Easier Than Governing

This post originally appeared at Government Cheese: Chronicling the collapse of democracy

Modern society is complex, vast, complicated. Governing modern society is hard. Getting it right requires a lot of hard work doing the managing, measuring, forecasting, planning, consulting, regulating, making & enforcing rules and all that boring hippie crap. Getting the details right is difficult. All of it means attending endless meetings. The skills needed take decades to master. And it all requires dedication and commitment.

Instead Of Doing The Actual Work

US Republicans and UK Tories have found a way around doing the actual, difficult work: Just don’t do it! Problem solved!

“Conservatives” espouse “The magic of the market.” Instead of governing, why not simply “unleash” the “market” to do everything.

Kill off the rules and regulations. Fire the enforcers. Skip the planning. Cancel the meetings. Demonize the “experts.” Turn it all over to “the magic of the market.”

Above all else, nurture the “market.” Allow any entity calling itself a “corporation” to engage in any scheme that can be imagined.

So Many Good Things

Protect people from disease? The market will do that.
Protect people from fraud? The market will do that.
Make sure the food is safe? The market will do that.
Maintain and improve the standard of living? The market will do that.
Provide shelter? The market will do that.

The Invisible Hand Will Do The Work

After you have dismantled the entire governing process (“the Deep State”) you can just sit back and party while everything is taken care of by an invisible hand engaging in creative destruction. The Lord will work in mysterious ways. Disruption is the key.

It’s magic!

Cash Bonus

This approach comes with a huge bonus. “The Market” rewards those who “unleash” it.

And Here We Are

And here we are. Infrastructure falling apart. Health care systems in shambles. Education systems not educating. Etc. Etc. Etc. Everywhere you look everything in society is falling apart.

Don’t forget the big one: The planet’s climate is disintegrating and could very well wipe out society itself.

The Magic of the Market at work!

Capitalism And Privatization

On the benefits of privatization – turning public assets over to the “private sector”:

Capitalism – “the private sector” – does not invest in the pubic interest. That is not what it is for. It exists to enrich the few “owners,” and even that only in the short term.

Everything else is propaganda to convince the public to let them get away with that.

Why I Don’t Have Time For Republicans – Any Of Them

This morning Ann Coulter circulated a piece saying that the Britt fiasco was the result of Republicans using “DEI” to find a SOTU spokesperson, and this is what happens when you put a female there for quota reasons instead of a white male. Because OF COURSE no one would ever put anyone other than a white make anywhere important.

I’m just so sick of this vile stuff.

I have studied the “conservative movement” long enough to understand what it is about, and their goals. I have documented the backgrounds, training, methods and funding of right-wing operatives and how they develop their propaganda and for what purposes.

I do listen to them and read their stuff, to see what they’re up to. I used to have a gig with Media Matters where I’d do a roundup of what their outlets were saying, every morning, with an analysis of the reasons they were saying it, and how that furthered their objectives. That newsletter was circulated to progressive groups and elsewhere. I had to look at things like pictures of decapitated black kids, or drawings of big-nosed greedy Jews. That was a cesspit of the worst of humanity and it left me scarred.

So excuse me for avoiding them and not approving of giving them even wider platforms and bestowing legitimacy.

Commercial for BIG MONEY (Video)

Big Money: It’s unregulated, gathers by the billions, causes inaction on the climate crisis, bank collapses, and an unaffordable life for billions of people. It sells itself, but now it has its own commercial.

Raise a toast to what made it all possible.

From 2005, “THEY MEAN IT”

I feel like I spent my “blogging” career tryig to warn America what they were letting happen. I mostly stopped writing when all I could think to say way, “I told you so.” (For more click here.)

From 2005, They Mean It:

These people mean it. America is an experiment. Democracy is an experiment. American democracy has not been around very long, and we have never been so perilously close to losing it. All the checks and balances have been removed by allies of these people. They mean it. The leader of the Senate is saying that Democrats hate “people of faith.” They mean it. Time magazine puts on their cover a person who calls for murdering us.

They mean it. A Supreme Court Justice declares that rulers should be chosen by God, not the people. They mean it. The Vice President is the keynote speaker at a conference where other speakers called for “a new McCarthyism” to bring “terror” to intellectuals, saying “let’s oppress them [liberals],” and that “the entire Harvard faculty” are “traitors.” They mean it. They mean it.

Watch your backs. I mean it.

A Game As Old As Wealth

This post originated at Imagine Democracy. If you follow all the links, it pieces together.

Over at sister-site Government Cheese, a discussion of capitalism, propaganda and how a few wealthy people keep things under control

Capitalism literally means that the people with wealth make the investment decisions for society & get the return on investment, and the broad public don’t.

All the rest is just propaganda. Capitalism has nothing to do with “markets” or “freedom” or any of the rest.

It’s really so simple. It’s how a few people maintain control of society for their own benefit and it’s been this way for thousands of year, under different labels. It’s what a monarchy is. The King and his buddies control the wealth. “WE should have this and you should not and here’s why.”

It’s why the United States was such a breakthrough. WE THE PEOPLE will decide what’s best for us, not you. Government of, by and for THE PEOPLE. Not the elites, the wealthy, the aristocrats, the priesthood, the monarchy, the warlord, whatever label put on the ruling wealthy. A country run for the benefit of the people in the country. Whatever label we put on that – democracy, socialism, whatever.

That’s all. All the rest is just propaganda.

Read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in the context of the monarchies of Europe just salivating waiting for “the Union” – the experiment in democracy – fail so they can get the world back where they want it.

Budget Cuts = Eating The Seed Corn

This post first appeared at Government Cheese – Chronicling the Collapse of democracy

Government budget cuts are not what they seem.

Understanding history could also be called ‘wisdom.’ Wisdom told stories about “eating the seed corn.” If you eat the seed corn you can’t plant your crops the following year and everyone eventually starves.

In the early 80s Reaganism/Thatcherism (neoliberalism) convinced the country to drastically cut taxes on the rich and “pay for” it by cutting spending. The US stopped spending on maintaining and modernizing infrastructure – especially transportation infrastructure, on education, on science … on so many things. So we lived off of prior investment for so long. But the infrastructure deteriorated and we certain never modernized it. (Just look at our rail and transportation systems, compared to the rest of the world.)

All that $$ was transferred to the already-wealthy top few who paid for the propaganda that convinced the rest to do this.

Privatization

Another piece of this scam was “saving money” through privatization. Using local trash collection as an example, cities would “save money” by getting rid of public trash collection and contracting with the “private sector” to do this more “efficiently.” What this meant was laying off the decently-paid public employees and hiring them back at minimum wage with no benefits. The infrastructure – trucks etc – to do this would receive little maintenance, collection schedules would be cut back, and people had to drag their trash to the curb instead of having it picked up at the house.

This didn’t actually save money, it shifted it. The newly minimum-wage workers would lose their houses which reduced property prices for e everyone and killed the tax base, they’d go on public assistance, schools would suffer and have higher costs, etc across the board. And poor people can’t spend much so all local businesses suffer, too.

Etc etc etc we can see it all around us now. But it is too late.

See also:

When Government ‘Saves Money’ And Gets ‘Smaller,’ We All Lose

You can “save money” by not changing the oil in your car. But have you ever seen a car that has never had its oil changed? After a while white smoke pours out the back because the rings are ruined. Other parts of the engine are also being ruined. Eventually the engine will seize up and quit and you have to either replace the engine or scrap the car. A simple and inexpensive procedure every few months would have prevented many thousands of dollars in expenses later.

After the Reagan tax cuts we “made government smaller” in several ways that are coming back to bite us now. One way we “saved money” by not “changing the oil” was by deferring maintenance of the country’s infrastructure – the water systems, levees, dams, roads, bridges, airports, ports, rails systems, electrical systems, and the rest of the things we all rely on to bring us safe water, get us to work, ship products and generally move our economy and live our lives.

Now the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) most recent “Infrastructure Report Card” estimates we need to spend $3.6 trillion just to bring the infrastructure up to where it should be, never mind catching up to the rest of the word with high-speed rail and smart electrical grid systems. The bill is getting more expensive every year, and people are dying as bridges, roads and other important infrastructure components fail. Thousands died in New Orleans when the levees failed.

5 ways privatization is fleecing American taxpayers

If people with OK public-employee jobs are replaced by lower-paid workers the community is poorer in the aggregate. More people will need public “safety-net” services. There will be foreclosures. Tax revenue drops because of lower pay but also because poorer people can’t spend as much in stores. Sales taxes drop as stores face fewer customers able to get by.

Reagan Revolution Home to Roost: America Is Crumbling

Only Republicans Can Be Harmed

You’ve heard the term IOKIYAR. It’s OK If You Are Republican. This week we’re experiencing a variation of that: Only Republicans Can Be Harmed. Also Only Republicans Count.

Judge Cannon explained that prosecuting Trump would harm him and his reputation, because of the “threat of future prosecution and the serious, often indelible stigma associated therewith.” Also, “As a function of Plaintiff’s former position as President of the United States, the stigma associated with the subject seizure is in a league of its own.” Therefore the Justice Department has to stop.

Bush v Gore

This is a variation of the Republican Supreme Court’s reasoning in Bush v Gore that if the Florida vote-counting were allowed to continue it might “threaten irreparable harm to petitioner (Bush)” chances of winning the election.

What about harming Gore’s chances of winning if they kept counting? That’s different. Only Republicans Can Be Harmed. Only Republicans have legitimate concerns.

Only Republicans Count

Now we have the latest variation on this concept of Republican legitimacy. Donald Trump says presidents can declassify docs ‘even by thinking about it’.

So, couldn’t President Biden have RE-classified the documents by thinking about it?

Here’s the thing: ONLY REPUBLICANS COUNT! Trump CAN, Biden CAN’T.

In the Republican mind, Democrats are not legitimate. Democrats aren’t “real Americans.” Non-whites also fit into this scheme. They are not “real Americans.” This applies to people who live in large cities as well.

This also goes for non-Christians, by the way. 61 percent of Republicans supported declaring the United States a Christian nation.

The rest of us just don’t count.

July 16 Marks 20 Years Of Seeing the Forest

What a long, strange trip it’s been.

First post, July 16, 2002, Ralph Nader is a Scab:

In the union movement we learned the hard way that the only way to fight the moneyed interests is to stick together. It’s called SOLIDARITY. It’s what “union” MEANS.

When unions are in a fight the members stick together, and those crossing the lines are called “scabs”.

In the 2000 election it was the usual fragile Democratic coalition fighting the usual moneyed interests. Ralph Nader broke the solidarity, divided the coalition, and lost us the election. Ralph Nader is a scab.

No one was “taught a lesson” by people voting for a 3rd party to “teach the Democrats a lesson.” We got Bush and death and corruption and destruction. OBVIOUSLY “the Democrats” did not learn the lesson.

Vote for the right person in primaries! Get the bad Democrats out. Then show up and vote for the Democrat in the general. No matter what. Otherwise the fascists win.

Congratulations Corporations, The Next President Will Be Your Business Partner (Updated)

This post first appeared at Government Cheese – Chronicling the collapse of democracy

It hasn’t sunk in yet but yesterday’s vote to allow Republican election-rigging and keep the filibuster marks the end of democracy. From here on out the fight is over. Republican efforts to rig the next elections will now accelerate. They know they have a free hand to do what they want. The public will tune out, understanding that nothing can change.

Billionaires and corporations funded and engineered the effort to keep the filibuster. Their thinking is that they’re at the top of a system rigged in their favor, and the filibuster keeps anything from changing. The filibuster has maintained their position at the top of the pyramid, blocking all efforts by the people to use government to change the rigged system. All Republicans were part of this pay-for-play operation, of course, but so were many Senate Democrats under Obama, and now Manchin and Sinema.

The corporations and billionaires think the current system of paying politicians to keep the money flowing to them has been locked in.
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Democrats PLEASE Sell The Soup

New poll: The public overwhelmingly supports Democratic POLICIES, and at the same time Republicans have the biggest lead in the “generic ballot” EVER.

How can that be?

For a while I had a software “evangelist” job where I would go out to small startup companies full of engineers that were developing software products for an operating system, and try to help them become real companies. These “companies” were small groups of programmers who had come up with a product. I’d explain the need for investment capital, a good Board, etc…

But mostly I had to explain marketing.

Engineers always believed that if they made a great product they would do really well. People will flock to their product because it was better. They never, ever understood that people wouldn’t do that. I had to introduce them to the idea that they are not their customers. That the ways people get information are not the ways THEY got information. This was almost impossible to get across to people who in their own lives researched everything about technology and understood what they wanted and how to find it…

One of my formative moments was when I was visiting a software store to see how things were going. I say a guy pick up two competing software products, weighing them in his left and right hands. He bought the heavier one.

Dems really have to learn that the public doesn’t hear a list of product features, they hear the benefits. Sell the soup (h/t Anat), not the ingredients. AND SELL THE SOUP don’t just think people will hear about your soup because it tastes better. And seeing something about it in the NY Times does not mean people in Oklahoma are hearing about it.

The reason Campbell’s dominates supermarket soup shelves is because Campbell’s PAYS stores to put more of their product in front of the customer.

Democrats have for DECADES refused to invest in communication. (Remember the whole thing around creating Air America?) “Conservatives” have put literally billions into communication since the 70’s. They have developed a huge propaganda apparatus. Part of that has been the research, training and hiring that now means the public hears almost no Democratic-supporting voices ANYWHERE.