Welcome to the neoliberal age.

There’s no reason for you or anyone else to be surprised by the neoliberal age now in 2017.  Neoliberalism got started after WWII and it’s been ongoing since then.  If you aren’t aware of it by now, you haven’t been paying attention.  Neoliberalism is government sponsored corporatism.  It is the modus operandi that explains why the TPP was being written in closed sessions during the Obama Administration.  And it was being written by corporate entities and their lawyers seeking to protect various vested interests by writing the treaty.  When the public realized what NAFTA had done and decided that the TPP was worse, many of them wrote their Congress members to oppose its passage.  They broke through from indifference to an understanding that saying “no” to the TPP was essential to protecting their access to opportunities that would be lost to them if it was passed.  And Congress listened.  And President Trump also listened.

Neoliberalism also explains why insurance companies played such a large role in drafting the ACA during President Obama’s Administration.  It was supposed to make a lot of money for insurance companies until most people in the public turned their backs on it.  Even without clear reporting about the ACA (several Freedom of Information requests were ignored by the Obama Administration) the public realized that the ACA wasn’t a viable plan for the nation’s healthcare.  Most of the ACA sign ups were accomplished through the welfare bureaucracy to bring in people on Medicaid.  Writing legislation with corporate interests in mind has been going on for a long time.  It is the way Washington does its political dance now in 2017.

I was reading a recent criticism that President Trump has too many corporate players involved in government as though that should be surprising.  But corporations and governments have been dancing together since 1944.  Why act surprised about that?  Government started thinking of corporate welfare as more important than individual welfare starting in 1944.  After 1944, laws were gradually changed in the United States to support corporate interests, starting with tax laws.  If you wish to change our government and reactivate the government’s interest in your welfare, then pay attention to policies being argued over in Washington D.C..   Understand that you should look carefully at new legislation because it may affect your interests.  There isn’t a professional class of bureaucrats and elected officials that you can rely upon to look out for you except when you remind them what you want them to do.  Don’t expect them to automatically work on your behalf when corporations have played such a large role in motivating our government’s policies since 1944.

I don’t know if President Trump will be able to change policies to bring jobs back to the jobless, or revoke the ACA in a time of healthcare racketeering, or rebalance international trade agreements to improve the American economy, or re-mobilize and reorganize our military to decrease its empire role and refocus it as a capable defensive force to protect us here at home.  But whatever he does, he is doing in the neoliberal age.  So there’s no need to act surprised about that.  And when various people step forward and speak about politics, you should be aware that it may not be your interests that they keep close to their hearts.  Your interests may not concern them at all.  Finally, both the Democrats and the Republicans are completely loyal to neoliberal politics.  You can tell that’s true if you look at how your share of the political and economic pie keeps shrinking.  It’s up to you to speak up and reject more interference from them in your interests.  Because neoliberals will put you and your interests last as often as you let them.

If you want to increase your awareness of the neoliberal age, then buy a copy of Political Catsup with Economy Fries available at Amazon.com.  I explain neoliberalism’s origins, timing and how it grew to become so influential. I identify the people who brought in neoliberal ideas in economics and how neoliberalism affected American politics.

Walter Lippmann warned us in The Good Society.

The Good Society was originally published by Little Brown and Company in 1937.  In it, Walter Lippmann argued that modern liberalism is better than communism or fascism.  Modern liberalism was the dominant American political ideology from after the American Civil War until World War II ended.  Lippmann tried to make modern liberalism, a mild form of socialism, seem like a modern political approach that was unlike other forms of collectivism.  He imagined that American courts could protect Americans from the problems faced in other collectivist societies.  The Good Society may be the best book to explain American modern liberalism.  But it also can help us to understand what has happened after modern liberalism was replaced by neoliberalism.  Here’s a quote from The Good Society that I think describes today’s neoliberal problems that arise when governments operate under the goal of limitless power.

“The predominant teachings of this age are that there are no limits to man’s capacity to govern others and that, therefore, no limitations ought to be imposed upon government.  The older faith, born of long ages of suffering under man’s dominion over man, was that the exercise of unlimited power by men with limited minds and self-regarding prejudices is soon oppressive, reactionary, and corrupt.  The older faith taught that the very condition of progress was the limitation of power to the capacity and virtue of rulers…All the wishing in the world, all the promises based on the assumption that there are available omniscient and loving autocrats, will not call into being men who can plan a future which they are unable to imagine, who can manage a civilization which they are unable to understand.”

To summarize Walter Lippmann, he’s saying that granting more power to our government won’t make government bureaucrats and elected officials smarter or more able than they would be without such terrible power.  Giving them more power doesn’t mean that they will accomplish more.  Americans should keep this in mind when they want our government to tax (others) more and do more (for their friends or themselves).  With twenty trillion dollars of debt, our government can’t do whatever people imagine it can do for them.  Twenty trillion dollars in the hole and an economy that still hasn’t recovered since the Great Recession is a lot of failure.

Wish fulfillment isn’t what a government does, anyway.  And that is especially true with twenty trillion dollars of debt.  I have been puzzled to hear political proposals for free tuition and free healthcare.  We can see that neither goal has been realized.  Warfare in the Middle East can’t continue either.  Neoliberals have tried to externalize corporate and government spending to ordinary Americans.  They risk capital in risky ventures backed up by tax payer dollars (remember the sub-prime mortgage crisis: unqualified borrowers, debt default, tax money instead of bank failure).   Such mal-investment wastes society’s resources as much as war and failed government programs do.  In fact, by imagining endless power by printing more money (a policy that has failed with horrible results many times over history), American political and economic policies have veered off from trying to accomplish what’s possible to striving for what’s impossible.  Just look at the mess that our policies are causing.

Most people understand that “there’s no sense crying over spilled milk.”  That after the milk has spilled it has gone to waste.  Most people understand that a person’s opportunity can be wasted or an investment that hasn’t paid off has been wasted.  And after it’s wasted, its value isn’t still obtainable.  When our economy isn’t working well to build prosperity, money that a healthy economy might have created isn’t hiding somewhere, it’s gone.  When you consider how many working age people aren’t employed in the U.S., that represents a waste.  Isn’t it time to change what’s not working?

Walter Lippmann, The Good Society, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA, 2005, 40-41.

If you want to read more about Walter Lippmann, he is featured in Political Catsup with Economy Fries, which will bring you up to speed on American political ideologies and their everyday resonances in today’s politics.  Just go to Amazon.com and order your copy today.

Thirst in the infotainment news desert.

There are plenty of news sites available on the internet.  I don’t like them.  I want them to omit entertainment fluff and get down to information that I can use.  Stop abusing my thinking-brain with horrible empty content.  I hate stories that don’t help any Americans to understand better about what’s happening to us all in the twenty-first century.  There are topics galore that are being neglected.  Here are some examples.

How about telling Americans what happens to workers and non-workers in a shrinking economy that has fewer jobs?  What policies and circumstances caused those fewer jobs?  Please show evidence.  Are we seeing the destruction of the market economy?  What kind of economy can take its place?

How can the U.S. continue its fiscal overspending and monetarism under the situation we see around us where production has been eclipsed by speculation and opportunity has been shut out by the excessive pursuit of risk?  How about explaining the consequences of mal-invested capital (under a system of financialization and bank deregulation)?  Money has been wasted when it could have been better used.  Can we change our malinvestment habit (by ending financialization and re-regulating banks)?  What are examples of some better uses for American capital?  How can we begin to re-build wealth in the USA?

How about explaining what the “post-industrial economy” is?  What do the Saudis mean when they talk about their “post-oil economic future?”  What will it mean for us?  Is there a new energy economy on the horizon?  How can we each benefit from it?

And please stop talking about how robots have taken over the job market and how hopeless the job horizon is for all of us (American jobs have been diminished mostly through malinvestments like hostile takeovers, and outsourcing, not robots) .  Financialization and tax rules that consider asset depreciation have encouraged the purchase of robots in the car industry.  But without low-interest loans and tax breaks, assembly-line robots probably wouldn’t have made sense (so that’s a policy issue involving economic interventionism).  And without these added costs from robotics, would cars be cheaper (so would you have a newer car)?

And a lot of work needs to get done that robots can’t do.  Robots lack human dexterity and computers aren’t intelligent (they haven’t passed the Turing Test).  While it’s true that the telephone, electrical grid and sewage treatment plants of the world have been revolutionized by microprocessors, a microprocessor is a very small and humble kind of switch that isn’t a robot.  To call a microprocessor a robot seems to me an exaggeration.

Microprocessors have taken over telephone switching, and electrical plant operations and water treatment centers so that fewer people are needed to operate those facilities.  But those microprocessors are vulnerable in the case of an electromagnetic pulse.  They aren’t a replacement that is as reliable as a person.  And hardening those systems isn’t considered affordable (without a government program that pays for the upgrade) by the private companies that have adopted microprocessors.  Private companies have cut their costs to increase their profits by using microprocessors, but in doing that, they have made our electrical, communication and water treatment systems vulnerable.

New opportunities that aren’t present in a centralized economy could rejuvenate our cities if small business taxes are reduced.  Bad policies like high taxes that harm innovation don’t have to continue.  How about declassifying new technologies and opening them up for private development?  If you would like to understand how we got to our American political and economic here and now, buy a copy of Political Catsup with Economy Fries available at Amazon.com right now.

To learn about EMP threats see: “Report of the Commission to Assess the Treat to the United States from Electromagnetic (EMP) Attack: Critical National Infrastructures,” Dr. John S. Foster, Jr., Mr. Earl Gjelde, Dr. William R. Graham (Chairman), et al, April 2008.