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$354 More Each Month

That may seem like a lot, or a little, but for the average American worker, it is pretty good. And did you know (I didn’t) that according to Katie Porter, the brilliant Congresswoman with the famous whiteboard, whose figures are almost never even contested, that this additional amount is what the American worker is averaging since the beginning of the Biden Administration? $354 more each month, even allowing for inflation?

Of course not, because the media not only never tells us, but they are obviously engaged in an unceasing disinformation campaign, to make it look like the average American cannot make ends meet, because of inflation, for which they of course blame Biden. Now of course inflation is not ideal, and 7% inflation year over year is too high, even when it is offset by a gain of 5.5% in GDP, which we have. But note that the 7% is compared to a year ago, not rising 7% each month, as is implied. If inflation in the price of food is 7%, that means that a family which spent $800 a month on food a year ago, is now paying $856. But again, even allowing for inflation, the average worker has $354 more at the end of the month.

Porter pointed out that of the G-7 countries, the world’s most advanced economies, none outside of the United States even has reached a positive gain in GDP since the pandemic. I do remember when Trump had one quarter of 4% gain, in his second year, and his people were going wild with celebration, before it sank down to 1.5% or so. But 5.5% under Biden is ignored, or even hidden, by the American media.

The most important factor in someone’s economic situation, is how much money he or she has in pocket each month, with inflation taken into account. $354 means about $4248 more per year. Not a bonanza, but most would take it. A raise of $4,000 in a year is good for most people; and this is on average, so the workers making $30,000 a year might be getting something like a 10% raise, as I assume that the average of $354 skews to a somewhat higher median wage.

This is not nirvana, but it is darn good for most. And yet the media would have you think that people are being submerged by the economy. The Republicans pretend that, and it is a lie. The media is either too obtuse or too deliberately biased against Democrats to tell the truth. I didn’t even know that figure, though I knew that the GDP growth was 5.5%.

Does it not greatly anger one to know that every single day, on virtually every single news show, the story is the “dreadful economy,” and all those people who are furious at Biden for the inflation, and the fact that they cannot make ends meet? Well, the economy is almost never ideal, and we do have further to go. But it is hardly a miserable economy, with unemployment down to 3.9%, job growth this year at 6.3 million, and an average of $354 more a month, allowing for inflation, in the average worker’s pocket.

So we are being duped. We are being sold lies for a certain purpose. This is worse than we have even seen before. This is an iron curtain of falsity. If a Republican wins the White House, will the media make up numbers, hide others, and pretend that the Dear Leader is doing a wonderful job?

If we cannot believe the mainstream media even with things as objective as economic data, then what can we believe them on? How can they live with themselves, the anchors and field reporters, who get on the air every day, and are basically giving us Republican corporate and right-wing propaganda? This is the converse of the upbeat lies told to Iron Curtain citizens, and in Orwell’s “1984.” I don’t think that I am making too much of this.

Porter also noted that if we passed a few of the things in the BBB bills, we would save hundreds of billions of dollars, but that all the focus is on the initial cost. There is Joe Manchin complaining about costs every day, and inflation; and the Republicans put up a bill which says that the government cannot spend anything more on any social program until the rate of inflation is below 4.5%. I well remember when the rate of inflation was low, but wages were completely stagnant, with the average American not getting anywhere financially, but did the media make a big deal out of that? Absolutely not.

For many years, the corporations which owned most but not all of the major newspapers, kept selling their story that government could not spend, that social programs were bankrupting the country; that businesses should be able to have a very low tax rate, because they were the “job creators” which were keeping the country afloat. And that the average people should buy, buy, buy, because that made the economy grow (put more money in the rich businessmen’s pockets). And now we get this same line every hour from every news outlet, and those awful outfits like Axios, The Hill, and Politico, which are all run by right-wing money, but pretend to be neutral observers fascinated by the “horse race” aspect of things.

I would like to see Katie Porter on TV every day, giving the economic facts, and explaining them. Put someone from the other side against her, she will run rings around him. I would actually like to see Adam Schiff and Porter as President and VP, in whatever order, but they are both from California, so they could not be. Some people are going to have to get through to the the average American workers and voters, and tell them the truth. Because the media, with very rare exception, such as Lawrence O’Donnell, who had Porter on his show tonight, is not telling them those truths, and are obviously trying to put the Republicans and their big corporate supporters back in power. And I think that this should be talked about every day, all of it, the facts and the lies.

The Heart of the Matter

(This is actually the title of one of my favorite novels of all time, by Graham Greene, which I am currently reading aloud, and almost at the ending, which one never forgets).

To take many decades of politics and summarize them in one very significant and definitive sentence, “Republicans will do anything to win.” It is hard to put oneself in such a mindset if you did not grow up that way, or if you have psychologically and emotionally developed, often at a very early age, not to be that way. You care about such things as the other person, feelings, ethics, the ultimate consequences. Those are actually seen as vulnerabilities and weaknesses by the people who only want to win right now, and every time.

I have written about this before in various contexts, but there really is nothing else needed to be focused on. Republicans will do anything, whether it is lie, cheat, be hypocritical, change positions, break promises, destroy the entire concept of democracy. Their “hierarchy of values” has one word on the pyramid: WIN. Nothing else matters to them.

They always have a particular place that they want to get to, and then they just make up rationales for it, which have no inherent meaning other than that they said it to advance their position, and mislead people. The actual words in the sentences have no significance, they might as well say, “Gabble goo.” It is just words as placeholders, because they are expected to say something.

One of the most telling examples, though they are myriad, is when Justice Scalia died, which would have seemed to have given the Democratic president the ability to pick the “swing justice.” Faced with that, McConnell simply refused to give Garland a hearing. He knew that Garland would be confirmed, so to “win,” he said some nonsense about, “let the people decide,” which violated 150 years of precedent, but sounded good to his followers. Gabble, gabble.

Then when Ruth Bader Ginsburg died much closer to an election, McConnell made sure to ram through the confirmation of Barrett, not a moderate like Garland, but a rigid radical. What happened to “let the people decide”? He said something about, “when the president’s party also controls the Senate, then the people want him to choose…,” some utter inanity. Lindsey Graham, who said when standing for not giving Garland a hearing, “If it happened the other way, I would say the same thing, quote me on it,” of course turned around and was all for Barrett being rushed through before the election. He said that he was taking the exact opposite position, because Democrats had been mean to Kavanaugh in his hearing. Gabble gibble.

Again, the words have no meaning. There is a Point X that they want to get to, and so they get there. By any means, legal or illegal. They will do absolutely anything. If you doubt this, please note that when they lost the two Senate races in Georgia, they determined to make it impossible to happen again. Each day, any state where they control the legislature, is passing more and more repressive, unconstitutional, and abhorrent bills; closing down voting sites; making it impossible to vote by mail; setting up panels which invalidate signatures of Democratic voters. That wasn’t sure enough, so they are setting up bodies which can overturn the results of any election that the Democrats win.

And they tried to keep Trump in power by overrunning the Capitol, setting up armed barricades, and thus making it impossible to put Biden in office. They drew up false slates of electors, and were going to submit them as valid. Anything to stop the transition, to get the decision to the House, where they controlled more delegations than Democrats did. Bottom line, only goal. Win. If they had to assassinate Biden, they probably would have farmed that out, too, but they thought the other things would work.

Far too many people just want to attribute this to Trump. Oh, Trump was the catalyst, and the personification of Nazi “do whatever is necessary to triumph” philosophy. But there are millions of Republicans who feel that way, and many are in office. Trump just gave them the power and the permission. They have been doing the same kind of thing, minus the violence, in states for decades. If you read about the laws they are passing, you will see it. They are unanimous and relentless in their pursuit of winning and power.

Democrats are simply not like that. A few may be, but not that many. Democrats seek compromise, bipartisanship, treating the other side with respect and fairness. Virtue is its own reward, or something like that. Or, “We value democracy, and so we value working together, and being honorable.” Republicans ignore that, or view it with contempt.

That is where we are, and how we got there. Over and over, Democrats tried to be fair, tried to project their values to the other side. And Republicans took every offer, every unwillingness by Democrats to twist things to their advantage, or to grind them to defeat, as weakness, and as opportunity which they took full advantage of.

That is how we got to 42% of the populace controlling the Senate, That is how we won the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections, and see the Far Right dominating the Supreme Court. If someone from another country or planet tried to understand how this could possibly happen, they could not. What would we say? “Well, they took advantage of loopholes, voting as a rigid group, took control of the media which then would always support their position; confused the voters.” That is not sufficient explanation. That is not enough of an excuse The truth is that Republicans spent all their time figuring out ways to take all meaningful power, while Democrats did not.

Everything that Republicans did in states or in the Congress, could have been anticipated by Democrats and combatted. How it might have all come out, is not known, but it certainly would have been a lot better than where we are now. Just think, Democrats won all those elections, and Republicans are ready to install themselves in permanent power. I don’t know if a science fiction writer could have carried off a story like that.

The crux of the mater is that Democrats were either so unperceptive, or unprescient, or so unwilling to fight their foe on the necessary terms, that they were almost destined to lose. The Eloi are never going to beat the Morlocks, unless the Time Traveller somehow is able to impart his perspective and will to them. The flower children were never going to win, over Nixon’s thugs. Hillary and Kaine were not able to be elected over Trump, Putin, and the totalitarians. It is not a case of Good not being able to defeat Evil, it is about the tactics which each use, how far each is going to go.

If you are playing heads-up poker against someone who will cheat any way he can, you have to stop playing with him. I would occasionally play with some kid who refused to lose at a board game, or playing basketball; calling made-up fouls, knocking the board over; and so you have to stop playing with him. But Democrats cannot stop contesting with Republicans, because to do that is to give up the field to them, and hundreds of millions of people would suffer.

Someone once described a usual Philip Dick science fiction plot as it being like the bottom of the ninth and you are losing. But often the stories would end with some hope, which was gratifying to read. Whatever one believes in for a better ending–a longshot winning, a deus ex machina, the good guys finally finding a way to break the stranglehold–is what we need. Doing it the same way we have been doing it for the last fifty years, will not give us even a partial victory. Surely that should be abundantly obvious by now.