keep going to the top, a lot of those proposals falling under the umbrella of progressive socialism are treating the symptoms, not actually correcting the core of the issues.  And the basic mindset in DC (especially inside the GOP) is to stick with the status quo as they hide behind glowing but misleading economic data.  We need big ideas designed to fundamentally change the system while preserving the attitude Americans can earn their own way from their own efforts & initiative, not expect to have it handed to them. 
 
Perspectives like those seen in excerpts from theguardian.com/news/2019/jun/25/the-new-left-economics-how-a-network-of-thinkers-is-transforming-capitalism need to be seriously considered/debated among governing leadership & the citizenry, so we can eventually arrive at transformative policies providing a new view of the world which truly benefits the people.  And to be honest, for such a reality to materialize would require both parties completely change their thinking & learn to work together:

For almost half a century, something vital has been missing from leftwing politics in western countries. Since the 70s, the left has changed how many people think about prejudice, personal identity and freedom. It has exposed capitalism’s cruelties. It has sometimes won elections, and sometimes governed effectively afterwards. But it has not been able to change fundamentally how wealth and work function in society – or even provide a compelling vision of how that might be done. The left, in short, has not had an economic policy. Instead, the right has had one. Privatisation, deregulation, lower taxes for business and the rich, more power for employers and shareholders, less power for workers – these interlocking policies have intensified capitalism, and made it ever more ubiquitous. There have been immense efforts to make capitalism appear inevitable; to depict any alternative as impossible. In this increasingly hostile environment, the left’s economic approach has been reactive – resisting these huge changes, often in vain – and often backward-looking, even nostalgic. For many decades, the same two critical analysts of capitalism, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes, have continued to dominate the left’s economic imagination. Marx died in 1883, Keynes in 1946. The last time their ideas had a significant influence on western governments or voters was 40 years ago, during the turbulent final days of postwar social democracy. Ever since, rightwingers and centrists have caricatured anyone arguing that capitalism should be reined in – let alone reshaped or replaced – as wanting to take the world “back to the 70s”. Altering our economic system has been presented as a fantasy – no more practical than time travel.

 

And yet, in recent years, that system has started to fail. Rather than sustainable and widely shared prosperity, it has produced wage stagnation, ever more workers in poverty, ever more inequality, banking crises, the convulsions of populism and the impending climate catastrophe. Even senior rightwing politicians sometimes concede the seriousness of the crisis. At last year’s Conservative conference, the chancellor, Philip Hammond, admitted that “a gap has opened up” in the west “between the theory of how a market economy delivers … and the reality”. He went on: “Too many people feel that … the system is not working for them.” There is a dawning recognition that a new kind of economy is needed: fairer, more inclusive, less exploitative, less destructive of society and the planet. “We’re in a time when people are much more open to radical economic ideas,” says Michael Jacobs, a former prime ministerial adviser to Gordon Brown. “The voters have revolted against neoliberalism. The international economic institutions – the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund – are recognising its downsides.” Meanwhile, the 2008 financial crisis and the previously unthinkable government interventions that halted it have discredited two central neoliberal orthodoxies: that capitalism cannot fail, and that governments cannot step in to change how the economy works. A huge political space has opened up. In Britain and the US, in many ways the most capitalist western countries, and the ones where its problems are starkest, an emerging network of thinkers, activists and politicians has begun to seize this opportunity. They are trying to construct a new kind of leftwing economics: one that addresses the flaws of the 21st-century economy, but which also explains, in practical ways, how future leftwing governments could create a better one.

 

This “democratic economy” is not some idealistic fantasy: bits of it are already being constructed in Britain and the US. And without this transformation, the new economists argue, the increasing inequality of economic power will soon make democracy itself unworkable. “If we want to live in democratic societies, then we need to … allow communities to shape their local economies,” write Joe Guinan and Martin O’Neill, both prolific advocates of the new economics, in a recent article for the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) – a thinktank previously associated with New Labour. “It is no longer good enough to see the economy as some kind of separate technocratic domain in which the central values of a democratic society somehow do not apply.” Moreover, Guinan and O’Neill argue, making the economy more democratic will actually help to revitalise democracy: voters are less likely to feel angry, or apathetic, if they are included in economic decisions that fundamentally affect their lives. The new economists’ enormously ambitious project means transforming the relationship between capitalism and the state; between workers and employers; between the local and global economy; and between those with economic assets and those without. “Economic power and control must rest more equally,” declared a report last year by the New Economics Foundation (NEF), a radical London thinktank that has acted as an incubator for many of the new movement’s members and ideas. In the past, left-of-centre British governments have attempted to reshape the economy by taxation – usually focused on income rather than other forms of economic power – and by nationalisation, which usually meant replacing a private-sector management elite with a state-appointed one. Instead of such limited, patchily successful interventions, the new economists want to see much more systemic and permanent change. They want – at the least – to change how capitalism works. But, crucially, they want this change to be only partially initiated and overseen by the state, not controlled by it. They envisage a transformation that happens almost organically, driven by employees and consumers – a sort of non-violent revolution in slow motion. The result, the new economists claim, will be an economy that suits society, rather than – as we have at present – a society subordinated to the economy. The new economics, suggests Berry, isn’t really economics at all. It’s “a new view of the world”.

 

Those at the Top when They’re being Honest with Themselves, Understand the System is Rigged in Their Favor
 
Many of the wealthy know they’re making out like bandits in this currently distorted economy, so they have the integrity to request raising taxes collectively on their income/wealth group in helping out with the overall economy.  A free society shouldn’t be maintained with a small percentage in the aristocracy effectively using the working class as servants, having amassed enormous wealth while their servants subside on peanuts:
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Joke’s On Us
 
This is no laughing matter from Laffer when his obsolete supply-side policies are greatly adding to the enormous distortions in the economy:
 
 
Rape Should Not Be Excused
 
I’m not sure what infuriates me the most.  That Trump by credible accounts appears to be a rapist, or that his base is willing to ignore, deny or otherwise excuse that heinous act.  Maybe our prez really will shoot somebody on 5th Avenue just to put their undying loyalty further to the test.  Dictators demand unfettered loyalty & Trump has that classic dictatorial personality trait.  And his cult party pays no heed to pure evil:
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mr. Big Stuff
 
Our narcissistic prez has always considered himself big stuff from his business he built from a large inheritance & using his con man/tax cheat ways.  He then became a TV star & U.S. President, so the big shot really became big stuff.  This week with a credible allegation of rape directed at him, plus making a fool of himself at the G20 Summit cozying up to the brutal dictators he admires so much, we should ask this question of Mr. Big Stuff…Who do you think you are?: