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Tyrone Slothrop
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Old 05-01-2017, 07:12 PM   #4
sebastian_dangerfield's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Monty Capuletti's gazebo
Posts: 22,916
Re: Fighting for our meals, out here in the fields.

Ty: I see a massive political problem, and a massive policy problem, and the two are tied together. The massive policy problem is that moderate Democrats' (and their counterparts in Europe) policy prescriptions have not created economic benefits for most people for well over a decade.
Nor will those of Republicans here or right wing nationalists in Europe. The political problem is the economic problem is immune to a political fix. I surmise "Destroy all the robots" will be next, after we've savaged immigration for a few more years.

The idea that you should adopt technocratic growth-oriented polices to lift all boats hasn't worked, both because the Great Recession showed that technocracy isn't all that and because the growth we've seen since then hasn't lifted all boats -- it's lifting only the luxury yachts.
Businesses are necessarily efficiency junkies. Until we've cut to the marrow, and there's no one left to buy what they're selling, and monetary policy/buybacks/stock market "growth" begin to fail, businesses will engage in labor arbitrage with developing markets/frontier markets/robots.

I'm a broken record, but Bob Reich is right: We're in a "vicious cycle" where we need to be in a "virtuous cycle." (I'm intentionally not linking those terms because I think everyone should find and read/watch his eloquent little description of these things.)

Real growth starts with the consumer, who needs a job to afford to purchase things. We've completely forgotten that.

The massive political problem is that voters resent this, don't see the Left as solving their problems, and have turned to a nativist Right that is more interested in restoring traditional social hierarchies and dumping on out-groups (especially but certainly not only immigrants).
Hell yes. "The factory owned by private equity titans and managed by old white middle managers laid me off... This is the Korean bodega owner's fault!"

The Right is much more interested in zero-sum transfers of wealth and social status than in creating opportunity.
I think they're most interested in preservation of themselves. And not much else.

A positive message about what government can do can resonate and can defeat this, but the Democrats don't have it right now.
I disagree, but even if it did, nobody in the Democratic Party but Bernie will ever utter such a compelling message. They long ago tacked to the center, and they're bloodless. Schumer is their perfect leader. Lip service for the proles; owned by big money on all of the important issues.

One can criticize Hillary for being a bad messenger, but it's not like Bernie, Joe, Martin or anyone else had a great platform that she ignored in the general election.
She was tired iron in a change cycle.

Now, you can say (and you did!) that Obama had a great platform, but didn't have the votes on the Hill to get it passed after 2010. I agree! But that's a big part of the problem. During Obama's time, I thought he was being wise by taking the long view, that voters would reward Democrats for governing well and responsibly. I was wrong!
That makes two of us. He had a great long game. His only failing was finding a proper heir. But that's not necessarily Obama's fault. Biden should've run. He'd be in the White House right now. (And not because he's got a penis... Because Joe is a good politician who can relate to everybody.)

We got Trump and Republican control of government instead. So, saying that the Democrats have great policies isn't appealing if those policies get you two years of positive change, six years of stagnation, and then two/four/??? years of retrograde devolution. I love Obama, but in hindsight it's pretty tempting to say that he got the policies right but the politics wrong.
He had the same problem as Al Pacino in Carlito's Way. He should've killed the Clintons when he had them under control. Instead, they blighted his legacy. But history will still be kind to him. Some Zinn will do a serious study of 2008, acknowledge it was more a mini-depression than mere recession, and credit Obama with guiding us out of it (oddly, by himself triangulating... but he had no choice there).

(Could he have built a durable Democratic majority if he'd done things differently? I really don't know.). And if that's the case, maybe the policies weren't quite right -- maybe the policies please you and me but didn't do enough to address the real problems that many voters experience. Obama faced opposition from Republicans, true, but he never found a way to make Republicans pay a political price for that opposition, which is one reason we have Justice Gorsuch instead of Justice Garland.
How are you going to make suicide bombers pay for their actions?

Which is to say, I don't have good answers, but I do think that discussing policy as if it's untethered to politics is, at a high level, possibly part of the problem.
Neither's of much use against the robots. The conversation we should be having is a about whether we can use technology to enter Keynes' post-work world. But we'll never have that. Instead, those doing well right now will concentrate on how to Keep Things The Same. We'll invent new and innovative ways for those with capital to employ technology to use, abuse, and control everyone else.

The business of America is maintaining the status quo at all costs.
All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

Last edited by sebastian_dangerfield; 05-01-2017 at 07:19 PM..
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