Where did Trumpism come from? Is our economy flawed because democracy isn’t working? Or is democracy in trouble because our economy is flawed?
i love these series! thank you, professor reich.
the first thought that crossed my mind after reading title of this piece, is
CAPITALISM IS FLAWED.
this relentless balls-out quest for increasing profits, regardless of the cost that will be the result, is the problem. the fact that obscenely rich can buy their own congresscritters & increasing power, leaving the rest of us with nothing, is one of those consequences. and yes, as has often been said, money corrupts. taxes are (apparently) the only way such evil actors can be reined in. billionaires should be illegal, environmental harms such be outlawed as ecocide, and society itself needs to reset its ethical and social mores so that the uber-rich are NOT admired, but are reviled.
i also forgot to mention: now that the election is less than one year away, and A LOT OF PEOPLE (including me) vote by absentee ballots, WHEN WILL LOUIS DEJOY BE REMOVED FROM OFFICE??
I enjoyed this first episode - because it makes sense, is clear and accurate. Unfortunately, it is also very disturbing! I know far more about American politics than that of Britain (my home country) or New Zealand (my adopted country), and I despair for America and the rest of the world. If it can vote in a very obviously impaired, corrupt, sexist, misogynistic, fascist, etc, individual like Trump, and 10s of millions still support him, then WOW! I'm really worried about next year's presidential election! Please, America, don't eff this up!
I find that any discussion of the economy, US or global, needs to begin with some guiding principles derived from a cogent analysis of the present situation. One of the best of these comes from Karl Henrik Robert of Sweden, called "The Natural Step". Using an interactive model involving hundreds of people of all ranks and backgrounds from politicians, CEOs, academics, NGOs, and workers, they came up with 4 principles to guide any discussion and action. You might call them negatives of sustainability:
1. Do not take things from the ground and spread them on the Earths surface. Think fossil fuels, metals (especially the toxic kind like lead and cadmium), asbestos, etc.
2. Do not make things novel to nature and spread them around on the Earth's surface. Think plastic, the entire raft of pesticides, chlorinated hydrocarbons, forever chemicals (PFAS), glyphosate (RoundUp) and many more.
3. Do not harvest natural resources at a faster rate than they can recover. Think deforestation, overgrazing, soil carbon (humus), fish and other seafood, and many more.
4. Do not allow increasing disparities of wealth across society. Think McMansions vs slums, or golden toilets vs back yard ditches. Equality is not the goal, but equity and health certainly are.
Capitalism, unbridled by regulatory mechanisms, leads to degradation and overshoot, ending in collapse. The way to respond to this is to keep all economic activity within the boundaries set by ecology. We are, after all, animals that need the same things as other animals, food and water, shelter (including clothes for we bare skinned humans), energy (cooking and warmth), and good social relations. We are "herd" animals after all and need each other. Governance of our communities should abide by the above 4 principles and seek to increase the stability, integrity and beauty of the communities in which we live.
A combination of regulated capitalism & Democratic socialism has proven to make the most successful economy for the population as a whole both here & in Europe.
The US was improving at its fastest rate ever from FDR to LBJ during the implementation of socialist programs of the New Deal, Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid, giving people financial & health security, strengthening unions, having the most progressive tax system in our history with the top tax bracket ranging from 74-91%. We were a "can do" nation that could meet any & every challenge we faced as we came to lead the world in most measures of prosperity and well-being. We were constantly improving in so many ways, increasing human rights, becoming more equitable & unified
Reagan turned that around as he catered to the whims of corporate executives & other multimillionaires, & we soon became a very unequal, divided, dysfunctional nation unable to accomplish anything for ordinary people.
Japan introduced the bullet train back in the 1960s, & Europe & China developed a comprehensive rapid/mass transit system throughout their territories while we remain in a very primitive stage. All other advanced nations got universal healthcare at some point last century, but we still don't even though we pay twice as much as they do for healthcare. They provide free education for their children while our education becomes increasingly expensive & unaffordable. Most developed European & Asian countries provide far more vacation, sick & personal leave & shorter work weeks along with 2-3 times as many holidays as we do for our overworked employees.
We keep falling further behind other countries in lifespan, health, education & prosperity, & homelessness & poverty have gotten way out of control while other nations have been getting a handle on it. And our epidemic of mass shootings & overall gun deaths is magnitudes worse than other developed nations. Even though climate chaos is an existential threat to our world, we are unable to implement anything close to what is necessary to meet the challenge. Our handling of the pandemic was one of the worst in the world. We are in clear danger of losing what's left of our democracy. Corporate profits are continuously prioritized over all other considerations, even the continued survival of our nation & species. We are failing on so many levels.
Not just American capitalism, but capitalism as an economic system is greatly flawed. First and foremost, it implies infinite profits, on a planet with finite resources. This is illogical, and unsustainable. Second, it encourages people to buy things that they do not need, while making only a small group very, very well off, while others suffer to survive.
Robert, thank you so much for doing this. The US is in deep trouble. I hope you will also focus on social media, which is adding to this miasma. Where can one go for the truth, and who can one trust. Clarity is certainly needed.
Whether we have passed a tipping point in our politics, as we have with global warming, remains to be seen...I hope for the best, but fear the worst. One thing for sure, any salvation rests upon the shoulders of the young folks...if they neglect to vote, we're sunk.
Can You Smell The Corruption? It’s Overwhelming
All The members of the Republican Party are so Pathetic and Weak! It’s like Trump has invented some kind of mind control and has brainwashed them.
I’m ashamed of our country for allowing these Republicans, who are all complicit in supporting this fascist agenda, and a man child, to continue to destroy our nation!
Every American citizen should be supporting the President of our country! I don’t mean that we all should be happy with everything he is doing but if half of our government continues to obstruct everything he does we will fall into a state of total anarchy!
I’m sure most Americans have seen the Senate hearing where Senator Markwayne Mullin challenged the witness, Teamsters’, Sean O’Brien, to a brawl on the floor of the Senate! How Pathetic
I remember when Mark Levin asked Kevin McCarthy on his FAUX News show, “Mr. Speaker, just a quick question, who has more power, Joe Biden or George Santos?” McCarthy, laughing, replied, “well I think it is the President, Joe Biden, unfortunately”!
These are the best “ political science “ classes I am taking since I attended university, too many years ago. You are one of the “ best teachers” I have had!!!
Harriet.... your Northern Neighbour!!!!
Thank you, Robert, for this great offer!! I so appreciate your willingness to 'talk' to us this way. Ignorance has proven a mighty foe, and knowledge will give us a better tool!!
You framed the problem in just a few sentences. Yes, we have a lot to do, but seeing it framed that way reduces it to something we can actually do. Thanks, Professor.
Looking forward to reading yours and other thoughts on this US (& therein global) crisis.
As ever, many thanks.
Look forward to this series and will hold a bit of my morning coffee to drink with the reading.
Loved this piece; and looking fwd to the substance and debate of the next ten weeks!
Despite its penchant for triviality, America has both the intellectual resources and institutions which can help fashion a kinder and sustainably developmental world.
Great question to ponder, Robert Sir. Looking forward to my education. Thank you for your honorable, passionate mission to teach and inspire us to forge a more united, just and life-sustaining path forward.