MDP207 NJ 7 hours ago
NYT and the majority of its readers are scared to death that someone who has a track record of real [business] accomplishments – instead of hot air and feel good politics – might be elected President. I have no vested interest in Donald Trump, but the real and dismaying awakening is seeing the fear and loathing among those who think they are superior – by education, location of residence, and other phony criteria – to other Americans.
You anti-Trump-ers are just as bad, biased and extreme as the “right wingnuts” you decry. Just the opposite side. Look in the mirror!
How America’s rich betrayed their fellow citizens
Anthony J Gaughan
In the past, wealth came with responsibility. Today’s rich avoid taxes, military service, and charitable giving. No wonder we’re seeing a populist backlash
The author F Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that the “rich are different than you and me”.
Fitzgerald’s observation rings especially true today. The growing divide between the wealthy and everyone else is one of the pre-eminent issues of the 2016 presidential election. A tidal wave of public anger over income inequality and the decline of the middle class has made the rich a popular target on the campaign trail. The best example is the remarkable success of Bernie Sanders, who has tapped into the populist spirit of the electorate by calling for a “political revolution” against the “billionaire class”.
Republicans routinely condemn such rhetoric as the reckless promotion of “class warfare” by irresponsible populists, but the reality is class conflict is a two-way street.
Sanders and other populists did not create the class tensions in American society. Instead, wealthy Americans themselves played a central role in creating the conditions that gave rise to the angry and populist mood of the 2016 election.
The economic data make clear why populism is the dominant theme of the 2016 campaign.
Although America has the largest economy in the world, real wages have not gone up since 1972 because most workers have experienced stagnating incomes for decades. Across the country middle-income Americans face a precarious economic future. Median income has fallen in over 80% of America’s countiessince 2000, a trend that is accelerating. Even mortality rates reflect growing income inequality. Poor and rural Americans now die at rates well above that of wealthy and urban Americans.
Meanwhile the rich just keep getting richer. A study by the Pew Research Center found that the median net worth of upper-income families is now 70 times greater than that of lower-income families. As of 2015, the 400 richest Americans had a combined wealth of $2.3tn. Over 75% of the nation’s wealth is held by 10% of the population, and the gap between the rich and the middle class in the US is the highest ever measured.
America has become a nation of pervasive economic inequality. It’s no wonder, then, that the 2016 election has witnessed a populist uprising.
But class conflict does not flow only from the bottom up. It’s also a top-down phenomenon. Since the 1980s, rich Americans have maximized their share of the nation’s prosperity at the expense of the rest of the country. Adding insult to injury, a growing body of evidence suggests that many rich people today simply do not care about their fellow Americans. The old concept of noblesse oblige has declined among the wealthy to a disturbing degree.
To understand how the rich have changed, one needs to understand how the upper classes used to behave.
No single location encapsulates the worldview of “old money” families better than Harvard’s Memorial church, which stands in the center of Harvard Yard. The church’s walls list the Harvard students, alumni and faculty members who have perished in America’s wars since 1917.
The numbers are breathtaking. During the world wars, thousands of Harvard students and alumni served in the US military. In all, about 400 died in the first world war and nearly 700 in the second world war. The ranks of Harvard fatalities included Quentin Roosevelt, the youngest son of Theodore Roosevelt, and Joseph Kennedy Jr, the older brother of John F Kennedy.
Harvard’s military death toll is particularly staggering when one considers that in the early 20th century, Harvard’s student body was drawn primarily from America’s richest and most well-connected families. Those families could have pulled strings to ensure their sons stayed out of combat. But they did not, as powerfully demonstrated by the list of names at Memorial church and similar memorials across the Ivy League. During the world wars, the upper classes did their part to defend the nation.
Harvard is not unique. Military experience is rare among America’s political and economic elite. None of the current presidential candidates has served in the military, and only 18% of members of Congress are veterans, thelowest percentage in generations.
Mitt Romney, an immensely wealthy Harvard graduate, revealed the cavalier attitude of the rich toward military service during the 2008 presidential campaign. As the Iraq and Afghanistan wars raged, critics pointed out that none of Romney’s five sons had served in the military. In response, Romney defended his sons by declaring that they served their country by “helping me get elected”.
The fact that Romney viewed working on a relative’s political campaign as the patriotic equivalent of battlefield service revealed just how tone-deaf many in America’s upper classes have become.
The military is only one example of how disconnected wealthy Americans are from their country. The extraordinarily low rate of charitable giving among the rich offers more evidence. Even though we live in a time of entrenched income inequality, poor Americans actually give a higher percentage of their income to charity than the rich do. The lack of generosity among America’s upper classes shows no signs of abating. Although the overall wealth of the upper classes is growing, levels of charitable giving continue to fall among the rich.
The selfish worldview of America’s upper classes is underscored by their demand for ever greater financial rewards. In the last 50 years, CEO compensation rates have soared. For example, in 1965 the typical CEO made about 20 times as much as average workers. By 2013, the CEO-to-worker pay ratio grew to nearly 300 to 1.
The turning point came in the Reagan era of the 1980s, when executive compensation began to soar. The Gordon Gekko character in the 1987 movie Wall Street perfectly captured the spirit of the decade with his notorious declaration that “greed is good”.
Gekko’s worship of wealth continues to reflect the attitude of America’s upper classes. Wealthy interest groups have hired armies of lobbyists to prevent tax increases in Congress and to block government investigations into alleged corporate wrongdoing. Despite their soaring share of the nation’s wealth, the rich go to enormous lengths to avoid paying taxes. A recent study found that wealthy Americans have moved $36bn into offshore tax havens.
The rich have also poured money into the campaigns of candidates who cut the government programs that most benefit middle-class and working-class Americans, such as public schools and healthcare. And the wealthy increasinglycluster in neighborhoods that isolate them from other social classes.
History shows it does not have to be this way.
As Harvard’s Memorial church demonstrates, the upper classes once felt a strong sense of obligation to their fellow Americans. Indeed, for much of the 20th century, wealthy families like the Rockefellers and the Carnegies established charitable institutions across the country to promote social mobility.
A few prominent billionaires, such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, have continued that noble tradition of socially minded philanthropy. Buffett and Gates serve as inspiring examples of how some people still use great wealth for the benefit of society at large.
But the sad reality is Buffett and Gates do not reflect the general attitude of wealthy Americans. Gordon Gekko does.
It should not come as a surprise, therefore, that middle-class and working-class Americans are so angry at political and economic elites. Until the Buffett and Gates families become the rule and not the exception, it seems likely that populist fury and class conflict will remain the dominant theme of American politics for years to come. The 2016 election is just the tip of the iceberg.
9:37 PM EDT
Neoliberalism has destroyed living wages, our manufacturing base, small business creation, our job market and caused chaos and war around the world. Its made the rich richer and is turning the middle class into the underemployed/unemployed poor. Fatuous, self-serving economic policy for already rich. And a disaster for anyone without surplus capital to invest in markets.
A far cry from Jimmy Carter’s promise that ‘free trade will create world peace.” How’s that working out for us?
Trickle-down, free trade economics is a destructive fraud and there are tens of thousands of cities and devastated communities in this country that prove that point.
9:42 PM EDT
Get a clue. Walmart moves into your neighborhood. They under-price products to drive local businesses into bankruptcy to create monopoly control over local markets. They threaten municipalities with lawsuits if they try to keep them out (to protect local businesses). And leave people with no other place to buy stuff.
Walmart is a poverty-making machine. Stuff made by poor people, sold to us by poor people and bought by poor people. Bad capitalism. Bad economics. Bad for America and bad for places like China too. Neoliberalism does nothing but make more poor people and a few people richer than god.
9:58 PM EDT [Edited]
It doesn’t even help those with skills, unless we were also born into privileged families. I have a PhD that practically excludes me from the economy. I just came back from visiting someone with an MA and in the same situation.
Neoliberalism also destroys upward economic mobility. Elites have become more homogeneous and bounded by the old school ties. The only college faculty in this country that actually come from working class backgrounds are all retired out. The new crowd reflect the upper-middle class to stinking rich from around the world.
Skills, competence and merit-based opportunity mean nothing when the primary requirement for a job or advancement is that you ‘went to the right schools’ or belong to the right social class.
Or as the Chancellor of my public university put it: “if you can’t afford it, you don’t belong.”
America is more class-bound than the UK and social mobility in the US is among the worst in the western world.
I was eight years old and runnin’ with a dime in my hand Into the bus stop to pick up a paper for my old man I’d sit on his lap in that big old Buick and steer as we drove through town He’d tousle my hair, say son take a good look around This is your hometown, this is your hometown This is your hometown, this is your hometown.
In `65 tension was runnin’ high at my high school There was a lot of fights between the black and white There was nothin’ you could do Two cars at a light on a Saturday night in the back seat there was a gun Words were passed, a shotgun blast Troubled times had come to my hometown My hometown, my hometown, my hometown.
Now main streets whitewashed windows and vacant stores Seems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no more They’re closin’ down the textile mill ‘cross the railroad tracks Foreman says these jobs are goin’ boys and they ain’t comin’ back to Your hometown, your hometown Your hometown, your hometown.
Last night me and Kate we laid in bed talkin’ about gettin’ out Packing’up our bags maybe headin’ south I’m thirty-five, we got a boy of our own now Last night I sat him up behind the wheel, said son take a good look around This is your hometown.
THOMASTON, Ga. — Not so long ago, this rural town an hour outside Atlanta was a hotbed of textile manufacturing.
In the late 1990s, there were six major mills here. Their machines spun children’s clothing for Carter’s, made tire cords for B.F. Goodrich and produced bed sheets for J.C. Penney, Sears and Walmart.
In all, they employed about 4,000 workers.
By 2001, all of those jobs were gone.
The United States lost 30 percent of its manufacturing jobs between 1998 and 2016, according to Federal Reserve data. As of February, the country had 12.3 million workers in the sector, down from 17.6 million in April 2008. In February 2010, that figure was 11.5 million.
An Economy for the 1%’ looks at how this has happened, and why, as well as setting out shocking new evidence of an inequality crisis that is out of control. Oxfam has calculated that:
• In 2015, just 62 individuals had the same wealth as 3.6 billion people – the bottom half of humanity. This figure is down from 388 individuals as recently as 2010.
• The wealth of the richest 62 people has risen by 45% in the five years since 2010 – that’s an increase of more than half a trillion dollars ($542bn), to $1.76 trillion.
• Meanwhile, the wealth of the bottom half fell by just over a trillion dollars in the same period – a drop of 38%.
• Since the turn of the century, the poorest half of the world’s population has received just 1% of the total increase in global wealth, while half of that increase has gone to the top 1%.
• The average annual income of the poorest 10% of people in the world has risen by less than $3 each year in almost a quarter of a century. Their daily income has risen by less than a single cent every year.
Growing economic inequality is bad for us all – it undermines growth and social cohesion. Yet the consequences for the world’s poorest people are particularly severe.
9:03 PM EST [Edited]
“But there is a growing consensus among business executives and economists that the current circumstances are unusual, almost unique, with people and companies hoarding their savings, wages depressed, inflation nonexistent and a real danger of deflation.”
That’s pretty much the classic definition of an economic depression. It’s what economists call a “Zero-lower-bound (can’t lower interest rates below zero) contraction.” In a zero lower bound economy, monetary policy (lowering interest rates or the more aggressive ‘quantitative easing’) don’t really work. There’s no demand for products or services because everybody’s holding back on spending, which further depresses jobs, wages, and production, in a deadly downward spiral.
We call it “The Great Recession.”
In the Great Depression of the 1930′s, FDR got unemployment down from 25% to 10% with stimulus spending, but it took the much greater WWII spending (partly paid for with 95% taxes on millionaires) to really get the economy going again.
Trump’s economic plans–more of the same giving more money to his rich buddies- would give us more stagnation.
Sanders’ economic policies- higher taxes on the folks who took all the gains from the last 40+ years of economic growth, a tax on speculative (computerized, very rapid) stock trading, and pumping that money into fixing our deteriorating roads and bridges, developing clean non-fossil energy, sending people to college (like the GI bill), cutting the real waste in health care-insurance company bureaucracy, while putting more money into the hands of people who would spend it to buy things, thereby generating more jobs and demand, is the economic policy that ended the Great Depression. It works.
Obama’s smaller stimulus- about $400 billion, mostly in less-effective tax spending- instead of the $1500 billion in spending economists were calling for-has gotten us slooowly out of the worst of the Great Recession, though many of us are still hurting.
9:19 PM EST
Instead of ‘hiring,’ say government SPENDING, in countercyclical programs like unemployment insurance, food stamps, infrastructure spending and other benefits for folks who have less money, and that would be closer.
Of course, in this last recession, Congress chopped many of those programs that were helping keep the economy afloat because they helped people Congress didn’t care about– folks with assets under a couple of million dollars.
8:39 PM EST
The economy is growing-true.
So why do most people think the economy has failed?
It has. All the gains went to the top 0.1%.
Real wages for 80+% of Americans haven’t increased since 1970.
The rise of Trump, love him or hate him, conveys an inescapable message: The United States’ political institutions are in decay, and voters are angry at a government that they perceive (correctly) to be broken. The danger is that Trump’s responses would probably make the underlying governance problems worse — and increase polarization and dysfunction even more.
Fukuyama notes long-ago examples of thriving systems that grew rigid and failed to adapt to change, from the Han Dynasty in China to the Mamluks in Egypt to the Old Regime in France. He warns: “Modern liberal democracies are no less subject to political decay than other types of regimes.” Theorists imagine that democracies are self-correcting, but that doesn’t happen if voters “are poorly organized, or they fail to understand their own interests correctly.”
An angry public watches as the rich get richer, the middle class stagnates and government does nothing. Middle-class prosperity and self-confidence have been the foundation of U.S. democracy. Yet the Pew Research Centerestimates that the share of household income going to middle-class families fell from 62 percent in 1970 to 43 percent in 2014, while the share for upper-income families rose from 29 percent to 49 percent.
9:38 PM EST
‘Political decay’? How about the general decay of Americana. We inhabit an America where individual reality is based around the grandiose illusion of reality television. American popular culture seems little more now than a gigantic selfie…posed and projecting the primacy of ‘me’. Bankers, political leaders, corporate and media elites are all to willing to take what they want at the expense of those who have less. Those who have less are far too willing to take what they want by brute force. Be it religious, political, or cultural ideology, we are willing and all too eager to tear each other apart solely for the want of our own deluded needs and self aggrandizement. In the American 21st century, nothing, absolutely nothing is more important than ‘me’.
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images
Who Gets the Blame for the Slowing Economy?
There are lots of reasons for lackluster global growth. But the real fault lies with political leadership.
TomEastSydney @ samuel glover
This article hits the nail on the head. Trump may be a bigoted bully, but he is far more progressive than most Democrats on a lot of the key issues. He is in favour of universal healthcare; he supports increasing taxes on the super-wealthy; he likes Planned Parenthood and other elements of the social safety net; he has a plan to reduce the cost of medicines. I’m not at all surprised that he is gaining followers from all ends of the political spectrum.
Trump appears to be a racist, so racism must be what motivates his armies of followers. And so, on Saturday, New York Times columnist Timothy Egan blamed none other than “the people” for Trump’s racism: “Donald Trump’s supporters know exactly what he stands for: hatred of immigrants, racial superiority, a sneering disregard of the basic civility that binds a society.”…Everyone knows it: Trump’s followers’ passions are nothing more than the ignorant blurtings of the white American id, driven to madness by the presence of a black man in the White House. The Trump movement is a one-note phenomenon, a vast surge of race-hate. Its partisans are not only incomprehensible, they are not really worth comprehending.
All this surprised me because, for all the articles about Trump I had read in recent months, I didn’t recall trade coming up very often. Trump is supposed to be on a one-note crusade for whiteness. Could it be that all this trade stuff is a key to understanding the Trump phenomenon?
As I watched it, I thought of all the arguments over trade that we’ve had in this country since the early 1990s, all the sweet words from our economists about the scientifically proven benevolence of free trade, all the ways in which our newspapers mock people who say that treaties like the North American Free Trade Agreement allow companies to move jobs to Mexico.
Well, here is a video of a company moving its jobs to Mexico, courtesy of Nafta. This is what it looks like. The Carrier executive talks in that familiar and highly professional HR language about the need to “stay competitive” and “the extremely price-sensitive marketplace”. A worker shouts “Fuck you!” at the executive. The executive asks people to please be quiet so he can “share” his “information”. His information about all of them losing their jobs.
It is worth noting that Trump is making a point of assailing that Indiana air conditioning company from the video in his speeches. What this suggests is that he’s telling a tale as much about economic outrage as it is tale of racism on the march. Many of Trump’s followers are bigots, no doubt, but many more are probably excited by the prospect of a president who seems to mean it when he denounces our trade agreements and promises to bring the hammer down on the CEO that fired you and wrecked your town, unlike Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Here is the most salient supporting fact: when people talk to white, working-class Trump supporters, instead of simply imagining what they might say, they find that what most concerns these people is the economy and their place in it. I am referring to a study just published by Working America, a political-action auxiliary of the AFL-CIO, which interviewed some 1,600 white working-class voters in the suburbs of Cleveland and Pittsburgh in December and January.
Tom Lewandowski, the president of the Northeast Indiana Central Labor Council in Fort Wayne, puts it even more bluntly when I asked him about working-class Trump fans. “These people aren’t racist, not any more than anybody else is,” he says of Trump supporters he knows. “When Trump talks about trade, we think about the Clinton administration, first with Nafta and then with [Permanent Normal Trade Relations] China, and here in Northeast Indiana, we hemorrhaged jobs.”
“They look at that, and here’s Trump talking about trade, in a ham-handed way, but at least he’s representing emotionally. We’ve had all the political establishment standing behind every trade deal, and we endorsed some of these people, and then we’ve had to fight them to get them to represent us.
5:38 PM EST [Edited]
Illegals aren´t supposed to be here no matter what country they are from, plain and simple. There is nothing wrong with deporting them and building a wall along the border. And before anyone says I´m a racist, I´m Mexican-American and teaching English in Mexico right now–today is a holiday, Constitution Day.
The illegals have more political clout in Washington D.C. than many legal middle-class and lower-class Americans. There are a lot of advocacy groups speaking for them–even the American Chamber of Commerce raises a voice for them.
Rich corporations and the wealthy can buy a voice in Congress. Who speaks for the rest of us? Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have tapped into this and have gained the respect and votes of the common man (Hillary is too close to Wall Street).
sal nomoreanchorbabies • 14 minutes ago
The exact same thing is happening all over the country in the construction industry. American men of all races, white, black, Hispanic, etc. used to put up homes, schools, high rise buildings, etc. And the pay was very good. Donald Trump used American workers on his construction sites in NYC and on his building in Chicago, Trump Tower Chicago. Politicians lie when they tell you Americans don’t want these jobs. The truth is the various companies who employ Illegals figured out they could make more money using illegal immigrants to do the same jobs cheaper. They have decided to not use American workers as a strategy to make bigger profits. They pay illegal immigrants low wages with no medical coverage and the American people get stuck paying for their medical bills when the illegals use the ER for their primary care. The whole thing is a racket. Enough is enough. We do not need so many illegal immigrants when there are Americans are out of work.