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      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 14, 2022 by Tony Wikrent The Inflation Reduction Act is Not Designed to Reduce Inflation Benjamin Studebaker [via Naked Capitalism 8-8-2022, also Water Cooler 8-8-2022] “If you actually look at this thing, this legislation only raises $739 billion over the next decade. This means that on average, each year, it only […]
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Rise of the Nones (and other things Democrats should pay attention to but probably won’t)

David Campbell, Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame, gave an interview to Mormon Stories just before the midterm elections. He discussed the rapidly rising number of people, especially Millenials, who chose to not have a religious identification. They’re called Nones. What’s surprising about the Nones is that they are responding to politics when they say they have no religious affiliation. Apparently, they are so disgusted by the religious right and its alliance with the Republican party, and its the socially backwards, environmentally unfriendly policies, that they would rather have no religion at all. In other words, religious Republicans are God’s worst PR nightmare. Well worth a listen. Check it out here.

Other things:

Maybe it’s not clear to the rest of the Democratic party but the primary focus of the Republican party is economic. They don’t like taxes, paying for education for the lower classes, or labor. That whole weekend thing ruined the last century for them. If Americans end up living like factory workers in Bangladesh, what’s that got to do with them?

Democrats are all about saving the planet and moving forward. But there is a rift in the Democratic party. It became painfully clear in 2008 when the party ditched its “old coalition” for the “creative class”. (New readers should go back to the beginning of this blog in January 2008 to see how this happened) Can I stop here and say that to the Masters of the Universe, the designations “old coalition” and “creative class” are meaningless? If you don’t have the money to go to Davos, you don’t count and neither does your Ivy League degree. Sooner or later, you will wear the livery.

So, anyway, I saw on the NYTimes where the Republicans are going to play up this rift. They are going to aggressively push for the Keystone Pipeline and the rollback of EPA regulations. I predict that the “creative class” is going to frrrrreeeeeaaaaak out. Cue the tearing of garments and gnashing of teeth.

Meanwhile, the “old coalition” is suffering from wage stagnation. And before the creative class loses interest in this issue, it should go read Derek Lowe’s blog In the Pipeline about what wages are like for the people who do the real creative innovation in the biotech industry. The finance industry (foolishly) thinks it can hire a bunch of newly minted Harvard post-docs and pay them well to do a bit of lab work before they are shunted into project management where they will direct a bunch of foreign CROs. For this, they will be paid handsomely- at about the same rate as the medicinal chemist with 20+ years of lab experience and an incalculable advantage in actually, you know, getting a project through the research phase. But I digress.

So, there is the rift. And Republicans are going to drive a truck right through it. The most vocal Democrats with the biggest mics are going to be screaming bloodily murder about the pipeline and ignore the wage slaves. That will play directly into Republicans’ hands.

Now, I’m not saying that the pipeline is not important and I am not a climate change denier but what Democrats really, really need are more people who identify with them and care about these issues. And the best way to get no pipeline and better environmental policy is to make sure that those people at the bottom of Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs are satisfied to the level that they can focus on pipelines and climate change. They need to get their heads out of worrying about their paychecks before they can concentrate on the EPA. To do that, the Democrats have got temporarily put their screaming about the environment on hold and focus with laser like intensity on eroding labor standards, wage stagnation and an artificially created unemployment crisis where too many people are on the verge of losing their jobs all the time.

Can they do it? I am optimistic. Just repeat after me: “It’s the economy, Stupid”. Take the power to divide us away from Republicans. Do not stop until you win. THEN shut the pipeline down.

19 Responses

  1. I must admit I’m less optimistic: I’m afraid the Hillary of 2016 will not be the Hillary of 2008, and I fear she has learned the wrong lessons from Obama’s electoral success (admittedly his only kind of success). But we’ll see.

    On that book I keep pushing you to write, would you consider taking on an editor to help turn your blog archive into book form? I do have some qualifications for the job-if interested, feel free to email me to talk about it.

    In any case, thanks for another incisive post.

  2. Well, I would disagree on a few points. Obama didn’t really smash the old coalition because that was more or less gone long ago. What was happening though is the base was expanding with Bill. What Obama did was reductive back to the old Dukakis coalition which due to demographic changes is now enough people to win a presidential election. You’re really going to get a headache on who they’re trying to push now. You’ve got some of the Obama elite pushing Elizabeth Warren. Then you’ve got people like Maddow pushing Claire McCaskill. The New Yorker is pushing Jim Webb. So they’re all trying to take Hillary down once again. That being said I think Elizabeth Warren wants no part of a presidential election so those people are going to have to find someone else to latch onto. Why can’t they just let the voters decide??? The same thing is going on in the GOP. The elites in that party are trying to shove people like Jeb Bush down the throats of the voters but frankly I don’t see it working there. And as far as the keystone pipleine instead of talking about environmentalism how about talking about how it’s just another corporate welfare program like drilling in Alaska has turned out to be? And as far as what the GOP is trying? Good luck with that. Their approval ratings are EVEN WORSE than Obama’s. And can McConnell control the crazies in the party? It’s looking like a big NO with Cruz already out there tweeting insanity. They might accomplish something their so called “bipartisan” junk for the first few months of the year but no one in their right mind believes the circular shooting squad is going to hold off for long in the GOP. You can’t promise to oppose Obama and then produce bipartisan legislation it would seem.

  3. By the way, looking at the Glass Door site, I would be ecstatic to have standard wage for damn secretaries in my redneck area. Hell, I’m 10k/yr down from that and no raise in six years.

    People I know keep trying to calibrate just the right dosage of sedatives to keep us from committing loud, public expressions of outrage.

    • You know, in all honesty the wage decline would not be so bad if the price of everything declined also. But the price of nothing has declined making the wage problem multiplied. I know in my neighborhood not one person benefited from the housing collapse with being able to buy property at a cheap price because everything was snapped up by the megacorps who then turned it into rentals. And the price of groceries etc. has remained the same or even gone up.

  4. Well, on the coalition I disagree. I think the old FDR coalition died back in the 1960’s. However that being said it was changing back into that until Obama came along. Obama really just had the old Dukakis coalition and the demographics in that coalition have become enough to win these days. I’m seeing the same behavior this time around though that they don’t want those “impure” people in the party. I’d wait and see what the GOP actually does. Frankly I don’t see how Mitch gets anything done with the house the way it is comprised. The house is EVEN further right now than they were in 2010 and 2012. There might be some things that get through both houses to Obama but I wouldn’t count on anything.

    • I hope you are right. I hope the House is so consumed with Obama Derangement Syndrome that it won’t co-operate with Obama’s McConnell Republican-Catfood Democrat Coalition in the Senate. Because the Big Things that Obama still wants to achieve are the TTAs ( TPP and TTIP) and cutting Social Security. And the House Republicans want that too. As do the House Catfood Democrats.

      So our only hope over the next two years is if the House Republicans hate Obama so much at a personal level that they deny HIM the victories that he and they both want . . . . just to keep HIM from getting any credit.

      Is there anything we can do to make that happen? Perhaps millions of old New Deal Reactionaries like myself can pretend to be Obama Coalition Creatives and flood the White House with millions of messages demanding that Obama show fairness and consideration to the millions of Undocumented future-Americans already here. And do it NOW! ( If he does, that should raise the hatred level in Tea Partystan to where even the McConnell Republicans might be afraid to challenge it).

      As Spiro Agnew once said . . . ” this country needs a period of positive polarization”.

      • Well, all I can tell you is that the GOP ran on being anti-Obama not anything else. And if they cut social security, that is their own voters. But of course, they’re not going to hurt their own voters. They’re going to come after people like me who are 54 years old. The house republicans do hate Obama that much and the new senators that are going to be coming in swore they wouldn’t even vote for McConnell for majority leader. The tea partiers are going to love the humongous cuts McConnell has planned for Medicare. I really think this whole bipartisan thing is probably going to last as long as the lame duck session but we shall see.

        • Nothing proves the U.S. isn’t a democracy quite like the fact that the “lame duck session” even exists. What sort of “employer” would willingly keep an “employee” on for three full months after he officially gets the sack?

          • Well . . . Constitutional purists would tell you that we are not a democracy and were never supposed to be such. They would tell you that we are a Constitutional Representative Republic, and in structure we indeed are.
            The representation is supposed to be democratic . . . . a Constitutional democratic representative republic . . . but not “too” democratic. “More” democracy began evolving later.
            The lame duck session is indeed constitutionally called for and I believe it would take a constitutional ammendment to delete the lame duck session.

  5. I’m certainly not optimistic about anything good coming out of the next two years, other than massive caves from Obama and like-minded Dems. The ‘legacy’ thing is going to be super-charged in the WH. That Grand Bargain thingie is still standing in the corner like an ugly orphan.

    As for Hillary? I’m waiting for her to come out swinging, which means from my vantage point in the Hinterlands to speak about the experience of ordinary Americans who have not reaped 95% of the economic recovery in the last six years, who are still worried that their children are going to be [or are] worse off than they were/are and whose prospects for the future are pretty grim. Corporations are quite happy to churn their staffs, laying off the older, more experienced worker and bringing in ‘fresh blood’ at considerably lower wages. My husband is on the cusp of one of these churnings, having survived innumerable threats before. This one looks like the end of the road. And ‘fresh bloods?” They’re up to their eyeballs in student debt, so almost any job looks good. It’s the Wild West in employment land. And we ain’t winning. We are the human resources deemed totally expendable. Like the buffalo.

    GA6th is right. Though the inflation index is presumably nada, you wouldn’t know it at the grocery store where packaging continues to shrink while prices tick up. This has been going on for some time.

    The beat goes on.

    • HELP! Could I please be removed from the moderated list. Five years is a long time to spend in Siberia :0).

  6. “What sort of “employer” would willingly keep an “employee” on for three full months after he officially gets the sack?”
    Mine gave my team 60 days notice when we got the axe last year. Yeah, we carefully transitioned to the offshore team to avoid disruption of services. NOT. Management, just like the GOP, wasn’t really sure what their plan of action was. Hadn’t yet defined the new organizational goals or even finalized the selection of the offshore company.

    • My husband was kept on for fifteen months after he got laid off, during which time he had to train three, younger men to take his place.
      Fun times.

    • It’s pretty common in the pharmaceutical industry. It gives employees time to wrap up their projects and transfer the technology to other sites, if that is relevant. (I should mention that my projects were active even after I left. There were project teams that were waiting for our results and terminating us put extra burdens on the teams that had to pick up this work in France. So, I totally get the idea that the executives that made these decisions didn’t really think this through.)
      It’s also intended to give you enough time to find another job but in my case, we signed contracts to keep working until the bitter end and we got very, very busy. Refusing to work would have given them cause to fire and terminate any forthcoming severance bennies.
      I loved my work so it was easy to comply with this. And anyway, EVERYONE in New Jersey was laying off so the field was flooded with a surplus of highly talented, technologically savvy STEM professionals who were also looking for work. So, you know, job networking opportunities were kinda stupid because everyone you knew from every company was on severance or was about to be.

      • Speaking of Big Pharma, welcome to our future.

      • I loved part of my job. I was in IT and had a great relationship with my business clients. So for 60 days I mostly just did the part of the job that I enjoyed – actually doing IT stuff – and totally slacked off on the meaningless status updates and management BS. My clients were happy and I was able to help them prepare for dealing with the new situation by coaching them in the right questions to ask the new folks when applications inevitably broke down. Hoping things worked out for them. I got a generous severance package and am enjoying just goofing off for the first time in decades. Retirement kicks in this spring, so I may just keep goofing off. Still, I’d jump at the chance to have my old job the way it was 15 years ago, before offshoring and the bean counters in management took all the fun out of it.

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