“Civics”

While sorting out the goals and needs of People’s Economics, one thing stands out: how do we wind up with some general agreement on the system(s) of our world?  That’s where this piece, first run two years ago, comes in.  

Driving down the interstate, your safe travel and even your life depends a lot on the competence of many other people. Sure, there is a body of law and court precedent and paid agreements with insurance companies that enforces the basic codes of decency and safety. But in the end it really comes down to the skill and attention of comrades in gasoline and steel being at their best not just casually but constantly.

Of course this fails from time to time, but considering how much time people spend behind the wheel it’s amazingly seamless and simple. The system largely works – we all get there nearly all the time. We depend on each other to not be stupid and the vast majority of the time it comes together.

This basic lesson in civics is a good place to start as the nation unravels into some kind of dark hole that frankly promises to only become darker with time. It’s a thought experiment, a self-taught lesson worth thinking through by malcontents and eggheads alike, by both those in power and those in pain.

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Mid-Term Entrenchment

Electino Day is 6 November. There is likely to be a ‘blue wave” that will change the US House and many statehouses to Democratic control, but the Senate is not likely to change. The net result is almost certainly going to be entrenchment and gridlock, meaning that nothing is going to be done for the next two years.

It’s important to take a break from the description of People’s Economics to consider why this is likely the case, and why the repudiation of Trump will not be complete. The short answer is that while America would like to move ahead in a different direction, it simply has not been properly defined.

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Stability

Mailbombs sent to former presidents and television networks. Stocks volatile and uncertain. New trade costs and restrictions announced weekly, if not daily. Chaos is reigning in the United States right now, upsetting anyone who stays connected and informed.

This is not what government should be encouraging. Stability and order are always the first job of government, and in fact what it exists for in the first place. That may sound like a very conservative interpretation, but for the vulnerable who need protection and help reliability is a matter of life and death.

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Fighting Back?

Difficult time appear to cal for action, but they demand first and foremost character and judgment. Unfortunately, Sen Elizabeth Warren failed spectacularly at demonstrating both.

Her desire to take a new approach to countering bullying and nonsense in public discourse is understandable, but it takes a lot more than a cute gimmick. Worse, her inability to navigate the delicate issues of race and identity have demonstrated that Democratic leadership is still generally clueless about this topic and will continue to only make things worse.

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Raging Against Rage

When I wrote this piece, the Tea Party was just starting to rise in opposition to Obama’s … well, it certainly wasn’t his being black that was an issue, so it must have been abuse of power or something like that.  But the process that got us to where we are today was just starting.  What was it like?  It was remarkably predictable, sadly.  Here we are, a bit lower than I ever hoped but really on the same path.  Enjoy this trip back in time.

The situations have been coming on strong for years, but they seem to be peaking.  Everywhere you visit on the internet, and sometimes even in public, we all run into someone who can take any subject and make it into a kind of right-wing rant:

“Sure is hot today!”
“That’s not evidence of global warming!”

It wasn’t long ago that characters and attitudes like this were the domain of the other side – those who were against The System, The Man, The Establishment, They.  Has everything flipped, or is this all one big phenomenon?

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Beyond Politics

This post from a year ago may seem like wishful thinking. After all, isn’t everything political these days?  No, actually, it isn’t.  We’re in a tribal war, and politics – the art and science of human interaction, especially for accomplishing social goals – is completely broken. 

Our times are often described as “after”. The term “post-modern” came into vogue decades ago as art and architecture slid back into a desire for structure and meaning. “Post-racial” turned into a handy way for white people to never talk about what was right in front of their eyes. “Post-truth” became a useful word in 2016 as the effervescence of “truthiness” fizzled.

Welcome to “post-reality,” the final frontier of after.

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Worker’s Paradise

This piece, from 2015, is a good one to mark the 200th birthday of Karl Marx. His analysis of history, and where it appeared that we were going, was remarkable in many ways, mostly in how badly it was misinterpreted.  As we move ahead to a market driven economy that is remarkably distinct from an industrial economy, an understanding of Marx (along with Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, and Milton Friedman) seems more essential every day – assuming it’s done properly, that is.

Imagine for a moment that you live in the most fair and equitable economy you can dream up.  There are some very specific things that most people in the developed world, especially Americans, would think would be a part of this.

There would be upward mobility, where family circumstances do not determine the kids’ future.  People could find their own way according to their own talents and choices as to what makes a good life.  Money would rarely limit dreams, as a free-flowing capital market would provide funding for good ideas at reasonable rates.  Most would own their own homes and have control over their own destiny.  Workers would own the company they work for, banking their retirement at a reasonable age on the place that they helped build.  Basics like food and access to health care would not be expensive.

Such a place is the embodiment of pieces of both the Democratic and Republican parties in odd turns.  This place of the imagination has also been  pretty close to the perfect state envisioned by Karl Marx, although it may be descending into an oligarchy (which I prefer to call “gangster state”).

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