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      by Tony Wikrent North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus Strategic Political Economy Economist Mariana Mazzucato has demonstrated that the real driver of innovation isn’t lone geniuses but state investment. [Wired, via The Big Picture 10-19-19] ….Mazzucato, an Italian-American economist who had spent decades researching the economics of innovation […]
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I wouldn’t count on complacency

Krugman wrote a post on The Political Economy of Permanent Stagnation pointing out that the economy just plods along with high unemployment and sluggishness and people are just getting used to it:

But won’t there be an ever-growing demand from the public for action? Actually, that’s not at all clear. While there is growing “austerity fatigue” in Europe, and this might provoke a crisis, the overwhelming result from U.S. political studies is that the level of unemployment matters hardly at all for elections; all that matters is the rate of change in the months leading up to the election. In other words, high unemployment could become accepted as the new normal, politically as well as in economic analysis.

I guess what I’m saying is that I worry that a more or less permanent depression could end up simply becoming accepted as the way things are, that we could suffer endless, gratuitous suffering, yet the political and policy elite would feel no need to change its ways.

Given that I am sort of *living* the rude awakening from the American Dream and see many people in similar distressing circumstances, I can tell Krugman that there is definitely not complacency out here.  There’s anger, bitterness and resentment.  The resentment is not because we want to be rich or have two or three nice Lexus SUVs and a Pied a Terre in Lower Manhattan.  It’s that some of us can’t afford rent on a small row house in a 70 year old affordable housing development and pay for a health insurance policy on an exchange.

The administration should not get complacent and assume that the great unwashed masses out here have no idea what a raw deal they’re getting with Obamacare.  I am quite surprised at the number of people making a lousy $11/hour at their less than full time jobs who know better than some bloggers exactly how much they’re going to have to pay in taxes and penalties if they can’t afford a policy. I’ve met young healthy guys who can’t afford a doctor and physical therapist to treat their possibly dislocated, inflamed shoulders that they use every day to dig trenches.  They know exactly how the bonus class is screwing them.

All they need is a charismatic, take-no-prisoners, energetic politician to speak for them and there will be plenty of change.  That’s why the moneyed elite will fight back tooth and nail and smear any such politician who challenges it.  That’s why we have Obama.

They’re going to try to run a woman next time.  The Republican campaign against modernity will make her extremely attractive.  I don’t think it will be Hillary for the same reason that Krugman feels that stagnation is something we have gotten used to.  Hillary’s best chance was 2008. Her policy wonkiness, knowledge of the executive branch and vision would have been well suited to tackling the financial collapse and turning back the worst of the Bush policies.  That’s why she didn’t get the nomination in 2008.  The moneyed class didn’t want experience, knowledge and competency.

By the time 2016 rolls around, Republican policies will be more firmly set and it’s going to take someone who is bold enough to shake the foundations to really make a difference and roll back 16 years of stingy conservatism and bad financial and business decisions.  Can she do it?  Sure she could.  But the forces who kept her out in 2008 will either make her kiss their rings, in which case, she’d be useless to us, or they’re going to try to take her out again.  If the establishment Democratic party starts pushing her as their nominee genuinely, I’d have to question how much she’s been co-opted.  She’d almost have to run against her own party.  I haven’t seen that yet and given what a loyal Dem she is, don’t expect to.

Anyway, my point is that there’s plenty of discontent.  The people in charge might want to seriously consider what they’re doing.  The people I’ve been talking to are majorly pissed off right now at their prospects and we’re talking about manual labor all the way to the most educated among us.  A whole swath of Americans of all socio-economic levels are just waiting for a sign.  At this point, I don’t know if it’s going to come from the right or the left but when it happens, it’s going to be big.

One other thing: The bonus class shouldn’t sit on its laurels after the Voting Rights Act was gutted last week.  The discontent has spread so wide now that it is no longer confined to the generational poor and minority voters.

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American Dreamers

Union and Liberty - The American Dream

Union and Liberty - The American Dream

For 230 years, Americans have been united by a simple, common dream that tomorrow will be better than today. The promise of American life, handed on through a dozen generations, rests on this basic bargain: All of us should have the opportunity to live up to our God-given potential, and the responsibility to make the most of it.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, co-author,
Saving The American Dream

What is the American Dream? Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton talk about it and write about it. (Senator Obama’s The Audacity of Hope was subtitled “Reclaiming the American Dream.”) Both candidates appear to assume that we Americans are dreaming the same dream they are.  But I believe that this primary season has shown that the American Dreamers have very different visions of what it means to be a success in America, and that those visions inform their voting habits more than race, sex or religion.


The American Nightmare: Acquisition Overwhelms Responsibility

I Want It Now, Daddy!

I Want It Now, Daddy!

I want the works / I want the whole works
Presents and prizes and sweets and surprises
Of all shapes and sizes
And now
Don’t care how / I want it now
Don’t care how / I want it now

Veruca Salt, “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Part of the American Dream has always been to acquire. We wanted the nice house, the backyard, the kids, the big cars, the promotion. We wanted to show up our neighbors by being the first to have the latest, coolest gadget – from the first TV to the first Wii. But ever since Ronald Reagan started glamorizing greed and telling us that we could buy now and pay never, our dreams of acquisition have turned into nightmares.

We refuse to admit that we have a responsibility towards our neighbors, whether it’s the ones down the street or the ones across the ocean in Old Yurp (they’re either with us, or against us). The madness of the economic and social libertarians has strangled the effectiveness of government (remember Reagan’s “nine most terrifying words?“) so that natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, are made into national tragedies. “Fuck you, I’ve got mine” has become the siren song of the conservative movement, and due to that movement’s almost total control of the corporate media, of much of America. Pardon me for saying so, but I don’t think this is what the Founding Fathers meant by “We, the people.”

The most dedicated Obama supporters are, in my opinion, mainly invested in the Acquisition portion of the American Dream. Obama is the coolest new product on the market, and they  Just. Want. Him. The Obama Rules state that it is our duty to shut up and elect him. Icons like Jesse Jackson stress his blackness as a reason to support him.  Howard Dean is proud not to be a member of “the white Party.” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi appears to think he is a gift from God. Only very recently have high-profile Democrats become concerned that Obama’s shiny packaging might be concealing the candidate’s essential emptiness. Obamans don’t care how – they want him NOW!

But what kind of President would the Senator from Illinois be? That question is rarely asked by Obamans. After all, when you are in an acquisitive frenzy, you don’t often stop to think if buying that awesome Hummer is really the best idea in the long run, or if you really wouldn’t be better off with a dorky, but so much more practical, hybrid minivan. Continue reading