Crony Capitalism – Part II
How have we gotten here?
A recent study by the Stanford University School of Law reveals that students cannot tell the difference between information offered by a clearly biased, sponsored source and information from an independent source. The study indicates no awareness of the difference at all, not even when the sponsor of the message is identified.
Now we know why such a thing as ‘fake news’ exists as insistently as it does. While ’anything goes’ internet availability is listed as the reason, the truth is that too many people today haven’t enough knowledge to know the difference between real and fake.
The existence and weakness of a large, fundamentally undereducated, undiscerning population presents opportunities for gross negligence, stunningly false hopes and levels of control reaching unprecedented heights in this country’s history.
Liberalism in a capitalistic global economy where money and power rule, is the effort to accept the rules of the marketplace and then to work tirelessly to find and/or inject the humanity, morality, justice and equal opportunity that will make that system work with some reasonable measure of fairness for all.
Liberals apply this effort to every policy area from immigration to the environment; from education to healthcare; from the election/voting process to criminal justice.
And in today’s world and especially in today’s America that effort must be redoubled as myths replace truths and we go backward rather than forward.
True to the prediction of George Orwell, our global economy suggests that we are no longer a world of independent nation-states, but rather one of Continental Divides cooperating and competing in a give and take economy, efforts made ever more difficult and complicated by the work of radical Islamic extremists who are positioning themselves for a one hundred year religious war pitting elements of the East against the West.
As we focus on the realities of living in this interdependent economy, it is essential that we solve the most glaring of difficulties – the elements of the capitalist system where the cost of paying labor on all levels is the most obvious barricade to profit, and where technology increasingly solves that problem with the intricacies of cyber-work and robotics.
We know that hundreds of people can now do the work of thousands, and that there are 300,000 manufacturing jobs and four million other jobs which cannot be filled because our people don’t have the educated skills to do them. This is a problem much, much larger than American companies holding two trillion dollars out of the country to avoid paying taxes and giving American jobs to those in India, Asia, Europe and the Philippines.
The stresses of keeping America at work must not hide the reality that promises to the American people have been broken since Ronald Reagan introduced trickle-down economics to the country. He began an effort to destroy the union movement whose success during WWII had helped develop the world’s first true middle class and made America the most powerful country in recorded history.
Determined to break the New Deal economies that predominated during and following the years of World War II, the idea that lower taxes on the rich and powerful corporations would produce more money for business investment and job expansion not only made a mockery of the phrase ‘less is more’ but from that time to this, has produced no such pay-off…and won’t.
This forty year myth persists today and with it the one that says less government is the best government.
And it is by addressing these dual myths that the tenets of liberalism become most important. Because beyond equal opportunity, humanity and justice, the foundation of liberalism remains this: that only government has the size, resources and power to fight back against and regulate the forces of Big Business so as to build a society in which people can lead a decent life.
There is never an attempt to whitewash weak government, or stupid government, or even no government at all. There is just the simple belief that when operating as designed in the public interest, Big Government can control the forces of Big Business…the only such control on them that exists.
The constant myths of the Reagan era persist today in the mouth of newly elected Donald J. Trump and a powerful, controlling Republican legislature. Now that he has won, they gleefully march to his tune – uncontrolled, capricious and self-elevating as it can be – that government must be ignored and taxes on economic power must be lowered. Such an approach produced the financial/mortgage crisis of 2008 and the disappearance of American companies on their way to Ireland and other safe havens.
The presently proposed cabinet of billionaires with no government experience or interest should speak for itself. The fox in the hen-house? Looks like it.
For the past eight years there has been little or no government. Executive power kicks in when legislative power disappears. But the myth that a successful businessman disconnected from political machinery is the answer ignores the searing truth about capitalism: those who succeed in it know how and where to make money. Period.
Recent Presidential history reveals that we have gone for less and less experience starting with Jimmy Carter’s two year term as Governor of Georgia, to George W. Bush as Governor of Texas where the Lieutenant-Governor runs the government, to Barack Obama with nine years in a State Legislature and some months as US Senator from Illinois, to a man with absolutely no experience at all who delights in telling us again and again “…these people running the government are stupid and care only about themselves…elect me and get rid of them.”
And 63 million people bought the story – and did.
WHAT CAN BE DONE
There is a bright side for the light of liberalism.
The new President just did America a huge service by refusing to divest himself from those Trump buildings, developments and properties all across America. They remain his as surely as he remains theirs. He is sincerely proud of those Trump properties and talks of them glowingly.
Given what it means to reside in the White House it is difficult to reach any President. But his continued close affiliation with his buildings means he will be especially alerted should they become a nationwide focus of public complaint or distress during the years ahead. The accumulated numbers involved will be extremely difficult to ignore.
Trump likes people with nerve who believe in what they do. Three weeks before he rode down the escalator of his Trump Tower to announce his run for the Presidency, he promised the Liberal Party he would consider what he could do to set an example by repairing some of the buildings of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) that stand across from his newly built golf course in the Bronx.
When we pushed back at his initial reluctance, he said he admired the passion and interest and would look closely into working on the buildings ‘as soon as I run for President.’ Being President will not change that attitude. And making his buildings the center of the American Universe as we fight for what we believe will definitely not go unnoticed.
When We the People decide to protest the acts of his administration…or his lack of action…we need not march on Washington…we simply need to organize and march on the nearest Trump property available.
Going way beyond Reagan’s wish for big business power over big government, this newly elected group might not focus on what we once thought mattered – American democracy, common sense, openness, upward mobility and a better life. Organizing and speaking out for those beliefs will take a continuous effort. And like it or not, he will listen. And if it is done right, will take action.