A truly Dynamic Economy would not feature such class struggle & income inequality…Our jobs & careers should fill us with a sense of pride & accomplishment while earning us a modicum of respect. It should also pay us enough to live on. Workers as a whole are engaged in a class struggle where for decades they’ve been getting the short end of the stick. A large percentage of current jobs do not pay a livable wage as families live inside the pressure cooker of financial distress. Whether the wages need to be higher or the cost-of-living lower, which it’s probably going to take a combination of both, it’s the one area where our political leaders should be most focused on. Yet it’s the issue they’ve displayed the most blatant irresponsibility & incompetence by avoiding the issue. So we’ve now evolved to where mammoth multinational corporations are making fortunes while paying their employees a relative pittance. America has always stood & fought for freedom while pushing back against communist dictatorships, where the working class are slaves to the state. But with modern-day capitalism, workers are all too often basically enslaved with low-wage, dead-end occupations that don’t cover the bills & don’t have much of a future. Talk about a class struggle, this is very sad: jobs-62-percent-fall-short-middle-class-standard-us. This shouldn’t be happening in such an enormous wealth-producing American economy, which is why we need a recalibration!
So the question I have about this ongoing class struggle is as follows: Is there really much of a discernible difference between workers being slaves to the state or to multinational corporations? Another interesting question would be if workers who previously labored under a communist socialist system in a past life could magically be reincarnated into a typical service job in modern-day America, would they honestly say our capitalist system is superior? Those are questions we should keep in mind as we search for viable ideas for bringing capitalism into the modern age, when workers can share in economic growth & all Americans have the opportunity for upward mobility. For way too many Americans, the American Dream is hanging by a thread if not lost altogether. I still maintain the capitalistic model is the greatest the world has ever seen, but in these times will require fundamental adjustments. In our divided nation where we can’t even agree on what the real problems are, it becomes exceedingly difficult to have that needed dialogue for finding solutions.
That is happening now in not just how we vote. It’s remarkable how men & women are viewing the current economy so differently as seen in excerpts below from women-usa-economy. Expect the women to save America a week from now! And if Latinos & young people (poll-four-in-10-young-voters-say-they-will-definitely-vote) turn out in higher numbers than ever seen, it could truly become a big blue wave:
A remarkable gender gap has opened up in Americans’ views of their own finances and the broader national economy. Men feel better about the economy than they have in over a decade. Women are far more skeptical. And the sharp divide has emerged since President Trump was elected two years ago. Nearly half of men — 47 percent — said their family’s finances had improved in the past year, according to a survey conducted for The New York Times in early October by the online research platform SurveyMonkey. Just 30 percent of women said the same, despite an unemployment rate that is near a five-decade low and economic growth that is on track for its best year since before the recession. Asked how they expected the American economy to fare over the next five years, nearly two-thirds of men said they anticipated “continuous good times economically.” Women were more likely to expect “periods of widespread unemployment or depression.” The gaps remain even between men and women who are similar in age, race, education and income.
This Math Doesn’t Lie
While the math proves major adjustments need made to entitlements, the public is still in denial over the urgency. The future budget shortfalls are unfathomable! One of the dumbest arguments I’ve heard is America should cut back foreign aid so the money can go to fund Medicare & Social Security. The problem with that, we need to sustain our influence around the world to further our interests & beat back against our adversaries. And the hard numbers show foreign aid takes up less than 1% of our federal budget, while Medicare, Medicaid & Social Security are more than 50% & rising! But I do agree with this polling in excerpts from New-poll-shreds-GOP-s-entire-doctrine-of-financing-tax-cuts-for-the-rich-by-stealing-from-the-poor that the Trump tax cuts only raised deficits & not wages, while the overwhelming consensus is it’s a bad deal to cut programs for the needy as a way to finance tax cuts for the rich:
An NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll released Friday offered virtually nothing but bad news for Republicans, the worst of which centers around the tax cuts they passed for the nation’s wealthiest. Not only do more Americans consistently oppose the law than support it—with most also saying they haven’t benefitted from it—a strong majority of registered voters prefers to roll back the cuts in order to shore up the nation’s ballooning deficit. Fully 60 percent of registered voters said “it was better to roll back the tax cuts passed by Congress than to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid,” according to NPR. That number includes a plurality of Republicans. In the strongest possible terms, this poll shreds the GOP’s entire economic doctrine of financing tax cuts for the richest Americans by stealing from the nation’s neediest to shore up the deficit.
Business Investment is down
We’ve been repeatedly showing what a fiasco the Trump tax cuts have been. Wages are barely keeping pace with inflation. So instead of raising wages as promised, we’re instead seeing increases in stock buybacks & deficits. Another worrisome sign as revealed in excerpts from tax-reforms-broken-promises-on-full-display-in-gdp-report, business investment has dropped like a lead balloon! Will people finally believe me next time I warn trickle down no longer works? And that applies to either big reductions to corporate rates or income tax cuts for the top earners, the trickle has not been coming from the spigot:
Despite the promises of massive increases in business investment if we cut corporate tax rates, the American people instead are seeing a slowing in business investment growth while deficits increase and companies handout stock buybacks and dividends like Halloween candy. Those who made the promise keep saying “promises made, promises kept” — promises made to whom? Look to the massive increase in stock buybacks and dividends for the answer. According to the most recent estimate of third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, nonresidential business investment grew at a 0.8-percent pace, its slowest rate since 2016. How disappointing has business investment been? During the three quarters following passage of the corporate tax cuts, nonresidential business investment grew a cumulative 5.1 percent. During the same three quarters the year prior — before passage of the tax bill — it grew at 5.0 percent. Over nine months, the increase in business investment was a whopping one-tenth of 1 percent. So much for the corporate tax cuts being the sure-fire way to generate a tsunami of business investment as we were promised. Instead, there has been a tsunami of debt, stock buybacks and dividends. The fiscal deficit reached $779 billion in fiscal year 2018. This is a 17-percent increase over 2017. Not coincidentally, corporate tax revenue plunged 31 percent in 2018, and it’s not going to get better anytime soon. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 2019’s deficit will reach nearly $1 trillion dollars.
There are certain sectors of the economy doing great, with the results of Trump policies being felt very unevenly throughout various industries, creating winners & losers. More gloomy signs coming from those tax cuts are found inside survey-firms-largely-havent-boosted-hiring-or-investments-due-to-gop-tax-law. Here’s another article about the plunge in business investment, which we were led to believe the exact opposite would happen with the tax cuts, so read these excepts from trump-tax-cut-scrutiny-gdp-business-investment-red-flag. And let’s face it, the tariffs/trade wars are also providing a drag until we can get something worked out with China:
Investment in fixed structures like factories contributed -0.04 percentage points to the GDP third-quarter growth figure, according to the early reading. Though a small decline, it was the first since the fourth quarter of 2015 and occurred after the most significant corporate tax overhaul in three decades. “While it is still too early to come to conclusions on the relative effectiveness of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, there has to be some concern over this development,” said Joe Brusuelas, the chief economist at RSM. “The tax plan was essentially an enormous bet that a large, unpaid-for business tax cut would result in a significant increase in productivity-enhancing investment which would the boost the long-term US growth path. This data implies that, at least for now, such a boost is not in the cards.” The drop in investment was surprising to Ben Ayers, a senior economist at Nationwide, because surveys of business owners have been strong. In other words, there’s a gap between how executives say they feel about business conditions and what they’re actually doing with their money.
Additionally, a big reversal in business inventories added to growth in Q3, but the current quarter does not look promising on this front. Inventories are a volatile category of GDP and may have surged in the July-September period as companies stockpiled, bracing for the effect of US tariffs on Chinese goods. Companies may have also stockpiled on goods to meet strong consumer demand. “Regardless of the reason, it represents a sizable asterisk for an otherwise strong quarterly growth result and creates a probable headwind to growth in the coming quarters as those inventories are trimmed back,” said Jim Baird, the chief investment officer for Plante Moran Financial Advisors. Apart from business spending, the details on trade provided another reason to raise eyebrows at Friday’s GDP report. Net exports shrank by $98.1 billion, and trade provided the biggest drag on the US economy in 33 years, according to Bloomberg. This was a reversal from the second-quarter gain, which President Donald Trump described as the “biggest and best results” from the previous GDP report.
And those tax cuts for the rich do allow them to be more philanthropic, but those funds can go towards personal whims instead of the best charitable causes, seen from these posts below in dont-want-billionaires-philanthropy-pay-their-taxes. Rather than those tax cuts at the top, we’d be far better off to scrap/fix the entire tax code & eliminate all those perks the wealthy exploit:
And he’s right: rich people and major corporations have the means to legally avoid tax. It’s estimated that global losses from multinational corporations shifting their profits are about $500bn a year, while cash stashed in tax havens is worth at least 10% of the world’s economy. It is the world’s poorest who suffer the consequences. Philanthropy, then, is a means of making the uber rich look generous, while they save far more money through exploiting loopholes and using tax havens. There’s another issue, too. The decision on how philanthropic money is spent is made on the whims and personal interests of the wealthy, rather than what is best. In the US, for example, only 12% of philanthropic money went to human services: it was more likely be spent on arts and higher education. Those choosing where the money goes are often highly unrepresentative of the broader population, and thus more likely to be out of touch with their needs. In the US, 85% of charitable foundation board members are white, and just 7% are African Americans. Money raised by progressive taxation, on the other hand, is spent by democratically accountable governments that have to justify their priorities, which are far more likely to relate to social need. What is striking is that even as the rich get richer, they are spending less on charity, while the poor give a higher percentage of their income to good causes. That the world’s eight richest people have as much wealth as the poorest half of humanity is a damning indictment of our entire social order. The answer to that is not self-serving philanthropy, which makes a wealthy elite determined to put vast fortunes out of reach of the authorities look good. We need global tax justice, not charitable scraps dictated by the fancies of the elite.
Health Care another Elephant in the Room for Midterms
Trump is flat-out lying about the GOP’s stance on preexisting conditions going into the midterms: trump-obamacare-preexisting-conditions. With voters overall expressing health care is their top issue & the GOP being on the losing end of that argument, the elephant-party turned to desperate measures including misrepresenting their positions, seen in excerpts from voters-are-finally-on-to-the-gop:
So it has been fascinating this week to watch Trump Republicans running scared whenever the subject turns to health care. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, in a tight Senate race, desperately launched a last-minute ad campaign declaring his support for protections for people with preexisting conditions — despite trying to kill Obamacare for years. When another Republican Senate candidate, Arizona Rep. Martha McSally, faced reporters’ questions about the topic, she comically suggested that health care was irrelevant to voters and instead claimed that Arizonans cared more about the “caravan” conspiracy theory cooked up by Trump and his right-wing cheerleaders. McSally’s deer-in-the-headlight moment captured perfectly the GOP’s attempt to distract voters from their record on health care by resorting to racist scare tactics.
But do not be fooled — it has only been lip service. In these midterm elections, with health care at the top of voters’ concerns and preexisting-condition protections now established law, Republicans are on the defensive and trying to lie their way out of the political hole they have dug. Proving again that he views Americans as clueless rubes, Trump is declaring Republicans the champions of preexisting-condition protections and claiming it is Democrats who are fiendishly scheming to abolish the Obamacare requirement. Never mind that 20 Republican-run states joined a lawsuit to do away with the provision and that McConnell and other Trump Republicans are planning to make another run at repealing Obamacare after the election. But voters are finally on to the GOP. That’s why endangered Republican candidates are changing the subject from health care in America to migrant families in Guatemala. Scott, McSally and scores of desperate candidates have decided to follow America’s most famous birther by playing to voters’ worst instincts. With their congressional majorities on the line, Republicans are frantically trying to stoke fear of “others.”
Don’t worry about health care, their argument goes, when thousands of brown-skinned marauders — somehow organized and financed by big-money Jewish Democrats — are heading our way. They aren’t like us, they have no place in our country, and they will be stopped in their tracks by U.S. troops at the border. This nonsense obviously polls well among low-information voters who have already forgotten that the last such “invasion” from Central America only resulted in a few dozen arrests. But facts stopped mattering to my former political party a long time ago. Instead, Trump’s party is betting its congressional majority on the cynical belief that racism in America is such a toxic force that voters will throw away their families’ health-care protections in response to a phony conspiracy theory cooked up in the diseased minds of radicals and race-baiting politicians.
More on our Class Struggle & Challenges of Capitalism
I’m no fan of socialism, but it sure beats the oligarchic kleptocracy many nations including America are trending towards. That’s why we may have only a limited window of opportunity to fix this modern-age capitalist model before we fall for the extremes, which could become a permanent trap whether we adopt a far-right or far-left vision. Click on Anti-Capitalist-Meet-Up & see the artwork sketch at the very top, which should get us thinking, is this what is becoming of the capitalist system? As we vote in the midterms, remember what we’re voting against, the assault on truth that is undermining our democracy & bringing other dangerous trends. Those points are highlighted inside did-trump-destroy-the-conservative-movement-no-he-cashed-in-on-its-darkest-tendencies & here is but a small part of the article:
This is precisely what Donald Trump has done throughout his adult life. Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party reflects how ready it was to reject the entire secular worldview of shared facts and objective reality, and embrace whatever lurid fantasies Trump had to offer. This in turn creates a public discourse where this ideological fluidity is reflected in a bewildering flow of “alternative facts.” Decades of Fox News, talk radio, tabloid journalism and conspiracy-theory tomes like “None Dare Call It Treason” all helped pave the way. Those earlier malicious lies were notably constrained by a shared worldview. You could only go so far in public, overt racism before you got called out for it. You could only lie so much before even your allies would turn on you. That shared worldview — long under stress from repeated right-wing attacks — has now been shattered, at least on the conservative side. It’s not just shattered once and for all, but repeatedly over and over again, as Sinn went on to describe: Jeffrey Sinn, author of a paper referenced above, speculates that Donald Trump’s lying “has a very practical impact.” As the president’s falsehoods become ever bolder and more brazen, the outraged reactions from Democrats and the mainstream media also become stronger, which “triggers his followers into even greater loyalty.” Sinn adds that Trump’s “direct delivery of the claims,” whether on Twitter or in person, “makes them more personally his own and exerts greater pressure on followers to believe.” This smashing of the truth-seeking process is integral to Trump’s authoritarian conservatism, which builds on decades-long developments, but takes them to a qualitatively different level.
More on the question of capitalism & reality of our current class struggle are found in capitalism-besieged, where here is a blending of the first & last paragraphs:
The story of American capitalism is a contradiction. It has succeeded brilliantly in creating widespread material well-being; and yet, it has not satisfied a popular yearning for a society with less economic insecurity and more “fairness” and equality. Can the two faces of capitalism coexist? Or is one bound to triumph over the other? Greenspan and Wooldridge echo the same thought. “By producing prosperity, capitalism creates its own gravediggers in the form of a comfortable class of intellectuals and politicians,” they write. “People link arms to protect threatened jobs and dying industries. They denounce capitalists for their ruthless greed.”
Part of the challenge of capitalism with large companies now dominating most industries, corporate priorities & values have changed, as shared in this letter posted from inside letters/company-profits:
When I began teaching management to M.B.A. students in 1971, a major company goal was customer satisfaction through outstanding employee performance. Great emphasis was placed on employee motivation, performance and loyalty to the company to maximize customer satisfaction. Frederick Herzberg’s theory of “job enrichment” and Abraham Maslow’s “self-actualization” were introduced to students as methods to add meaning and challenge to jobs and to stress employment achievement. Then in the mid-1980s the emphasis shifted to shareholder value, and many employers began to view employees as commodities to be bought and sold. The profits and stock prices in quarterly and annual reports became the holy grail of organizational effectiveness. Pensions disappeared, employee loyalty declined, and the result has been an unfortunate decline of the American employee.
Trump is trying hard to keep the attention on that caravan. Trump also threatens to end birthright citizenship through executive order, which may not even be legal to do since he would be violating the Constitution: how-to-cover-another-xenophobic-trump-stunt. But Trump has shown us repeatedly through his words & actions he doesn’t care much about the Constitution. Anything to rouse the base just before the midterms is fine with him! The caravan is largely comprised of desperate women & children fleeing unspeakable hardships & violence. Their threat to America is around, oh let’s say, about a million times less than domestic right-wing white nationalists & neo-Nazis already here! And the last link in this list below shows another serious problem a trillion times more dangerous! So it’s apparent the thousands of troops committed to the border is entirely for the optics of turning out his xenophobic base for the midterms. The caravan in Mexico is still 1000 miles & weeks away, plus that’s not even the proper role of the military, so do they plan on shooting migrant families?: trump-troops-southern-border. See these articles for a cogent perspective:
This is your classic over-response:
Say what you will about our immigration laws, but those people are desperate, not illegals:
America is complicit in not helping improve dire conditions in Central America:
We may find we really need these immigrants:
It’s a stunt, not what our military is for:
Trump does it only because it plays well with his base:
I repeat, it’s nothing but a stunt:
These disease claims are crazy even for Fox:
This is true insanity, a trillion times more dangerous than the migrant caravan:
As much as we assumed it couldn’t get any worse, it looks like it has as the GOP gets more & more extreme: the-republican-party-is-only-going-to-get-more-extreme. That’s why the only real course of action is to first destroy the GOP before it can finally get repaired. And no matter the outcome of the midterms, we can expect the real winner to again be polarization & gridlock, with the American people being on the losing end. Here is the final paragraph from biggest-election-winner-polarization-in-america:
While I have argued in these pages as passionately as a I can for civility, my fear is that we will not achieve it even in the wake of bombings and shootings. After the midterm elections, we will face heightened polarization and division between a narrowly Democratic House and a narrowly Republican Senate that will further lead to gridlock and only will make America even more vulnerable to our mobilized and empowered allies, whether they be Russia or China or North Korea or Iran. I am pessimistic, and my sense is that my pessimism will become even more justified in the aftermath of these historic midterm elections.
Trump Rallies really just a Circus Act
Rubin offers us some impressions of the Trump rallies, now happening at a dizzying pace, in this conclusion to why-trump-cannot-tone-it-down:
If Trump had to take out the blatant lies (e.g., biggest tax cut ever, new coal plants, a million jobs from arms sales to Saudi Arabia, he ended Obamacare) he might be down to 10 minutes of material. Remove the baseless accusations and insults (e.g., Democrats favor open borders, calling Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) “Pocahontas”), and you’re probably got six to seven minutes left. If you remove comments about himself (how much people love him, his wealth, his margin of victory in 2016), you’re really reaching the bottom of the barrel. It’s not as though he has more than a few sentences to say about any substantive issue — e.g., a plan to reduce the debt, an agenda to combat rural poverty, a coherent approach to the Middle East, any evidence of actual progress in talks with North Korea or an infrastructure proposal (even after so many “Infrastructure Week” roll-outs). He has no interest in the fine points (or even the topic sentences) of major policy initiatives. You can only talk about unpopular tax cuts for the wealthy and the “hoax” of global warming for so long. Because he doesn’t have much to offer or what he’s offering is unpopular, Trump is reduced to hurling insults, whining about mistreatment and convincing non-college-educated whites (for whom he has delivered so little) that he’ll protect them from foreigners and the horror of hearing “Happy Holidays.”
There’s No Comparison!
Before we get to today’s unique song selection, let’s conclude part 3 with an article from these-things-are-not-the-same. Rubin discusses violence, incitement & bigotry, while she calls out the whataboutism coming from the right as they try to paint false equivalencies, since there really is no comparison on who’s most responsible for the disturbing trends we’re now seeing in our nation. I keep saying you don’t excuse the armed robber by trying to claim the shoplifter is just as bad:
Violence is defined “behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.” Violence is sending bombs to President Trump’s political targets. Violence is body-slamming a reporter who dares to ask a question. Violence is driving a car into a crowd, killing a young woman. Violence is killing unarmed African American youths. Violence is wife beating, sexual assault and child molestation (not demanding that accused wife beaters and sexual predators be held accountable and at the very least disqualified from high office.) Violence is forcibly separating young children from their parents (not calling out such treatment as inhumane). Violence is not refusing to serve a White House press secretary dinner at a farm-to-table restaurant. It is not yelling at people in restaurants. It is not making mean jokes at a charity event. It is not peacefully occupying a government building to protest. One would think the distinction between violent acts and nonviolent acts should be easy for adults to grasp. And yet we are told “both sides” contribute to violence.
Incitement is defined as “an act of urging on or spurring on or rousing to action.” Trump and his defenders claim the mainstream media incites anger. There is no denying that his followers get angry when they read news accounts that do not adopt their conspiracy theories or when journalists debunk Trump’s falsehoods or when wrongdoing in his administration is revealed. However, incitement to hate and attempts to stir anger along gender, racial and ethnic lines do not come from the press; they come from the president. Trump calls the press the “enemy of the people” and describes journalists as “very bad people,” “truly bad people,” “the worst,” “among the most dishonest groups of people I have had to deal with,” “corrupt,” “a great danger to our country,” and “troublemakers.” He encourages his crowds to turn around to harangue members of the media covering his events, and at times has directed his attention — and the crowd’s abuse — at a single journalist. When demonizing a specific outlet, he most frequently picks CNN. It should be obvious that such language is designed to increase anger and resentment in his base, to delegitimize the free press and to suggest it is undeserving of its constitutional protections. (He actually threatened to “pull the license” on NBC for its unfavorable reporting.) Such language from a president is unprecedented in modern American history. His followers get the message; they chant and insult the traveling press, and social media is full of abusive, threatening and/or hateful messages directed to or about the press. One would think the distinction between critical coverage (even unfair coverage!) or persuasive commentary, on one hand, and, on the other, vituperative, dehumanizing speech designed to provoke an emotional, irrational response should be obvious. And yet Trump and his ilk blame the media for a toxic political environment that has cast a pallor over our politics since his election.
Bigotry is defined as “obstinate or intolerant devotion to one’s own opinions and prejudices.” Trump’s apologists say “both sides” contribute to an atmosphere of hate, bigotry, divisiveness and meanness. Unlike Trump, however, Democratic leaders do not refer to illegal immigrants as “animals” or call them “some of the worst criminals on Earth” or say immigrants “infest” our country. Unlike Trump, Democratic leaders do not describe predominately nonwhite countries as “shithole countries.” Unlike Trump, Democratic leaders did not invent a crime wave and blame immigrants for it. Unlike Trump, Democratic officials are not out mocking a disabled reporter or a sexual assault victim. Unlike Trump, Democratic politicians have not falsely accused a Jewish billionaire (a frequent target of anti-Semites) of paying women to protest and impersonate sexual assault victims. Unlike Trump, Democratic officials do not lead chants to lock up Republican opponents based on, well, nothing at all. Unlike Trump, Democratic officials these days are not demeaning the judiciary by referring to “so-called courts” or inventing conspiracy theories to defame the FBI. Trump’s notion that any criticism of him (no matter how provable) is equivalent to his baseless insults, expressions of bigotry and praise for violence is the sort of moral equivalence that conservatives used to deplore. If Trump’s supporters love him so much and believe he’s such a gem they should embrace his unique rhetoric. “Whataboutism” isn’t a defense, and what’s more, it isn’t even true.
It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood?
The Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh where the mass shooting took place in a synagogue happens to be the same neighborhood of Mr. Rogers: pittsburgh-synagogue-was-in-mr-rogers-neighborhood. He may be turning over in his grave about now at the inhumanity & angry discourse that now defines America. It’s the exact opposite of the friendly tone he always sounded on his show for kids: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAJEhRo-TSw. Although as a kid I always thought that show was wimpy & corny, but maybe it’s just the type of neighborly attitude our society desperately needs in bringing back a sense of community, camaraderie & belonging. Our song today is a departure from what we normally post, but it’s a reminder of more innocent times when Americans had more of a feeling we’re all in this together: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTevoLkcFdI.