Friends, Welcome back to the second of our Friday discussions about the common good and American capitalism. Today I want to address the disappearance of what was once called the “American dream.” Its disappearance provides an important clue about why Trumpism continues to attract so many.
About the growth in the economy
I was an engineer - I spent decades improving productivity - in 10 years we doubled the output per man
Most of that was by working smarter - implementing good ideas
About half of the good ideas (along with some stinkers) came from the shop floor - the other half from the engineers
Not a single solitary good idea came from the executives in all the decades I was doing that
G.O.P. = Grand Oligarchy Party
When the Republicans get back in power they will
Mandate the following bills:
* Eliminating the Entitlement Programs, social security, Medicare, etc…..
* Repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)
* Promoting voter suppression
* Eliminating all gun laws
* Locking up political opponents
* Completely outlaw abortion
* Punishment for the woman who has one
* Eliminating LGBTQ
* Deport all undocumented immigrants
* Establishment of Christian Nationalism
* More tax cuts for the rich 🤑
To all the hard working middle class Americans, it’s your time to take action against the greedy American oligarchs!
What happened? Rapacious finance capitalism, neoliberalism and the betrayal of the middle class and working class by those who decided profits were more important than societal progress, stability and prosperity, signing away millions of good paid skilled jobs to go where the labor is cheaper, without health and safety protections and without representation by trade unions. Meanwhile setting about destroying the trade union movement at home. It began in the 1970s and all the graphs show up until then - Reagan & Thatcher - wages rose year on year alongside productivity, then the two lines on the graph suddenly show a huge gap which only gets wider and wider as years go by. This continued through Bush, Clinton, Bush 2, Obama, Trump and now Biden because neoliberal supply-side economics is the “holy” consensus within both parties - blue and red. Just like the Bi-Partisan (ruinous) foreign policy consensus that eat up trillions of dollars through war after illegal war, while the duopoly in Washington all eagerly vote for more funding for the kind of death and destruction which has made the US less safe, not safer as we were told. Ignoring the tens of thousands of deaths each year from lack of healthcare and millions either uninsured or underinsured, the second most common cause of bankruptcy being medical debt. 25% of the worlds prison population whilst the US makes up only 5% of the world’s population. Homelessness visible in every city, along with boarded up homes. Only a sick society allows these things. That is what happened to the American Dream and neither party - red or blue - represents the wishes and needs of the american people anymore, but are in hock to oligarchs, big pharma, tech, insurance, military industrial complex and more lobbyists on Capitol Hill than there are Congressional Representatives. Sadly i don’t see us voting our way out of this purgatory.
I call them the Greedy One Percent, but Keith Olson really nailed it when it comes to the complete abandonment of democracy in favor of #RepubloFascism.
And if #DonaldDuce has his way, Biff World will be brought to life. And the entropy of the species will be accelerated. Trump will single-handedly waste all of America’s greatness as his lemming legislators cower at the thought of standing up to him.
I blame the decline squarely on Ronald Reagan. He put an end to unions and to the fairness doctrine. Then there came Rush Limbaugh and FOX News. Trump is only the icing on the shit-cake.
1) Corporate cutizenship must go .
2) Corp access to government must end .
3) Lobbyism must be outlawed .
4) All political donations abolished .
5) Anti-trust/monopoly laws strengthened.
6) Citizens United recinded .
7) Government financed education .
8) Democracy over Corptocracy .
9) WE THE PEOPLE over WE THE CORPS.
10) Reinstate a free & honest media .
11) Incarcerate djt .
IPSO FACTO ! !
It’s called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it. George Carlin
The right wingers always talk about the family unit and how great it is, yet their economic policies destroy the family units. We never hear much about this on the news or from the Democratic party either. There seems to be very little money behind the majority of Americans who are left of center, and without money there is very little representation. Socialism builds a strong middle class and prevents a lot of crime. Capitalism, creates a lot of poverty and suffering and causes a lot of crime. Theoretically socialism can be sustainable but capitalism cannot be.
I see you have read Niebuhr's "Moral Man and Immoral Society". More people should read it.
As a grad student in resource economics in the early '70s, I was criticized by my (mostly Chicago school) profs as being into political economy rather than their preferred quantitative approach. Happy to say I learned to use the quantitative tools, while never giving up on the political economy approach.
GREED is truly the most terrible challenge of our times, and capitalism is its tool, its means to power and more greed.
Greed is a (contagious) mental illness, an unfillable hole, a hunger that denies justice, a brutal expression of broken egos.
Greed is having a million times as much as the poor and still feeling you don't have enough.
Greed consumes the earth without respite, and is a cancer on humanity.
Greed destroys us and our children and their future.
Greed is death.
It was the 1929 Depression that tipped the economic system into the hands of Labor . The Depression had most of the workers unemployed and the Banks were playing Casino with Wall Street .
Worid War 2 and deep Spending by the Government ended the Depression.
Unions were strong .
I am a retired from the fire service (which includes EMS, fire-life safety and more). I climbed the ranks to an executive position and had a BS degree before entering the profession. We in the ranks or retired from there, are admired even more so after 9-11. Our profession has done quite well financially and with other perks such as defined benefit pensions, at least for those of us who were paid, full-time. When I was still there the department sent me to a one-day seminar at the local state university. That seminar was about supervising in the fire service and the professor’s introductory remark, a question, was, “Thinking of Karmic Theory, what did you do in the your prior life that demanded you come back as a supervisor-manager in the fire service?” He went on: “The fire service union, the IAFF and its locals, are the strongest union in the world. So why did we choose to supervise and manage in the service?" Yet if you walk into any fire station, at least here in Florida, Fox News is playing the TVs and the conversation is about socialism taking over the country and that the lack of religion and morals have declined, etc, etc. It drives the union reps nuts. You get the picture. So go figure. The answer is right in front of my former colleagues and now even at events where my fellow retirees gather. For these reasons I no longer gather with them. They’re beyond logic. I mean, WTF are they complaining about? Talk about biting the hand that feeds! Maybe it’s PTSD. I don’t know. They need to go out into the real world and see how the rest of the middle class is doing. Considering the benefits, the fire service more resembles the upper class and not the middle. Of course I’m not going to give up what I have, but I understand what Secretary Reich is teaching-the truth.
In broad terms, i agree with the analysis but differ in the solutions, because history doesn't really offer us meaningful examples to go forward, because the fundamentals have changed.
Firstly, the World population has more than tripled in my lifetime (yours to Robert), so on a finite planet with finite production, we have, in principle, one-third of what we used to have to go around. I liken it to being invited to a buffet; the first few in the door load up their plates and go around a few times until their stuffed (Americans, Brits, West Europeans, etc), but the late arrivals find les and less on the buffet table.
Secondly, the effects of energy real costs and benefits are, I think, underestimated in standard economics. America's post-WW2 boom was funded by almost free oil coal and gas reserves that all but fell out of the ground. Whilst fossil energy usage has continued to grow (to the detriment of the planet), the quantity of NET energy has dwindled - more and more energy is required to extract each new net barrel equivalent. I explain it as fossil fuels being like each of us has a dozen free slaves to do our work and chores. Nowadays some own a thousand slaves, and some have none. Which leads to....
The real problem isn't so much INCOME inequality as OWNERSHIP inequality. When the 1% own 50% of the wealth (or more) then inevitably they write the rules (Laws) on ownership and control, and inevitably the politicians will pander to them. In all major economies today, capitalist or quasi -socialist, an elite or wealthy and politicians run their countries for their own short term benefit.
I am always wary of 'should' - the Democrats should......, or people should...... they never actually happen. But in fact dismantling this model of ownership is easier than one might think, albeit radical and perhaps unthinkable in capitalist countries. Two steps are required:
1. End inherited wealth. In American terms, one might protect the first $500k and a family home to pass on to one's offspring, but the rest goes back into the society that made such accumulation of wealth possible. The upside would be no other taxes would be needed - you'd keep what you earned and spent it as you wished. Services such as education, healthcare, social support would all be funded and free to users.
2. All companies and land, the two major asset classes, should belong to society beyond a certain size. For companies that grow very large, it is right that their ownership should pass to everyone, not just a few uberriche. For land, ownership should be by the immediate community, not by some bunch of investors 5,000 miles away.
I told you it was radical!
I'd suggest some thought about all the myriad consequences before replying with knee jerk reactions according to long-held political fundamentalist views. Happy to respond to well-considered criticisms, but not to the jerks!
"We must now return to the moral questions at the heart of politics and economics."
The way Republican politicians do politics, there are no morals. Instead, they are always playing mind-games. A mind can become attached to anything that attracts and captures its attention. For Republicans, what their minds are most set on is gaining more wealth and power, regardless of the consequences that anyone else may suffer. All of their success is measured in the wealth and power they hold. Mind-games are always based on fear, which leads to division, separation, antagonism, hate, greed.
Morals arise from heart-quality, not mind-games. Only politicians who have a sense of heart-quality, and especially those who have more developed heart-quality, have any real sense of moral behavior. And moral behavior only manifests through a sense of empathy, compassion and kindness towards others ... ALL others. Without a sense of morals, there can never be justice or fairness. Heart-quality results through experiences and manifestations of Love.
I have been reading and studying why the US started losing factories and manufacturing and I am beginning to understand more about what happened. The decline was in the 80s and of course a lot of the reasons were what you gave, Professor Reich. What is hard for me is the fact the US dominated globally in mass scale industrial production and now we do not! I remember when then President Reagan delivered his 'trickle down' economics and how it would apparently 'trickle down' to all of us but I'm beginning to think it was just his way to allow all of the manufacturers to move their plants to places that cost much less to operate! Factories closed leaving so many without any means of support!! That was rough! I agree that the majority of us are sick and tired of the ultra rich not only being rich but using our system to work it for their benefit!!! Yes, the majority of us are sick and tired but the majority of us wonder what the hell can we do about it? I believe in unions and I would like to see more of them. The UAW won and also exposed a lot of people to the fact that the CEOs were absolutely raking it in!! I believe in mom and pop businesses, co-ops, and family farms!! I want the economy to work for us for a change!! Nobody needs billions of dollars and nobody needs to control what everyone else says and does. I've reached my tipping point and want to see change happening for the better!