After the spectacular failure of Hillary Clinton to win a shoe-in election for one anointed and “whose time had come,” someone who deserved to be rewarded for past service to the people, the country, and the entirety of humanity at large, the Democrat Party elites tried to grapple with the reality of the defeat. That lasted a week-or so until they had an Ahah! moment and realized that a large number of Americans are simply idiots. Amazing. Nearly four years and they still either have no clue, or refuse to address their problem.
Hillary Clinton epitomized the continuance of the status quo, Republican or Democrat more of the same and, yet again, a choice of the least worst candidate. Trump changed things. He was the worst, and proud of it. I think that many people who voted for Trump did so with great trepidation. They hoped he would shake up the Wall St./K St., military industrial complex without doing any lasting damage. Well, nothing happened to the big money interests, and the damage Trump has done, while loud, flashy, and crass will be quickly reversed if Biden wins.
If Biden wins!!??
Really? It should be a landslide, but it is looking eerily like 2016. If it were not for Trump screwing up the the pandemic response so horribly I’m afraid Biden would be done, toast. No longer “Uncle Joe” he is more of a “Grandpa Joe.” At least it appears that the Dems are taking their platform and VP pick seriously. If they choose wisely it can be a boost. However, it is getting close to crunch time. Biden will soon be forced to become more public. Everybody will be watching his every move, dissecting every phrase, analyzing every twitch and stumble. I hope he has some good coaches helping out.
The debates are coming. I use the word debates only because that is what they are commonly called. Lincoln vs Douglas they are not. Harvard debate club presentations they are not. We’re talkin’ showbiz. Trump is a master of the format. He doesn’t take the time to think about his response. It is automatic. Truth has little to do with his answers, which are simply repartee rather than serious. If he is called out during the debate (unlikely) he will just sluff it off and change the subject. Nobody will pay attention to the fact checking. In any case Trump is entitled to his own truths.
So, the debates are dangerous for Biden. He thinks he is quick, but Trump is a merciless quick draw artist. Biden had best be prepared, if possible.
So, even though I don’t think Biden was really anybody’s first choice, the election is still the Dems to lose. But, why did she lose in 2016, and why might he lose in 2020.
AMERICANS ARE PISSED OFF!
Many, maybe most people can’t quite put their finger on it. They feel bad, angry, left behind, but they aren’t really sure why. It’s a gnawing feeling that something is wrong even when the sky is blue, the burgers are on the grill, and the the beer is icy cold. It has something to do with tomorrow.
They are deeply uneasy about the future, but aren’t quite certain why. Sure, the 90% know that they haven’t really been doing all that well for a while now, but there is the nagging feeling that “maybe it’s partly my own fault”, and that is actually true. It is also true that there is, and always has been a thumb on one side of the economic scale. The problem is that the thumb now belongs to a tiny number of corporate ogres for whom most of the economic benefit is not enough. They want it all. I mean really, who is actually most important to you, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Jamie Diamond, or your local garbage man?
One of the main problems is that with the constant onslaught of news-like drivel that comes from all sides these days it is almost impossible to get information from a trusted source. Walter Cronkite has been gone for quite a while now, and he has been replaced by a screaming mob. Real Clear Politics and News Now are feeds that I look at daily because they both provide a compact format to scan a lot of news ledes in a short time. I just glanced at RCP, and in like 2-seconds found these 2 ledes one following the other:
Has the Academic Left Destroyed Higher Education? , immediately followed by,
No, Cancel Culture isn’t a Threat to Civilization
Now, I didn’t read either of these articles. Why? Because by reading the lede ins I know exactly what is written inside both articles. They are both dog whistles appealing to their opposite bases. Articles like these are not news, but they constitute probably 75% of what we are fed every day. The real news is of course available, but it takes time, energy, and a discerning view to dig it out. I’m retired and locked in due to the virus, so I can take the time to dig out what I want, but many don’t have the luxury.
Here is a really simple example:
- USA population: approx. 325,000,000
- USA workforce: approx. 152,000,000 (Bureau of Labor Statisics – BLS – June 2019 non-farm, call it a proxy for July 2020 if the economy was still normal)
- USA Unemploymen: approx. 11.1% (BLS non-farm)
Ok, so far so good: 11.1% of 152,000,000 = 16,872,000
But then CBS today says the number of unemployment applications reported by the states jumped to, wait for it…, approx. 51,000,000. Umm, that’s a lot more than 16,872,000.
And then, Mish Shedlock from Shadow Stats reports the combined state+federal continuing unemployment claims at 32,003,330 which splits the difference between BLS and CBS. Shadow Stats has a good reputation for reporting the true unemployment numbers, so I tend to believe them more than the others.
Now, none of these numbers are really worth the ink used to write them, but they should all roughly represent the non-farm payroll data which excludes gig workers, part-timers, temps, day-workers, and those who have given up looking, etc. So, the numbers from the government are a lie, which is horrible enough, but they still leave out an ever growing number who are excluded from the formal workforce. If the unreported workers are added in the real number is probably close to the CBS number, or 45% to 50% unemployed! Yikes!
So, I don’t blame the majority of people in this country who I believe are woefully uninformed. They are uniformed because the few and powerful in the halls of business and government would derive no benefit from an informed public. Such has always been the case, but it is a matter of degree. What once could be called capitalism is quickly evolving into indentured servitude.
So, what is really, really important to Americans as opposed to simply a national crisis?
- Foreign affairs? (Wars, kill lists, foreign interference, alliances, terrorism.) Nope
- Abortion? Uh-uh
- Black Lives Matter? No
- White Prejudice? No, again
- Police Brutality? Wrong
- Christopher Columbus’ Statue? Pu…leeease
- 2nd Amendment Rights? Nyet
- Climate Change? Nice Try
All of these things and a laundry list of others rate high on somebody’s list of most important things, but don’t rank in the top ten for other people. Some are due to cultural changes in that what was acceptable 50-years ago might get you stoned today, or vice versa. Although all the grievances listed above deserve attention, none of them mean anything unless we address the the most important problem we have.
Inequality is ripping this country to its core. If we can’t provide a decent standard of living, and a real shot at a future for every person in this country then the rest doesn’t matter. Our present version of pirate capitalism isn’t working, and it won’t work without major, disruptive changes. I don’t know what is needed, but I’m certain that there must be a greater degree of socialism. The haves will be required to take less, and the have nots must get a decent chance. If it takes major re-distributive taxes, then so be it.
It seems clear that between the rise of robotics (blue collar) and narrow artificial intelligence (white collar) the number of available jobs are set to plummet. The pandemic is actually helping a number of larger companies to advance plans for labor restructuring; eg. a lot of currently furloughed workers will be permanently laid-off. I can foresee a future for my kids, and grandkids, where the USA has a chronic “real” unemployment rate approaching 40% to 50%. How can an economy with a 50% unemployment function? I think it is an axiomatic truth that poor people don’t buy much.
While I view global warming and general artificial intelligence as near term existential threats, inequality is in the here and now. We need a major economic overhaul, and we need expert guidance to develop plans to implement it, and we need it soon, because, despite what the stock market thinks, we are never getting back to 4% unemployment. Falsified government stats might feel good, but it takes a “real” person with “real” money to buy a new pair of shoes
Inequality is a problem that must be addressed soon; the alternative might be something nobody wants.
What a shame, three-hundred-twenty-five-million souls, and the best we can come up with are Biden and Trump!
Through an unbelievable stroke of luck the US Army drafted, then trained Dan Mason as a telecommunications tech and sent him to Thailand during the Viet Nam war. So began a thirty-five year adventure, working and living overseas, to include Thailand, W. Germany, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, and China. Those experiences helped him to see and absorb different perspectives on world events and to read behind the headlines.