AMERICAN TRIBALISM

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

The Red and the Blue (The 1990s and the Birth of Political Tribalism)

By: Steve Kornacki

Narrated by Steve Kornacki, Ron Butler

Steve Kornacki (American political journalist and correspondent for NBC News.)

Steve Kornacki identifies the source of 21st century political tribalism in his book, “The Red and the Blue”.  

Political tribalism is not new.  Political tribalism shows itself many times in history. Tribalism is shown in the early days of political party formation, in the American Civil War, in the South’s reconstruction after the Civil War, and in the 1929 depression’s aftermath.

In the late 18th century, it was the Federalist Party versus the Democratic-Republican Party.  Alexander Hamilton’s tribe is the Federalist’ party.  Thomas Jefferson’s tribe is the Democratic-Republican’ party.  Hamilton’s tribe insists on a strong central government.  Jefferson’s tribe insists on State’s rights. 

In the Civil War, the stage is set for the northern state’s political tribe (largely Republican) versus the southern state’s political tribe (largely Democrat).  In some sense it is a continuation of the two tribes represented by Hamilton and Jefferson.  The respective leaders of the northern and southern tribes are Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis.

During the Franklin Roosevelt years, the followers of Herbert Hoover headed the Republican tribe, rallying against Roosevelt’s National Industrial Recovery Act.

The vituperative relationship between earlier political tribes was as vicious then as it is now. What Kornacki tells us in “The Red and the Blue” tribalism is revivified, if not reborn, in the 1980 s and is playing out in today’s America. 

Of course, tribalism in America goes beyond political parties.  Tribalism exists in the long history of American discrimination. Kornack touches on that reality with his recollection of Jessie Jackson’s 1984 and ’88 presidential campaigns.

Discrimination is a tribal conflict.  It is not exclusively held by any political party but by a cultural divide. 

Murder and isolation of Indians, and slavery are the most egregious examples of cultural tribalism in American history.  That conflict is seen when a tribe with political power discriminates against another.  Indians, blacks, Italians, Japanese, Hispanics, and Indians (not to mention various religions) have experienced tribal discrimination because of their weaker political power.

In America, the tradition of slavery began in mid-17th century.  Indian discrimination dates to the American revolution and reaches a peak with President Andrew Jackson’s enforced “Trail of Tears”.

Donald Trump and Andrew Jackson are polarizing political figures that drink from the same trough. They reflect the tribalism of both Red and Blue political power brokers against minorities. 

Andrew Jackson is the Father of the spoils system in which the president uses his power and position to appoint civil servants. 

Trump is a “spoils to the victor” and “loyalty above all else” President. Jackson, like Trump, appoints civil servants based on loyalty to the President, without necessary qualification.  To Trump and Jackson, the goal is to win, and when they win, they expect all who report to them to be loyal to their President. Trump and Jackson consider themselves Kings in their roles as Presidents. Neither defer to Congress, or the Judiciary.  They use their power and position to prove their “royalty”. 

Sexual discrimination is the oldest tribal conflict of all.  It is shown in the beginning of recorded history, and undoubtedly began with humanities’ dawn. 

The 20th and 21st century exemplars of sexual tribalism are the behaviors of Clinton and Trump.  Kornaki’s book reminds listeners of Paula Jones. Her story is no less reprehensible than Trump’s dalliance with Stormy Daniels when his wife is pregnant. Many men use power and position to disrespect women. Men’s reasons are many but the consequence reinforces the world’s history of gender inequality.

What is striking about “The Red and the Blue” is its political spin.  Living through the years of which Kornaki writes, one is struck by how much one forgets.  From Kornaki’s reminder of Clinton’s caricature as “Slick Willie”–to his conclusion that Newt Gingrich is the source of 21st century tribalism–to Patrick Buchanan’s “make America Great Again” campaign—to Ross Perot’s “Bloomberg like” pitch for the presidency, Kornacki’s reminders are revelatory.

Clinton seems heir to Franklin Roosevelt, while Trump seems heir to Andrew Jackson.  (This is a personal observation; not Kornaki’s suggestion.)  Clinton is a dissembler, like Roosevelt.  Clinton and Roosevelt knew what they wanted and pursued it through manipulation of legislators, either by the clever use of words or through the power of office. 

Bill Clinton (42nd President of the Untied States.)

Clinton understands politics and how to translate the will of Washington’s Red and Blue tribal leaders. 

In contrast, Trump bulls his way through the Presidency. Trump bypasses, intimidates, or co-opts Washington’s Red and Blue leaders. 

One realizes after listening to Kornaki’s book, Clinton is twin to Trump in respect to moral turpitude.  However. Clinton is a cleverer and more effective President.  Trump, like Perot, finds politics is not for sissies. History shows politics cannot be separated from governance. Neither Trump or Perot understand politics.

Kornaki reflects on Clinton’s rise to the presidency.  Kornaki shows how politically astute Clinton is in dealing with the scrutiny of candidates for public office.  Kornaki artfully illustrates the era by recalling the details of Reagan’s appeal and defeat of Mondale, the weakness of the Dukakis’s campaign, Jesse Jackson’s misreading of Clinton, Patrick Buchanan’s tribal speech at George H.W. Bushes second nomination, the Clinton “White Water” and Lewinski scandals, and other stories. Kornacki shows how the table is set for deep Red and Blue conflicts in the 21st century.  Kornacki explains how and why Bill Clinton defeats George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole despite Clinton’s disingenuous dodge of military service, extramarital affairs, budget crises, and ultimate impeachment. 

Clinton is considered by some to be the greatest politician of the 20th century.  His intelligence, charisma, and ambition overcome personal sexual scandals, draft dodging accusations, Red and Blue tribal conflicts, and the tumultuous effects of minority discrimination. Despite all of his personal challenges, Clinton manages to become a two term President.

The national debt grew to over 1.4 trillion dollars during the Reagan years. After the election of George H.W. Bush, the deficit remained high which led Bush to raise taxes when he has said “read my lips-no new taxes”. That and Clinton’s political skill derailed Bush’s election for a second term. Some would argue America prospered under Clinton.

“The Red and the Blue” is not about the birth of tribalism.  It is about tribalism’s re-birth.  Trump shows himself to be an inept politician. To overcome tribalism, American leaders must have political skill.  In the foreseeable future, tribes will exist. 

The only way forward is through politics (the activities associated with the governance of a country).

Steve Kornacki shows America is a Red and Blue nation disrupted by political tribalism.  It is its strength and its weakness.  Politics is the art of getting things done despite tribal differences.  What is needed in America is a leader who can bridge tribal differences.

A PUNCH IN THE FACE

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

American Carnage (On the front-line of the Republican Civil War and the rise of President Trump)

By: Tim Alberta

Narrated by Jason Culp

Tim Alberta (Author, Politico reporter, contributor to the National Review, National Journal, and Wall Street Journal.)

Alberta welcomes reader/listeners to a grudge match in American Carnage

Alberta details the rise of President Trump. 

Alberta has credential as a conservative considering the publications for which he writes.  In his analysis of the rise of Trump, he details Republican discontent with the idea of a Trump nomination.  Many Republicans object to Trump’s rise.  However, their objections are overcome by the truth of the public’s disgust with the direction of American government. 

In the best light, the rise of Trump punches American government in the face; in its worst light, it denigrates the institution of Democracy.

As one finishes Alberta’s analysis of Trump’s rise to the Presidency, both American views seem correct. 

Some Americans will be offended by Alberta’s book. 

Americans might argue Alberta impugns the reputation of the “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” President.  In their minds, government deserves a punch in the face.  Trump gives voice to many American workers. Particularly, Americans who have been marginalized by corporate America.

Some say American Democracy needs reform because Americans are being left behind by their political leaders. 

Others will laud Alberta’s exposure of what some say is the worst American President in history. 

Trump is characterized as a “showman” with no moral center who panders to the ugliest instincts of humankind. Democracy will be the judge of Trump’s performance in November 2020.

Government’s punch in the face is detailed by Alberta with inappropriate remarks Trump makes about immigrants, women, and minorities.  Trump manages to conflate loss of jobs with false accusations and self-serving actions.

  • President Donald Trump falsely claimed that the Obama administration was responsible for slowing diagnostics testing, CNN reported. 
  • However, an aide for a Republican senator said Trump’s claim is inaccurate.
  • The Trump administration however, has cut funding for several agencies responsible for battling the current corona-virus outbreak. 

Arguably, American government does deserve a punch in the face.  However, even if true, Democracy remains the best form of government in the world.

Alberta implies Trump’s punch to government fails to address the real causes of job loss. Creating a trade war has not, and will not, increase American manufacturing. 

Contrary to Trump’s belief that the balance of trade will improve with increased trade sanctions, America’s balance of trade has worsened. Other countries are exporting more while America is exporting less.

Reality suggests re-education of workers are what America needs; not trade-wars, and border walls. 

Trump’s ubiquitous tweets offer titillation and news coverage without providing solutions. Technology is displacing manufacturing which means job skills must be changed.  Alberta, in detailing Trump’s rise, shows Trump is more show than go.

In 2008, loss of homes from unscrupulous lenders hurt working Americans who could not fight back. They lost their jobs and could not pay their mortgages.  Countrywide Financial became the face of lenders accused of misleading marketing to sell mortgages to people who could not afford them.

Angelo Mozillo (Former Chairman of the Board and of Countrywide.)

One might argue Obama, Bush, and their administrations manage to keep American out of a deep depression but at the same time–banks and corporate America were bailed out at the expense of most Americans. 

Today, the Republican party is unquestionably standing behind Donald Trump.  He might even be re-elected.  But Alberta illustrates there are Republicans (like Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Jeff Flake, John Boehner, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, John Kasich, Tim Scott, Bob Corker to name a few) who decry many of Trump’s racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic comments.  These Republicans will not disappear.  Their time may not be 2020 but they will carry water in future elections.

In the 2016 election, Trump capitalizes on worker discontent while Democrats ignore their grievances as something in the past that will be changed in the future.  To every person who lost their home or job, the future is now.

Hillary Clinton and most Democrats, in the previous election, failed to understand how working middle class and lower income Americans felt let down by their government.    One might argue many Trump votes were simply anti-Clinton votes.  Ironically, that will be the plan of some voters in the next election, but it will be anti-Trump.

Hillary Clinton (American politician, diplomat, lawyer, writer, and public speaker, former New York Senator and U.S. Secretary of State.)

Hillary Clinton may have been the most capable of the candidates for the Presidency in 2016, but her negatives outweighed her positives in the minds of the electorate.  Clinton, as with all the world’s women, had to deal with gender discrimination.

Whatever happens in 2020, Democracy will prevail.  Tim Alberta offers many facts that illustrate the resilience of American Democracy.  There are, and always will be, good people on both sides of the political aisle in America.  One hesitates to use that phrase in view of Trump’s ugly remark about the South Carolina conflict between white supremacists and the public.

History shows the Democrats will rise again; and so will Republicans. That is the strength and weakness of Democracy in America.

GARDEN OF EDEN

Yarbrough (Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

New Zealand in 2019

Written by: Chet Yarbrough

Having the wonderful experience of visiting New Zealand as an America tourist was like visiting a biblical Eden. However, no country is without political controversy.

On the one hand, New Zealand has the ambition of being an ecological Eden with no natural predators and a perfectly balanced environment.

Is that realistic? How can nature be nature without predation? From times untold, wild animals have eaten each other.

And then, there are humans. Humans are by nature predators. Environmental degradation is accelerated by economic prosperity.

American media gives positive marks to the current Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Adern. In part because of her immediate response to the Christ Church mass shooting but also because of her environmental effort to reduce greenhouse gases and pollution.

New Zealand is blessed with renewable energy sources from geothermal-power, hydro-power, and a burgeoning wind and solar power industry. Not that this is something only the Prime Minister has done in her short term, but it illustrates the environmental sensitivity of the country.

Prime Minister Adern is not universally applauded by fellow New Zealanders. We had the happy opportunity to spend a day and night with a farming family in New Zealand.

The farming family we spent time with explains there is a conflict between New Zealand’ farmers and the current administration. Over 45 percent of New Zealand is farm land. It is distributed among farmers that have an average size farm of over 350 acres. An important distinction between our countries is that American corporations may use farms as a tax shelter while New Zealanders use farm land to produce more product. There are few if any corporate farms in New Zealand. New Zealand farms are owned by real farmers.

However, farming is a major polluter of land in America; as well as New Zealand.

Many New Zealand farmers seem to be quite upset with Ms. Adern. Over 50% of methane and nitrous oxide in the world comes from farm animals. Cattle, sheep, goats, deer, alpaca, llamas, goats, and chickens are common farm animals raised on New Zealand farms. Land, water, and air quality issues being raised by the current administration are a big concern of the farming community.

New Zealand farmland regulation is creating a furor among some farmers that are being told to change their practices to reduce pollution. The cost of these changes are to be borne solely by the farmer according to the farm family we visited.

Real farmers in both America and New Zealand have a reputation for being independent. That independence is distorted by corporate ownership in America but not in New Zealand. The New Zealand farming community is made of farmers who work the land. One gets the impression they will not re-elect Ms. Adern unless she changes direction.

The irony of what we were hearing is that farmers like all people are concerned about the environment. The problem is in the cost of adjusting farming practices to accommodate environmental concern.

From an outsider’s perspective, the solution seems simple. Farmers in New Zealand are not constrained by corporate farming practices like America. New Zealanders do not farm to shelter income but to produce product. It would seem reasonable for the government to assist New Zealand’ farmers financially to adjust to less environmentally damaging practices. The perception we had from the family we spent the night with was that the current government wants all of that cost to be borne by the farmers.

When the word subsidization is mentioned, both husband and wife of the New Zealand farm family seem to wince. Without knowing the history of farming subsidization in New Zealand, one wonders what happened in its history.

As long as real farmers are producing groceries there seems every reason for tax dollars to be used to help farmers mitigate pollution. Farmers are as concerned about the environment as environmentalists. Where would the world be without food production and real farmers?

Visiting other countries is a guilty pleasure. It is an expensive undertaking that many cannot afford. We loved our time in New Zealand. One sees there is no perfect country. Every country has its discontents; America, not withstanding.

CLOSED MINDS

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By: Michelle Alexander

Narrated by Karen Chilton

MICHELLE ALEXANDER (AUTHOR, CIVIL RIGHTS ADVOCATE, VISITING PROFESSOR AT UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY)

Multicultural societies are threatened by closed minds. Michelle Alexander pulls no punches in explaining how American minds are not exempt.  From both conscious and subconscious actions, people who are perceived as different are treated unequally.   

America like most (if not all) nations is a failed  egalitarian state.  From its early history, America has striven to mitigate inequality but with mixed results, and only marginal successes.

This is not to suggest America is less egalitarian than most nations but that unregulated human nature is a danger to all nations. Witness the murderous regimes of Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein, and more recently, al Assad in Syria.

Money, power, and prestige corrupt every nation’s leaders; whether well or poorly educated. America is different from many nations because society is subject to a system of checks and balances. However, checks and balances have not saved America from discrimination and inequality.

As memorialized in the Constitution’s 14th Amendment (which requires equality of all before the law) America attempts to treat all people equally.  America succeeds in principle and fails in practice. 

Though the American mind is willing, the will fails to support the mind.  Alexander notes how some laws passed by the American government purposely, and sometimes inadvertently, undermine the Constitutional guarantees of equality for all.

The veil of which Dubois is speaking is the real affect of American laws and customs on black Americans. It is the same veil one sees in history that is written by victors; not the defeated.

Examples of unequal treatment are noted by Alexander.  She exposes the insidious affects of the war on drugs and America’s “3 strikes law” that disproportionately affect the poor; particularly those raised in black communities.

Alexander reflects on America’s failure to address root causes of crime—like unemployment, inadequate medical care, poor education, and racial discrimination.  She suggests those failures are exemplified by “…New Jim Crow” laws.  Her point is that “…New Jim Crow” laws are re-hatched by the War on Drugs and “3 strikes law”. 

Jim Crow laws segregated the Southern United States in the late 19th and early 20th century.  Her argument is that today’s Jim Crow laws are like Dubois’s explanation of the veil of American acts of conscience.  It is a veil in the guise of fighting crime. 

No one wants crime; whether poor or rich. The author does not argue that fewer violent crimes occur in poor communities.  She acknowledges more violent crimes occur in poor communities. But, poor communities, like all communities, abhor the reality of violent crime. 

Whether poor or not, all want protection from violence.  No one wants to see their family threatened.  Those truths make the policies of the War on Drugs and 3 strikes appealing to most Americans.  Alexander’s point is these well meaning policies do not address the root causes of crime. They attempt to treat symptoms rather than offer cures. In treating the symptoms, the underlying causes remain untouched and ever virulent.

Alexander suggests the war on drugs and “3 strikes law” are a return of Jim Crow laws that segregated the Southern United States. 

The War on Drugs and 3 strikes neglect the reality of living in poor neighborhoods.  Poor neighborhoods resort to drug use and sale because it is the only job available, or often the only way of escaping the reality of being trapped in a circle of despair.  

When a person is convicted of a violent crime, manufacture or sale of drugs, or minor drug charges, they are marked for life. 

Job applications ask if they have ever been convicted of a crime. If the answer is yes, most are left with poor prospects for employment or advancement.  No effort is made to rehabilitate but only to isolate. Once a criminal, always a criminal.

America chooses not to spend money to educate the young in poor school districts.  America chooses to ignore the circumstances of drug addiction or the need for medical treatment.  Crime is a zero-sum game with no treatment for the psychologically disturbed. Little investment is made in rehabilitation or re-introduction into society for the first-time offender.  

The drug laws and “3 strikes law” dis-proportionally fall on the poor and black as evidenced by America’s prison population.  Alexander argues the real effect of these laws is the same as the historic Jim Crow laws.  They segregate minorities from the dominate American culture.

Alexander’s book is difficult for some to read because it denies the universality of the American Dream.  What is forgotten is how much the luck of race and circumstance play in everyone’s life.  Equally forgotten is the good for those in power is not always good for those without power. 

Dubois and Alexander have something in common.  Minds must be kept open to the truth.  Empathy is needed by both those in power and those without power.  Trust must come from both sides of any power structure. 

Police who brutalize the poor are as guilty of crime as the poor who victimize the rich.  Each needs to put themselves in the other’s shoes to understand their own closed mindedness. 

With better understanding of ourselves and others, more will be done to constructively address public policy failures.  The alternative is increased cultural deterioration, discontent, and violence.  

CORPORATISM

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

The Price of Civilization

By Jeffrey Sachs

Narrated by Richard McGonagle

Jeffrey Sachs (Author, American economist, Columbia University Professor)

Jeffrey Sachs skewers modern Presidents and lionizes John Kennedy.  Written before 2016, one wonders what Sachs might have written about President Trump.

One can easily agree with many of Sachs’ observations of what is wrong with America but his solutions are academic; not pragmatic.  Sachs is too much of an idealist. Corporatism is an out sized economic benefactor for the United States but, as Sachs infers, it is also American democracy’s greatest threat.

Government checks and balances are America’s only defense against corporatism.

“The Price of Civilization” is an unsatisfying audio book.  Not because it is irrelevant but because it’s saccharine idealism and disconnection from the real world.

Though much of Sach’s criticism of Obama, George Bush, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan is deserved, his professorial economics is cloying because it ignores political reality and the truth of human nature.

The father of American economics, Adam Smith, is the first to have recognized the critical role of politics in economics.

Politics is a social science of give-and-take in both democratic and autocratic societies. The difference is–politics in democracy is practiced among the many; while in autocracy, politics is practiced among the few.

Just as Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” includes politics in economics, Thomas Hobbes’ “Leviathan”, introduces human nature to government. Thomas Hobbes notes Human nature is both good and bad. As logic dictates, politics in economics is both good and bad.

Sachs is spot-on as an academic economist. But he ignores political reality.  Public policy has always been a matter of “who’s ox is getting gored” whether democrats or despots are in control of government.

Sachs cleaves to Platonic and Aristotelian platitudes like “all things in moderation”. To suggest that a philosophical awakening of the millennial generation (those born between 1977 and 1992) will cure American lassitude and political apathy is naive.


Sachs optimistically believes the millennial generation will eschew the luxuries of American dreamers (owning hot cars, nice homes, and beautiful clothes) to become voters for change.  Obama represents those voter’ beliefs but fails politically for the same reason Sachs’ book is a mess.

Changing public policy is not going to occur with an American generation that magically begins believing less is more. Re-election of a new President, whether Democrat or Republican, will not fundamentally change America’s system of choosing corporate winners and losers.

One can agree with Sachs’ observation on 2010’s “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission” decision. The Supreme Court erred in identifying corporations as individuals with the rights of unlimited corporate donation to electors.

Defeat of gun control legislation shows how entrenched lobbyist organizations can steer the course of public policy, regardless of a democratic majority’s support of policy change.

Sachs is right in his assessment of the wrong-headedness of what he calls “corporatocracy”; i.e. the institutionalization of an election process that is founded on money rather than public representation. 

Human nature gets in the way of doing the right thing.  Humankind naturally seeks freedom.  When freedom of choice is impinged upon, human beings are reluctant to change.   Of course, this is an over simplification but Sachs minimizes mankind’s innate desire for freedom. 

Human nature is not going to change; i.e. it will always contain good and evil intention. Bernard Madoff comes from the same culture as Warren Buffett.  Regulation of human activity impinges on free choice whenever one person thinks they know what is best for another.

Many Americans are disgusted with the political process in 21st century America.  Even the super rich and rich are not satisfied with the status quo.  The rising gap between rich and poor embarrasses the rich. Trump and the Republican party’s approved tax law illustrates contempt for the middle-class, and ignores the poor.

How can America justify a social security tax for a movie actor’s (or sports star’s) income of millions per year when a middle income family makes $40,000 to $132,900 per year and has to contribute the same amount as a multi-millionaire.

A person with a middle class income will pay 6.2 percent of their income for social security. There is a maximum cap of $8,239.80/year/person. One who makes millions of dollars per year will not have to pay more than that $8,239.80/year; i.e. the same maximum amount a middle income person pays. No wonder social security is going broke.

When one is elected to congress every two years, fund raising becomes the elector’s primary focus of attention.  When corporations speak, electors listen.  Lobbyists and corporate money are more important than the aggregate input of voters.  No wonder American voters are apathetic.

Sachs notes Oliver Wendell Holmes dictum about taxes.  Holmes wrote that he loved to pay taxes because taxes are the cost of civilization.  The weakness of that generalization is in the definition of civilization.  If civilization is that stage of human social and cultural development and organization that is considered most advanced, why does the richest country in the world:

  • 1)have citizens living on the street,
  • 2)have citizens imprisoned-to only isolate and punish, and
  • 3)have children dying because of poor medical care.

When an investor turns a portfolio over to a brokerage company, that investor has to “trust but verify” the actions of the brokerage company in regard to overall portfolio performance.  If the broker under performs the market, the investor knows it is time to change brokers. 

When a government under performs when public tax dollars are invested, voters cannot, without revolution, change governments. 

Sachs accurately notes there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans in the United States.  Both parties talk the talk but fail to walk the walk. Elected officials are too beholding to lobbyists and corporate America.

Americans are reluctant to pay higher taxes because they see no discernible improvement in their lives.  Why invest in a government (pay more taxes) that fails to produce improved results?

Sachs ideas for correcting America’s ills—

  1. Reduce the deficit by cutting military spending and increasing taxes.
  2. Reduce wealth disparity by investing in and retraining an obsolescent work force.
  3. Invest in and improve education with emphasis on primary and secondary graduation.
  4. Create jobs through infrastructure investment.  He argues that dependence on carbon-based energy is to be reduced by conservation with increased investment in alternative energy sources and more scientific research and development. 
  5. He argues that medical insurance should be provided to all Americans with a plan crafted by the medical community.

All of these goals are exemplary but to get there requires a massive (and unlikely) re-invention of human nature.   One could argue that many of these policies were promoted by the Obama administration, but little changed.

It is counterintuitive for a free society to choose moderate consumption.  Add mistrust of the American government and the likelihood of turning more money over to a government that does not work seems stupid to any rationale human being.

Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf, “Industry, technology, and commerce can thrive only as long as an idealistic national community offers the necessary preconditions.  And these do not lie in material egoism, but in a spirit of sacrifice and joyful renunciation.” 

Hitlerian characters are a threat to America when corporatism is the basis of public policy.

AMERICAN RIGHTS

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Rights of Man


By Thomas Paine

Narrated by Arthur Morey

Thomas Paine (Author 1737-1809)

It seems time today to read Thomas Paine’s “Rights of Man”.  Though his primary purpose is to refute Edmund Burke’s condemnation of the 1789 French revolution, his observations on British Aristocracy are the essence of today’s American “moneyocracy”.

Though President Trump is not the originator of American “moneyocracy”, he is its quintessential representative.

In spite of recent mass murders by demented Americans, Trump insists on giving voice to the NRA’s belief in an American right to buy automatic weapons designed only to kill people.

It takes money to run a campaign for public office. Trump, like most politicians, panders to lobbyist’ and business’ interests that distort the American electoral process.

Beginning with congress’s approval of tax reform, America’s ballooning deficit is a direct consequence of a mistaken belief that “a rising tide lifts all boats”. Contrary to the tired refrain “jobs, jobs, jobs” to make “America Great Again”, the current administration is setting the table for the world’s next economic crises.

The “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations are an amorphous scream of disgust by an educated population that resents American “moneyocracy’s” control of the economy, elected representatives, the election system, and the “Rights of Man”.  “Moneyocracy” is an inheritable line of an American aristocracy.

Instead of 18th century Aristocratic control of British government, 21st century America substitutes the wealth of individuals and corporations (classified as individuals) to control American Democracy. This is not a partisan issue in America.

Every President, Republican or Democratic, has sided with corporate interests in this era of corporate largess. The world is in a state of economic upheaval that is fueled by technology. That economic upheaval is not adequately addressed by corporate America. The government continues to subsidize yesterday’s economy at the expense of middle and lower income citizens.

Management executives that are employees of corporate America take salaries 50 times or more than salaries of their average employee. 

The new controller of our economy, the primary interest group of elected representatives, and the master of the American election system is corporate America.

Wealth is the new hereditary right of succession. Corporate America is the thief and ruler of inherent “Rights of Man”.

Once individual compensation reaches beyond rationality, money becomes fuel to maintain America’s “Moneyocracy”, the new hereditary right of succession.

The controller of our economy and political representation is corporate America.

The primary interest group of elected representatives, the master of the American election system, and ultimately, the thief and ruler of inherent “Rights of Man” are corporations and the super-rich. Of course, the rich have always been in control of American government. However, now the rich are not just singular individuals. They are corporations classified as individuals.

The Supreme Court in “Citizens United v Federal Election Commission” in 2010 rules that corporations are individuals.

The Supreme Court’s unwise decision based on freedom of speech identifies corporations as persons. With that nose in Democracy’s tent, corporations could offer millions of dollars to election campaigns. What human being cannot be influenced by such largess? Excessive executive compensation perpetuates “moneyocracy”, but corporate influence is the cause of the loss of the “Rights of Man”.

Tax change is a smoke screen that obscures the real danger of American decline in the 21st century.  It is too blunt an instrument to bludgeon the rich. It smacks of false patriarchy and jingoist rhetoric. 

American history shows that Americans believe that hard work is the source of success but being American does not guarantee a free ride. Equal opportunity is where America fails.

Education, anti-discrimination legislation, and equality of opportunity have to be strengthened. Corporate America needs to step up. Corporations need to quit wasting money influencing legislators and invest in human rights.

Corporations need to subsidize education by re-training their employees to meet changes wrought by technology.

Corporations must insist on equal treatment of employees, by gender and/or ethnicity. The government needs to re-enforce equal opportunity for all.

America needs to return to the ideals of equal opportunity by allowing entrepreneurs to create wealth through human productivity.  Money is not an end but it has become an end that has no end; i.e. high salaries perpetuate themselves through an Aristocratic “moneyocracy”.  If one says they make a $1,000,000 a year they are saying they are better then someone who makes $10,000 or $100,000 a year.  Salaried compensation is perceived as human value. 

Denying salaries that exceed 50 times average employee compensation is not denying the creation of wealth.  Entrepreneurs that create productive companies that grow to multi-billion dollar enterprises have opportunity to become billionaires; not from salaries, but from building human productivity that creates wealth.

“Occupy Wall Street” is an unlikely precursor of another American Revolution; however, it may be a symptom of an American cancer that debilitates productive life without killing the patient.  “Occupying Wall Street” is not a hippie “sit in” but a plea for reform of American “moneycracy” just as Thomas Paine’s “Rights of Man” was a plea for reform of Aristocratic inheritance.

TALKING HEADS

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It

By Mark Steyn

 Narrated by Brian Emerson

Listening to Brian Emerson’s narration of Steyn’s book makes one smile and cringe.  In one section Steyn intelligently reflects on the demographics of world population, and in the next, he whips out a Glenn Beck-like’ riff on the name “Muhammad”.

It sounds like Michele Bachmann and Roger Stone’s guilt-by-association comments. Both imply ex-Senator Wiener’s wife, Huma Abedin, is a member or agent of the Muslim Brotherhood because she grew up in Saudi Arabia and worked for an academic journal called “The Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs”.

To state the obvious–meeting with someone or writing about minority affairs does not mean you changed religions or beliefs (Ms. Abedin was born in Kalamazoo, Mich.). Steyn, like President Trump, incriminates the entire Muslim world by inferring there is a fascist conspiracy to take over the world.

THE FALLACY OF GUILT BY ASSOCIATION

On the one hand, Steyn reasonably notes that the average age of many Muslim countries is 15 and youth is often a source of discontent and aberrant cultural behavior; on the other, he infers Muslims hold a monolithic belief system that is bent on converting or destroying the world “…as We Know It”.  Steyn flits from reason to nonsense at the turn of a page. 

FROM REASON TO NONESENSE

When visiting a Muslim family in India, a young woman explains her disgust with Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 terrorist event.  She is appalled and embarrassed by the belief that bin Laden would be considered by Americans as representative of her or her family’s religion. 

In Egypt, a Muslim farmer is appalled by terrorists who use the cloak of religion to justify their murderous actions.  The many mosques visited in other countries reinforce history’s record of acceptance and tolerance of other faiths by Muslim leaders.

One appreciates an argument that is made by Steyn that socialist government policy has the potential for demotivating entrepreneurs and subsidizing economic freeloaders but is frustrated by Steyn’s failure to criticize unregulated capitalism that increases the gap between rich and poor and presumes that “free enterprise” equates with equal opportunity. 

Free enterprise does not exist in the world; particularly not in the United States, beginning with an unfair tax code and continuing through overt subsidies of big oil, big banks, and dying industries.

The world economy is in a state of transition like that which was experienced in the industrial revolution.  Jobs are being lost because they are being replaced by technological advances.  It is as tragic to an automobile assembler in 21st century as it was to a wool gatherer in 19th.  Who does the major bread winner in a family turn to when they lose their job because of changes beyond their control?

It is the job of private and public organizations to educate and train workers displaced by technological change.  This re-education creates jobs while ameliorating unemployment.

Steyn is obviously well read and informed but one feels like he plays the publicity game of talking heads like Rush Limbaugh that have the objective of being darlings of an ideological minority that can make them rich. 

Limbaugh rails against Trump by suggesting he is waffling on a political commitment to build a wall between Mexico and the United States.  Trump responds with an equal level of irrationality by closing vital functions of the government to force Congress to fund the wall. 

Steyn, like Limbaugh and other talking heads, wastes his intelligence; pandering to an ideological constituency rather than serving the general public by searching for the truth.

There is a truth and it lies in freedom and social responsibility.  Demographics are not destiny; i.e. demographics are a part of the human condition that can be managed by recognizing human nature’s fundamentals, and conscientiously creating nations that are governed by rule-of-law.