Firstly, happy 10th blogoversary on WordPress to me.
As I write this, Joe Biden is the President-elect of the U.S., while Donald Trump is sulking and in denial with his staffers gingerly trying to nudge him to acceptance of the fact that he lost. I feel relieved. Trump was a terrible President.
Trump said he would “drain the swamp” of Washington. It was even a campaign slogan of his. All he did was change the alligators. While in office he told more than 22,000 lies, an average of 15 a day. He placed lobbyists and people with vested interests in charge of regulatory enforcement, like Betsy DeVos, who is involved with charter schools, to run education. Not only did he refuse to divest from his business interests, he actively violated the Emoluments Clause by vacationing at and conducting government business with places he owned. His tax plan gave massive cuts to the richest, while squeezing the lower and middle class. He refused to release his tax returns, despite undertaking to. When they were exposed, the shocking truth emerged: Trump paid $750 in tax one year, less than many U.S. taxpayers pay in a month.
Trump’s performance in the Oval Office was also dire. His much-vaunted trade war was an utter failure. China responded to the elevated tariffs by going to Argentina for crops, hurting U.S. farmers. His plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (aka ACA, aka Obamacare) has stalled. This is fortunate, as Medical Debt is currently the greatest cause of personal bankruptcy filings in the U.S. and the ACA helped greatly.
What did Trump in more than anything else was his deliberate mishandling of the COVID-19 situation. He was advised to lock down the country and enforce precautions, and he refused, believing that doing so would threaten the economy and undermine his chances for re-election. He was left a manual on handling an epidemic by the Obama Administration, and he pettily disregarded it. The results were and are horrendous. Some 230,000 dead, the highest national death toll, and the highest per capita death toll in the World, and an economy that has been tanked by said deaths. But reality is persistent.
There is an axiom that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. Trump has been known as a shyster for years. Trump University was prosecuted for issuing worthless degrees and certificates. Many of Trump’s companies have filed for bankruptcy. In addition, Trump was notorious for hiring contractors and refusing to pay them, forcing them to sue him. He would then offer a much smaller amount than originally agreed to. Most contractors were unable to afford a prolonged battle, and would have no choice but to accept Trump’s offers.
There is one last danger: Trump may be gone, but he is not an aberration, he is a culmination.
I saw this article. It matches what I know.
At the end of WWII, the U.S. was in a unique position. Its industry had survived intact, unlike the rest of the World, and had had to ramp up hugely. Tax rates on the highest earners were up to 90% in the highest earning bracket. As a result, middle class income exploded. The reason for the post-war baby boom was that parents were able to afford very large families, even on a single income. It was possible to leave school at 16, get a job, get married, have four children, and enjoy an outstanding quality of life. Social Security became a thing. This was the case until right up to the 1980s. Then Reagan came in.
Ever since the end of WWII, Socialism has been thrown around like a slur. In 1952, then President Harry S Truman called this behaviour out.
Socialism is a scare word they have hurled at every advance the people have made in the last 20 years.
Socialism is what they called public power.
Socialism is what they called social security.
Socialism is what they called farm price supports.
Socialism is what they called bank deposit insurance.
Socialism is what they called the growth of free and independent labor organizations.
Socialism is their name for almost anything that helps all the people.
When the Republican candidate inscribes the slogan “Down With Socialism” on the banner of his “great crusade,” that is really not what he means at all.
What he really means is, “Down with Progress — down with Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal,” and “down with Harry Truman’s fair Deal.” That is what he means.
Reagan dialled this up to 11. He made all sorts of claims about “welfare queens” using multiple SSIDs to rip off Social Security. Notably absent from these accusations was any hard evidence. But it didn’t matter. The smears worked.
Many ordinary Americans now view Social Security as a hammock, not as the safety net it is. They rail at Obamacare, ignoring that many European countries have National Health Insurance, and that these are very affordable.
Reagan also introduced massive tax cuts for the rich and corporations, aka “trickle-down economics”. The idea was that if the rich were gven more, they would spend more, and the benefits would trickle down (hence the name) to everyone. Even then, people challenged the idea. We now have confirmation that trickle-down is bunkum.
Economic activity is based on two things: how much money, and how many times it’s spent. What invariably happens in trickle-down is that the rich hoard the extra wealth, instead of spending it. It has also been confirmed that money given to the poorest in society is spent by them buying what they need. This means more economic activity. Trickle-down economics has been disproven so many times that it now has the same credibility as alchemy. Yet still it’s used.
During the COVID pandemic, corporations received bailouts. Many of them, instead of using the cash to tide things over, used the money to buy back shares. A similar thing happened after the subprime crisis. Banks were bailed out, and continued to award huge bonuses to the bankers who had caused the problems in the first place.
For 70 years, vested interests have railed against “anything that helps all the people”, and they have succeeded. In real terms, since the 1980s salaries have fallen by well over half. Taxes on the highest earners have gone into freefall, and have massively increased for the middle and working classes. Social welfare has been cut to the bone, and the Gini Coefficient is the highest in the World. People who demand fair pay for work are mocked as lazy. Jeff Bezos is one of the richest people in the World, and yet Amazon workers earn a pittance.
Like I wrote earlier, Trump is not an aberration, he is a culmination of the pushback by vested interests – the wealthy and powerful. Hopefully, now he’s almost gone, there will be pushback against the pushback.