Automation And Social Welfare

Last weekend, I read about a robot developed in Japan that can assemble furniture from IKEA.  Over the past couple of years, intermittent reports demonstrating the features of three-dimensional copiers have suggested we may not be that far off from the “replicators” on Star Trek’s Enterprise. And despite some setbacks, self-driving cars and trucks seem all-but-certain to displace drivers in the not very distant future.

Meanwhile, the “gig economy” continues to replace traditional employment arrangements.

While the American public is transfixed–and distracted–by the antics of the self-satirizing buffoon currently occupying the Oval Office, technology marches along, prompting major social challenges that very few people are addressing.

A recent paper from The Brookings Institution focuses upon the effect of these changes for social insurance–the government programs intended to provide a modicum of financial security to the elderly, disabled and/or unemployed.

The nature of work is being increasingly and suddenly altered by technological change, growing cross-border mobility, declining birth rates, and rising life expectancy. A growing share of work is done either under contracts that are shorter-term and less predictable, or without any contracts at all.  Social insurance systems financed by payroll taxes created for times of stable employment with one formal employer and a substantial surplus of contributors over beneficiaries have become fiscally and socially unsustainable. Often, their rules leave the workers of the new economy without even a basic layer of social protection.

The authors suggest three major changes in the way the United States approaches social insurance: decoupling these programs from employment (payroll taxes provide the funding for these programs); for the elderly, establish a general-revenue financed basic pension for all; and set up a complementary pillar of privately-owned accounts for unemployment, health insurance, and old-age pensions, funded by tax-free private contributions.

I am insufficiently informed to weigh in on the latter two proposals, but it has been obvious for a long time that providing health insurance through employers–never optimal–has become increasingly unsustainable. It burdens larger employers, whose HR offices expend enormous time and resources navigating health insurance markets. It disadvantages small businesses and start-ups that cannot afford to offer competitive benefits and thus are less able to compete for quality employees. With the growth of the “gig” economy, increasing numbers of Americans are unable to access affordable plans (something Obamacare would ameliorate if the current Administration wasn’t determinedly sabotaging the program.)

These disadvantages aren’t limited to health insurance. As the Brookings report notes, providing social insurance through employers will only become more unsustainable, as automation displaces more workers and the number of independent contractors grows.

The solution is two-fold. The first is to eliminate the link between social insurance and employment status and provide a basic and affordable layer of social protection to all citizens, financed by general revenues…. The second is to supplement this insurance by a wider set of individually owned and financed insurance offerings.

Whatever the merits of these proposals or others, they are at least addressing important issues–issues with which a competent government would be dealing.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a competent government. We have deranged (and misspelled) tweet-storms from the White House and partisan game-playing from Congress.

Where are the adults when you need them?

40 thoughts on “Automation And Social Welfare

  1. I just watched Katie Couric’s program on the National Geographic channel on what technology is doing to us. You’re right that technology is more and more rapidly threatening employment for many average Americans. It also poses a direct danger to the human race by its potential to out-think and destroy us.

    Two tech gurus foresee the danger and are working to prevent that eventuality. They fear that bad actors could use robots to destroy whomever they want in order to control the world. Think Hitler or Putin or Kim Jong Un on robotic steroids. I hope these gurus can figure out the protections before all the bad actors destroy the democracies and the major players in the world who can keep the lid on.

  2. I just read yesterday’s posts and chuckled over all our enablers who want to save the addict. The principle is “detach with love”. We need five political parties in the USA and one needs to be the Labour Party. Every time I hear Jeremy Corbyn speak, I can’t understand why the leaders of the DNC don’t get it. Then I remember who owns both parties and all the “laws” written to make it nearly impossible for even a third party to prevail. Capitalists.

    Just for those who don’t remember the Business 101, the goal of a corporation is to maximize shareholder worth.

    So, who comes first, shareholders or workers?

    Look what happened after the automotive industry bailed from the Midwest. Did the market serve all those workers negatively impacted? Did our government serve all those negatively impacted?

    Hell, neither did anything for workers. They said the market is now providing you with $8.00 an hour servant (service) jobs and no benefits. Pensions gone. Hard to save for retirement when every week you make decisions on whether you can afford food for the week.

    The Democratic “leadership” doesn’t fight for the working class. So, who will implement these laws for workers? Who even cares about social contracts?

    Once again, these are the evils of capitalism. Capitalists compete with each other in the marketplace and productivity increase due to demands placed on workers and technological advances. Both of these realities lead to bigger and bigger market recessions. I’m paraphrasing Einstein from his 60-year-old dictum.

    You rarely hear or read from our sociologists. Only economists are given a voice.

    If you follow the Happiness Indicator vs GNP, you must be a communist. The problem with the Mainstream Media is it’s pro-capitalism as well. Our government was supposed to serve the workers and regulate businesses. They’ve done the exact opposite and so has the free press.

    Isn’t competition grand? Only for the fortunate ones. All others, tough shit.

    Unfettered capitalism is very predictable but when the capitalists own the government and the press, guess what we’ll get?

    Viva la Revolucion.

    When the people figure this out and take to the streets, we’ll all amazingly learn what the development of the NSA and Homeland Security were for…not to protect us from “terrorists”, but to keep us from taking our government back. It’s been gone for a very long time…

  3. Alan Watts told us in the 1970’s, “Man is going to computerize himself out of existence.” We are nearing that stage of automation today in many areas. Will our health care, however it will be funded in the future, resort to robotic surgeries; foregoing human medical knowledge and expertise which will end the need to medical universities but increase the demand for engineers? Can this possibly become a “2084” replacement for Orwell’s “1984”? Just askin’

    Personally; just the thought of self-driving vehicles scares the doo-doo out of me. I watched the news film of this years winner of Purdue’s Rube Goldberg contest; an intricate, lengthy and involved procedure to pour a bowl of cereal. This took several very intelligent, creative minds to put together, not to mention the human physical assembly to produce the working model. I cheer these creative minds; maybe they will find ways to maintain the need for human involvement rather than seek ways to end it.

    As for health care insurance…as well as any form of insurance coverage and taxes…I pay my fair share but have rarely collected on these payments and do this knowing others are benefiting from my source of revenue. I have sent an E-mail to the Marion County Treasurer’s Office questioning why the assessment on my 60 year old home was just raised which increased my property taxes by almost 50%. This, about 10 days before the article in the Star that Warren Township (where my home is located) is seeking an increase in property taxes to provide more money for this school system. What many are not aware of is the fact that not all residents of Warren Township who pay these taxes live in the very small Warren area which qualifies them to attend Warren schools. The vast majority of these taxpayers children attend public schools…or get vouchers to attend private/religious based schools. Not connected to health care but part of our screwed up tax and education systems. Just sayin’

    “Unfortunately, we don’t have a competent government. We have deranged (and misspelled) tweet-storms from the White House and partisan game-playing from Congress.”

    The above statement is true at many state levels with little hope of change as long as the current bogus Republican party is in charge at all levels. I hope all of you watched what may be the most embarrassing presidential rant in Trump’s so far embarrassing and dangerous rant/Tweet “leadership”, that call-in to “Fox and Friends” yesterday morning. The dumbfounded and unbelieving expressions on the three newscasters left no need for words from them…many words from many areas did follow that broadcast.

    And the beat goes on!

  4. Basically, the recommendations in the reports cited here are what has been going on in Scandinavia for decades.

    Regarding technological changes, consider something the philosopher Wittgenstein once said about language – that it is a vehicle of thought, but we should remember that it can become the driver. Now substitute technology for language.

  5. Unless there is a war that drives us all back to the Stone Age, mankind will continue to evolve
    physically and socially. It seems we are now into a new span of evolution… this time merging technology with our ability to manipulate our world. While we can see dangers in this advance, there are also great opportunities. IMO the greatest of those opportunities is the chance to re-think and strive toward a better world unencumbered by slavish labor just to survive.

  6. The evolution of robots will further degrade the human condition by removing the personal gratification and social benefits of using one’s own mind and hands to problem-solve or produce something. The current congress and state legislatures are perfect examples of individuals who have lost the ability to problem-solve or produce value. Have functional representatives been replaced with robots?

  7. Every technological advance brings new opportunities. The problem is that technological advances are happening more quickly than the populace can adjust. Watching Hugh Herr on “60 Minutes” Sunday evening, it struck me that only 10 years ago we introduced his first realistic ankle. It could extend, flex, and roll, just like a real ankle and it was a huge breakthrough. What he’s done since moving to MIT is nothing short of a miracle.

    So the problem becomes, what do we do with people who are waiting for the return of the coal mines to provide a decent living wage? The same holds true for the steelworkers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. Even if new plants open up, the jobs will be done by robots, not humans, so don’t count on them to bring back employment.

    We have to re-think everything, starting with our educational system. Medicare for all (yes, Todd, even I, a Democrat, believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege), a minimum income, rather than a minimum wage, and a raft of other programs designed to employ our brains and our bodies for a new world order.

    The world I leave will be unrecognizable to the world I was born into. I hope that will be a good thing.

  8. Yes! Food for constructive thought here. I feel nourished. And energized. Thank you, Sheila.

  9. In Rebecca Costa’s fine book, “The Watchman’s Rattle”, she points out how much faster we have evolved socially – including technologically – than we have biologically. If I combine all the dystopia and fears mentioned in this blog regarding robotic takeovers and all the other social ills that follow, a terrible scenario appears: With less work for more people who are getting sicker, and dumber, we will turn on ourselves and finish the job our wars have failed to do.

  10. If you really want to blow a libertarian/conservative’s mind, you can also point out that not only should be have a universal healthcare system – for all the reason Shelia mentions plus a number of others, but sooner or later we’ll probably need a universal minimum income for everyone. Eventually, computers/robotics will simply be better than people at basically everything. Where will people work when 99.5% of tasks are automated? We’re already on the way there by ending the entire taxi/truck driving/delivery/etc. system in the near future. It won’t be TOO long before the smart business decision is just not to hire people at all in almost every industry. Computers never take breaks and work infinitely faster. We’re probably only a generation or two out from that kind of thing.

  11. From SocialEurope.eu:

    The following is the best piece of journalism I’ve read in many years. It explains why I’m so drawn to Sheila and her blog. I now understand…..It’s Sheila’s never ending commitment to “freedom of speech”

    “Once, postmodernism and its protagonists identified themselves as freedom fighters – and probably still do. Their argument goes like this: The universalism of modernity and the logic of the general in industrialized societies, as the German sociologist Andreas Reckwitz calls it, would have led to normalization, standardization, and leveling. So, the Other would not just get excluded and oppressed in general, but individually this logic of the general and its pressure for normalization would have brought the oppression of many people too – of homosexuals, for instance. You would just not be allowed to be yourself. You would just not be free. But freedom would mean being allowed to do what you want.

    This is how postmodernists pleaded and fought for an “anything goes”. They deconstructed and disassembled the great narratives of society; then they congratulated themselves for destroying the wasteland of the oppressing generality of modernity. Finally, that is their claim, real living could begin. Now would be the time to enjoy it. Finally, you would not need to stand in line and shout “yes, Sir”, or to adjust yourself to others any more.

    But otherness should not just be acknowledged in order to maximize freedom for many people – such as homosexuals. Soon, more and more people demanded individualization and self-realization. Nobody should stand in line any more. Be yourself! Be happy! That is how our culture became more and more colourful, and how the rainbow became the symbol of the achievements of this long fight for freedom.

    Indeed, it is a great accomplishment, that, after such a long time, homosexuals are finally allowed to marry in many Western countries. Sure, this marriage ban was a discriminatory tradition. Hardly anyone on the Left would query this. Of course, it was right to abolish such a discrimination. This emancipation was right and an important step.

    FAKE NEWS

    But this fight for freedom was fought under a false premise. Postmodernists deny the tasks of finding the truth and the general. So, nowadays we have one frontline of the new Right and Left postmodernists, and both fight against universalism. This causes big collateral damage. One of those damages is the presidency of Donald Trump. Indeed, I think Trump was rendered possible because of postmodern relativism and, indeed, it also meant he could become the first postmodern president. But why and how? Let us begin with Trump´s tweet from 3 January 2018. In this he announced an award for the most corrupt and dishonest media. And in the end, he really did what he had announced.

    For sure, Trump was thinking about the media, which would spread fake news, at least in his eyes: CNN and the New York Times. Let us hold on for a moment to understand what had happened. The president of the United States – this country run by manifest destiny and a global sense of mission, with the MO of being a moral leader – believes that many of the things CNN and the New York Times are telling us are lies. In the pre-postmodern age, no president would have criticized the media and the logic of the general in such a fundamental way. But nowadays anything goes. So, the search for truth is abolished. Since a happy thought of diversity and an anything goes was preached, such things are possible. And this is why we have to take a look at the New York Times, again.

    Probably the New York Times is one of the best newspapers in the world. But for a long time, it was the organ of the postmodern Left that tried to spread the sociological repertoire those people got from Ivy League universities. It was in the 1990s that the postmodern phase of journalism started in the USA, especially because of the New York Times. In Europe it started in the 2000s.

    The message was: The End of History, as Francis Fukuyama claimed, has arrived. The only thing left to resolve is this: Who am I? People got very engaged with self-realization. This is how the politics of Left became identity politics, which is not really political in the end, because often it is not much more than the wish to express oneself. But identity politics is a form of narcissism. It would be expressive, as its famous critic Mark Lilla said in an interview with the weekly German newspaper Zeit. So, in the age of postmodern identity politics, does anyone really wonder why the biggest narcissist of all, Trump, is residing in the White House?

    But you don’t need to wonder. Trump is the logical consequence in the postmodern era of narcissism and anything goes. In the end, politics was only a cozy way of managing the status quo and talking about worldviews. The liberal elite had made themselves comfortable.

    Trump disturbs this comfort zone with his own (right-sided) identity politics, and with his successful propaganda about his approach: politics for the “common people”. Some of his target groups, besides evangelicals, were men and women living in the Middle West and in the rust belt who were afraid of the possibility of social decline – or had already witnessed the social decline of friends and neighbors. On the other hand, his opponent Hillary Clinton degraded herself when she described some of those “common people” “basket of deplorables”; and, in the same period, the former First Lady, Michelle Obama, propagated a hyper-moral of the progressive and post-materialistic elite with her statement: “When they go low, we go high”. Clinton failed against the socio-economic language and agenda of her intra-party opponent Bernie Sanders. Actually, she just did identity politics, by building a bizarre coalition of Antifa, Wall Street, homosexuals, women, environment movements and African American movements, and last but not least the leaders of Silicon Valley.

    So, her political campaign amounted to little more than a discussion about world views. That is why some Sanders supporters stayed away from the polls or voted for Trump. Trump did not win because of his own personality primarily. Trump won because Clinton was unable to see the signs of a new age. Trump was different; and by being different he destroyed Clinton´s coalition with his own right-sided identity politics – in the end it was a kind of postmodern identity politics too.

    TAX REFORM

    But in the meanwhile, during his presidency, Trump did not just go on with his right-sided identity politics. Here is the sad thing: After some considerable time, Trump became the first president who actually shaped a big policy. His tax reform was policy on a grand scale going way beyond simple governance. Indeed, the tax reform is an expression of the attempt of some plutocratic elites to transform the USA into a new feudal state. This reform was a perverse form of neoliberalism par excellence. But it was politics. Politics and policy mean doing something – like passing a bill.

    And that is the point why the Left has to recognize where the postmodern anything goes led. The consequence was that a new postmodern cultural Left linked up to neoliberalism, because both focus on the individual. By doing so, more and more the classical economical Left was forced into the defensive position of being an outsider, because their idea was not the freedom of the individual but an empire of freedom, as Karl Marx called it. Even for the old Leftists who did not have a Marxist approach, this universal goal of “real freedom for the many and not just for the few” was the common driving force of the left movement. This historico-philosophical drive for the “promised land” was the Left’s motivation. The old left direction was: Let us move forward to a better world. And solidarity was the key term for this direction.

    But after 1990 their drive was talked to death. Then pragmatism and post-ideology became en vogue. Ever after, hardly anyone has asked the basic question whether our social and political system has problems. The question “Is this the right way?” usually produced the answer “yes”, and this answer came from both left and right. To improve governance, that was the new goal. Nothing more. So, a liberal and postmodern identity politics became the modus vivendi of left policy.

    The German magazine “Spiegel” recently reported that Steve Bannon, ex-political advisor to Trump, told an interviewer: “As long as the Democrats are talking about identity politics, I will have them under control.” Unfortunately, it is correct that under these conditions the Right has the liberal Left under its control. As long as Leftists stay in love with identity politics, the Trumpians of all countries will celebrate. I do not want to discredit identity politics, as long as it means to work against racism and prejudices, and as long as it expresses the will to make people enlightened citizens who treat each other respectfully as equals, and who treat others as humans of equal value with equal rights.

    ALL ABOUT INCLUSION

    But that is not at all what identity politics is about. It focuses on one´s own identity or the one of a group. A survey taken among American students serves to illustrate my point. Recently, the daily German newspaper “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” reported:

    According to a new survey of the Gallup Institute and the Knight Foundation for 53 per cent of the American students diversity and inclusion are more important than freedom of speech.” And the journalist adds: “Instead of fair argumentations, now it is about group associations and a better morality”.

    This form of identity politics undermines the ideals of enlightenment, and produces a divided society, because society breaks down into small groups and segments that mistrust each other, and do not want to talk with each other but talk about each other. That is how you lose a debate because arguments are no longer interesting. Almost anyone just wants to be left alone or wants to be in the right with his or her own point of view. Or someone wants both: not to hear the arguments of the others, but still wanting the others to think as he or she does. The forceless force of the better argument – as the philosopher Jürgen Habermas once called this enlightened approach towards coming to a common truth by argument and rational conviction – this approach gets destroyed by postmodern identity politics.

    Furthermore, in this modus of identity politics it is hard to talk about how to answer reality, because people are unable to find a common understanding of this reality. In the age of postmodernism anyone can make claims about reality in whatever way he or she wants. Anything goes. Trump is the best example.

    This trend is a huge mistake. And that is why the Leftists´ focus on this postmodern identity politics was a mistake, too…..”

    Nils Heisterhagen is a political adviser to the Social Democratic Party (SPD) group in the state parliament of Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany. Previously he was a political consultant and speechwriter for the chair of the German trade union IG Metall.

  12. We are on the cusp of drastic changes in workforce performance and it’s time to give our attention to sociologists as well as economists in solving the consequences of the coming revolution in what used to be called labor. We know the economic consequences when human labor is massively reduced due to more and more sophisticated automation in the economy we currently practice, but what of us humans who are left behind when our labor (our human capital) is unnecessary in the capitalist definition of an economy that exists solely for profit opportunities in a world where now even the courts have acknowledged that the chief duty of corporate boards is to “enhance shareholder value?”

    Methinks the capitalist system as now practiced and the courts’ version of yesteryear fiduciary duty will have to change to a more socialist system where humans are afforded some protection from tomorrow’s entrepreneurs operating under yesterday’s social and economic conditions.

    How humans (whose numbers are increasing worldwide) can be expected to survive in a system where they have nothing to offer to such a radically changed means of production is just part of the problem, as in, where will be the wherewithal (demand) in the marketplace for goods and services produced by automation when humans are unemployed on such a massive scale? Will we have to determine some other form of medium of exchange rather than money? Will the government have to socialize corporate production of goods and services and determine some means such as a GAW (guaranteed annual wage) for distribution to citizens and residents? Distribution of what if there is no market for “what?” (Nixon, of all people, proposed a GAW in 1971 but it was shot down.) In other words, will the fruits of automation belong to the few capitalists or be considered a social good ripe for further distribution among the many?Must we escape capitalism in order to survive, and if so, what “ism” shall we adopt that will work for humans in tomorrow’s world of AI?

    I have written on the socio-economic problems posed by more sophisticated and accelerating automation before and have only been able to cite problems and not solutions. I will do the same here. I don’t know how this is going to work out. My old degree in economics (No, Adam Smith was not one of my professors!) was awarded to me during the heydey of the Industrial Age and we are now in the Information Age with AI and all that portends for sociological as well as economic (and inevitably, political) change. How will it work out? Search me.

  13. Marv – Thanks for your copy of an European’s macro view of postmodern politics. I agree with you that this is an excellent piece.

  14. Gerald,

    I thought you would like the article. From my perspective, it can be an important road map for any group who would attempt to RE-ENGINEER the structure of the Democratic Party during the next six months into a successful “fighting machine.”

  15. I came only to wish JoAnn a happy birthday! Cheers Lady. 🙂

    I’m busy lately. I put the house on the market and will be putting everything in storage. Hubby didn’t get his transfer back to the states. I’m going back to Europe to shack up with my hubby again. After 13 months, I had had enough of living apart. He had too. I’ll be back once this place sells and I get settled in over there.

  16. Vernon,

    I had a chance to use my speed reading ability to read your book this morning. I will rate it 5+ on Amazon. Your engineering background as well as having lived in Texas makes your observations in TOTAL more accurate than other authors who have tried to warn us of the dangers facing us all.

    To quote your ending sentence: “This entire book has been dedicated to educating some and warning everyone that action, activism, and duty are necessary to preserving
    our Constitution and the nation for which it stands.”

    Now it’s time to ACT on your warnings.

    I’m sure Sheila and the contributors to the blog will appreciate your kind comments on the end page.

    Coincidentally, last night I viewed a DVD of the play “1776” which was an award winning Broadway production back in the 70’s. As featured in the play, race was a central problem in drafting the Declaration of Independence, as it still will be during any attempt to mitigate the problems you have so well highlighted.

  17. As one who made a good living designing for the future I have to defend these scurrilous attaches on modernity. Consider:

    We the people are the non special interest workers, consumers, tax payers and voters. What we have is, roughly at least, what we produce. Once we produce it we have to divvy it up somehow, money being the traditional mechanism.

    With expensive private enterprise health care comes the need for health care insurance.

    Automation is among us as a indefatigable worker for producing what we do but is unique in no requiring any of what they produce.

    Owning a car is a hobby for some but merely a tool for most of us. Given a chance to have convenient transportation that doesn’t cost a fortune and sit idle 95% at the time we will jump at it and spend the money on other things.

    So, the future:

    Medicine as a right of residence here paid for by taxes. No insurance required. Unfortunately the cost is that someone visible has to take over the job of deciding what gets decided invisibly now, when further care is an unaffordable bet.

    Your transportation is your phone. Tell it when and where you want to go and the priority of being on time and it tells you the cost. At the right time step into a machine waiting where you are. Play with your phone. Get out where you want to go. Convert your garage into a tiny house and rent it out.

    Having what you needed used to take all day. Then we lowered it to significantly less and eventually 40 hours per week and now advertising has convinced most of us that 50 or 60 hours a week (X2 are table stakes.

  18. Glitch. Continuing.

    ).

    What we want/need is now determined by advertising. How we vote is now determined by advertising. Let’s think for ourselves instead.

    So in this future our biggest problem is that we have some free time. As a retired person I know that it’s not a difficult problems but it does have a unique solution for all of us. I, as an example have transitioned in my retirement through spoiling grandchildren to helping others rethink science and politics. The nice thing about that job is that it is more endless than I am.

  19. The well kept secret is that our entire economic system is based on a symbiotic relationship between labor and capital that no longer exists. It is a system that we need to begin to evaluate and alter drastically before it collapses. The fact is that soon there will not be sufficient even 32-hour a week decent paying jobs available to provide adequate financial support those in our society. Successfully addressing this problem will be determined by out ability to shed the number one puritan fear of conservatives; that someone “will get something for nothing.”

  20. Here is a little rant I produced for my friends in Progressive Democrats of America:
    Indeed, “…and so it goes…” All the other “first-world” countries who are kicking our asses in all the social areas (See Michael Moore’s film, Who Should We Invade Next.) learned from their excesses of pure, unregulated capitalism as well as from the Lords v. Serfs culture from their monarchal days. They, instead, spend most of their money on their PEOPLE, while we continue to build aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and upgrade our nuclear arsenal. We were forced to be the world’s police force during and after the cold war. When the Soviet Union collapsed, we just kept doing it. When a few demented assholes crashed airplanes into our buildings, we went nuts and declared war on Islam, a xenophobia that even crazier people are still exploiting. So, it looks like a culture of constant war is in our future…until we have no future…just as it was with the fall of Rome. We ignore our sick and our elderly. We try to educate our children with white-washed history and dumbed-down curriculum and under-paid educators while touting how wonderful we are. We lie to them about our genocide of native Americans. We lie to them about slavery and race relations. We lie to them about our labor relations, massacres and riots. It’s almost as if we use the Jungedeutsch method of education instead of the truth. Why are our politicians so afraid of educating our children with the truth? The horror show of Betsy DeVos can be fixed if she gets dumped soon. The coming foreign policy horror show is just about to open Act II for all the world to see and tremble before. Clearly, the damned fools who elected these Republicans are products of the schools that, beginning with the Reagan years, have been tailored to create 1984-level robots as a substitute for thinking people.

    All the lunatic Muslim crazies want is for the west to get the hell out of their countries. But the West won’t do that because of the oil. Meanwhile, the petro-dollars continue to fund madrasses that preach hate and death to the West…as if they’re still fighting the Crusades, another stroke of Western brilliance. So, it seems that the military-industrial complex added to the Wall Street mentality of constant economic growth irrespective of any restraint has created its own monster. The U.S. military, for example, uses more oil than the rest of our economy combined. The biggest domestic profits are made by our weapons industry; we’re still the largest arms dealer in the world…by far. And yet…. And yet, the military contractors STILL want to send jobs to cheaper labor markets to make even more profits. Only our tenuous grasp of advanced technology in weaponry prevents a total abdication of our labor base (and thus the middle class) to foreign, cheap labor. Oh, and so many of those profits are stashed in off-shore banks so none of that tax money will be returned for “re-cycling” into our own economy.

    Will simply electing Democrats to control Congress change any of these things? Will our foreign policy suddenly back us out of the gifts that keep on giving from the Bush years? Will we finally realize that people earning millions and billions of dollars owe the rest of the country a little “back pay” for making them rich? Will Democrats alone extricate the Supreme Court from the clutches of political corruption and the stain of abject greed? What does Tom Perez do? He sues Wikileaks and the Russians for helping elect Trump. WTF?

    That’s not progress. That’s as backward thinking as the Republicans’ “philosophy”. Real Democrats have to stop playing the politics of Washington and get to work for the constituents. All this nonsense with elitism and identity politics is a loser and plays into the hands of the oligarchs and plutocrats. The DNC has to, as a national party, do a Trumanesque whistle stop tour of the entire country starting NOW and continuing EVERY DAY. Howard Dean’s 50-state program was the RIGHT thing to do. It still is. Why did the DNC ignore it? What was so great about concentrating efforts on areas some idiot-level poll said was already a winner? Clearly, taking a presumed victory area for granted failed. I don’t care about the Russians as much as I do about the utter and complete corruption of Republicanism being stuffed down the throats of the people the DNC has chosen to ignore. How come nobody is reading these kinds of protests and solutions into the meeting minutes of PDA or the DNC? And we haven’t even addressed the rape of our planet and the life-sustaining measures necessary to survive even without nuclear war.

    Some may complain that all this dystopia is just like Trump’s. It isn’t. His is mindless rants against the results of the mistakes of his predecessors overblown and perverted to instill the most fear among the most people. The real fear is from within our own institutions that have been captured by capitalism and lobbyists who are destroying our democracy and our planet for more profits. In the four books I’ve published on the subject, solutions abound. But none of my or your solutions will work without the political will to initiate them. Raising taxes on the rich to post-Korean War levels (75%) is a start. Cutting off the loopholes and tax shelters won’t destroy incentives, it’ll enhance them, because we will then have enough capital to pay people (consumers) living wages enough for them to consume goods and services while adequately funding education and health care systems rotting before our eyes.

    Did I mention pushing for new industries, like alternative energy and plastic re-cycling? Oh. Well, all they would do would be to create jobs and help re-build our infrastructure. Imagine paying teachers a professional salary instead of copping out to the old canards of “Oh, teachers aren’t in it for the money.” Bullshit! Teachers need money to raise good families just like everyone else. Forgiveness of student loans will motivate even more people – not just the elites who can afford college – to attend higher education or vocational education allowing them more freedom from poverty and debt while building their own livelihoods and families that are happier and healthier.

    “…and so it goes…”

  21. Vernon. Amazing post. Thank you.

    We got lots of fixing to do. The only thing worse than hiring Democrats to accomplish that is not firing Republicans.

  22. As Pete has pointed out, it looks like neither the Democrats nor the Republicans can fix the problem. If that’s the case, then where else should we be looking for the solution? I would strongly suggest, IF there is an answer, it lies with an examination of the real DEEP STATE, especially the past MANIPULATIONS of the Bush and Koch families which have created the terrible state of affairs we’re now having to face with both Donald Trump and Steve Bannon.

  23. With respect to the importance of the REAL DEEP STATE in precipitating the present state of affairs, an important reference comes by way of “Let the People Know” by Norman Angell (The Viking Press, New York, 1943) p.p. 57-59:

    “THE MORAL MIRACLE: We miss the significance of what is happening unless we realize the importance of distinguishing between two distinct orders of events: those happening in the VISIBLE and EXTERNAL WORLD [ Vernon’s new book covers this area], the actual fall of nations , destruction of states, and the domination or threatened domination of the vast majority of mankind by a relatively small minority, between events of that order and those happening in the MINDS OF MEN. In this latter sphere we face above all a MIRACLE OF BLINDNESS. It behooves us therefore not merely to face the facts of yesterday’s folly but inquire how it came about that we did not see it to be folly. We are confronted by two miracles, not one: one of a MATERIAL and another of a MORAL order. It is the latter which explains the former. Yet it is the MENTAL LAPSE which we overlook.”

    “Are we to learn by experience? Whether we do or not depends upon our definition of experience. Experience does not teach itself, as a glance at the lives of some of our neighbors will suffice to show. Whether or not wisdom comes out of past events depends upon a true reading of them. That justifies a re-examination of the events which led to this Second World War.”

  24. Norman Angell
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Ralph Norman Angell
    Norman Angell 01.jpg
    Born Ralph Norman Angell Lane
    26 December 1872
    Holbeach, England
    Died 7 October 1967 (aged 94)
    Croydon, Surrey, England
    Nationality British
    Occupation lecturer, journalist, author, politician
    Known for Nobel Peace Prize (1933)

    Sir Ralph Norman Angell (26 December 1872 – 7 October 1967) was an English lecturer, journalist, author, and Member of Parliament[1] for the Labour Party.

    Angell was one of the principal founders of the Union of Democratic Control. He served on the Council of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, was an executive for the World Committee against War and Fascism, a member of the executive committee of the League of Nations Union, and the president of the Abyssinia Association. He was knighted in 1931 and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1933.

  25. Marv, IMO the only thing keeping the country running during these tragic times is the deep state, millions of professionals in the military, intelligence, regulatory agencies, diplomats, medical institutions like the CDC who ignore the theatrics of professional politicians whoring for votes and oligarch money to buy them.

    Without them chaos would rein unfettered. They are exactly why we both can and need to fire the Republicans trying to exterminate them.

  26. Pete,

    I agree with you about the “millions of professionals still” running things. But they aren’t the deep state, they’ve been called that by a few authors who are afraid, or not in the position, to deal, for whatever reasons, with the REAL DEEP STATE. They are the UNTOUCHABLES that you and most everyone else do not want to touch. I don’t blame you.

    I don’t know about the Republicans “exterminating anyone,” but it surely wouldn’t be the military, intelligence, regulatory agencies etc.

  27. Marv, Agent Orange has done everything possible to discredit and compromise the intelligence and public safety communities, the departments of energy, education, housing, the EPA, etc.

  28. Pete,

    I can’t argue with you on that statement. However, it has nothing to do with identifying the Deep State I’m talking about. Trump with Bannon’s help hijacked the REAL DEEP STATE’S movement [Koch/Bush]. They haven’t disappeared. You know that as well as I do. They eventually will come back with either Mike Pence or Steve Bannon. The political climate at that time will determine who their choice will be.

    The same phenomenon occurred in Nazi Germany during the 30’s; The difference is that Adolph Hitler destroyed his main opposition[known as the Roehm Putsch] before they solidified their move.

    Koch/Bush weren’t so lucky, they were outflanked by the machinations of Steve Bannon.

  29. We are debating the meaning of a phrase that is not defined. “Deep state” Bannon wanted to root out and abolish the deep state. He meant what I mean. Professional government.

  30. I did not agree with much of anything that Richard Nixon proposed, but I did agree with his proposal for a Family Assistant Plan. It would have guaranteed every family a bedrock income rather than getting into expensive and inefficient welfare programs. I believe Mr. Stinson referred to it in his blog. I think it still sounds like a good idea. As for increasing technology in the work place, “resistance is futile”.

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