Tag Archives: new america

The headlines show America being dismantled. It’s time to act, not just watch.

Summary:  We can see our future in today’s news headlines. Unless we become more active, our complacency today will create future astonishment — as we pretend surprise when the inevitable arrives. Here are ugly examples from our increasingly dark news. I recommend anger as a good first step.

Seeing the future

Ron Chapple/Getty Images.

I love the New York Times, so often reporting the news but burying the lede. Today’s fun headline is “BlackRock Reaches a Deal for a Move to Hudson Yards“. The real story tells how New York State gave $25 million in tax credits to the giant financial firm Blackrock. In exchange for Blackrock moves into nicer quarters and keeps 2,672 jobs in Manhattan. Terrorism works! Blackrock also promises to create 700 jobs (but there are no penalties for non-compliance).

Yesterday the NYT told us that “On Campus, Trump Fans Say They Need ‘Safe Spaces’“, which reports about two trends on college campuses. Conservatives say that “their views are not respected.” And threats of terrorism. As the President of the U of MI said, with insane even-handedness:

“…a student walking near campus was threatened with being lighted on fire because she wore a hijab… Some students have also been shouted at and accused of being racist because of their political views.”

We passively read news headlines showing the US political system breaking down, its norms no longer respected by its leaders. Such as “Donald Trump will remain Executive Producer on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’“. How long until President Trump nominates a horse as cabinet secretary?

We doze while the well-coiffed reporters on the TV announce that America is being dismantled and rebuilt as a plutocracy. Oklahoma’s governor sells off its parks (let the peons relax at country clubs!), and pretends not to notice that unregulated fracking is causing increasingly severe earthquakes. In a truly a truly Orwellian touch, Trump appoints a modern version of Mr. Potter (from It’s A Wonderful Life) as his Secretary of Labor: advocates letting inflation erode away the minimum wage and gutting the social safety net, and opposes effective regulation of overtime laws (see the ugly details here).

Continue reading

Advertisements

America isn’t falling like the Roman Empire. It’s falling like Rome’s Republic.

Summary:  Sunday’s post asked if America is like the late Roman Empire. The good news is that it’s not. The bad news is that in an important sense we’re like the last generations of the Roman Republic. Rome’s people grew weary of carrying the burden of self-government, just as we have. But we can change.

Emperor Octavian.

Emperor Octavian.

 

The original Star Trek taught us that humanity was not meant for slavery; we always rise up and fight for freedom.  Unfortunately, history shows that rebellions against internal elites are rare. Successful revolutions are still more so (even partial successes, such as France in 1789, are rare). In fact subjects in well-managed societies (e.g., tyrannies, oligarchies) wear the yoke comfortably.

Although democracies (i.e., self-government) are rare, sadly common is evolution in the other direction, the bitter one from citizen to subject. The most famous example is the fall of the Roman Republic, a history familiar to our Founders — who built America on lessons learned from it.

If lose sight of that history America might suffer the same fate. The Roman people grew weary of self-government, of carrying its burden of responsibility and self-discipline. Civil wars determined who would place the bridle on Rome’s people and rule. Christian Meier’s Caesar: A Biography vividly tells the story of the Republic’s last days (I strongly recommend it).

We are following that path.

Continue reading

Follow the trail from a growing plutocracy to decaying families

Summary:  The social and economic evolution of America will shape 21st century America. This post ties together our rising inequality, falling social mobility, crashing system of higher education, dropping labor force participation, and falling rate of family formation. Another generation of these trends and we’ll have a New America. Time is not our friend.

 

Contents

  1. Looking backwards.
    …..Looking forward.
  2. Inequality: the political revolution.
  3. Social mobility: education failure.
  4. The next gen of America:
    …..indentured servitude.
  5. Men are “Going Galt.”
  6. For More Information.

 

(1) Looking backwards. Looking forward.

In times of rapid change we rely on economists to explain what has happened. However they are usually poor at seeing changes happening now (often they deny their existence, believing that what has been in the past must be so in the future). The massive changes in the social structure of America illustrate how we need their analysis, but have to look beyond it. Let’s trace the logic from our past to our future.

(2)  Inequality: the political revolution

Robert Reich has published another book providing an essential analysis of our time: Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few. How did we get into this mess?

{It’s} a myth-shattering breakdown of how the economic system that helped make America so strong is now failing us, and what it will take to fix it. … he reveals how power and influence have created a new American oligarchy, a shrinking middle class, and the greatest income inequality and wealth disparity in 80 years. He makes clear how centrally problematic our veneration of the “free market” is, and how it has masked the power of moneyed interests to tilt the market to their benefit.

Reich exposes the falsehoods that have been bolstered by the corruption of our democracy by huge corporations and the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street … He shows that the critical choices ahead are not about the size of government but about who government is for: that we must choose not between a free market and “big” government but between a market organized for broadly based prosperity and one designed to deliver the most gains to the top. …

Paul Krugman’s typically brilliant review in the New York Review of Books expands on Reich’s analysis, putting it in a broader context of history and the evolution of economists’ explanations for trends since the 1970s. The bottom line…

Continue reading

A New America arises, perhaps with Trump as its first leader

Summary: Updates on two predictions I’ve made, each a window into the New America now arising on the ruins of the old. What horrific attacks has China made on America with the information hacked from the government’s files? When will the Donald flame out, leaving the Presidential campaign safely in the hands of stuffed shirts — loyal servants of the 1%?  {1st of 2 posts today.}

Project New America

A strength of the FM website is its predictions. Sometimes wrong (see the smackdowns page), our overall record is very good (see these hits). Tracking forecasts is important, as we’re locked into news cycles run by amnesic journalists who report with little recollection of the past. Gurus with records of almost always wrong reappear with new predictions and no mention of their frequent failures. Past events reported as certain apocalypses are forgotten.

Remembering has become a radicalizing action.  Here are two blasts from the past worth revisiting.

(1)  The hack into Federal employee records by “China”

“I believe this infobomb has done catastrophic damage to US security.  How?  Big data + bots (made smarter via AI) will be able to turn this data into a decisive instrument of warfare.”
John Robb at Global Guerrillas, 24 June 2015. Broadcast to the Left via Naked Capitalism.

One of great bursts of American pants wetting, between We’ll ALL Die from Ebola and Protect Me from the ISIS Terrorist Under My Bed., as the hack of the Federal employee records — allegedly by China (“we don’t know” are words that burn the tongues of officials). In August I said “My guess is that on this day next year (8-5-2016) we’ll add the OPM hack to the list of hysteria outbreaks in America which had little or no serious results.”

Status so far after 89 weeks (1 year, 8 months) from the first hack in March 2014: no reports of significant results. Even more significant, after months of investigations the US government has provided no reliable data showing that China was responsible for the hacks. For more about this now forgotten but once “game-changing big story”…

Continue reading

Corporate profits are the market’s foundation, shaping a new America

Summary: Corporate profits have rising to an amazingly large share of our national income, powering the stock market while GDP and household income lag far behind. This has played a large role in shaping the New America of the 21st C. What caused this rise? What might reverse it? See my column at Wolf Street for answers.

Corporate Profits Are the Stock Market’s Foundation.
What Will Break Them?
The hidden Key to Regime Change in the Stock Market.

The daily flow of economic statistics misleads even sophisticated analysts into watching the short-term trends while forgetting the long-term basics that often determine events – as we see today, with analysts chattering about beats of quarterly earnings and expectations for Friday’s employment report.

The first plays a pointless manipulated game. The second concerns an impossible-to-accurately-predict, heavily revised, slow-changing metric (non-farm payroll growth has been 1.7% – 2.2% year-over-year for the past 15 months).

Larger factors drive the stock market, creating the macroeconomic foundation for bull and bear markets. One of the most dramatic trends of the past generation has been the rise in corporate profits. It has helped reshape America, powering a three decade long bull market. What created it? What will end it?

Read the rest at Wolf Street!

The TPP shows the workings of our New America, if we care enough to look

Summary:  In this post an insider tells us the sad details about the Trans Pacific Partnership that provide insights into the workings of the New America being raised on the ruins of the Republic-that-once-was. Not just the treaty but the process that creates it. In this afternoon’s post, part 2, Alexis de Tocquiville helps us more clearly see what’s happening to America, with the perspective provided by experience and distance in time.  {Part 1 of 2 today.}

Bush & Obama: First Buddies:

Bush & Obama: First Buddies

 

Contents

  1. Partners at the creation
  2. The Trans-Pacific Partnership
  3. For More Information
  4. The fall of the old regime
  5. Conclusions
  6. For More Information

 

(1)  Partners at the creation of New America

“The problem is choice.”
— Neo in The Matrix Reloaded (2003).

One of the great themes of these posts has been the historic transformations of America under Bush Jr. and Obama. They brilliantly used both the groundwork laid during the previous generation and the unique opportunities created by 9/11 and the 2008 crash to alter the direction of our national evolution in ways profound although not yet clear. Their four terms, so consistent in most aspects of domestic and foreign policy (excluding social policies of little interest to our rulers) have raised the skeleton of a New America on the ruins of the old.

Revolutions and reformations done with popular support occur in the daylight. Those done without it occur in the shadows, cloaked in euphemisms amidst assurances that nothing important has changed. One way to show the real nature of these events is contrasting today’s news with a yardstick from the past. This post does so by looking at Obama’s work to gain approval for the Trans-pacific Partnership (TPP) with passages from the greatest work by Alexis de Tocqueville: The Ancien Regime and the French Revolution. He gives us a mirror in which we can more clearly see ourselves.

Stop the TPP fast track

(2)  The Trans-Pacific Partnership

Slowly news leaks out about the Orwellian-named Trans-pacific Partnership, othorganized by the Bush Administration and negotiated by Team Obama. The American people are not partners in this deal. It’s kept unusually secret to prevent opposition from mobilizing before the final rush after the deal is finalized — and the beneficiaries have greased the way for approval. Here we see, again, Obama’s contempt for Congress and the American people.

The latest evidence comes from Michael Wessel, a cleared liaison to two statutory advisory committees for the TPP. He was a commissioner on the U.S. Trade Deficit Review Commission. He published “I’ve Read Obama’s Secret Trade Deal. Elizabeth Warren Is Right to Be Concerned” at Politico.

The public criticisms of the TPP have been vague. That’s by design — anyone who has read the text of the agreement could be jailed for disclosing its contents. I’ve actually read the TPP text provided to the government’s own advisors, and I’ve given the president an earful about how this trade deal will damage this nation. But I can’t share my criticisms with you.

I can tell you that Elizabeth Warren is right about her criticism of the trade deal. We should be very concerned about what’s hidden in this trade deal — and particularly how the Obama administration is keeping information secret even from those of us who are supposed to provide advice.

Continue reading

On Memorial Day let’s admit what we’ve done to America & begin its reform

Summary: It’s not too soon to begin preparations for your Memorial Day celebrations. I suggest starting with a public reading of the documents (suitably redacted) which create a New America on the ruins of the Republic. Let’s remember the Republic that our fallen fought for — and how we we threw it away. I can imagine no better way to honor their sacrifices than by taking the first steps to rebuild America.  {1st of 2 posts today.}

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury … nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law

Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United State (1788 — ????),

Memorial Day

On  16 July 2010 the DoJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) provided Attorney General Eric Holder with the “Memorandum for the Attorney General Re: Applicability of Federal Criminal Laws and the Constitution to Contemplated Lethal Operations Against Shaykh Anwar al-Aulaqi” (see the document’s history on page 40, and the document itself starting on page 67; dating it 12 days earlier would have been quite apt).

Originally classified secret, last year a Federal Judge ordered release of this heavily redacted version in response to litigation over a Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU and the New York Times. It’s a historic document, declaring that the Constitution requires “due process” that can be provided by action of the Executive branch alone, without judicial review or action — for actions up to and including execution of citizens

It, along with the OLC’s 2002 memorandum declaring that torture is legal, are among the great documents creating a the New America on the ruins of the Second Republic (built on the Constitution). It’s fitting that the Second Republic was created in daylight — public debate followed with votes by elected representatives — while government attorneys issue in secret the documents creating its replacement. It’s fitting that both parties drive this process, the first issued under Bush Jr and the second under Obama. Bipartisanship!

Continue reading