2020: The History That Was – Part 1

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2020 to 2021

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American Burlesque

As I write this (Wednesday evening, 6 January), the US Presidential election is all but resolved, confirming Joe Biden as the next President of the (Dis-)United State of America. Trump’s turbulent political career has lasted just four years – one of the few single-term US presidents in recent history.

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Trump’s failure to secure a second term has come as a result of his erratic, divisive, and controversial behaviour; his apparent reluctance to condemn far-right militants; alleged corruption, and his disastrous inaction to control the covid19 pandemic that – at time of writing – has claimed 354,000 American lives out of 21 million cases.

The Presidential election results have taken much longer to resolve with narrow margins separating Trump and Biden. Far from a “blue wave” of total repudiation that many –  myself included – expected, surprisingly just under half of voters still cast their ballot for the Republican incumbent.

America has barely dodged the fascist bullet – this time.

But the underlying causes that created the fertile ground for a vacuous, reactionary, lying, corrupt narcissist like Donald Trump still exist.

Make no mistake, free trade agreements – the cornerstone of the Neo-liberal Experiment – still export jobs from the United States to low-wage nations like China, Vietnam, India, etc. The same has occurred in other western nations, including our own Aotearoa New Zealand.

Globalisation – one of the mainstays of neo-liberalism (the others being de-regulation, tax cuts, and privatisation) began in earnest in the 1980s with Thatcherism in the UK, and Reaganomics in the United States.

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Thatcher and Reagan - neoliberal acolytes (2)
Thatcher and Reagan – Apostles of the neo-liberal “revolution”

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Check your shoes: they almost certainly originate from China. As do the clothes you are wearing. Or the electronic devices in your home. Probably even the peanut butter in your pantry (unless its “Sanitarium”, “Pics”, etc).

In the United States, once high-paying jobs, industries, and services have been “exported” to low-wage societies. Manufactured goods from those same industries are then re-imported into the US to sell to American consumers.

Unfortunately, as those high-paying jobs – especially in the “rust belt” states – vanished, so did workers’ spending power. Meanwhile, corporate profits increased, leading to higher shareholder’s dividends and share buybacks. The much-vaunted, promised rewards of trickle-down economic theory never eventuated, except for a privileged few.

Writing for Investopedia, Will Kenton and Charles Potters point out;

Trickle-down policies typically increase wealth and advantages for the already wealthy few. Although trickle-down theorists argue that putting more money in the hands of the wealthy and corporations promotes spending and free-market capitalism, ironically, it does so with government intervention. Questions arise such as, which industries receive subsidies and which ones don’t? And, how much growth is directly attributable to trickle-down policies?

Critics argue that the added benefits the wealthy receive can distort the economic structure. Lower income earners don’t receive a tax cut adding to the growing income inequality in the country. Many economists believe that cutting taxes for the poor and working families does more for an economy because they’ll spend the money since they need the extra income. A tax cut for a corporation might go to stock buybacks while wealthy earners might save the extra income instead of spending it. Neither does much for economic growth, critics argue.

This has led to a steadily widening chasm between worker’s wages and corporate profits, with the trend accelerating from the 1980s onwards. As this graph, constructed by Robert B. Reich, Thomas Piketty, and Emmanuel Saez demonstrates;

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The Great Prosperity, The Great Recession
The Great Prosperity, The Great Recession

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The worsening trend continues unabated;

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The gap between productivity and a typical worker’s compensation

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Meanwhile, unsurprisingly, corporate profits continue to soar. When comparing Employee Compensation/GNP with Corporate Profits/GNP, the disparity is glaring;

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Corporate-Profit-Margins-and-Employee-Compensation-Q2

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Note where recessions are marked with gray columns. Note how the immediate consequence of each recession – on the main – are wages down and corporate profits up.

Similar infographics abound throughout the internet.

As Erik Sherman writing for Forbes.com put it succinctly;

“…every financial crisis somehow manages to become an additional upward transfer of wealth. At least it isn’t the downward transfer that so many fear from a coming “socialism” that never arrives.”

Yes, socialism. The great bogeyman of American politics, as current Republican senatorial candidate, Kelly Loeffler recently “warned” her countrymen and women on the Georgian campaign trail;

“We’ve got to hold the line. We’re the firewall to stopping socialism in America.”

Except… Trump is not in office to serve the common wage-earning man and woman. His policies have continued to enrich corporations and the wealth of the top 1%;

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US billionaires got richer

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As Ben Steverman wrote in the above article;

Millionaires and billionaires had far more to celebrate. A Republican overhaul of the tax code left wealthy investors and corporations paying lower overall tax rates than most working professionals. It’s also never been easier to avoid the U.S. estate and gift tax, and pass on wealth to heirs. When Covid-19 hit, the Treasury and Federal Reserve propped up markets, primarily benefiting the top 1%, who own the majority of stocks held by U.S. households.

Rex Nutting, writing for “Marketwatch“, was even more blunt;

With unemployment still in the stratosphere, wages and salaries are depressed. Fewer people are working, and the ones who are working aren’t getting raises. According to separate report released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, wages in the private sector have increased just 1.7% in the past year, only half as fast as prices have been rising.

So Friday’s news is grim, but it’s not really news, is it? Everybody knows the fight is fixed, as the poet has sung. “The poor stay poor and the rich stay rich. That’s how it goes, everybody knows.”

And that, readers, is at the core of the social crisis that allowed a corrupt, amoral, semi-intelligent human being like Trump to be elected; “Everybody knows the fight is fixedThat’s how it goes, everybody knows“.

74,223,251 Americans certainly know it and were prepared to vote for a man many acknowledged as deeply flawed and repellent to them.

The rage from Trump supporters is not on their President’s behalf. It is a deep rage that “the fight is fixed” and even the power of their vote appears insufficient to change the system and improve their lot. The slogan “Stop the Steal” is ubiquitous at Trump rallies.

Of all the analysts who have examined how a parody of a human being could be elected to be a parody of a US President, American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges‘ insights are worth considering. He has looked into the soul and psyche of his country and his findings are troubling.

As he recently pointed out with brutal crystal clarity;

“The physical and moral decay of the United States and the malaise it has spawned have predictable results. We have seen in varying forms the consequences of social and political collapse during the twilight of the Greek and Roman empires, the Ottoman and Hapsburg empires, Tsarist Russia, Weimar Germany and the former Yugoslavia. Voices from the past, Aristotle, Cicero, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Joseph Roth and Milovan Djilas, warned us. But blinded by self-delusion and hubris, as if we are somehow exempt from human experience and human nature, we refuse to listen. 

The United States is a shadow of itself. It squanders its resources in futile military adventurism, a symptom of all empires in decay as they attempt to restore a lost hegemony by force. Vietnam. Afghanistan. Iraq. Syria. Libya. Tens of millions of lives wrecked. Failed states. Enraged fanatics. There are 1.8 billion Muslims in the world, 24 percent of the global population, and we have turned virtually all of them into our enemies.”

As the empire wanes;

“The virtues we argue we have a right to impose by force on others — human rights, democracy, the free market, the rule of law and personal freedoms — are mocked at home where grotesque levels of social inequality and austerity programs have impoverished most of the public, destroyed democratic institutions, including Congress, the courts and the press, and created militarized forces of internal occupation that carry out wholesale surveillance of the public, run the largest prison system in the world and gun down unarmed citizens in the streets with impunity.

The American burlesque, darkly humorous with its absurdities of Donald Trump, fake ballot boxes, conspiracy theorists who believe the deep state and Hollywood run a massive child sex trafficking ring, Christian fascists that place their faith in magic Jesus and teach creationism as science in our schools, ten hour long voting lines in states such as Georgia, militia members planning to kidnap the governors of Michigan and Virginia and start a civil war, is also ominous, especially as we ignore the accelerating ecocide…

…I speak to you in Troy, New York, once the second largest producer of iron in the country after Pittsburgh. It was an industrial hub for the garment industry, a center for the production of shirts, shirtwaists, collars, and cuffs, and was once home to foundries that made bells to firms that crafted precision instruments. All that is gone, of course, leaving behind the post-industrial decay, the urban blight and the shattered lives and despair that are sadly familiar in most cities in the United States.

It is this despair that is killing us. It eats into the social fabric, rupturing social bonds, and manifests itself in an array of self-destructive and aggressive pathologies. It fosters what the anthropologist Roger Lancaster calls “poisoned solidarity,” the communal intoxication forged from the negative energies of fear, suspicion, envy and the lust for vengeance and violence. Nations in terminal decline embrace, as Sigmund Freud understood, the death instinct. No longer sustained by the comforting illusion of inevitable human progress, they lose the only antidote to nihilism. No longer able to build, they confuse destruction with creation. They descend into an atavistic savagery, something not only Freud but Joseph Conrad and Primo Levi knew lurks beneath the thin veneer of civilized society. Reason does not guide our lives. Reason, as Schopenhauer puts it, echoing Hume, is the hard-pressed servant of the will.”

Chris Hedges understands the problem will not go away;

“Those overwhelmed by despair seek magical salvations, whether in crisis cults, such as the Christian Right, or demagogues such as Trump, or rage-filled militias that see violence as a cleansing agent. As long as these dark pathologies are allowed to fester and grow–and the Democratic Party has made it clear it will not enact the kinds of radical social reforms that will curb these pathologies–the United States will continue its march towards disintegration and social upheaval. Removing Trump will neither halt nor slow the descent.”

And therein lies the problem; the essential crisis confronting us, but which few have considered.

Trump is but a symptom of the decay of the United States.  As with the rise of the Nazi Party in the 1920s and 1930s, with social and economic upheavals brought on by the Great Depression; high levels of unemployment; defeat in World War One with humiliating loss of national pride, and punitive Treaty of Versailles demands – likewise Trump is the culmination of decades of corruption; political self interest; rising poverty and inequality, and worsening social and economic stresses.

The very fabric of American society is unravelling – and we are watching the spectacle in Real Time.

The election of Joe Biden will not make the poisoned soil that spawned Trump go away. Far from it, this is but a momentary respite.

Trump ended his political career and torpedoed his chances of a second term only because of a lack of self-awareness; self-discipline; and intelligence. He was an unsophisticated, ill-mannered, man-child trying to fill an adult’s shoes.

His successor, Trump 2.0, will likely have none of his obvious weaknesses.

The next Trump 2.0 will be less Chaplainesque and more shrewdly subtle at manipulating the American public at doing his bidding. If Trump could convince 74,223,251 Americans that he was fit for the most powerful role in the world – what could a competant, credible authoritarian figure achieve?

It is worth recalling that the US President who enacted neo-liberalism, minimal government, de-regulation, and globalisation was Ronald Reagan – a Republican.

The US President, who railed against neo-liberalism and globalisation, was Donald Trump – also a Republican.

The first offered neo-liberalism as a  “solution” to America’s ills.

Twentyseven years later, his successor offered a “solution” to the ills caused by neo-liberalism.

What will the next Republican president offer as a “solution” to Trumpism?

If Donald J. Trump 1.0 was the prototype, the next upgrade is already on its way. And the fertile ground of discontent has been well prepared.

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References

Wikipedia: 2020 United States presidential election

CNN: Trump condemns ‘all White supremacists’ after refusing to do so at presidential debate

Republic Report: Ten Reasons Trump is the Most Corrupt President in U.S. History

Wikipedia: Thatcherism

Investopedia: Reaganomics

Investopedia: Share Re-purchase (buy-back)

Investopedia: Trickle Down Theory

New York Times: The Great Prosperity, The Great Recession

The Economic Policy Institute: The Productivity–Pay Gap

Naked Capitalism: Corporate Profit Margins vs. Wages in One Disturbing Chart

Forbes.com:  Corporate Profits Skyrocket As Post-Holidays Look Grim For Millions

NBC News:  Trump throws grenades into high-stakes Georgia Senate runoffs in final stretch

Bloomberg Wealth:  U.S. Billionaires Got $1 Trillion Richer During Trump’s Term

Marketwatch: Corporate profits’ share of pie most in 60 years

The Atlantic: Why People Who Hate Trump Stick With Him

Wikipedia: Chris Hedges

Youtube: Chris Hedges – The Politics of Cultural Despair (transcript: Scheerpost)

Additional

Bellingcat: The Making of QAnon: A Crowdsourced Conspiracy

Feminist Giant: Feminist Killjoy Here To Wreck Your Parties

Washington Post:  Federal judge rejects GOP request to intervene in Clark County ballot-processing

Youtube:  President-Elect Joe Biden & Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris Address the Nation

Previous related blogposts

The seductiveness of Trumpism

The Rise of Great Leader Trump

The Sweet’n’Sour Deliciousness of Irony: Russia accused of meddling in US Election

Trump escalates, Putin congratulates

Trumpwatch: Voter fraud, Presidential delusions, and Fox News

Trumpwatch: Muslims, mandates, and moral courage

Trumpwatch: The Drum(pf)s of War

Trumpwatch: “… then they came for the LGBT”

Trumpwatch: How Elon Musk can overcome Trump’s climate-change obstinacy

Trumpwatch: One minute closer to midnight on the Doomsday Clock

Trumpwatch: What’s a few more nails in the planet’s coffin?

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the rise of the swastika

Acknowledgement: Mr Fish

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This blogpost will be re-published in five days on “Frankly Speaking“. Reader’s comments may be left here (The Daily Blog) or there (Frankly Speaking).

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= fs =

22 COMMENTS

  1. The other leading nation in the promotion of neoliberalism -Britain- is also in dire straits as a consequence of neoliberalism and having an incompetent ‘idiot’ at the top.

    Both nations are still quite good at making weapons of war, though have been surpassed by other nations in that field too.

    What’s left? An overheated planet (and being made hotter by the idiots in charge) in the midst of a resource crisis, an economic crisis, a population overshoot crisis and an environmental crisis.

    Much change is in the pipeline. Most won’t like it.

    • Indeed, AFKTT. Chris Hedges summed it up very well in his talk (referenced above).

      As empires collapse and their hegemony wanes, they turn inward, electing despotic demogogues who present simple “answers” to complex problems; demonise minorities as the cause of social/economic ills; and launch hopeless, expensive wars to regain past “glories”.

      Biden may be but a temporary pause in the process.

      The question is, does the human race have the wherewithal to embrace change – or go for the despotic demogogues?

      • Chris Hedges has been one of my favourite commentators on the dismal state of the US since I discovered him (about 10 years ago).

        Have you read ‘Collapse’ by Jared Diamond? I did about 15 years ago, and recommend it; Diamond points out that societies collapse because they keep doing what fails, usually for cultural reasons.

        In ‘End of Suburbia’ (2006) it was pointed out -by Richard Heinberg I think- that, as the oil crisis worsened it was likely that people would turn to demagogues who promised to restore life to how it was before the energy crisis hit. Exactly what we have witnessed!

        I now very much appreciate the writings of Charles Hugh Smith, who is spot on most of the time when it comes to collapse of human societies. His latest is below.

        However, it is MUST WATCH Albert Bartlett (Arithmetic, Population and Energy) who is ‘king’ because he demonstrates, in easy language, why current economic-social arrangements MUST collapse, for fundamental mathematical reasons.

        CHS:

        ‘…Humans respond to scarcity by assessing who’s getting the biggest pieces of the shrinking pie. When hunger begets desperation, various dynamics are set into motion as those without agency and capital, i.e. political and financial power do whatever they can to get enough to survive while those holding the majority of political and financial power, jockey to maintain or expand their power.

        These dynamics are fluid and prone to non-linear flows in which relatively small actions unleash enormous consequences that are not predictable. If we squint, however, we can discern some repeating patterns in this chaotic swirl:

        1. Private owners of capital (i.e. elites) seek to influence the state to protect / expand their holdings.

        2. The dispossessed / disenfranchised masses seek redress / succor from the state.

        3. The geopolitical balance of power becomes increasingly precarious as competition for control of resources and political power heats up.

        4. The state’s resources are diminished by famine, decline of trade, etc. as pressures from geopolitical rivals, elites and the masses are spiking, reducing the state’s ability to respond to the multiple challenges / overlapping crises.

        5. The overlapping crises reveal and exploit the weaknesses in the political, social and economic structures, and in the competing elites.

        6. Leaders concentrate centralized power in the hands of the few as a coping strategy by reducing the influence of broad-based councils, assemblies, etc. This concentration of power at the expense of the many (including lower-level elites who were accustomed to holding some consequential power) increases resistance of those being cut out of the decision-making and increases the odds of catastrophic errors of judgment in the few at the top.

        7. As the state falters or divides into warring factions, the most powerful elites take control of resources and power from the state, both as a defensive measure and as a means of exploiting the crisis to their own advantage.

        8. Populist leaders arise demanding a fairer distribution of resources and power. The more repressed the masses, the greater the disorder created by this emergence of long-silenced voices.

        9. Each node seeking to defend or expand its share of resources and power projects and amplifies persuasive rhetoric, symbols and beliefs to unify its supporters around deeply held values and aspirations.

        10. With so many loyalties in play–local, regional, linguistic, political, social, religious and economic–each node / faction seeks to decisively cement loyalties by establishing all-or-nothing hard lines via ideologically “pure” rhetoric that demonizes competing factions, effectively dividing the populace into us-and-them camps that leave little middle ground for compromise or negotiation.

        11. In this fevered competition for loyalty and trustworthy followers willing to sacrifice for the faction, leaders view every advance as evidence that compromise is unnecessary as total victory awaits the next “win.”

        12. Given the grievous losses and potentially devastating consequences of competing factions gaining ground, the victors of each battle hasten to take revenge on the losing faction, laying waste and inflicting cruelties that harden the hearts of the surviving losers and inciting their own determination to exact a full measure of revenge when fortunes turn their way.

        13. Only when the land, people and treasure are all exhausted does the promise of total victory fade, and the factions seek some negotiated settlement that leaves whatever power they still have intact lest they lose everything.

        14. The eventual settlement could have been reached in the initial stages of disorder, but the leaders of the factions were too myopic, too confident in their own judgment and power, too greedy for more and too hubris-soaked to appreciate their own weaknesses and the immense pitfalls ahead.

        If you don’t discern any of these dynamics in the present, what are you choosing not to see?

        https://www.oftwominds.com/blogjan21/1641-redux1-21.html

        Far from Biden being a ‘temporary pause in the process’, I think you will find that everything will get rapidly worse under Biden. He is, after all, a crook who has had his snout in the pubic trough for many decades and has ensured that correct polices are NOT implemented but those that enrich the few at the expense of the many have been implemented.

        As far as US politics is concerned, the only question is: which are the bigger crooks? Dems or Republicans? The Dems have been more subtle in their criminality. A bit like National in NZ.

        Undoubtedly the downward trend that has characterised western nations since the 1970s will accelerate over the coming months.

        The key to despotic money=lender-controlled governments maintaining control [in the short term] is to ensure that NONE of the fundamentals are ever publicly discussed. The Adern-Robertson-Little government IS on the ball on that matter. Nothing else, of course. So we will get dragged down by the collapse of the US, Europe, Japan, Australia etc.

        With the financial market distortions increasing by the day, we clearly don’t have long to wait, which is why I press ahead with my own preparations, in a society that is generally oblivious of what is coming very soon.

        • AFKTT
          Preparation can be achieved through careful consideration of possible events so ones mind is prepared.

          But the mind won’t go long without food.

          Preparation for food supply is almost impossible in cities unless a more socialist thread emerges where cooperation for the common good is the over riding mantra.

          Every spare bit of ground could be converted to garden no matter who owns it.
          The best example I can call to mind is what happened in Cuba when the USSR was brought down. Cuba’s oil supply shrank to a tenth and tractors could not be used. People lost weight through starvation but gradually pulled together and exploited public spaces as gardens.
          The organisation was cooperative and the Socialist Govt granted land for growing food to groups who applied.
          Cuba fed itself and benefited by learning about fundamentals, The Power of Community, when they unite..

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhfpmKAEfy4

          You may have a garden but what about the people next door when they are hungry. A community approach is the only workable one. High density dwelling amplifies the problem of too many people relying on limited resources.

          The areas of present commercial gardening are physically removed from the cities so transport will be needed to shift that food regularly to cities and towns.
          The best solution I can see is rail with wood fired steam power that is clean, long lasting and being developed by a young Kiwi without any Govt support as yet. We grow wood.

          https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/94319793/could-steam-bring-back-commuter-rail-in-christchurch.

          The young fella has a website and a growing following.
          Present means of motor vehicle transport have a dead end ahead. Fuel by oil and made to last no more that 10 – 15 years with high tech that will not be serviceable as years roll by.

          Many Asian countries have wisely copied tractors that are decades old, low tech and need little specialised servicing or equipment. There are many tractors in NZ that operate every day because they are 40+ years old and built simply.

          Resilience is not complex but shifting the system to public good is a massive task that will take hardship and a united stand by those who have the most to suffering ahead unless the reins are taken from the corporate raiders.

    • The very recent research is showing that photosynthesis on average works well up to about 18 Deg C then the process ceases and carbon is actually given out.

      This is new information.

      It has been known that the optimum level of photosynthesis does vary with plant species but generally is below 20 Deg C. The recent follow up work on that has shown a somewhat dire result that could help trigger a runaway point.
      Just another unexpected likely outcome of temperature rise.
      Along with increasing methane escape from warming tundra and arctic sea floor.
      Both these events are unstoppable and are operative now at 1 degree plus rise with more to come as the CO2 level at above 414 ppm for Dec 2020 up 2.26 ppm on a year earlier.
      Added to that the predicted longer dry spells also reduce the photosynthesis rates that are unlikely to be compensated for by spells of heavier rainfall.

      The myth that more CO2 will help plants grow is entirely reductionist.

  2. …and the mainstay feature of No Zealand neo-liberalism, importing foreign capital slumlords and foreign slave workers to totally screw over the No Zealand underclass in a pincer movement? *crickets chirping*

  3. Chris Hedges (the same article quoted from, I believe): “We cannot use the word hope if we refuse to face the truth. All hope rooted in self-delusion is fantasy. We must lift the filter from our eyes to see the danger before us. We must heed the warnings of our own prophets. We must destroy the centers of power that lure us and our children, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, to certain doom. The walls, daily, are closing in around us. The radical evil we face is as real under Trump as it will be under Biden. And if this radical evil is not smashed, then the world ahead will be one of torment and mass death.”
    https://scheerpost.com/2020/12/21/chris-hedges-the-great-delusion/

  4. Allow me to explain where you went wrong here:

    In fact Trump was elected to slow down or stop the bleeding of American jobs to China, and the endless dilution of American labour rates by illegal immigration. Considering he was only in office four years and spent most of that time fending off attacks ‘lawfare’ attacks by Democrats, he did remarkably well. Black and Hispanic employment were at record highs and for the first time in several decades labour rates were rising because he helped staunch the flow of illegals coming over the border. His tightening of trade policies against China bear witness to this.

    The true left have not yet realized he was their natural ally.

    So who are his opponents in the Democrat Party (plus elements in the Republican Party)?

    They are ALL shills for big business – Biden himself was sponsored for decades by the credit card companies to prevent usury laws being enacted against them.

    They’re heavily invested in trade with China. This includes the social media giants who want to see their natural monopolies maintained and who do business with China, software giants that want to see an increased flow of H1B visas to reduce IT wages in the US, Hollywood (which is already partly owned by the Chinese) and relies on Chinese viewers, sports franchises like the NBA who rely on Chinese viewers, The Walton family who own Walmart and rely on cheap Chinese goods from China. All the media in the US except Fox is owned and controlled by these big corporations. For example Jeff Bezos owns the NY Times

    The proof is in Biden’s administration appointments: They ALL corporate lobbyists

    The Democrat Party is the party of the slave owning southern confederacy. It is the party of the KKK and the Jim Crow laws.

    You’ve just fallen for their propaganda is all.

    • @ andru
      You write :
      “The Democrat Party is the party of the slave owning southern confederacy. It is the party of the KKK and the Jim Crow laws.
      You’ve just fallen for their propaganda is all.”
      Sorry but who’s falling for who’s propanganda again…?
      Wikipedia
      1927 Trump’s father Fred Christ Trump.
      “On Memorial Day in 1927, over a thousand Ku Klux Klan members marched in a Queens parade to protest “Native-born Protestant Americans” being “assaulted by Roman Catholic police of New York City.”[20] The 21-year old Trump and six other men were arrested.[21][22] All seven were referred to as “berobed marchers” in the Long Island Daily Press;[21] Trump, detained “on a charge of refusing to disperse from a parade when ordered to do so,” was dismissed.[20][23] Another of the men, arrested on the same charge, was a bystander who had had his foot run over by a police car. According to the police, the five remaining men were certainly Klan members.[24] Multiple newspaper articles on the incident list Trump’s address (in Jamaica, Queens),[21][23] which he is recorded as sharing with his mother in the 1930 census[20] and a 1936 wedding announcement.[21] In September 2015, Boing Boing reproduced the article,[22] and Fred’s son Donald Trump, then a candidate for president of the United States, told The New York Times, “that’s where my grandmother lived and my father, early on.” Then, when asked about the 1927 story, he denied that his father had ever lived at that address, and said the arrest “never happened,” and, “There was nobody charged.”[25]”

      • 10 mins 40 secs for a little more info on donald trumps KKK daddy ,,, https://youtu.be/osOkysoJgcc

        also in the above link ,,,trump and his father used to mock trumps older brother for becoming a airline pilot 35 mins

        racism against jews and blacks 37 mins ,,, and his meanness to people he called fat 52 mins ,,,, trump allegedly gave his first wife a $ 250,000 bonus for each child she bore him 57 mins 30secs etc etc.

        As a property developer and owner Trump would always stiff workers and contractors for their last payment on any contracts 59mins 30 secs,,,

        Ironically Terry Serepisos, NZs minny-me trump, and part of ‘The apprentice’ franchise ,,, also stiffed tradies and contractors in the same way ,,, possibly explaining why he was punched to the ground at Trentham race day https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/serepisos-hit-by-punter-at-races/UAWS3A3W6EWLPDLFAZUSYLQ2RY/
        and had his car vandalized ,,, “Mr Serepisos parked his 2000-model silver XKR8 with the roof down in central Wellington yesterday.
        Twenty minutes later he found someone had carefully poured a one-litre tin of white enamel paint over its immaculate leather seats, dashboard, centre consul and carpets”.

        It is yet to be seen if Trump will crash and burn like his NZ apprentice Terry Septicsos . ,,”In 2011 he was declared bankrupt with debts in excess of $200 million.” https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/119520313/terry-serepisoss-mother-declared-bankrupt

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        Donald trump when saying “Make America Great Again”, is referring to the Reagan years ,,,

        Biden is the closest president to Reagan since Reagan https://youtu.be/Slm5bvO-_5I

        Although the Ritalin or whatever they are giving Biden has seen him perked up a bit and more coherent ,,, however as Martyn has told us ,,such uppers raise the risk of brain bleeds / strokes.

        So I don’t expect Biden to last the distance ,,’Biden Explains Why He Picked Kamala Harris As VP’ https://youtu.be/kN6QD_icRQU

    • Andrew, Trump’s assistance was to corporations with massive tax cuts and tax-payer funded bail outs.

      For example, the 2017 tax cuts favoured big corporations the most;

      “By all accounts, companies poured a hefty portion of the tax windfall into buying back shares, a move designed to at least temporarily boost stock prices, which benefits executives and other large stockholders. And buybacks, evidently unlike bonuses or wage increases, will certainly continue; Goldman Sachs estimates corporations spent a record $770 billion in 2018 on repurchasing stock with their increasing piles of after-tax profits and will increase that to $940 billion this year. Other chunks of the cuts went to dividends or reducing debt. Companies pay for ongoing stock buybacks primarily through after-tax profits that got a boost with the corporate tax cuts.”

      Ref: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/big-businesses-promised-wage-hikes-trump-s-tax-cuts-what-n970081

      So your claim that somehow Trump was enacting policies for the workers is not founded on any evidence. Rhetoric yes, evidence no.

      Even investment – which was touted as a primary benefit from the 2017 tax cuts, has fallen;

      “In fact, last week’s GDP data showed that for the first time since the Great Recession, investment has declined for three straight quarters. Given that boosting business investment was the primary stated goal of the TCJA, this seems like an unambiguous policy failure for working people, benefiting only the rich and corporations.”

      Ref: https://www.epi.org/blog/as-investment-continues-to-decline-the-trump-tax-cuts-remain-nothing-but-a-handout-to-the-rich/

      And rather than employing more workers? This;

      “Eighty-four percent of businesses said they didn’t accelerate hiring because of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which President Donald Trump hailed as “a bill for the middle class and a bill for jobs.” Only 6 percent said they had more hires because of the law and 10 percent said they accelerated investments, according to the survey.

      […]

      Instead companies put much of the money toward stock buybacks rather than investments. Buybacks hit a record $1 trillion in 2018, a nearly 50 percent increase from the year before.”

      Ref: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/economy/making-sense/did-trumps-tax-cuts-boost-hiring-most-companies-say-no

      And if you want to really understand how Trump’s tax cuts gave an almighty kick up workers’ backsides, there’s this little gem;

      “For the wealthy, banks, and other corporations, the tax reform package was considered a lopsided victory given its significant and permanent tax cuts to corporate profits, investment income, estate tax, and more. Financial services companies stood to see huge gains based on the new, lower corporate rate (21%), as well as the more preferable tax treatment of pass-through companies.4 Some banks said their effective tax rate would drop under 21%.

      […]

      The law cut corporate tax rates permanently and individual tax rates temporarily. It permanently removed the individual mandate—a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, which was likely to raise insurance premiums and significantly reduce the number of people with coverage. The highest earners were expected to benefit most from the law, while the lowest earners were believed to pay more in taxes once most individual tax provisions expire after 2025.”

      Ref: https://www.investopedia.com/taxes/trumps-tax-reform-plan-explained/

      So you and your mates below can cut the Trump idolisation BS. It may work on you, but the rest of us see through the crap.

  5. Frank, the neo libs are ahead of you here.

    They realised more than 10 years ago that free trade deals were becoming increasingly hard to push over the line, and were slowly becoming encumbered with restrictions like the EU’s push to remove IDS dispute processes.

    To counter this they have been relentlessly pushing immigration as the solution to all problems. After all, if you can’t offshore to cheaper labour, you might as well bring the cheaper labour back home to you. To do this they have to convince locals that immigration is essential so for the past decade or more we’ve seen several key narratives deployed (unsurprisingly these are common across western neoliberal economies) e.g. how critical immigration is to a country in resolving ‘labour shortages’; how lazy and useless local labour is and how immigrants will do the job; and how immigration leads to economic growth.

    All these discourses are false – in reality immigration is used to drive down wages (e.g. the NZ bus company arguing for bus drivers to be on the ‘skilled migrant’ category because they couldn’t convince NZ’ers to stomach minimum wage for their shitty jobs), has relentlessly driven down per-capita productivity, and caused untold problems with NZ infrastructure like housing and roading.

    Perhaps the neo-libs greatest coup here is that they have managed to indoctrinate old lefties, such as yourself, into this woke view of immigrants as the victims, helping out us poor bumpkin locals. Really, it’s just another tool of manipulation and mechanism to keep the yoke around the neck of the working class.

    • “Perhaps the neo-libs greatest coup here is that they have managed to indoctrinate old lefties, such as yourself…”

      Oi!

      Two things:

      1. I’m way past being “indoctrinated”. Waaaay too stubborn.

      2. Watch the “old” references bucko! I can still climb up a 100-step access to a typical bungalow perched on a typical steep Wellington hillside, without needing to set up Base Camp halfway. (I may be a bit puffed by the time I reach the top, but I blame rarified oxygen at that height…)

      3. Regarding the pillars of neo-liberalism, I’m well aquainted with them and the disastrous effect it has had on peoples lives; social fabric; economic distortions; and political culture. It has led to the rise of populism and we know where that led to a hundred years ago.

      (Ok, that was THREE things. But who’s counting?)

  6. ” The proof is in Biden’s administration appointments: They ALL corporate lobbyists ”
    Yes the stranglehold remains the same and that is why the Democratic party is an oxymoron and abandoned its base like most left wing parties in the western world in favour of corporate bribes. Poor people and the victims of trickle down have been sold out by those who were representative of the working people and their enemies.
    No one except Sanders , Corbyn and others who will take the fight on have a formidable enemy to fight that has infected every facet of of our lives and has been marketed as facets of our democratic freedoms.
    There is just the same corporate overlords controlling supposed left and right choices and supporting those movements like Trumps who promise to make things better without addressing the real causes of the things they promise to change. There is NO left or right it is one and the same with slight variations.
    Frank thank you for your analysis with this post. You can always be relied upon to give a detailed and factual presentation of the evils of neo liberalism.

    • ‘There is just the same corporate overlords controlling supposed left and right choices and supporting those movements like Trumps who promise to make things better without addressing the real causes of the things they promise to change.’

      Absolutely, mosa.

      As I have said many times, the system is a loot-and-pollute system, exploiting the ‘proles’ to do the ‘heavy lifting’, the actual work involved in looting and polluting and transfer of wealth upwards.

      It has been that way since the beginning of civilisation, and only hunter-gatherer societies are truly free. And the ’empire system’ has done its best to exterminate or rehabilitate hunter-gathers; the last of the Bushmen in Southern Africa were rounded up and forced to live in settlement camps 3 or 4 decades ago, and the very last hunter-gathers in South America are being wiped out via ‘development and disease’, leaving only a handful of people in Northern Asia -where ‘the empire’ sees no resources worth extracting at the moment- as truly free.

      The Industrial Revolution increased the rate of looting and polluting enormously, and instigated a multi-generational army of machine slaves, which we were born into and see every day -unless we go to very remote locations.

      Thus we are continually confronted to with reports like this:

      ‘Countries adapting too slowly to climate breakdown, UN warns
      Report says not enough funding is being made available to deal with effects of extreme weather’

      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/14/countries-adapting-too-slowly-to-climate-breakdown-un-warns

      because there is no short-term profit in protecting the environment or even in maintaining the Earth as a planet habitable for humans and other vertebrate species in the future.

      It is clear to me that the looting and polluting and manipulation will continue until the system implodes as a consequence of its inherent defects and contradictions and inefficiencies.

      I believe we are fast approaching that point of implosion. But it is damned hard to pinpoint because the controllers will play every trick they can think of to keep the system running, whatever the long-term damage.

      When the system (fractional Reserve Banking and charging interest on money created out of thin air, plus the looting and polluting and manipulation necessary to keep it all going) does implode, we should expect those with a sense of entitlement to attempt to take far more than their fair share, exactly as Charles Hugh Smith has repeatedly pointed out recently.

      ‘7. As the state falters or divides into warring factions, the most powerful elites take control of resources and power from the state, both as a defensive measure and as a means of exploiting the crisis to their own advantage.’

      https://www.oftwominds.com/blogjan21/1641-redux1-21.html

      Until the system does implode, we should expect the sabotaging of long-term survival by governments everywhere to continue.

  7. Frank, quite a good run down on some of the many aspects of the decline of social responsibility.
    ” If Trump could convince 74,223,251 Americans that he was fit for the most powerful role in the world ”

    It looks more like two evils being offered and angry folk are trying to sort out what they think is the lesser evil of those two options. Bernie probably would have got in as the working poor far out number the rest.

    As wages have declined relative to the rise in costs of living and yet dividends have soared for corporates, then the growing anger and hopelessness has come to the surface with the Occupy Wall Street movement and never gone away but morphed into dozens of protest with increasing protest activity below and above MSM reporting.

    FDR was forced by the powerful Unions and Communist organisations that arose out of the great depression, to listen and if improvements were not made then revolution would occur. The example of Russia and the USSR had the capitalist shaking in their boots.

    So FDR took heed and demanded congress look at increasing the levels of taxation of high incomes with a top rate of 100%, A shocked congress wrangled and came to an uneasy majority agreement to have heavy increases in taxation up to a top level of 94% agreed to.
    With the increase in Govt income several fundamental improvements came in like a pension for the aged, unemployment relief and basic wage levels.
    Government employment creating jobs increased many fold and laid down infrastructure some of which is still there today.

    Most of that has been deliberately broken down since but that is what happens when you have wealthy and corporate power running the show.

    So a change of system is needed particularly in the West where no underlying morality or fairness controls the financially powerful and their collective organisation who stategise to reap the maximum out of the community.
    The poor don’t matter neither does anyone but the top parasites.
    They own the banks, the MSM or control it with their shills ( like RNZ) to keep the public busy in their struggle and not supported by any public media.
    The wealthy business community lobby and get to own what our parliament can agree to. You may have noticed that Grant Robertson gave the banks $31 billion before the govt could put a covid19 packaged in place. That $31 billion flowed into an increase in share prices and fiscal gambling but not into money on the street.

    We are not hearing of a program of change from the govt nor structural provisions to alleviate poverty or share the community generated wealth more equitably. Its two weeks into the new year. Covid19 is temporarily under control and we need to see change happening.
    The government has a range of changes in direction that may not please business but will get support from much of NZ, and build a foundation for a new deal.

    • It looks more like two evils being offered and angry folk are trying to sort out what they think is the lesser evil of those two options. Bernie probably would have got in as the working poor far out number the rest.

      I totally agree, John. Bernie Sanders would have been a fine U.S. President.

      Unfortunately, as I’ve pointed out before, the U.S. doesn’t “do” left-wing revolutions. They’re either traditional right-wing (Reagan, Bush, even Clinton in some respects) or alt-right populist demogogue (Trump). Those in the “center” (Obama, et al) are few and far between.

      The result is workers’ wages being depressed (or jobs exported overseas) whilst corporate profits and shareholders returns skyrocket. Trump latched onto that like a leech on someone’s leg. But did nothing to address these inequalities. In fact, his 2017 tax cuts made them worse.

  8. When we look at the US political environment critically , the word crisis immediately comes to mind. As a counter, society in general offers up those who either volunteer or are encouraged to put their head above the parapet. Whether the individual is driven by decency first and a healthy ego second matters little at first because society craves for our champion to lead us in a better direction. But if over time our champions’ decency/ego ratio changes we struggle to rationalise decisions that are made that seem to deviate inextricably from the strategy. Recently in the US congress an opportunity presented itself where the small progressive arm of the Dem party could apply pressure on the speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi and force a vote on her reelection if she did not bring the M4ALL bill to the floor. Forcing Dem congress members to have their vote recorded would send a message to Americans who have been suffering before and during the pandemic. These progressives aligned closely with Bernie Sanders on all the social issues and in particular M4All. AOC campaigned passionately and aggressively on M4All to unseat the 3rd ranked Joe Crowley. The 14th district of New York that AOC won has a population of over 700,000 and half of that population is Hispanic. Health care is scarce and because of this AOC benefitted enormously from her aggressive stance on M4All through the ballot box. Unfortunately when the opportunity arose, along with her progressive compatriots, they fell into line with “mama bear” Pelosi and the establishment core of the Dem party. M4All did not come to the floor and a corporate donor tool with no connection to the working class of America was given 4 more years as speaker of the house and the immeasurable power that goes with it. The excuses for their actions were weak and did not stand up to the smell test. The PAYGO exemptions that AOC have heralded as a big win, under inspection shows a naivete that Pelosi will always manipulate. So for AOC to make a video, post the capitol uprising using “force the vote” levers, is the height of all hypocrisy. The progressive left has been left reeling by their champions’ succumbing to the party establishment and many have lost credibility especially AOC. The fact is if AOC and her compatriots with their enormous support and popularity could not follow through on M4ALL at the most critical time in US history since WW2 then somebody like Bernie Sanders was never going to be allowed into that room. While the current ideology and mindset prevails change will only come when the people cannot take this fiasco anymore.

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