Wrongo said he wouldn’t look back, but has reconsidered. It’s time to declare war on those who refuse to use facts or science. Think about what these true believers in either faith or ideology have brought us:
Will we continue on this road, or will we make a turn for the better? Will 2020 usher in a better decade than the one we just closed? Doubtful, unless each of us stand up and do what we can to make a difference.
Those who think Trumpism is so new and novel should remember that Norman Lear made a hit TV show about it in the early 1970s. Since then, many American white people have taken a dark turn: They would rather have Trump’s government enforce a whites only voting policy than put in the work required to make our system benefit everyone equally, while decreasing the cut taken by the corporate class.
Building this better society requires hard cognitive work. So far, Americans aren’t up to thinking about solutions beyond “Build that wall!”
Another example: 50% of white people are actively against government bureaucrats making their health care decisions. They insist that something that important should only be decided by employer HR departments and multinational insurance companies.
They’re perfectly fine casting their fates with insurance bureaucrats. Even if those corporate bureaucrats deny their care most of the time. Worse, they’re told by the media that they shouldn’t pay any more damn TAXES for health care when they could be paying twice as much in premiums to insurance corporations.
Delicate Arch, Arches NP, Moab UT – 2019 photo by rallymachine
Wrongo learned last week that the GOP thinks he’s just another agent of Soros, like most other non-Republicans. Sadly, the mailbox didn’t contain his weekly globalist payoff check, so we’re still stuck writing this blog.
We should be framing the debate about 2020 not in terms of policies, but by asking the question Ronald Regan asked: “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” For the Evangelicals who wished for a right-wing Supreme Court, the answer is “yes”. For the 1%, and corporations who were awarded a gigantic tax cut, their answer is a strong “yes”.
But for most Americans, after four years, the answer isn’t yes, it’s a hard “no”.
Yes, the unemployment rate in the US is the lowest it’s been in 50 years. More Americans have jobs than ever before. Wages are climbing, but people tell a different story: Of long job hunts, trouble finding work with decent pay, or predictable hours.
“…..unveiled the US Private Sector Job Quality Index (or JQI for short), a new monthly indicator that aims to track the quality of jobs instead of just the quantity. The JQI measures the ratio of what the researchers call “high-quality” versus “low-quality” jobs….”
They developed a ratio of higher-wage/higher-hour jobs versus lower-wage/lower-hour jobs, and tracked it back in time using federal data. The Index reveals that job quality in the US has deteriorated substantially since 1990, and even more so since 2006.
Overall, the JQI found a shift from US high-wage/high-hour jobs to low-wage/low-hour positions. Since 1990, the US has been creating an overabundance of lower-quality service jobs. The JQI reveals that 63% of the production and non-supervisory jobs created over the past 30 years have been in low-wage and low-hour positions. That’s a marked change from the early 1990s, when nearly half of these jobs (47%) were high-wage.
Since 1990, America has cumulatively added some 20 million low-quality jobs, versus around 12 million high-quality ones. We now create more bad jobs than good. This helps explain why our GDP growth isn’t nearly what economists say we should expect from a full-employment economy.
Also, the poor jobs come with fewer hours worked. People in low-quality jobs clock 30 hours a week. Compare that to an average 38 hours a week for high-quality jobs. That seven-hour gap doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up to about 480 million hours per year.
Those unworked hours represents the equivalent of about 12 million jobs forgone each year. A key reason is that employers limit worker’s hours to keep from having to pay benefits.
Overall, the growing total of jobs that offer lower-than-average incomes means that job growth, as reflected by a super-low unemployment rate, provides less spending power than in the past. The economy is getting a lot less bang for its buck.
Maybe the Democrats’ presidential candidates should base the campaign on asking the Ronald Regan question again in 2020.
Time to wake up America! Look behind the headlines. Ask the candidates what they plan to do about the fact that our economy isn’t providing quality jobs. The $15/hour wage, although useful, isn’t enough to grow the economy.
To help you wake up, listen to Tones and I, a 19 year-old Australian singer-songwriter who has the number one global hit “Dance Monkey”. Today we’re featuring her song called “The Kids are Coming”. This song is sending an important message and portrays the reality of our time, that young people believe we’ve been poor stewards of their futures:
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.
It’s fair to ask, “What happened to the Wrongologist?” He’s taken a long break from posting, in part due to fatigue brought on by our toxic political environment. But beyond that, Wrongo has (at least temporarily) despaired of seeing a path forward to meaningful political change.
Here’s a few relatively connected changes to ponder on Labor Day.
We’re in the midst of a big demographic change. Demo Memo reports that Non-Hispanic Whites (that’s white people to us non-demographers) will account for just 47% percent of the nation’s 2019 public school students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That means the majority of students (53%) in grades K through 12 will be Hispanic, Black, Asian, or another minority.
That’s a big drop since 2000, when 61% of public school students were non-Hispanic White. Their share fell below 50% in 2014. The non-Hispanic White share of public school students will continue to fall. In 2027, non-Hispanic Whites will account for 45% of students, according to projections by the National Center for Education Statistics.
It’s not a coincidence that nearly 32% of Americans aged 18 or older can speak a language other than English. According to the 2018 General Social Survey, this figure is up from 28% a decade ago. Asians and Hispanics are most likely to say they can speak a language other than English, 83% and 69%, respectively. By generation, the youngest Americans are most likely to be able to speak a language other than English, with the iGeneration at 43%, Millennials at 39%, and GenX’ers at 33%.
Times they are a-changing.
Changes on the jobs front have already occured. Here is chart from Visual Capitalist showing the largest non-government employer in all 50 states. Sadly, even in this time of economic progress, Walmart is the largest employer in 21 states:
In many states, either the state or federal government is the top employer. California employs 250,000 federal workers. New York State is unique, since NYC’s municipal workforce is the state’s top employer. And then, there is the US Department of Defense: Eight states have more active military personnel than any single private employer.
Universities and hospitals are top employers in nearly half of the states.
But Walmart is the biggest private employer, with 1.5 million workers. They employ about 1% of private sector workforce in the US. Amazon is a distant second with more than 500,000 employees.
Our schools are getting more diverse, and the jobs we hold now are increasingly fragile. What’s more, for many Americans, one job doesn’t provide a living wage. As the NYT reported in a Labor Day opinion piece by Binyamin Appelbaum and Damon Winter:
“More than eight million people — roughly 5 percent of all workers — held more than one job at a time in July, according to the most recent federal data.”
Dignity. Shouldn’t America strive to make working at one job pay enough to provide for a person’s family? We tout the low unemployment rate, and the statistics that show millions of available and unfilled jobs. But, except for a few jobs involving high barriers to entry, “worker shortage” is a euphemism for “this job doesn’t pay well enough, or have good enough conditions to attract enough workers.”
There’s no worker shortage in America, there’s a pay and good working conditions shortage. Work doesn’t have to be absorbing, but it should be free of fear, and it should be worthy of one’s talents.
It’s baffling to Wrongo that supposedly smart politicians have facilitated a system that has robbed wealth from the bottom 90% of Americans and funneled it to the top 1%, largely through holding down workers’ wages, when our economy is driven by consumer spending.
All of us are wage slaves to a degree, we all sell our time and talent for money. Our schools are the basis for building talent. That, plus job experience, is what the average American offers to sell to employers.
So this is mostly a post about future Labor Days.
Time to wake up America! Without profound changes to how we educate our kids, and how we reward capitalists and capitalism, our country of tomorrow will bear little resemblance to the nation of today.
Peaks Island, ME – August 2019 photo by Kendall Lavoie. Peaks Island is a popular destination for day trips on the ferry from Portland. As you might expect, it has a small population in winter, tripling in summer, with many more day trip tourists. There is one taxi, a relatively new Ford Flex. It was purchased through donations by townspeople last year.
(Apologies for the sustained period of no reporting, the longest since the Wrongologist’s founding in 2010.)
Wrongo and Ms. Right watched “American Factory” on Netflix last night. The story begins with the closing of a Dayton Ohio GM truck plant in 2008, and the layoff of 2,000 plant workers. Seven years later, Fuyao Glass, a Chinese company that manufactures glass for trucks and automobiles opened in the Dayton factory. Cao Dewang, the Chinese Chairman of the Fuyao Group had a bold idea: Pair American workers with Chinese workers, who are brought to Ohio to train and work alongside their American counterparts.
The former GM workers are initially ecstatic. They’re happy to land a new factory job. Never mind that the closed GM plant was unionized, and paid more than $25 an hour, while Fuyao is non-union, with starting pay of $14 an hour. But, the laid-off people of Dayton are happy to have a new job.
Soon it’s clear that the operating results aren’t meeting Fuyao’s plan. There is an obvious and growing culture divide. First, Chinese workers have no problem working 12+ hours a day and at least six days a week, while the Americans are used to five days in eight-hour shifts.
Second, individual expression is difficult for the Chinese but hardly for Americans. During a seminar for Chinese workers to help them understand American culture, a Chinese manager assures them:
“You can even joke about the president. No one can do anything to you.”
That’s followed by amazed looks.
The movie starts by trying to learn, “will the new plant succeed?” But success has different meanings: Success for the Chinese owner is different from success for the American worker, who only wants to know, “will these be steady jobs?” Success for the management means something different. Can the factory fulfill their orders at the same volume and quality as Fuyao’s Chinese factory? What will it take for the new factory to become profitable?
These different goals, and the pressure to meet them drives the film. As one frustrated Chinese manager complains:
“American workers are difficult, and their output is low. I can’t train them.”
The American view? One fired US manager says:
“You can’t spell Fuyao without FU”.
OTOH, a move to start a union was soundly defeated.
American Factory is really about how culture drives what we expect to get from a job. Everyone wants to get paid, but what the Americans want from a job is different from what the Chinese are looking for. Americans see the job as an extension of self, and a way to earn. The Chinese see the job as part of the company’s drive to succeed. And also as a means for China to succeed.
There is a quite a bit of soul-searching in the film. The soul of the American factory worker, of American manufacturing in general and the future soul of the global economy are at stake. In addition, late in the film, Cao Dewang, the Chinese CEO wonders aloud:
“I don’t know if I’m a contributor or a sinner.”
He’s reflecting on what was lost between his young life in rural China and his later outstanding business success.
But, Cao and his Chinese managers aren’t villains in “American Factory.” It is a nuanced story, although clearly its sympathies are with the American workers. The film raises many issues: How can companies remain competitive in a global economy? Is it worth it to give taxpayer breaks for companies that relocate? Can global companies bridge the culture gaps that occur whenever a firm locates abroad?
Much of the interest in the film is due to its production company, Higher Ground, formed in partnership with Netflix by former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. The filmmakers, Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert began shooting independently in 2015 while Obama was still president.
In closing, note that at its high point, GM’s Dayton plant employed 10,000 people. Fuyao Glass America’s Dayton plant now employs 2,200 Americans and 200 Chinese. They had originally promised 5,000 employees, and received tax incentives to open the plant.
Some of the Chinese have now moved their families to Dayton, and their kids attend Dayton’s public schools.
By adding automation and fully Chinese management, the plant turned a profit in 2018, three years after it opened.
Breezewood, PA – 2008 photo by Edward Burtynsky. Each year, 3.5 million passenger vehicles and 1.5 million trucks drive the half-mile Breezewood strip on Route 30. That’s because a law in the 1950s prohibited spending federal funds to connect a free road to a toll road. So, highway planners designed an interchange that routes drivers onto Route 30 for a half-mile.
An interesting article from Market Watch shows how nearly all job growth is in big cities, while rural America is being left behind:
“Since the economy began adding jobs after the Great Recession nine years ago, about 21.5 million jobs have been created in the United States, the second-best stretch of hiring in the nation’s history, second only to the 1990s. But….Most of the new jobs have been located in a just a few dozen large and dynamic cities, leaving slower-growing cities, small towns and rural areas — where about half of Americans live — far behind.”
MarketWatch cites a July 2019 study by McKinsey forecasting that 25 cities that are home to about 30% of Americans will capture about 60% of the job growth between 2017 and 2030, just as they did between 2007 and 2017. In typical McKinsey fashion, they break cities and towns into many categories. Please read the report for full details. Here are their top-line findings about where the largest growth is happening:
Twelve mega-cities (and their extended suburbs) top the list: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco and Washington.
Another 13 are high-growth hubs in or around smaller cities: Austin, Charlotte, Denver, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Nashville, Orlando, Portland (Ore.), Raleigh, San Antonio, San Jose, Seattle, and Tampa.
Smaller, fast-growing cities and a few privileged rural counties will also add jobs, while vast swaths of the South, Midwest and Plains will lose jobs.
The New York metro area, home to 20 million people, added more jobs over the past year than did all of America’s small towns and rural areas, with a population of 46 million people, combined.
McKinsey’s forecast reinforces concerns about persistent economic inequality in America. Inclusive growth is a must, or it is likely that our society will fall apart. The problem: No one, and certainly not Republicans, have a magic wand that will bring back jobs to rural and small-town America.
Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that job growth is mostly occurring in places that vote for Democrats, while the stagnation is mostly in places that vote for Republicans. In 2016, Trump was smart to tailor a pitch to those parts of America, but their situations haven’t improved since his election.
And the divide is getting larger. Over the past year, only 12% of 389 metro areas had any significant job growth, according to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by Aaron Sojourner, a former White House economist, now an associate professor at the University of Minnesota:
So, after 17 years of significant and broadly-spread growth, fewer towns and cities are now doing so well. And, of the 47 metros that gained significant numbers of jobs over the past year, 21 were on McKinsey’s top 25 list.
OTOH, income inequality is greatest in those cities with the highest jobs growth. But, we can’t write off one quarter of the US population simply because they live in low-growth areas. And politically, it’s essential. Rural America is overrepresented politically — we can’t ignore them.
But, what to do? Sanders and Warren have addressed this by trying to raise tax revenues from corporations, and funding free college. They along with others, believe in some form of Medicare-for-all, which could help address the fact that rural America is older, sicker, and poorer than ever before.
Yang proposes a universal basic income of $1,000/month for everyone.
Trump proposes tax cuts for the wealthy, tariffs and weakened environmental regulations, but despite all three, the situation has gotten worse since his election.
McKinsey suggests that communities that are being left behind ought to try almost everything: improved transportation to get residents to jobs, rural broadband, and lifelong job training.
Building consensus about how to address job growth and income inequality is the key to America’s future. This is what the 2020 presidential election should be about.
“…the Federal Reserve just released…its new Distributive Financial Accounts data series [that] offers a granular picture of how American capitalism has been distributing the gains of economic growth over the past three decades. Matt Bruenig of the People’s Policy Project took the Fed’s data and calculated how much the respective net worth of America’s top one percent and its bottom 50 percent has changed since 1989.
He found that America’s super-rich have grown about $21 trillion richer since Taylor Swift was born, while those in the bottom half of the wealth distribution have grown $900 billion poorer.”
This is what a few of the Democratic presidential candidates have been talking about, some loudly and some quietly, for the past few months. Levitz asks the right question:
“So, is an economic system that distributes its benefits in this manner consistent with Americans’ common-sense views of economic justice? If not, would incremental changes be sufficient to bring it into alignment with the median American’s values? Or would more sweeping measures be required?”
In a sense, Democrats are testing whether advocating for changing Capitalism is an argument that voters will accept in 2020. More from Levitz:
“Some Democratic presidential candidates say that America’s economic system is badly broken and in need of sweeping, structural change. Others say that the existing order is fundamentally sound, even if it could use a few modest renovations. The former are widely portrayed as ideologues or extremists, the latter as moderates.”
Essentially, the question is “who’s the extremist?” in the Democratic Party. This conflation of “extreme” or “radical” with “bad” is what the GOP and the Main Stream Media do every day, and it weakens our policy-making.
We use “extremist” or “radical” as a way of signaling that a policy position is too awful to consider.
If you simply say that something is bad, then you are forced to defend your position. But, when you describe it as “extreme“, you’ve called it bad, and people will HEAR that you think it’s much too big a change to even discuss.
Respectable talking heads like Judy Woodruff will ask: “Will Americans really go for THAT?”
This is bad faith messaging about important questions. This is so ingrained into people who talk about politics that it largely goes unquestioned. We shouldn’t care about pundits and broadcasters saying how extreme or not extreme something is. We should care about the merits of the argument.
Republicans have been calling Democrats “extreme” “radical” and “Socialist” for decades. They’re using bad-faith tactics; de-legitimizing an idea or a candidate without having to debate on the merits.
Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are offering “extreme” policies only if our baseline is what the average Congress critter’s economic agenda looks like. It’s not clear why that’s an appropriate yardstick.
Did we think calls for sweeping change in Egypt were extremism when students took to the streets demanding basic civil rights? Do we think the young people demonstrating today in Sudan are radicals? Our assessment (and support) of these dissenters’ ideologies has more to do with how far their values are from those of their corrupt political and military leaders.
And also by how close they seem to be to our core values.
Whether it is extreme or moderate to propose sweeping changes to American capitalism should depend on how close our existing system is to how a just economic system operates. And these latest data show that the one percent have gotten $21 trillion richer since 1989, while the bottom 50% have gotten $900 million poorer.
This is what economic class warfare looks like. Saying that isn’t hyperbole. The earnings and wealth of a majority of our citizens has been systematically declining with the complicity and power of our government, in order to benefit the rich.
It shows how bad things are when the “radical” in American politics is anybody who argues that the American economy isn’t working for a huge percentage of the population.
Judy Woodruff may think that the economy is great, but incrementalism has failed most of us for the past 40 years.
Given all this, any politician who insists that American capitalism is “already great” is clearly someone who is indifferent to economic inequality.
We need to adopt redistributive economic policies. That may sound like an extreme position, but the alternative of continuing our growing wealth inequality, should really be thought of as far more radical.
After our granddaughter’s graduation in PA (summa cum laude), we had a few wines and beers, and talk turned to politics and the mess America is in now. Son-in-law Miles, (dad of next week’s grad) asked a very good question. “Is now really the worst of times? What about when Martin Luther King was assassinated?”
Wrongo immediately flashed back to JFK’s assassination. He was a DC college student when JFK died. But his focus wasn’t on the loss of a president, or what that meant to the country. His focus was on what the loss of JFK meant personally.
That changed in 1968 with the assassinations of MLK and RFK. Wrongo was in the Army, stationed in Germany when Dr. King was killed. There was great tension in the enlisted men’s barracks. For a few days, it took a lot of effort in our small, isolated unit to keep anger from boiling over into outright fighting between the races.
By the time we lost RFK, it was clear that the Vietnam War would drag on, killing many of Wrongo’s friends. But, Wrongo’s job was to defend America from the Russians, with nuclear weapons if necessary.
It was difficult to see how or when Vietnam would end. It was hard to imagine Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, or Robert McNamara doing much to stop young Americans from dying in Asia.
The year 1968 also included the Tet Offensive. Mark Bowen in his book, Hue 1968, says:
“For decades….the mainstream press and, for that matter, most of the American public, believed their leaders, political and military. Tet was the first of many blows to that faith in coming years, Americans would never again be so trusting.” (p. 507)
When Americans finally saw the Pentagon Papers in 1971, they learned that America’s leaders had been systematically lying about the scope and progress of the war for years, in spite of their doubts that the effort could succeed. The assassinations, Vietnam, and Watergate changed us forever.
Our leaders failed us, it was clearly the worst of times. We were in worse shape in 1968 than we are in 2019. Back then, it felt like the country was coming apart at the seams, society’s fabric was pulling apart. Then, May 4th 1970 brought the killings of college kids at Kent State, which was probably the lowest point in our history, at least during Wrongo’s life time.
Last week, we acknowledged the 49th anniversary of America’s military killing American students on US soil. We vaguely remember the Neil Young song “Ohio” with its opening lyrics:
“Tin soldiers and Nixon coming, we’re finally on our own…”
That’s why the decade from 1960-1970 was the worst of times. We got through it, but we have never been the same.
In 1968, we saw that change can arrive suddenly, fundamentally, and violently, even in America. Bob Woodward spoke at Kent State last week, on Saturday, May 4th. He offered some brand-new information about Nixon’s reaction to the student shootings: (emphasis by Wrongo)
“In a conversation with his chief of staff H.R. Haldeman in September 1971, Nixon suggested shooting prisoners at New York’s Attica Prison riot in a reference to the Kent State tragedy. “You know what stops them? Kill a few,” Nixon says on a tape of the conversation.”
“We now know what really was on Nixon’s mind as he reflected…on Kent State after 17 months….Kent State and the protest movement was an incubator for Richard Nixon and his illegal wars.”
Woodward meant that what was coming was a war on the news media, creation of the “Plumbers” unit to track down leaks, and attempts to obstruct justice with the Watergate cover-up.
Many of us see 2020 shaping up as another 1968. Some see Nixon reincarnated in Trump.
We haven’t faced this particular set of circumstances before, so we can’t know just how it will go. Will it be worse than the 1960s, or just another terrible American decade? Is it the best of times, or the worst of times?
Are we willing to fight to preserve what we have anymore?
Wake up America, you have to fight for what America means to us. Constitutional liberties are under attack. The right to vote is being undermined. Extreme Nationalism has been emboldened.
To help you wake up, listen once again to “Ohio” by Neil Young in a new solo performance from October, 2018. He’s added some documentary footage and a strong anti-gun message:
You may not know that Chrissie Hynde, the future lead singer of The Pretenders was a Kent State student, and was on the scene at the time.
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.
“When Democrats next have power, we should be bold and clear: We’re done with two sets of rules — one for the Republicans and one for the Democrats,”…. “And that means when Democrats have the White House again, if Mitch McConnell tries to do what he did to President Obama and puts small-minded partisanship ahead of solving the massive problems facing this country, then we should get rid of the filibuster.”
Warren referenced a bill passed in the Senate last year that made lynching a federal crime, and pointed out that it was first introduced in 1918.
“It nearly became the law back then. It passed the House in 1922. But it got killed in the Senate — by a filibuster. And then it got killed again. And again. And again,” Warren will say. “More than 200 times. An entire century of obstruction because a small group of racists stopped the entire nation from doing what was right.”
Warren is correct on the merits about the filibuster, as she is on many other issues. The filibuster is a blunt tool for the reactionary forces in the Senate.
From a policy viewpoint, she is by far the best candidate. But she lags in the polls, and many are convinced that she can’t be elected. She also trails in funds raising, behind Bernie and Beto. Warren hasn’t released her first quarter totals, but her campaign’s finance director just left. HuffPo tells us that:
“A tricky gender gap is emerging in the race for donor dollars in the 2020 Democratic presidential race.”
That hasn’t affected Kamala Harris who is raising large amounts from corporate donors. Maybe she has corralled the bigger feminists.
Barr’s playing it cute with the Democrats in the House:
The NYTreported that Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said: (brackets by Wrongo)
“Socialism is the greatest vulnerability by far that the House Democrats have…He added that he had also instructed his team to spotlight “all the [Dems] extreme wild ideas on a daily basis, on an hourly basis if it’s available.”
As we said yesterday, most Democrats are not socialists. They are for reform of capitalism. The problem is that our economic system is broken; it does not meet the needs of the vast majority of our people.
Capitalism has metastasized into a financialized cancer. Its growth-at-any-cost, profit-over-purpose ideology has wreaked havoc with the lives of millions of people. From Forbes:
“One example: For more than 400 years, 12.5 million Africans were kidnapped, enslaved and sold to build wealth and power largely for white men in the US, Europe and South America. The first enslaved Africans were shipped directly to the Americas in 1518, one year after Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church. The centrality and largely unconstrained profit motive in capitalism has been with us since the beginning.”
Today, corporations track our every movement. Algorithms manipulate us to buy things, or to vote certain ways. We’ve put outsized power into the hands of corporations. We have to ask: What do we need from capitalism in the 21st Century? Is it more of the same, or something different?
Capitalist Reform is about re-imagining the purpose of business and redefining its success. The doctrine of shareholder primacy must be the first to go. It needs to be recognized as a form of oppression of human nature since it doesn’t value our humanity.
According to a 2019 Politico/Morning Consult survey, 76% of registered voters want the wealthiest Americans to pay more. Politico also notes that a recent poll from Fox News shows that 70% of Americans supporting increased taxes for those earning more than $10 million, and 54% of Republicans also supported it. People are contemplating not just piecemeal tax increases, but a wholesale reversal of the Reagan-era shift in tax policy. The Economist reported that in 2016, more than half of young Americans no longer support capitalism.
There is an urgent need to push back against the widening economic inequality in the US. Taxing the rich is an easy answer, because so few of us are rich.
But, step one should be increasing corporate income taxes. Corporations’ share of total taxes paid has decreased to about 9% of total US tax revenue in 2017, from about 33% in 1952. How many stories like Amazon’s failure to pay anything in taxes on $11 billion in profits should it take to begin the task of closing corporate tax loopholes and increasing corporate income taxes?
Step two is to break up corporate concentrations. Wrongo addressed this here. The primary issue with corporate concentration is that it drives up prices. The fewer sellers, the fewer choices consumers have for goods and services, and thus, there is little pressure for big competitors to hold prices down.
Step three is to help workers. The share of profits that goes to workers must increase. This shouldn’t punish capitalists. Higher wages for workers means more business for American companies.
We were founded on republicanism as a public virtue: The Constitution implies that a citizen is duty-bound to abandon self-interest when it conflicted with the General Welfare. Capitalism has usurped republicanism by insisting that abrogation of self-interest violates the doctrine of “survival of the fittest,” and it’s also an attack on individual liberty.
We need to revive the understanding of public virtue. So, some form of “mixed economy” is in our future. It’s obvious to all except right wing ideologues that socialized medical insurance is in our future. But it is doubtful that a majority want to socialize production and distribution of America’s products and companies.
The task for Congress and the next president is to figure out what activities and/or economic sectors are best guided by tax and economic policy, and which are best left to “market forces”.
We’re a country where vast wealth is rewarded with tax cuts, loopholes, and endless ways to ensure that corporate dollars earn even more dollars. While average people are bankrupted because of a health crisis, and we value semi-skilled labor at $7.25 an hour.
Today’s capitalism is anti-democratic. General welfare and public virtue derive from a desire to improve the human condition. That needs to be the goal of political action to reform capitalism, and it needs to be hammered home again and again.
“The party of socialism, late-term abortion, open borders and crime…To pave the way for socialism, Democrats are calling for massive tax hikes and the complete elimination of private health care…They’re coming for your money and they’re coming for your freedom.”
Trump’s focus on “socialism” is based on the few liberal Democratic presidential candidates who have called for Medicare-for-all, or environmental proposals intended to lower carbon emissions.
He brought up the “Green New Deal”, saying it would virtually eliminate air travel and that it sounds “like a high school term paper that got a low mark.”
This is just the latest stage in the war waged by the right against the ideals and programs of the New Deal. Kim Phillips Fein, reviewing the new book “Winter War: Hoover, Roosevelt, and the First Clash Over the New Deal” by Eric Rauchway, writes: (brackets by Wrongo)
Throughout the  campaign, Hoover had attacked what he considered a “social philosophy very different from the traditional philosophies of the American people,” warning that these “so-called new deals” would “destroy the very foundations” of American society. As Hoover later put it, the promise of a “New Deal” was both socialistic and fascistic; it would lead the country on a “march to Moscow.”
2020 will be all about messaging. Once again, just like 88 years ago, Republicans will run on socialism. Trump will add the threats posed by open borders and abortion to the right-wing stew.
The question is what will be the 20+ Democrats who are running for president be talking about? Michael Tomasky in The Daily Beast suggests: (emphasis by Wrongo)
I am saying, though, that Democrats should stop pretending they can unite the country. They can’t. No one can. What they can do, what they must do, is assemble a coalition of working- and middle-class voters of all races around a set of economic principles that will say clearly to those voters that things are going to be very different when they’re in the White House…
There is a power to fashioning a new political coalition around the concept of economic justice. We live in a time when politicians of both parties have followed a consistent strategy: massage the economic numbers and the media, keep the rich and powerful happy, and make sure you stay on the “fiscally conservative” side of the line.
Now, a few Democrats are pushing the party elders to re-consider economic justice as FDR did in the1930s. These Democrats intuit that most Americans are trying to reconcile the life they were told they would have with today’s reality. The gulf between what they were told, and what actually happened is wide. And it looks as if it will only get wider.
Many Americans feel that they can’t pay their bills anymore, and they are afraid. Their jobs aren’t stable, they can’t look forward to retirement. About 20% say they have more credit card debt than savings. The lives they thought they’d live are upside down, and they’re not sure they can do anything about it. Quite a few followed their preachers and a few charlatan Republicans, and can’t understand why things are so scary and bad for them.
America is divided, but maybe not in the way you are thinking. It’s the left behinds and millennials who are worried about their future. And it’s both of them against the politicians, corporations and the oligarchs. As David Crosby sang:
“There’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear”
In 2020, we’ll be fighting for not just the soul of our country, but the meaning of American life: Should the one with the most toys win?
What is more important, universal health care, or outlawing abortion? Better roads and bridges, or keeping out immigrants? A better environment, or lower taxes?
Ocasio-Sanchez’s Green New Deal (GND) can easily be dismissed, but what really is the difference between how the Green New Deal might be financed, and how the Federal Reserve spent nearly $4 Trillion on its Quantitative Easing (QE) schemes?
The big difference is who profits. QE was welfare for the banks. For the GND, society at large would benefit.
You will get to decide, and plenty of people are already fighting for your attention.
Some are worth listening to. What will you choose to do?