Sunday, November 29, 2020

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – November 29, 2020

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – November 29, 2020

by Tony Wikrent

Strategic Political Economy

For What Are America’s Wealthy Thankful? A Worsening Culture War 

Matt Taibbi, TK News, via Naked Capitalism 11-26-20]

….From the “vast right-wing conspiracy” through the “basket of deplorables” to now, the Democratic message increasingly focuses on the illegitimacy of the ordinary conservative voter’s opinion: ignorant, conspiratorial, and racist, so terrible that the only hope is mass-reprogramming by educated betters.

On the other hand, Republicans from Goldwater to Trump have warned that coalitions of “marauders” from the inner cities and “bad hombres” from across the border are plotting to use socialist politics to seize the hard-earned treasure of the small-town voter, with the aid of elitist traitors in the Democratic Party.

Spool these ideas endlessly and you get culture war. Any thought that it might abate once Trump left the scene looks naive now….

This is what happens when the very wealthy stop having a stake in the outcome of a country’s future. Having long ago stopped investing in ameliorative programs to keep cities and small towns alive, they stop bothering with unifying national legends, too, letting long-simmering divisions rise….

...we’re now back to corporate-sponsored tales of half against half. What’s always forgotten is who’s paying for these messages. We have two donor-fattened parties that across decades of incompetence have each run out of convincing pitches for how to improve the lives of ordinary people. So they’ve settled into a new propaganda line that blames voters for their problems, with each party directing its base to demonize the other’s followers. Essentially, in the wake of Trump, the political class is accepting the inevitability of culture war, and urging it on, as something preferable to populist revolt.

Divided Societies In Decline Use Scapegoats To Re-Unify

Ian Welsh, November 24, 2020

America is moving towards a cold, and perhaps hot war with the rising superpower and the last superpower (China and Russia). At home, passions are hot and at some point some groups are going to be chosen as the “bad Americans. The traitors.” Some part of the elite (a small part) will be thrown to the dogs, and so will many of the powerless.

This doesn’t happen in all great powers in decline, to be sure. But it’s common play and it has powerful people other than Thiel pushing it. They see America’s decline and its disunity and they are looking for a way to turn the decline around or at least distract Americans from the actual authors of the decline (that would be people like Thiel) towards scapegoats.

Know Your Enemies

Ian Welsh, November 23, 2020

An enemy is someone who means you harm and has the means to inflict it…. You must know who wants to harm you and has the means. Let’s start here:

“If America’s distribution of income had remained the same as it was in the 3 decades following the second world war… A low-income American earning $35K this year would be earning $61K. A college-educated worker now earning $72K would be earning $120K.”

Everyone responsible for this is your enemy, unless you’re in somewhere between the top 4% to top 10%….

So the people who are responsible have robbed you of a million or more dollars, and a good, prosperous life. These people had names. It started with with intellectuals like Milton Friedman and the oligarchs who funded economics departments to overturn the economic orthodoxy the old order ran on. It moved onto politicians, executive and CEOs. Margaret Thatcher, and Reagan; then Blair and Clinton, who made their victory complete. Thatcher understood that it was Blair who made her victorious, until Labour accepted “There Is No Alternative” they could have simply undone almost everything she did. Clinton, cutting welfare and smashing blacks and poor people in the face with punitive jail sentences, was Reagan’s heir more than George Bush Sr. ever was.(Biden, of course, was there for all of it and supported almost every shitty piece of it. Enemy. If you can’t manage “enemy, but perhaps not as bad an enemy as Trump, you can’t think.”)

Now, here’s another fact: wage theft is almost equal to ALL other theft combined, except (get this) it isn’t considered a crime. That’s right, when your boss steals from you, it’s a civil/regulatory matter! Who’s the enemy?

The Epidemic

Over 900 Mayo staff have gotten COVID-19 in past two weeks 

[Post-Bulletin, via Naked Capitalism 11-23-20]

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – November 22, 2020

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – November 22, 2020

by Tony Wikrent

China Emerges Victorious in Trump’s Trade War

China scores victory as 15 Asian nations sign world’s biggest free-trade deal 

[South China Morning Post, via Naked Capitalism 11-16-20]

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership accounts for about one-third of the world’s population and economy, but does not include the United States

East Asia Decouples from the United States: Trade War, COVID-19, and East Asia’s New Trade Blocs (PDF)

Petersen Institute for International Economics, via Naked Capitalism 11-20-20]

Lambert Strether: As Michael Pettis points out, the RCEP members are all net exporters. So who buys the goods?

KT Chong commented in the Weekend Wrap on Ian Welsh last week:

America has not yet realized: [with] the signing of the RCEP, China has effectively prevailed in — i.e., “won” — the open trade and economic war with the US.

With RCEP and the entire Asia Pacific as its economic and free trade sphere, China has maneuvered into an economic and strategic position in which it will have very little to fear from being decoupled or even sanctioned by the US. Now America and its Western allies will no longer be able to defeat China through trade, decoupling, sanctions or any economics means. With RCEP, China’s economic future is secured…. This will be the longest-lasting legacy of the Trump administration: starting and then losing the trade and economic war with China, in just three years, and now China’s rise to economic supremacy is all but certain.

RCEP set to supercharge the New Silk Roads 

Pepe Escobar [Asia Times, via Naked Capitalism 11-16-20]

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – November 15, 2020

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – November 15, 2020

by Tony Wikrent

America is an undeveloping state

Trump Is Staging A Coup — Why Are Dems Not Sounding The Alarm?

David Sirota, November 10, 2020

Most ominously of all, Republican lawmakers in PennsylvaniaGeorgiaWisconsinMichigan and Arizona are already insinuating the results may be fraudulent, even though they haven’t produced any evidence of widespread fraud.

Why is public perception so important? Because as Ohio State University law professor Edward Foley shows in a frighteningly prescient 2019 article, legislatures could use the public perception of fraud to try to invoke their  constitutional power to ignore their states’ popular votes, reject certified election results and appoint slates of Trump electors.

Trump is attempting a coup in plain sight

Ezra Klein, November 7, 2020 [Vox]

[Twitter, via Heather Cox Richardson 11-9-2020]


The Empire Strikes Back

The Democrats Are Already Back on Their Bullshit: The party is back to what it does best: blaming the left for its failures.

Paul Blest, November 6, 2020 [discourseblog]

Rep. Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House who represents deep-blue Charleston, SC, implied during the call that if the Democrats talk about Medicare for All or really anything that would remotely seem like the they might try to improve people’s lives once they’re in power, it would be disastrous in Georgia, where the party is trying to secure a Senate majority by taking two seats off Republicans in January runoffs.

This is despite the fact that most of the incumbent freshman members who co-sponsored Medicare for All—many of them not exactly self-described progressives, aside from Katie Porter, the most successful of the bunch—all won their races….

One thing centrist Democrats might consider is that in a lot of places, their brand is absolute garbage even if their policies are well-liked. How else do you explain a 23-point victory for a $15 minimum wage in Florida and a three-and-a-half point loss for Biden, who supported it? How do you square a 67% defeat of right-to-work in Missouri in 2018 along with a six-point loss for Claire McCaskill? What is the lesson from voters casting ballots for recreational weed in Montana and South Dakota, and medical weed in Mississippi, despite those states all going for Trump by double-digits? It’s not the fault of trans peoplesocialists, or Black Lives Matter.

The Democrats are struggling in these places for the same reason they’re beginning to get successfully primaried from the left, at the local, state, and federal level, in the urban centers they’ve ruled forever. They have not learned the lesson of why Bernie Sanders was such a force in the last two primaries even if he ultimately came up short, or the lesson of why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez resonates with so many people

Corporate Democrats Are Attacking So-Called Far-Left Policies

Senator Bernie Sanders, November 11, 2020 [USA Today, via David Sirota’s Weekly Poster 11-13-2020]

With the blame game erupting, corporate Democrats are attacking so-called far-left policies like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal for election defeats in the House and the Senate. They are dead wrong.

Here are the facts:

►112 co-sponsors of Medicare for All were on the ballot in November. All 112 of them won their races.

►98 co-sponsors of the Green New Deal were on the ballot in November. Only one of them have lost an election.

It turns out that supporting universal health care during a pandemic and enacting major investments in renewable energy as we face the existential threat to our planet from climate change is not just good public policy. It also is good politics. According to an exit poll from Fox News, no bastion of socialism, 72% of voters favored the change “to a government-run health care plan” and 70% of voters supported “increasing government spending on green and renewable energy.”

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – November 8, 2020

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – November 8, 2020
by Tony Wikrent



The 277 Policies for Which Biden Need Not Ask Permission 

[The American Prospect, via Naked Capitalism 11-5-20]


  • We found 277 policies that can be enacted through executive branch powers in the Biden-Sanders unity task force document.
  • 48 of the policies, or 17 percent, are rollbacks of Trump-era policy changes.
  • Immigration (78 policies), Climate Change (54 policies), and the Economy (54 policies) have the most potential executive actions.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – November 1, 2020

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – November 1, 2020

by Tony Wikrent

See something? Report voter suppression and obstacles to voting.

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-8-20]

“State Fact Sheets”

[Georgetown University, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-30-20]

“[F]act sheets for all 50 states explaining the laws barring unauthorized private militia groups and what to do if groups of armed individuals are near a polling place or voter registration drive.”

The Pandemic

Mark Meadows: U.S. ‘not going to control’ COVID-19 as nation adds 83,718 new cases 

[UPI, via Naked Capitalism 10-26-20]

“An Oral History of the Day Everything Changed”

Garrett Graff [Wired, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-29-20]

“On March 11, 2020, the coronavirus pandemic seemed to crystallize in the national consciousness. Americans look back on the turning point.” • Interviews with Mark Cuban, Carolyn Maloney, Elise Stefanik, Douglas Brinkley, Scott Van Pelt, Dan Pfeiffer, Claudia Sahm, Peter Tuz. Gabriella Orr, Philip Rucker, Liz Cheney, and Royce Young, among others; PMCs and upwards. However, Our elites obviously don’t read Naked Capitalism:

So, arguably, for the truly alert, March 11 was not the day everything changed, but January 23. (And our elites don’t read Taleb either; Joseph Norman, Yaneer Bar-Yam, and Nassim Nicholas Taleb published Systemic risk of pandemic via novel pathogens – Coronavirus: A note on January 26, 2020.) So the question becomes: Why were our elites so oblivious?