Take What Happened Very, Very Seriously

This post originally appeared at Imagine Democracy.

People don’t want to say that Republicans attempted a “coup” but they certainly attempted to overturn the clear results of a democratic election. They tried to end our democracy, right in front of our eyes.

The election was almost “close enough to overturn.”

The Democrat received (the counting is not finished) over 6 million more votes but it was “close.” This is because our 18th-century electoral college system, designed to keep the “slave states” happy, does not belong in the 21st century.

If Republicans had blocked a few more people who couldn’t get birth certificates, etc. from voting…

If Republicans had been able to close a few more polling places…

If they had taken away a few more ballot drop-boxes…

If Republican had scared just a few more people…

If Republicans had told just a few more lies…

If the USPS had delayed a few more ballots…

If just a bit fewer Democrats had voted…

they very well might have gotten away with it.

Take what happened very, very seriously. Because they tried. Right in front of our eyes.

And if we don’t take steps to do something about this, next time they will do … just that bit more.

Right Before Our Eyes

Storm troopers in the cities? A Trumpian takeover of democracy?

The question isn’t if this is what the Trumpers are doing, it’s will they succeed.

A lot of people are in the “it can’t happen here” camp on this. But it is happening, we’re watching it. Trump says he is sending these – what should we call them – to all the “Democrat” cities. Calling them Little Green Men is good, because that is the model he is following.

Trump is following the Putin 21st-century stealth takeover model. Will Trump also follow the Putin election model? The one where Putin always wins “elections” even when he is unpopular?

Trump said this, and it is worth remembering that he did:

“You know, the left plays a tougher game, it’s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher. Okay? I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump — I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad. But the left plays it cuter and tougher.”

(“Bikers for Trump”? So maybe call these forces invading our cities “Night Wolves?)

There really is no question this is what he is doing. He told us, and we are seeing it happening. (Do we take him seriously or literally?) The question is, will it work?

It seems clownish, he is clearly not all there. The Trumper crowd are so incompetent that it is hard to take them seriously.

But make no mistake it IS happening right before our eyes. He says it out loud, and then he does it, and then people ask if it is happening?

But don’t worry the Democrats are not happy and might do something.

Trade and Jobs and A Better Life

Breitbart used some of my stuff about trade in 2016, quoting it out of context, and got it wrong. Trumpers think that China and other trade partners “outnegotiated” the US. But they didn’t. The trade deals were exactly what the corporate-controlled US negotiators wanted.

But it wasn’t the bad trade deals themselves that hurt us so much as the way they were used by American businesses to hurt us.

Here is what I mean. “Trade” is when places that can grow bananas exchange them for things that come from places that can grow corn, etc. But we call it “trade” when we close a factory here and open it in China, making the same things to sell in the same stores, because they get paid less there.

The thing is, that can be a good thing for all of us IF it is done in a way that benefits all of us. And it can be. If you take the resulting gains (the difference between what people here were paid vs what they’re paid there) and use those gains to give everyone here better jobs or a better life, then we all benefit. If you invest that money in better infrastructure here, a more efficient economy, etc, then we are all climbing a ladder. And also the Chinese (or other trade partners) benefit from getting the jobs. Then over time they can do the same thing to climb the same ladder. That’s a win-win.

But instead of doing it that way, what happened was a few already-wealthy people just pocketed those gains instead of sharing them by. They didn’t invest in better jobs, or in better infrastructure or education, etc. They just pocketed it.

Even worse, they used the lower-paid jobs there as leverage to force people here to accept lower wage jobs, “or else your job goes, too.” They intentionally created unemployment. Unions were busted.

How did this happen? You’d think in a democracy the government would work to ensure that We the People would benefit from deals our government made. Our government should have made sure the trade deals were used to help us. But it did the opposite.

This happened because our government was “captured.” Instead of doing things for all of us the government started only doing things that benefited the financial types at the expense of the rest of us. This problem was always around. But the real change happened starting in the 1970s, and the effect hit us in the 1980 election. “Free trade” and “tax cuts for the rich” and “cutting government” (which means cutting spending on infrastructure and education etc, as well as cutting the regulatory protections that kept big business from controlling everything) and the rest happened, and we are reaping the whirlwind since.

Trade can be used for good or bad. It isn’t “trade” that’s the problem.

MMT Explains What Governments Can Do. It Is Not A Proposal.

This post originally appeared at We CAN Have Nice Things.

At Business Insider, Jim Edwards and Theron Mohamed do a good job explaining MMT in, “MMT: Here’s a plain-English guide to ‘Modern Monetary Theory’ and why it’s interesting.”

They begin with these bullet points:

  • MMT is a big departure from conventional economic theory. It proposes governments that control their own currency can spend freely, as they can always create more money to pay off debts in their own currency.
  • The theory suggests government spending can grow the economy to its full capacity, enrich the private sector, eliminate unemployment, and finance major programs such as universal healthcare, free college tuition, and green energy.
  • If the spending generates a government deficit, this isn’t a problem either. The government’s deficit is by definition the private sector’s surplus.
  • Increased government spending will not generate inflation as long as there is unused economic capacity or unemployed labour, MMT proposes. It is only when an economy hits physical or natural constraints on its productivity — such as full employment — that inflation happens because that is when supply fails to meet demand, jacking up prices.
  • MMT proponents argue governments can control inflation by spending less or withdrawing money from the economy through taxes.
  • Needless to say, traditional economists have some issues with all this.

Just ONE quibble with that, where they write, “It proposes governments that control their own currency can spend freely.” They should have written It EXPLAINS, not that it “proposes.” Big difference.

MMT EXPLAINS that governments that control their own currency can do a lot of things.

The Lockdown

The “lockdown” that started in March was intended to “flatten the curve” so hospitals didn’t get overwhelmed. This would “buy time” for the federal government to get containment measures in place – testing, tracing and isolation – so we could reopen the economy. The “stimulus” was to help businesses and people get through that time.

But the federal government didn’t get containment measures in place. The terrible history of what happened instead will be remembered.

And now the virus is spreading out of control, the stimulus is running out and tens of thousands of us are dying.

No one knows where this will go. It is just a horrifying situation.

Elections have consequences.

You’re Dead

Hear the unloved weeping like rain
Guard your sleep from the sound of their pain

1966, Norma Tanega – You’re Dead

Don’t sing if you want to live long
They have no use for your song
You’re dead, you’re dead, you’re dead
You’re dead and outta this world

You’ll never get a second chance
Plan all your moves in advance
Stay dead, stay dead, stay dead
Stay dead and outta this world

Run fast don’t stand in the sun
There’s too much work to be done
You’re down, you’re down, you’re down
Youre down and outta this world

Don’t ever talk with your eyes
Be sure that you compromise
You’re dead, you’re dead, you’re dead
You’re dead and outta this world

Hear the unloved weeping like rain
Guard your sleep from the sound of their pain
Long gone, long gone, long gone
Long gone and outta this…

Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore

RIP John Prine

While digesting Reader’s Digest in the back of a dirty book store
A plastic flag, with gum on the back fell out on the floor
Well, I picked it up and I ran outside, slapped it on my window shield
And if I could see old Betsy Ross I’d tell her how good I feel

But your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
They’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war
Now Jesus don’t like killin’, no matter what the reason’s for
And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore

Well, I went to the bank this morning and the cashier he said to me
“If you join the Christmas club we’ll give you ten of them flags for free”
Well, I didn’t mess around a bit, I took him up on what he said
And I stuck them stickers all over my car and one on my wife’s forehead

But your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
They’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war
Now Jesus don’t like killin’, no matter what the reason’s for
And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore

Well, I got my window shield so filled with flags I couldn’t see
So, I ran the car upside a curb and right into a tree
By the time they got a doctor down I was already dead
And I’ll never understand why the man standing in the pearly gates said

“But your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
We’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war”
“Now Jesus don’t like killin’, no matter what the reason’s for
And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore”