Make America Great Again?

October 28, 2016

MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN,
the motto of the Trump campaign, is seen as an opportunity on the part of their opponents to ask, “WHEN was America great?” The most common response is the 1950s. That response allows the Left to spring their trap, “You mean the decade where the highest marginal tax rate was 98% and the private union participation rate was over 70%?”  But these questions don’t have the desired effect of separating any Trump supporters who might be working class, from the oligarchs (see Jane Meyers book Dark Money), who’s bugaboos are high marginal tax rates and union collective-bargaining. These conservatives respond with their stock answer that American was more moral and godly in that decade (see Thomas Frank’s book What’s the Matter with Kansas). They see this judgment as the reason God blessed the US with economic gains. When this response happens the Lefties usually just shake their heads and wander off. The Trumpers are impervious to facts. But the missed opportunity is to question the true morality and godliness of that time. Was it more moral to violently suppress demands for racial equality? Was it more godly to hide domestic and child-abuse? Was it more moral to treat women as second-class citizens? Was it more godly to cover up for religious pedophiles? Was it more moral to demonize gays? It was a pretty good decade, if you were a White, Christian, adult Male. They may be impervious to facts, but are susceptible to emotional connections. Think lizard brain. America is already Great but can get better for everyone.

Out on a limb.

December 13, 2011

OK, I am going out a limb and predict Obama will win a second term. The question is then,  “what will he do in a second term”,  assuming approximately  the same Congressional split ( a little more Democratic House and a little more Republican Senate). Also assuming the economy has improved just enough to get him back in. Will the GOP just stall and obstruct knowing he’s now a lame duck? Will Harry Reid then take the gloves off, go nuclear, and let a majority move legislation and nominations in the Senate?  Will Obama hold steady (Rope a Dope) for more two years and hope an even better economy and demographics will give him a “mandate” in 2014? Will the ChiComms put a Technocrat in power to satisfy domestic demand for the benefits of the consumer society to take the internal pressure off?  Will there be a worldwide movement to prize the people over the bond market? Will the moneyed interest accept sharing the benefits of technology with displaced workers?  I don’t recall there being a mention of the unemployed on Star Trek, despite replicators and warp drives. While many of my generation wax nostalgic for the 1950’s, I can’t wait for the 2050’s and beyond.

 

Currently Reading: Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome by Anthony Everitt, Jazz  a History of American Music by Geoffrey Ward and Ken Burns.

The Story

August 8, 2011

On a recent weekend I flipped the channel by one of my old favorites, CSPAN-2, or BookTV as it is known  on the weekends. I have drifted away from the channel over the last year or so as it devolved into a right-wing corporate mouthpiece, kinda like Faux, but without commercials or the blondes. Now it is mostly a roosting place for the conservative think-tanks (Heritage Foundation, Manhattan Institute, Hudson Institute, Hoover Institute, AEI, etc.) to pimp their corporate-funded propaganda. I did linger long enough to hear the speaker relate the story of a teenage girl who had gotten pregnant by her boyfriend. Heeding her family and friends advice she went to the clinic. There she was accosted by the self-assured anti-choice zealot intent upon making her change her mind. The teenager went in but had a change of heart and left. The speaker crowed, “End of story.” Now the point of the speaker was for the right-wing leaders to switch from a statistical arguments to  narrative arguments in order to make a deeper connection with the targeted audience. There was an air of envy that the creative types in the past tended to promote a liberal narrative in the arts and on to the mass media. I would posit that the corporate masters long ago learned that creativity can be bought and has gladly served the interests of the powerful to mislead the public. But my central point is that while the right-wing is glad to see a simplistic world of black and white, good and evil, and right vs. wrong, the messy details of reality are to be ignored. In the story of the pregnant girl who will pay the medical costs of carrying the fetus to term and for delivery? What if there are complications? More messy. Who will pay for the infant’s living costs? Who will provide daycare, transportation and education expenses so the girl will be able to gain employment and support her family? More messy. Will the tax exempt religious institutions provide adequate care for those millions?  They didn’t do it before FDR. Do the ends justify the means? Accosting women about a personal matter in the public sphere with screaming condemnation would seem to violate the liberty and the right to be left alone the right-wing propagandists espouse. Maybe they would approve if she resorted to a second amendment solution to being attacked. Just more messy details that spoil “the story”.

 

currently reading The Years of Talking Dangerously by Geoffrey Nunberg, Jazz a history of American Music by Geoffrey Ward and Ken Burns, and Justice Brennan Liberal Champion by Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel.

As a member of the baby boom generation I was amazed at the vision of the future as seen in Disney’s Tomorrowland. In the near future we would be flying in air cars or at least traveling in vehicles that drove themselves. Building on the miracle of penicillin medical science would vanquish infectious diseases; chemicals would end pestilence and let agriculture provide an end to hunger worldwide.  Nuclear reactors would provide the clean energy at a price too low to meter. Automation and robots would finally free humans from drudgery and tedium, allowing us all to purse happiness through arts and science to improve our minds, bodies, and spirit. After all, we never saw anyone mopping the decks of the Starship Enterprise.  This Utopian vision had one fatal flaw that was never revealed. All those manual laborers, be they file clerks or factory workers, would never be simply liberated and supported to follow their muse. No, the vast economic savings would not be shared with them, but rather funneled to wealthy.  In place of this grand future the displaced were now to be given limited unemployment “benefits” while they pursed not happiness, but their next job. The mantra from the political elite became “Retrain Yourself”.  No time for learning nor enlightenment, but only retraining for a job that technology had yet to obsolete. The direction to file clerks was become computer programmers and to factory workers become computer repairmen. Mankind now serving the machine, that stood the future Utopia on its head. No leisure for you, move along.  Unpaid vacations and hope for longer hours to make ends meet. A result of these workers being displaced governments no longer derived revenues from income or sales taxes, while they were expect to provide the “benefits” and the retraining. But that’s a topic for the future.