MUST READ: The seductiveness of Trumpism

By   /   November 10, 2016  /   38 Comments

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There was a vacuum left by the political establishment, and Donald Trump shrewdly colonised that space. Trump had created the new “reality” that Buffett warned us about.

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The 5 percent of Americans with the highest incomes now account for 37 percent of all consumer purchases, according to the latest research from Moody’s Analytics. That should come as no surprise. Our society has become more and more unequal.

When so much income goes to the top, the middle class doesn’t have enough purchasing power to keep the economy going without sinking ever more deeply into debt — which, as we’ve seen, ends badly.

[…]

The real reason for America’s Great Regression was political. As income and wealth became more concentrated in fewer hands, American politics reverted to what Marriner S. Eccles, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, described in the 1920s, when people “with great economic power had an undue influence in making the rules of the economic game.” With hefty campaign contributions and platoons of lobbyists and public relations spinners, America’s executive class has gained lower tax rates while resisting reforms that would spread the gains from growth.

Yet the rich are now being bitten by their own success. Those at the top would be better off with a smaller share of a rapidly growing economy than a large share of one that’s almost dead in the water. – Robert Reich, New York Times, 3 September 2011

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Neoliberalism as never been, and is not, a coherent set of economic principles, the presence or absence of which in any given policy prescription determines the strength or weakness of its ideological credentials. Indeed, neoliberalism, far from being some sort of neo-classical economic crusade, is what it has always been: the fearsomely coherent political project of global capitalism’s ruling elites.

Its anti-state/free market propaganda notwithstanding, neoliberalism’s purpose has always been to use the coercive power of the state to thwart and/or reverse any and all attempts to empower the many at the expense of the few.

As Professor David Harvey notes in his A Brief History of Neoliberalism:

“Redistributive effects and increasing social inequality have in fact been such a persistent feature of neoliberalisation as to be regarded as structural to the whole project. Gérard Duménil and Dominique Lévy, after careful reconstruction of the data, have concluded that neoliberalisation was from the very beginning a project to achieve the restoration of class power”.” – Chris Trotter, Bowalley Road, 30 May 2015

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“…the share of population living in poverty is at a very high level. The latest data shows almost 15 percent of the American population of 46.7 million people living in poverty, and those numbers are even higher, if you concentrate on certain groups, particularly minority, single parents, especially female-headed families, and it is heavier for young people and those with disability.

So, with such large share of the population living below the poverty line, this has important macroeconomic issues, let alone the concern that is of a more political nature, which we will not address. But if we look at the macroeconomic impact, not only does poverty create significant social strains, it also eats into labor force participation, and undermines the ability to invest in education, to invest in health, to invest in training, and by holding back economic and social mobility it creates not only a poverty impact on this generation, but it certainly can make it more sustainable inter-generationally.” – Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, IMF,  22 June 2016

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In America, the full impact of a neo-liberal agenda hit Kansas so harshly that  comedian/commentator, Seth Meyer, was unflinching with his scathing, mocking, satire at the travesty that had resulted;

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After his election in 2010, Republican  Kansas state governor, Sam Brownback, made massive cuts personal and business income taxes on the neo-liberal premise  that low (and in some cases, nil) taxes  would result in massive job-creation and increased economic activity by local businesses.

The tax-cuts were heavily supported by right-wing billionaire Koch Brothers;

Kansas also completely erased the income tax bills for the owners of certain “small” businesses, totaling 330,000 by this year and including a host of subsidiaries of Wichita-based Koch Industries. The Koch-funded organization Americans for Prosperity helped Brownback push the bill and has remained a staunch defender of the changes.

The result was utterly predictable;

The predicted job growth from business expansions hasn’t happened, leaving the state persistently short of money. Since November, tax collections have fallen about $81 million, or 1.9 percent below the current forecast’s predictions.

[…]

Last month, Brownback ordered $17 million in immediate reductions to universities and earlier this month delayed $93 million in contributions to pensions for school teachers and community college employees. The state has also siphoned off more than $750 million from highway projects to other parts of the budget over the past two years.

School teachers, college employees, the State University, schools, poverty-programmes, medicare, and other services all faced budgetary cuts.

The business website, Bloomberg, was less than impressed;

Kansas has lagged Nebraska in job creation since 2011, and the gap has widened since late 2014. Instead of adding the 25,000 jobs a year that Brownback promised, Kansas actually lost 5,400 jobs over the 12 months ending in February.

The author, Justin Fox,  made the eye-brow-raising under-statement of the year by declaring;

This doesn’t look great for Kansas.

There’s an age-old saying for such  under-statements. Click here.

Little wonder that Fox headed his article; “Kansas Tried Tax Cuts. Its Neighbor Didn’t. Guess Which Worked“.

The owners/editor of Bloomberg appeared to ‘freak out’  at the prospect of publishing a story so utterly revealing of such an epic fail of  neo-liberal dogma. The editor/owner posted at the bottom of Fox’s article;

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Of course not. That might be embarrassing. Having to admit to the Masses that one of neo-liberalism’s main tenets is actually bullshit, is not a good look.

Even Governor Brownback’s fellow Republicans were panicking, as they faced re-election this month, and the wrath of voters;

Now many of the same Republicans who helped pass Brownback’s plan are in open revolt, refusing to help the governor cut spending so he can avoid rolling back any of his signature tax measures.

[…]

“Let him own it,” Republican Rep. Mark Hutton said. “It’s his policy that put us there.”

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“We’re growing weary,” said Senate President Susan Wagle, a conservative Republican from Wichita. While GOP legislators still support low income taxes, “we’d prefer to see some real solutions coming from the governor’s office,” she said.

In an example of how Republican’s take personal responsibility, Governor Brownback told journalists who was to blame for his “real live experiment“;

“You’ve got some global issues that are going on that we have absolutely no control over.” 

That’s how you take Personal Responsibility: blame others.

As Kansas is slowly bankrupted, Trump appears not to have learned from Brownback’s economic ineptness, promising;

Under my plan, I’ll be reducing taxes tremendously, from 35 percent to 15 percent for companies, small and big businesses. That’s going to be a job creator like we haven’t seen since Ronald Reagan. It’s going to be a beautiful thing to watch. Companies will come. They will build. They will expand. New companies will start. And I look very, very much forward to doing it.” – Donald Trump

Trump’s plan to cut taxes mirrors the Republican “experiment” in Kansas. It simply remains unclear why Trump believes the results will be any different.

Meanwhile, here in New Zealand, the re-distribution of wealth up-ward, through successive tax-cuts for the richest, echoed that taking place thousands of kilometres away in a central US state.

In 2009 and 2010, National cut taxes and increased gst. (There have been seven tax cuts since 1986.) This shifted wealth up-ward to higher-income earners.

As government revenue fell, budget cuts to spending on services followed;

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Even as recent tax cuts resulted in wealth re-distributed upward; wage growth remaining low or stagnant; and social services reduced – New Zealanders are still not facing the dire economic and social hardship faced by our American cousins.

In September 2011, forward-thinking American economist Robert Reich explained how a worsening economic crisis in the US was affecting the middle classes;

Some say the regressive lurch occurred because Americans lost confidence in government. But this argument has cause and effect backward. The tax revolts that thundered across America starting in the late 1970s were not so much ideological revolts against government — Americans still wanted all the government services they had before, and then some — as against paying more taxes on incomes that had stagnated. Inevitably, government services deteriorated and government deficits exploded, confirming the public’s growing cynicism about government’s doing anything right.

Some say we couldn’t have reversed the consequences of globalization and technological change. Yet the experiences of other nations, like Germany, suggest otherwise. Germany has grown faster than the United States for the last 15 years, and the gains have been more widely spread. While Americans’ average hourly pay has risen only 6 percent since 1985, adjusted for inflation, German workers’ pay has risen almost 30 percent. At the same time, the top 1 percent of German households now take home about 11 percent of all income — about the same as in 1970. And although in the last months Germany has been hit by the debt crisis of its neighbors, its unemployment is still below where it was when the financial crisis started in 2007.

How has Germany done it? Mainly by focusing like a laser on education (German math scores continue to extend their lead over American), and by maintaining strong labor unions.

THE real reason for America’s Great Regression was political. As income and wealth became more concentrated in fewer hands, American politics reverted to what Marriner S. Eccles, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve, described in the 1920s, when people “with great economic power had an undue influence in making the rules of the economic game.” With hefty campaign contributions and platoons of lobbyists and public relations spinners, America’s executive class has gained lower tax rates while resisting reforms that would spread the gains from growth.

Yet the rich are now being bitten by their own success. Those at the top would be better off with a smaller share of a rapidly growing economy than a large share of one that’s almost dead in the water.

The economy cannot possibly get out of its current doldrums without a strategy to revive the purchasing power of America’s vast middle class. The spending of the richest 5 percent alone will not lead to a virtuous cycle of more jobs and higher living standards. Nor can we rely on exports to fill the gap. It is impossible for every large economy, including the United States, to become a net exporter.

Reviving the middle class requires that we reverse the nation’s decades-long trend toward widening inequality. This is possible notwithstanding the political power of the executive class. So many people are now being hit by job losses, sagging incomes and declining home values that Americans could be mobilized.

And mobilised they have been.

Whatever one thinks of Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, he has tapped into the psyche of the disaffected; the disenchanted; and the dispossessed. And they are legion in number.

According to US Census Bureau, there are some 43.1 million Americans currently living in poverty – 13.5%. (The Bureau states that poverty has fallen by 3.5 million people since 2014.)

The lives of ordinary Americans is now stressed and wretched, as Australia’s ABC journalist, Elle Hardy recently reported;

When fun-loving 34-year-old George Tabor died suddenly in the town of Tifton in America’s Deep South, his family was bereft.

It confirmed again that the American Dream is a vision that’s moved beyond the reach of millions of its citizens.

George’s family struggled with the immense grief of his loss, but they were also plunged into a financial crisis, not knowing how they could fund his funeral or medical bills.

“The very first day, as we were dealing with the fact that he’s gone, the first thing that was in my mind was that all these bills were about to fall on us,” his older sister Doris Stafford, 36, said.

George and his sisters all worked. Their mother had worked her whole life too. Yet, as workers on minimum pay rates, just coping with weekly needs is an endless treadmill.

George Tabor was in good
healthbefore he suddenly fell ill.
(Supplied: Doris Stafford)

Having savings to buffer sudden emergencies, or even a plan for a more secure future, is a story from Fantasyland for this family, and for up to nearly 70 per cent of Americans, according to a recent survey.

In this election year, as the anger of the marginalised and threatened has taken centre stage, it’s rocked the established verities of American political culture.

The IMF warned in June of social strains if the US fails to address soaring rates of poverty, in this richest of First World economies.

On the ground, it’s the immediate daily strains that occupy people’s minds.

George’s sister Sherry Smith, 31, began receiving George’s medical bills at the apartment they’d shared. Meanwhile, Doris was working out how to come up with $US5,100 ($6,610) for his funeral.

For workers earning about $US290 ($375) a week, the challenge is astronomical.

Robert Reich’s simple infograph (below) demonstrates convincingly that pay rose with productivity until the late ’70s /early ’80s. At that point in our global history, Thatcherism and Reaganism impacted on their respective nations, the UK and USA.

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New Zealand followed half a decade later. We now face our own social fall-out from the introduction of neo-liberalism; high-unemployment; under-employment; unaffordable housing; low wages; student debt; growing child poverty; and a widening wealth/income gap;

In its latest survey of household wealth, Statistics New Zealand found the country’s richest individuals – those in the top 10 percent – held 60 percent of all wealth by the end of July 2015. Between 2003 and 2010, those individuals had held 55 percent.

It is little wonder that with  increasing globalisation, corporations have shifted  jobs  to developing nations where wages are low and working conditions next-to-nil.

Western workers have lost out to their counterparts in China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, etc.

That has meant vast swathes of US industries closing down until major cities such as Detroit – once a major economic powerhouse for the nation – went bankrupt in 2013. Millions of workers have lost their jobs or have taken lower-paid employment.

The story of George and his family continues;

If there was any mercy in George’s death, it was that when it came, it was immediate. But in the weeks leading to it, there was much that was preventable.

When a persistent cough started nagging, he put it down to smoking. When the hacking began, a doctor’s charges and medicine costs were off-putting.

Finally, coughing and unable to breathe, he asked friends to take him to hospital. Some laughed it off as another prank.

“We didn’t find out he was sick until he’d been in hospital for three days,” Doris says. “We found out on Facebook.”

George had pneumonia. As he lay in a coma, the family assumed he was insured through his job and contacted his employer. Low-wage workers rely on employer-provided health care, or they go without.

“Applebee’s said he wasn’t eligible for insurance until next January, even though he’d been working there a year and a half,” Sherry said.

Frequent visits from the hospital’s “financial people” compounded their stress.

The family believe that if George had medical insurance, the hospital would have let him stay. Tests revealed he had an abnormal swelling in a heart blood vessel. Corrective surgery was scheduled for November 1, but the hospital sent him home.

“He was sent home with no medication,” Sherry says. “He couldn’t walk, his feet were still swollen. He tried to stand and he fell over.”

Private health insurance costs thousands of dollars a year in the US. Even the much-vaunted Obamacare seems to miss its targets.

“At first I thought Obamacare would be a good idea,” Doris says. “When they told me the price, $57 a week — it was $57 I didn’t have in the first place.”

The family has always voted Democrat. But this time it’s different. With worries about jobs, and living in quiet despair, the Republican candidate is winning her over.

George Tabor’s family was not alone. There were millions of George Tabor Families throughout the United States. And they were no longer listening to the political establishment.

In a moment of prescience, Billionaire investor Warren Buffett warned;

Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal with our country’s fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into hopelessness. That feeling can create its own reality.

Buffett wrote his words in August, 2011.

Since the late 1970s, both Republican and Democrat parties have failed to address the growing threat to Middle Class stability, and to Working Class aspirations in the US. Both parties had deserted their constituents, leaving people stressed, desperate, and fearful.

The forces of globalisation/neo-liberalism/free market has robbed millions of American families of what they considered their birthright – a high standard of living unparalleled in the world, and opportunities for their children.

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There was a vacuum left by the political establishment, and Donald Trump shrewdly colonised that space. Trump had created the new “reality” that Buffett warned us about.

The feeling of desperation and alienation from both Working and Middle classes is now so palpable that mainstream media are finally coming to terms with that disaffection and understand what constituted the almost-irresistable force that propelled an ego-driven, political novice to the  White House.

Despite Trump being a seriously flawed, undisciplined individual who has alienated large numbers of American voters; women, blacks, Hispanics, LGBT, disabled – I think we all underestimated the anger of the Masses that Trump was feeding off.

I glimpsed a miniscule fraction of that anger last week when I watched ‘Sixty Minutes‘. A journalist was talking to five disaffected blue-collar workers in Ohio.

These were supposedly Democrat-voting, Union-loyal, workers.

But at least three openly declared their intention to vote for Trump (story starts at 25:12);

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It was at that point that I finally understood what inexorable force was propelling a bloated billionaire to the most powerful position on this planet.

As former Republican Party operative, Mike Lofgren, wrote in September 2011;

It should have been evident to clear-eyed observers that the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe. This trend has several implications, none of them pleasant.

[…]

What do the Democrats offer these people? Essentially nothing. Democratic Leadership Council-style “centrist” Democrats were among the biggest promoters of disastrous trade deals in the 1990s that outsourced jobs abroad: NAFTA, World Trade Organization, permanent most-favored-nation status for China. At the same time, the identity politics/lifestyle wing of the Democratic Party was seen as a too illegal immigrant-friendly by downscaled and outsourced whites.

While Democrats temporized, or even dismissed the fears of the white working class as racist or nativist, Republicans went to work.

Lofgren‘s entire piece is worthwhile reading.

So the ground was fertile for someone who would supposedly articulate the feelings of betrayal and loss for millions of disaffected, confused, resentful Americans.

People are pissed off, and they ain’t going to take it any more. They are fighting back. Like their British counter-parts during the “Bexit/EU” referendum, a considerable segment of American voters lashed out at “The Establishment”. It’s as if millions of Americans suddenly woke up, realising the supreme power of their vote.

The system could take away their jobs; their standard of living; their aspirations – but their right to vote was cast in granite-stone. Like their right to “bear arms” and casually shoot each other at whim, it was guaranteed by their Constitution.

Early last century, when Russians lashed out at the autocratic Establishment  of the Russian royal family, they installed a far-left  regime, the Bolsheviks.

But Americans don’t do left-wing revolutions.

When Americans revolt en-masse, they lurch to the Right.

In this case, a dangerously nationalistic, reactionary Right that is closer to the French National Front than the US Republican Party. (Though many would assert that the only real difference between the French National Front and the US Republican Party is that the latter is willing to tolerate immigrants for cheap, exploitable labour.)

Those who voted for Trump have done so for a myriad of reasons, many of which are fluid and inter-changeable. They see Trump as someone outside the political Establishment; someone who will be their champion.

But Donald Trump will not be that champion. Demogogues with simplistic answers to complex problems rarely are. History is replete with demagogues who have exploited peoples’ legitimate discontent to  gain power and subsequently wreaked havoc.

If Americans think they have just elected the solution to their problems, they are sadly mistaken.

Their problems have only just begun.

Meanwhile, from a global perspective, the Left is confronted with a serious crisis of confidence: when Working Class people turn to jingoistic demagoguery for solutions, why is our message not getting through?

Perhaps that is the real crisis confronting us.

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References

New York Times: The Limping Middle Class

International Monetary Fund (IMF):  Transcript of a Press Conference on the Conclusion of the 2016 Article IV Consultation Mission with the United States

Youtube: Kansas Tax Cuts –  A Closer Look

Motherjones: Trickle-Down Economics Has Ruined the Kansas Economy

The New Yorker: Covert Operations

CBS News: Kansas loses patience with Gov. Brownback’s tax cuts

Kansas City Star: Gov. Sam Brownback cuts higher education as Kansas tax receipts fall $53 million short

Bloomberg: Kansas Tried Tax Cuts. Its Neighbor Didn’t. Guess Which Worked

Democracy Now: Expanding the Debate – Jill Stein “Debates” Clinton & Trump in Democracy Now! Special – Part 1

NZ Kindergartens Inc: Funding cuts take effect

NBR: Leaked document shows 10 District Health Boards face budget cuts – King

Fairfax media: Police shut 30 stations in effort to combat budget cuts

Radio NZ:  Patients suffering because of surgery waits – surgeon

NZ Family Violence Clearinghouse: Lead up to Budget 2016 – Govt announces funding cuts, increases and reprioritising

Radio NZ: Funds cut from parents-as-teachers scheme

TVNZ News: Kiwi charities and NGOs face closure with impending funding cuts

Radio NZ: Unemployment rises, wage growth subdued

ABC News:US election: Life and death in Georgia and the end of the American Dream

US Census Bureau: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage – 2015

USA Today:  Detroit becomes largest U.S. city to enter bankruptcy

Radio NZ: 10% richest Kiwis own 60% of NZ’s wealth

Truthout: Goodbye to All That – Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult

The New York Times: Stop Coddling the Super-Rich – Warren Buffett

Prime TV: Sixty Minutes

Other Blogposts

Bowalley Road: Clever Strategy vs Desperate Tactics – Hillary Clinton Allows Donald Trump To Survive The Second Presidential Debate.

Bowalley Road: Raising Nixon’s Ghost

Bowalley Road: Why the Greater Good requires Americans to vote for the Lesser Evil – Hillary Clinton

Bowalley Road: The Better Angel: Why Birgitte Nyborg Beats Donald Trump

Gordon Campbell: on the US election home stretch

Kiwipolitico: Social origins of the Politically Absurd

No Right Turn:  This is not what democracy looks like

Public Address: The Long, Strange Trip

The Daily Blog: LaQuisha St Redfern vs Donald Trump

The Daily Blog: The horror of Clinton winning vs the horror of Trump winning – voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil

The Daily Blog: American Demockery

The Daily Blog: The latest Trump/Clinton machinations and why gender is the real societal fault line this election

The Daily Blog: Fear And Loathing Of A Democratic Presidency: Where To For The American Left

The Standard: Trump final campaign ad

The Standard: Donald Trump is good

The Wireless: Uncovering the art of an ugly election

Previous related blogposts

Letter to the editor – Donald Trump and the lessons of history

Dumber and dumber, scarier and scarier

When Fact Follows Fiction – The Weird World of U.S. Politics

Trump – the cultivation of demagoguery

Black Ops from the SIS and FBI?

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38 Comments

  1. esoteric pineapples says:

    “why is our message not getting through?” – because there are a lot of stupid people out there?

    The working class has been voting Republican since Reagan came to power, despite this not being in their own best interests because Republican’s understand that if they appeal to working class people’s prejudices they will always get in. Same with John Key

  2. Castro says:

    Why is the message not getting through? You’ve answered your own question in the article:
    “What do the Democrats offer these people? Essentially nothing. Democratic Leadership Council-style “centrist” Democrats were among the biggest promoters of disastrous trade deals in the 1990s that outsourced jobs abroad: NAFTA, World Trade Organization, permanent most-favored-nation status for China. At the same time, the identity politics/lifestyle wing of the Democratic Party was seen as a too illegal immigrant-friendly by downscaled and outsourced whites; Democrats temporized, or even dismissed the fears of the white working class as racist.”

    Globalisation is a fucking have.

  3. Afewknowthetruth says:

    The western economic system is a subset of the western energy system. Without energy nothing happens.

    Energy is a taboo topic both politically and journalistically because the news is all bad and getting worse by the second.

    Therefore, we are subjected to narratives that do not explain anything but that offer faux explanations in a futile attempt to conceal the reality of our collective energy predicament.

    Britain peaked in coal extraction around 1913. Acquiring Persian oil, then Nigerian oil, and then North Sea oil provided a peak in standard of living in the 1970s. Now that North Sea oil is severely depleted Britain is increasingly dependent of Russian coal, oil and gas and the standard of living is falling rapidly as money-printing is used to pay for imports. Ditto Norway, which is suffering the effects of having an economy which highly dependent on oil income when extraction is falling and prices are low. Norway’s short-term solution to prevent social unrest that would accompany rapidly falling living standards is to raid its sovereign wealth fund, which is falling in value at a phenomenal rate.

    America had so much oil coming out the ground in the late 1800s and early 1900s they didn’t know what to do with it. So the Americans constructed an economy geared to burning oil as quickly as possible. Extraction peaked in 1970 (just as in 1956 M King Hubbert predicted it would) and went into terminal decline, corresponding with the peak in standard of living of Americans in the 1970s -as indicated in the graph ‘The Great Prosperity’ in the article. (By the way, US coal extraction peaked in the 1970s.) Alaskan oil got America off the declining oil hook in the short term, and fracking in recent years amounted to the last desperate -and doomed to failure- attempt to maintain status quo and prop up living standards just a little longer. Operating the ‘petrodollar’ system allows America to continue to live way beyond it means by accumulating ever-increasing debt. Needless to say, the ‘petrodollar’ is on its last legs and could fall over any time, plunging the America standard of living at an even faster rate than it is already falling as a consequence of declining Energy Return On Energy Invested.

    As for NZ, well oil extraction peaked in the late 1980s, slightly after the peak in living standards of the 1970s that was achieved on the back of agricultural exports. Desperation attempts to prop up the NZ economy via fracking have failed, of course, and NZ is increasingly dependent on imports of oil that cannot be sustained for much longer.

    For the moment, international oil prices are severely depressed because numerous nations keep undercutting one another in order to maintain market share and keep SOME money flowing in. One effect of that is that western oil businesses are rapidly going broke:

    http://crudeoilpeak.info/royal-dutch-shells-upstream-earnings-peaked-2008-now-in-the-red

    A rise in international prices to something that remotely represented the actual value of oil -say $200 a barrel- would immediately demolish the global economic system, as would a fall to below $30 a barrel.

    TPTB might be able to keep ‘juggling the chain saws’ for another few years (‘Limits to Growth Revisited’ indicates 2020), after which the whole system is doomed to collapse, causing financial markets to plummet, food shortages, and the biggest drop in standard of living in history.Which would be utterly shocking the bulk of the uninformed general populace.

    The flip side of the fossil-fuel-dependency predicament is that every day industrial nations continue to burn fossil fuels the climate catastrophe is dramatically exacerbated. Atmospheric CO2 is currently 403 ppm and is rising at well over 3 ppm per annum, whilst the ice cover in the Arctic is around 4 standard deviations below normal. Continuing to overheat the Earth will result in collapse of present economic arrangements fairly soon.

    Everything other than energy and the environment is just distraction, Frank.

  4. elle says:

    The main thing Trump has to worry about is the establishment ,the Clintons and the shadow government,who will try to stop Trumps momentum, all three of the above mentioned wont give up controll and power easily.Hillary Clinton vows to keep fighting and she may use dangerous methods to get her way,she is pretty ruthless and self interested.

    • Sally's Husband says:

      Elle, the only “shadow government” is the rightwing establishment. I think you’ll find Trump is part of that set-up. Your obsession with the Clintons is misplaced.

      Blue collar workers will soon discover that they have been conned.

      Frank: best analysis yet, I’ve read!

  5. Steve says:

    A good overview of the evils of idiotic neo-liberal ideology.

    That was what H.Clinton was – an ideologue. The neo-liberalism dripped off her – you could smell it on her breath.

    Trump was – well he wasn’t and ideologue, he was a deal-maker – a guy who looked like he’d talk and cut some benefit both ways.

    All his bluster is just a starting point for a deal – he’ll roll back a little.

    He romped in – I knew he would – and the legacy media is in a fit “how did this happen?” Nothing has proven the legacy media is finished like the Trump victory. They are so out of touch they can’t even feel themselves.

    Finally – I count myself as a “liberal” but even I have had a total gutsful of the dross like Raybon Kan wrote in the Herald today http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11745304

    The kind of “Trump is an immoral choice” – “the sky is falling because everyone is a racist gay-hating sexist now” bullshit. That over-the-top fear mongering didn’t work before the election and it dosen’t work now.

    Look deeper FFS…

    The TPP is dead, war with Russia just took a step back, the sun rose again and each day is a blessing.

  6. Nick says:

    In America we now have an interventionist, if fairly ignorant, President wanting to slash taxes in half, inpose 40% tariffs on Chinese imports and up infrastructure spending (including the famous wall), supported by a weird coalition of small governmenters, laissez-faire, conservative corporates, libertarians, angry working class white people and socio-religious reactionaries.

    Just about the only thing they will be able to agree on is “Lock Her Up”.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  7. George Hendry says:

    Hi Frank 🙂

    Great research as always, good list of funding cuts.

    Trump said he’d cut taxes. Must mean he’ll be doing funding cuts too. But wait…

    If he cuts one, just one, government expense (the military’s overseas wars, more than half the government budget) he could afford to fund everything else and still cut taxes.

    Didn’t he say he’d do that too?

    Jill Stein costed that out. She’s also on record as saying Clinton was a far worse choice than Trump. Why would such a clever, well-motivated person say such a thing?

    Recently in response to me you pointed out that Trump, as well as Clinton, came out in favour of invading Iraq. True.

    Opportunistic comment by Trump, which he lied about later. Agreed – he’s not pure.

    But, in government, Clinton arguably did more than anyone to MAKE IT HAPPEN.

    Surely there’s a great big fat difference there???!!!!!

    We talk of Key’s 26 million flag more than of his 65 million Iraq kowtow. The first one is over with, the second has just been ‘updated’ and set to go on indefinitely.

    Have you read ‘The 100 Most Damaging Wikileaks’? Please consider doing so.

    Please, Frank, pleeease. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Stop shilling for Hillary by default. You really are so much better than that.

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      Trump just managed to get himself voted in, by too many ignorant, which will enable him to allow himself a major tax cut, after he has already paid not a single cent in taxes for 18 years or so.

      The man is not stupid in that regard, he is self serving, and the many idiots that think he will solve their problems, they may have to learn the hard way and have a nasty awakening.

    • Sally's Husband says:

      “Trump said he’d cut taxes. Must mean he’ll be doing funding cuts too. But wait…

      If he cuts one, just one, government expense (the military’s overseas wars, more than half the government budget) he could afford to fund everything else and still cut taxes.”

      Really, George? You think the Republican controlled House of Reps and Senate will allow Trump to cut military spending?? On what planet were you born??

  8. Priss says:

    Excellent assessment as always, Frank.

    Trump’s triumphilism was the consequence of the Democrats moving away from their working class base, and even abandoning the middle classes, in favour of globalisation.

    We’ve seen it happen here in NZ, with traditional Labour supporters no longer voting for the Labour Party.

    This should send the clearest signal possible to the Labour hierarchy, you abandon your grass-roots supporters at your peril!!

  9. Priss says:

    “If he cuts one, just one, government expense (the military’s overseas wars, more than half the government budget) he could afford to fund everything else and still cut taxes. ”

    George, need I remind you that Trump has promised to “rebuild the military”???

    If you think Trump will cut the military budget then you’re naive.

    “Please, Frank, pleeease. Stop shilling for Hillary by default. You really are so much better than that.”

    And shilling for Trump is better, George? Ok, you can stop with the rah-rah bullshit for Trump. You can stop waving your penis around in the air, the bigot won, ok?

  10. ALH84001 says:

    “If he cuts one, just one, government expense (the military’s overseas wars, more than half the government budget) he could afford to fund everything else and still cut taxes. ”

    George, what planet have you been living on?

    This is what Trump promised on military spending –

    =====

    Asking military generals to present a plan within 30 days to defeat and destroy ISIS, immediately after taking office
    Asking Congress to eliminate the defense sequester
    Building an active Army of about 540,000
    Building a Marine Corps based on 36 battalions
    Building a Navy nearing 350 surface ships and submarines
    Building an Air Force of at least 1,200 fighter aircraft
    A new “state-of-the-art” missile defense system

    Trump said that the increase in spending would come from cuts in waste and streamlining bureaucracy.

    Trump’s address came hours before his national security acumen is tested at a “commander in chief” forum on NBC.

    The appearances mark an intense, two-day focus on national security by Trump, who has offered tough rhetoric on America’s challenges abroad but few details.

    “I’m going to make our military so big, so powerful, so strong, that nobody — absolutely nobody — is gonna to mess with us,” Trump says in a 23-second video posted on his campaign website. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/09/07/trump-unveiling-plan-to-boost-us-military.html

    ====

    If Trump is the “peace loving capitalist” you think him to be, why is he planning to ramp up America’s war machine?

    What are his intentions?

    Take a breath, George, and ponder on Trump’s own words. He’s planning something and it doesn’t good good.

    • mary_a says:

      @ ALH84001 .. well said, with overtones of history and a very vicious, nasty history at that.

      Hitler promised the German people … “I will make Germany great again.” He did, abhorrently in fact!

      Trump promises Americans … “I will make America great again.” Question is, how will he go about it?

      Hitler ramped up the German military to regain its power, the reason for which we now know why.

      Trump promises to ramp up the US military war machine, to increase the country’s military might and power. The reason being …???

      Like the German people of the 1930’s, have Americans just elected hate, bigotry, misogyny and ignorance, through desperation?

      Some unsavoury similarities are becoming obvious.

  11. George Hendry says:

    Thank you Priss and ALH84001 for your responses. Sharing views is good.

    Priss –

    You do address what I wrote, and I appreciate that. I agree that Trump is not good, but was trying to point out that Clinton is worse. Not that evidence of that will be found in our MSM.

    Trump is probably bigoted, has ripped off many investors, contractors, casino workers, former Trump University students etc. As he would say, ‘not good’.

    When I admit this, am I still waving my penis in the air (how do you even know I have one), or is it something else this time? 🙂

    ALH84001, may I winge a bit, please ?

    You typed my name twice, the first time with a capital initial because it started a sentence, but the second time without one.

    How demeaning is that ? 🙁

    But thanks for giving informative detail about his military ‘promises’ – we all gain from having more info.

    As a master of saying what people want to hear, he will have made ‘promises’ in order to get elected, which he either doesn’t intend to keep or has little idea how he’ll get it done.

    “Peace loving capitalist”? I agree with you, he probably isn’t. As I recall, no US presidential hopeful has been elected on a platform of ‘less war’.

    ‘What are his intentions?’

    A great question, and while we don’t know the answer, if we read ‘the 100 most damaging wikileaks’ we have a fair idea that Clinton’s intent, based on her track record, was at least as dire.

    The point I’m trying to make is that, like our PM, Clinton gets MSM protection, while Trump does not. That is, according to Wikileaks – do you accuse them of shilling for Trump?

  12. Mike in Auckland says:

    Great post, as usual, Frank, thanks for gathering all those reports and publishing them here!

    “Trumpism” is nothing but voicing disapproval and anger, and is only offering some solutions, for most issues that affect Americans, same as New Zealanders, it offers no real solutions.

    Donald Trump got sixty percent of all white votes, and some from American Latinos (ex Cubans and their offspring largely) and even Blacks (those having no more faith in the system), and I presume also Asian Americans (socially conservative, entrepreneurial and anti government).

    His voters where in most numbers casting protest votes, rather than informed votes, similar to the Brexit voters. Many Republicans only voted Trump, because they could not vote for Hillary and the Democrats, for both personal and ideological reasons, but they did in high numbers voted Trump reluctantly.

    Hillary was voted by nearly half of all voters, we need to accept that, and the US population is, similar to New Zealand, a very politically divided nation.

    So we can only read so much into this result. Once people will see what Trump does as President, and how it may not work, how it may cause more division and hatred and social dysfunction, they may have second thoughts.

    I say this again, same as I did re the Brexit vote, we have largely disaffected, poorly informed and partly poorly educated voters cast such votes as the ones who voted Trump. But not all are fitting that category. The motivation is expressing disapproval and anger, and we have the same phenomenon all over Europe and also in some other countries, look at Duterte in the Philippines.

    What is clear is, that people feel they are rather losing than winning under the existing economic and social system and conditions. We have some similarities here in New Zealand, where the government tells us how great they are, and how successful their policies are, but we have near ZERO GDP growth per capita, meaning we are not getting anywhere, really. We had recent stats from Statistics NZ showing how the elderly and beneficiares are much worse hit by inflation and increasing costs to live, which proves the poor are getting poorer and the rich and also many in the upper middle class do rather well.

    Unemployment figures get dressed up under this government, supposedly so low, but the criteria for being unemployed is, that you have no employment if you only work less than an hour a week.

    They talk about benefit increases, for those with kids, but that is a lie also, as most will not get the 25 dollars the government here likes to talk about, due to abatement rules in place, few will even get half of that.

    Remember National’s past tax cuts to income tax, benefiting the better off and higher earners, as GST was increased by 25 percent at the same time, which hits low income earners much more, hence the increased costs and poverty of those on benefits, on fixed incomes, the working poor also.

    We have a government tell us lies about a “better public service”, while in effect they cut services, force people to use phone and online services offering very poor services, while face to face contacts with officials are discouraged.

    And many that end up at WiNZ are pressured into signing any form of contracts, to get off benefits, even contracts with Manpower, breaking the law:
    https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2016/11/09/man-trouble/

    And people get brainwashed by a largely commercial, privately owned, government friendly mainstream media, that fails to report on real issues, and what the poor in the society experience, and rather focus on crime, court cases, the weather, sports, celeb news, on government press releases, and what is “wrong” with the opposition, citing also polls that mislead, as they never mention the undecided or non voters.

    With endless lies and manipulation, little transparency (they changed the OIA to enable Ministers and Officials to refuse info re advice given to bureaucrats and so), an underfunded Ombudsmen Office, cuts to legal aid (thus disabling many to challenge decisions by government and so), and endless other questionable, if not unjust measures, the government gets away with almost murder.

    We have fertile ground here for “Trumpism” to spread and develop, we can easily have a backlash also rather sooner than later, given the fact this country is sold home by home, farm by farm and business to business to wealthy foreigners, some dressed up as new permanent residents setting up a business here.

    In Auckland New Zealanders are already a tenant in their own country, the rest of NZ Inc has not experienced this yet, and his yet to see the writing on the wall. In Auckland the overly casual JAFAS let this happen, and some idiots still think such liberal and tolerant attitude as many have is the better way, but once they realise they are tenants in their own land, and have to pay high rents and housing prices to make others rich, they may one day wake up.

    I do not welcome the win of Trump, but the ones who voted him had their reasons, they have also been fed “news” by BS media and lied to too often, hence they no longer trust and uphold the system. But without a responsible and more fair government, they will only end up with more laws of the jungle and fight each other, and that is what will happen in the US. Victim blaming will become the rule under Trump, same as following hard line policies, and division and so forth. We may even have a major war coming up, with a hard to control man like Trump.

    But it will not be the first time that populists won and dragged their people into disaster, Hitler may not be a good comparison, but nevertheless comes to mind.

    Those that celebrate Trump’s victory should think carefully, protests could be expressed in different ways, I wish we had Sanders stand and win, we would have had a better outcome.

    Clinton was too unvotable for too many, but the lesser evil now has given way for the greater evil, I fear, we will look at next year with great worry, that is many of us. New Zealand will not gain anything through this win, even-though Winston Peters seems to celebrate the occasion, sensing an opportunity.

    But the government has to worry the most, their policies of free trade for trade’s sake, and thus benefiting corporations and rich, they will be losing soon. Trump has no time to offer NZ farmers more imports into the US.

  13. Blake says:

    Thanks again Frank – great work.

  14. Mike in Auckland says:

    When you have a dumbed down population, and the media not doing their job, the political class favouring the rich and business interests, and many not learning what it means to be a citizen, as the very idea of a citizen driven society, then you get what has just happened in the good old USA.

    Sadly Niu Zilliland is not that different, really, except perhaps the Americans obsession with gun ownership and rights, and a few other things. We are in for similar phenomenon, and the internet does not make people any smarter, when poor quality, biased and misinforming content is taking over.

    We should all be very, very worried.

  15. Nitrium Nitrium says:

    Finally a solid analysis of the Trump result on this website. Bomber has been mostly spouting non-researched knee-jerk reactionary garbage. Although you didn’t mention anything on just how toxic (as in nuclear waste) “brand Clinton” is for many Americans (especially Republicans, but also Bernie voters). It’s at least as important as the disenfranchised voter.

  16. cagey says:

    The trouble was – our Left message WAS getting through BUT was over ruled by the party which was supposed to be carrying it. IF the DNC had not colluded against Bernie Sanders and run a fair primary instead of deciding well before hand that he would never get in and Hillary was the way then maybe they might have been a chance against Trump’s snake oil – in fact there probably would be a President Sanders now.

    Also you can’t bypass the fact of the massive amount of a boost that came from the MSM recording his every word ( backed up by the words of the CBS chairman “Its not good for the country but great for us” said earlier this year ).

  17. Mike in Auckland says:

    The lesser evil does not look so lesser after all:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sbT3_9dJY4

  18. It’s late, I should be asleep, I find myself scrolling through the standards US Election Day discussion and fuck these guys are deep in the forest believing there own bûllshît. The mods where so busy suppressing any suggestions Clinton will lose. Denying what every American new. If you had of asked any one who visited the US they would have told you the Clinton ground game is a myth. There are trump signs everywhere but the mods suppressed the truth which left them all in a bubble of make believe.

    There are rediculous mod decries that allegations of Pedesta pedaphilia are false even though Wikileaks emails are linked. Then mods oking even fringier links saying Podesta isn’t even though he was escorting Bill Clinton to a billionaires pedophile mansion. I mean WTF are these people not grown up?

    It’s time to have a good honest look at the state of the left and rebuild.

    https://thestandard.org.nz/us-election-day-discussion-post-91116/#comments

  19. Sheepdog says:

    LIBERALISM IS DEAD. LONG LIVE SOCIALISM.

  20. Glenn says:

    The world is in an uncertain state and folk who would have been considered rank outsiders are now being elected to governments and leadership around the world.
    Europe next year is due to move to the extreme right with Le Pen, Wilder and many others biding their time to take power.
    Nothing is certain.
    While I definitely don’t consider him extreme I think Winston will benefit next year because of this instability and because many of the left will desert Labour.

    • Bruh. I made a similar rant during the lead up to the 2014 elections warning everyone that your to angry, your blocking to many of your own supporters. 2 years later the left haven’t learnt shit. It’s time for people like Garreth Morgan to take back the progressive platform

  21. bert says:

    This election, I believe, was won on one on one very simple and very clever tool. Marketing.
    Whilst the Clinton campaign made personal attacks on Trump e.g. words like “dangerous” and “evil”, Trumps campaign used more direct terms like Crooked” and “make America great again”. Now if you are told that someone is “crooked”, immediately you think untrustworthy. If you think someone is “dangerous”, you ask yourself why?

    So to hear the line “make America great again”, implies America is a poor place to live.

    As an American political analyst noted, “what would you buy, a red t-shirt or a cap with Make “America great again” or “Hillary 2016”
    ? I know which one I’d buy.
    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have much time for either of them but based purely on marketing and advertising and the ability to tap into the area of the brain that responds to stimulus, Trumps team was outstanding.

    • Strypey says:

      Exactly. Marketing is psychological combat. Since we don’t have an army of paid PR spindoctors, we must read some Sun Tzu, and become masters of psychological Aikido. I really hope the opposition can do this over the next year.

      National’s great strength is the bizarre but undeniable personal appeal of John Key. Little, for all his valuable experience as a union leader, does not have this “beers around the BBQ” image, and trying to cultivate it will make him look fake and desperate. National will do everything in their power to focus the electorates attention on the superficial qualities of the two leaders in a US Presidential style election.

      If an opposition coalition is to take power from National, we must avoid the temptation to attack Key. If pointing out the manifold failings of Key as a political leader was going to work, it would have done so by now. Instead, it just makes those who already sympathize with him feel sorry for him and support him more, political warts and all. The more we fight the tar baby, the more entrapped we become in its power.

      National’s Achilles heel is their lack of viable coalition partners. They will try to distract from this by once again lampooning the opposition parties as a multi-headed monster, rowing the same boat in different directions. To win the election, the opposition must win the argument that diversity is a strength, not a weakness. That robust debate produces better policy, not name-calling and splits. That despite differences in values and policy detail, the opposition shares an understanding about the disease rotting out country (neo-liberalism), and shares a post-neo-liberal vision for a fairer, more abundant Aotearoa. If we expect the electorate to believe this, we have to actually model it, from now on.

      • Mike in Auckland says:

        A man in Key will strongly dislike being ignored, and see opposition leaders challenge each of his ministers for their failures. Key is an attention loving man, and as long as people flock around him, he thrives. Deny him attention, and he will suffer. So you may have a good point there.

  22. […] blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 10 November […]

  23. […] The seductiveness of Trumpism […]


 
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