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Trends in America

Written By: - Date published: 8:45 am, April 6th, 2015 - 29 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, Deep stuff, us politics - Tags: ,

Here’s some slow Monday reading to ponder, on political trends in America:

7 of the Biggest Reasons America Is Screwed

Why the wealthy and the right always prevail.
By Robert Kuttner / The American Prospect

Reason One. The Discrediting of Politics Itself. The Republican Party has devised a strategy of hamstringing government and making any remediation impossible. …

Reason Two. Compromised Democrats. But the Democrats are hardly blameless. Instead of seizing on the collapse of 2008 as a disgrace for laissez-faire economics, deregulation, Wall Street and the Republican Party, Barack Obama tried to make nice with the GOP, refrained from cleaning out the big banks that caused the mess, and drank the Kool-Aid of budget balance. …

Reason Three. The Reign of Politicized Courts and Big Money. The Supreme Court’s usual majority has become an opportunistic subsidiary of the Republican Party. Two key decisions, reflecting outrageous misreading of both the Constitution and the abuses of recent history, undermined citizenship and entrenched the rule of big money. …

Reason Four. The Collapse of Equalizing Institutions. During the postwar boom, America actually became more equal. The bottom quarter gained more income share than the top quarter. This was no historical or technological accident. Shared prosperity was built on government activism promoting opportunity, strong unions providing decent wages even for the less educated, enforcement of other labor laws, debt-free public higher education, well-regulated financial institutions, a genuinely progressive income tax, and a trading system that did not promote outsourcing. Politics — not technology — caused the evisceration of these instruments. Politics could take back a fairer America.

Reason Five. Bewildering Changes in How Jobs Are Structured. In the past couple of decades, regular payroll jobs with career prospects have increasingly been displaced by an economy of short-term gigs, contract work, and crappy payroll jobs without decent pay and benefits, or even regular hours. This shift often gets blamed on technology or education, but that’s malarkey. …

Reason Six. The Internalization of a Generation’s Plight. Compared to my age cohort, Millennials are the screwed generation. The dream of homeownership has been undercut; good jobs with career prospects are in short supply; young adults begin economic life saddled with student debt; the pension system has been blown up; and if you want to have kids, society doesn’t do anything to help the work-family straddle. …

Reason Seven. The Absence of a Movement. In the face of all these assaults on the working and middle class, there are many movements but no Movement. The Occupy movement, which gave us the phrase, “The One Percent,” was too hung up on its own procedural purity to create a broad movement for economic justice. …

Read the full piece for more. We don’t have all of these problems in NZ, but we have most of them. Kuttner concludes:

This vicious circle — really a downward spiral about depressed expectations and diminished participation — can be reversed, as it has been reversed at moments in the American past. As that noted political consultant Joe Hill put it, as they were taking him to the gallows, “Don’t mourn, organize.”

29 comments on “Trends in America”

  1. RedBaronCV 1

    At the last election there were some serious rises in the minimum wage on offer but somehow it didn’t seem to get through to the voters many of whom turned down/ ignored a substantial weekly rise.

  2. And all of this emerged out of nowhere. No conspiracies, not faux money creation out of thin air by a small privately owned banking cartel, no giant arms deals made by the very same people who already own most of the world.

    Nope our governments love us and would never do anything detrimental to us. We are a real democracy! And 3 buildings collapsed/exploded into themselves into the path of most resistance in free fall speed after two planes flew into them losing most of their fuel in the impact implosion!

  3. Paul 3

    Almost all these apply to NZ as well.
    Maybe not number 3

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      #1 doesn’t really apply, and the thrust behind #2 is correct – but of course in our case we had the right-wing in power anyway.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1

        I’d say that #1 does apply. The RWNJs and a few on the Left as well have been telling us that government is bad for as long as I can remember.

        • Lanthanide 3.1.1.1

          It is nothing like the partisan gridlock in the US. Our government can and still does pass legislation.

          Whether the legislation is appropriate or addressing the right things is a separate matter.

      • Once was Tim 3.1.2

        Not only is the thrust behind #2 correct, but its a big reason things are as fucked as they are. I’ve oft pondered whether or not someone has something over Obama (but I’ve come to the conclusion that altho’ they probably do), the guy is just an egotistical bag of wind who sees himself as the great orator & who thought he was going to make a difference simply because he was different.
        The guy’s not stupid – he must have known that by keeping on half the people he has, and making the appointments he has that he’d be pushing shit uphill. He must also have known what he faced – the racism, the Republicans doing an Abbott-like no no no routine.
        I’m afraid Obama’s CV has been more important to him than all that Hope & Change you can believe in ever was going to be.
        Yankee doodles are however now waking up (slowly) – not unlike sleepy hobbits

        • Lanthanide 3.1.2.1

          The US government isn’t like the Vatican, where a new pontiff (president) can come in and sweep everything aside like a new broom.

          The US presidency is very deliberately constrained by two other houses.

        • hoom 3.1.2.2

          I think its that he was simply lying on campaign.

          I remember reading an article about his connections & voting record (no idea where or title) during the campaign & coming to the conclusion that he was a Wolf in Sheeps clothing.

          And as soon as he got in power he kept the worst of the Bush cabal in power which confirmed it.

          He makes nice sounding speeches sometimes but his actions are full neocon extremist.

  4. Another American trend; desertification. California’s Central Valley is swiftly returning to its original state and farmers are drilling deeper and deeper to find water. On the upside, climate change deniers are looking pretty damn stoopid.

    http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/apr/05/california-governor-drought-climate-change-dianne-feinstein

    http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/mar/07/california-drought-farmers-drilling-groundwater-environment

  5. RedLogix 5

    The absence of a Movement? But what movement are you asking for? Evolution or Revolution?

    When we attempt for evolutionary change we’re emasculated by ‘procedural purity’ – and yet almost by definition revolution throws it under the bus completely. One achieves little, the other undoes everything.

    The moment you turn it into a ’cause’ you have sown the seeds of failure. A cause demands uniformity of thought, imposed either by procedure or failing that – violence.

    Only ‘communities’ succeed. They are imperfect, they are diverse, they have conflicting agenda’s, they are challenging. Communities require civilised behaviour to function, demanding courtesy, integrity and trust to function. They are frustrating and force compromises in order to achieve unity of purpose and action – without imposing uniformity. It is only strong, vital, well-organised, well-lead communities which ever make a positive durable difference. But where are they?

    There are three fundamental actors in a nation – the state, the individual and the community. Examine all seven of these reasons and the effect has been to undermine and diminish the role of community – rendering us collectively helpless.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      There are three fundamental actors in a nation – the state, the individual and the community. Examine all seven of these reasons and the effect has been to undermine and diminish the role of community – rendering us collectively helpless.

      QFT

      It is this effect that puts the lie to Individualism as advanced by Act and National.

      • RedLogix 5.1.1

        For instance – here in Australia the big mining companies have strongly encouraged FIFO workers while winding back on local mining towns.

        Superficially FIFO looks good – your family gets to live in a larger center with better access to facilities. More individual choice about where and how you live.

        But then there is the separation – and that comes with it’s own price for many families. And the isolation – mining camps are not social places. The constant turnover of people results in a jumble of personalities – but no lasting connections.

        And it destroys any sense of community – which in turn prevents mine workers from forming the solidarity essential to effective union action. As a result conditions are being rapidly eroded and diminished at many sites.

        The past 40 years has seen this fundamental pattern repeated – the breaking up of communities of interest by selling us ‘individual choices and freedoms’ most of which turned out to be either worthless or toxic.

    • Lindsey 6.2

      Yes, the article leaves out the Christofascism and the Dominionism which permeates the right wing of American politics.

    • joe90 6.3

      And there’s always the odd spurious correlation.

      Neil Irwin writes about migration patterns within the United States, and points out that they overwhelmingly reflect just two factors. Most important, people are moving to places with mild winters:

      […]

      And as I also pointed out, the search for mild winters can lead to a lot of spurious correlations. With the exception of California — which has mild winters but also, now, has very high housing prices — America’s warm states are very conservative. And that’s not an accident: warm states were also slave states and members of the Confederacy, and a glance at any election map will tell you that in US politics the Civil War is far from over.

      The point, then, is that these hot red states also tend to be low-minimum-wage, low-taxes-on-the-wealthy jurisdictions. And that opens the door to sloppy and/or mendacious claims that low wages and taxes are driving their growth.

      http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/28/mild-winters-and-crank-economics/

  6. adam 7

    This is from a conservative – I thought it was interesting. This is a middle of the road conservative, not a Beck or some other loopy.

    http://www.epictimes.com/jerrydoyle/2015/03/heres-why-the-republican-party-is-dying/

    • Sable 7.1

      I think there is a difference between the traditional conservatism of the kind you see in people like Winston Peters and the nasty reactionary conservatism you see from Keys and his little pals.

      • weka 7.1.1

        Key’s not a conservative, he’s a radical neoliberal.

        • adam 7.1.1.1

          Spot on Weka – conservatives are slowly waking up to the fact they have been duped. It’s interesting to watch.

        • Hanswurst 7.1.1.2

          I think Key is naturally a (small “c”) conservative. He fronts neo-liberal policies because that is the current orthodoxy. If he had been around during the Muldoon years, I imagine he would have toed that line as well.

          • Molly 7.1.1.2.1

            If he had been around during the Muldoon years, the politics wouldn’t have appealed to his ego.

    • Olwyn 7.2

      I think that similar cracks have occurred on the right side of the spectrum as on the left since the idea of the public good was severed from economics. It is not so obvious because there are more wealthy people on the right and they are the beneficiaries of the current system.

      During the years when the country’s economic life was subject to the public good, the left was not unreasonably part of the establishment, and able to argue its case from that position. However, with economics having slipped the “public good” harness, you end up with politics, in common with most journalism, becoming a path into what now passes for an establishment, on condition that you do not seriously challenge it. Meanwhile, on both the left and the conservative right, the social “victories” become thinner and less broadly relevant, since the bit that would make a real difference is regarded as being beyond the scope of politics.

      Here is a rather long but interesting read Chris Trotter put up on fb:

      http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/04/why-workers-wont-unite/386228/?utm_source=btn-facebook-ctrl2

  7. Sable 8

    And the pathetic losers we call a government want these creeps to come in and ruin our lives too.

    • The Murphey 8.1

      John Key was ‘put’ into politics like a futures trade by the controllers and he is simply the latest version of the hedge

      Making a list of politicians who have sold out NZ over the past 50 years paying attention to some of the less obvious examples and it looks very ugly

  8. adam 9

    Oh ahhhh.

    Good to See John Oliver on Fire –

    One video spin off.

    Just remember

    #JeffWeCan

  9. Murray Simmonds 10

    Well worth reading:

    Ellen Brown: How America became an Oligarchy.
    http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/04/06/how-america-became-oligarchy

    Opening quotes:

    “The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. . . . You have owners.” —George Carlin, The American Dream

    According to a new study from Princeton University, American democracy no longer exists. Using data from over 1,800 policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page concluded that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of – or even against – the will of the majority of voters. America’s political system has transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where power is wielded by wealthy elites.”

  10. Murray Simmonds 11

    And further down in the same article, there is this comment on globalisation:

    “The final blow to democracy, says Dr. Cobb, was “globalization” – an expanding global market that overrides national interests:

    [T]oday’s global economy is fully transnational.  The money power is not much interested in boundaries between states and generally works to reduce their influence on markets and investments. . . . Thus transnational corporations inherently work to undermine nation states, whether they are democratic or not.

    The most glaring example today is the secret twelve-country trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. If it goes through, the TPP will dramatically expand the power of multinational corporations to use closed-door tribunals to challenge and supersede domestic laws, including environmental, labor, health and other protections.”

    http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/04/06/how-america-became-oligarchy

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    5 days ago
  • Funding for training and upskilling
    The Provincial Growth Fund is investing nearly $2.5 million into three Te Ara Mahi programmes to support Manawatū-Whanganui jobseekers and employees to quickly train and upskill, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “Up to 154 local people will be supported into employment within the first year by these ...
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    5 days ago
  • Statement from the Minister of Health Dr David Clark
      This morning I have formally tendered my resignation as Minister of Health, which was accepted by the Prime Minister. Serving as Minister of Health has been an absolute privilege – particularly through these extraordinary last few months. It’s no secret that Health is a challenging portfolio. I have given ...
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    5 days ago
  • Scholarship placements for agricultural emissions scientists doubles
    Scholarships for 57 early-career agricultural emissions scientists from 20 developing countries is another example of New Zealand’s international leadership in primary sector sustainability, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. Mr O’Connor, announcing the scholarships today, says hundreds of applications were received for this fourth round of the CLIFF-GRADS programme (Climate, Food ...
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    5 days ago
  • Funding for Foxton regeneration
    A project to help rejuvenate the Horowhenua town of Foxton will receive a Provincial Growth Fund investment of $3.86 million, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “This funding for the Foxton Regeneration project will be used to make the well-known holiday town even more attractive for visitors and ...
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    5 days ago
  • Plan to improve protection of moa bones
    Moa bones and other sub-fossil remains of extinct species are set to have improved protection with proposals to prevent the trade in extinct species announced the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage today. “We have lost too many of our native species, but these lost species, such as moa, remain an ...
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    5 days ago
  • Free lunches served up to thousands of school children in the South Island
    The Government’s free and healthy school lunches programme moves south for the first time creating jobs for around 30 people in Otago and Southland. “Eighteen schools with 3000 students are joining the programme – 11 have already begun serving lunches, and seven are preparing to start during Term 3. This is ...
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    5 days ago
  • Screen Sector recovery package protects jobs, boosts investment
    Thousands of Kiwi jobs and investment in New Zealand productions will be protected through a screen sector support package announced today by Associate Minister for Arts Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Economic Development Phil Twyford and Minister for Broadcasting Kris Faafoi. The package also includes investment in broadcasting ...
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    5 days ago
  • New fund to help save local events and jobs
    The Government has established a new $10 million fund for the domestic events sector to help save jobs and protect incomes as it recovers from the impacts of COVID-19, Minister of Economic Development Phil Twyford announced today. This funding from Budget 2020 follows talks with the event sector designed to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Bill to improve fuel market competition
    The Government has taken another step in its commitment to making sure New Zealanders get a fairer deal at the petrol pump with the introduction of legislation to improve competition in the retail fuel market, says Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods. “The fuel market study that this Government ordered ...
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    6 days ago
  • New Zealand joins global facility for pre-purchase of COVID-19 Vaccine
    New Zealand has joined a global initiative that aims to enable all countries to access a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters announced today. The COVAX Facility was recently launched by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The Alliance includes the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank ...
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    6 days ago
  • Right to legal representation in Family Court restored today
    From today new legislation takes effect to both restore the right to legal representation at the start of a Care of Children (CoCA) dispute in the Family Court, and allow parties to those proceedings to access legal aid where eligible. During a visit to the Family Court in Auckland today, ...
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    6 days ago
  • Transitioning to a fully-qualified home-based ECE workforce
    Home-based early childhood education (ECE) subsidised by the government will transition to a fully qualified workforce by 2025 to ensure better and more consistent quality, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. “Quality early learning helps provide children with a strong foundation for their future,” Chris Hipkins said. From 1 January ...
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    6 days ago
  • Criminal Cases Review Commission gets to work
    The new Criminal Cases Review Commission | Te Kāhui Tātari Ture (CCRC) has started work and can now independently investigate claimed miscarriages of justice. “Even though we have appeal rights and safeguards against unsafe convictions, from time to time our justice system does get things wrong. The design of the ...
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    6 days ago
  • Speech by the Minister of Defence to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs
    E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā karangatanga maha, tēnā koutou Ki a koutou Te Āti Awa, Taranaki Whānui, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, ngā mana whenua o te rohe nei, tēnā koutou Ko Te Whare Wānanga o Aotearoa ki ngā take o te Ao (NZIIA), Ko te Rōpū Tohu Tono ...
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    6 days ago
  • Six months with baby and $20 more a week for new parents
    The Government’s increase to paid parental leave kicks in today with another 4 weeks taking New Zealand up to a full 6 months (26 weeks, up from 22 weeks) leave for new parents, and the maximum weekly payment will increase by $20pw, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says. ...
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    6 days ago
  • Infrastructure investment to create jobs, kick-start COVID rebuild
    A new package of infrastructure investments will help kick-start the post-COVID rebuild by creating more than 20,000 jobs and unlocking more than $5 billion of projects up and down New Zealand. Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones today outlined how the $3 billion infrastructure fund in the ...
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    6 days ago
  • Statement on passage of national security law for Hong Kong
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today expressed the New Zealand Government’s deep disappointment at the passage by China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee of a national security law for Hong Kong. “New Zealand has consistently emphasised its serious concern about the imposition of this legislation on Hong Kong without inclusive ...
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    6 days ago
  • July 1 marks progress for workers, families
    More jobs and more family time with newborns are the centrepiece of a suite of Government initiatives coming into effect today. July 1 is a milestone day for the Government as a host of key policies take effect, demonstrating the critical areas where progress has been made. “The Coalition Government ...
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    6 days ago
  • Auckland water consent referred to Board of Inquiry
    Environment Minister David Parker has today “called in” Auckland’s application to the Waikato Regional Council to take an extra 200 million litres of water a day from the lower reaches of the Waikato River for Auckland drinking water and other municipal uses.  The call-in means the application has been referred ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • New Zealand to host virtual APEC in 2021
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker announced today that New Zealand’s hosting of APEC in 2021 will go ahead using virtual digital platforms. Mr Peters said the global disruption caused by COVID-19, including resultant border restrictions, had been the major factor in the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Matakana Link Road construction kicks off and drives jobs
    The start of construction on a new link road between Matakana Road and State Highway 1 will create jobs and support the significant population growth expected in the Warkworth area, Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Mayor Phil Goff announced today. Transport Minister Phil Twyford said construction of the Matakana Link ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • PPE supplies secured as COVID-19 response focuses on border
    The Government is prioritising its latest investment in PPE for frontline health workers, including staff at managed isolation and quarantine facilities, Health Minister David Clark says. “With no community transmission of COVID-19 our response now has a firm focus on keeping our border safe and secure. “We must ensure that ...
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    1 week ago
  • PGF funding for Parihaka settlement
    The Parihaka Papakāinga Trust in Taranaki will receive up to $14 million for a new visitor centre and other improvements at the historic settlement that will boost the local economy and provide much-needed jobs, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Protections for workers in triangular employment
    Protections for workers who are employees of one employer but working under the direction of another business or organisation have come into force, closing a gap in legislation that  made the personal grievance process inaccessible for some workers, says Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway. “This Government is working hard to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government strengthens managed isolation system
    A range of improvements are already underway to address issues identified in the rapid review of the Managed Isolation and Quarantine system released today, Housing Minister Megan Woods said. The review was commissioned just over a week ago to identify and understand current and emerging risks to ensure the end-to-end ...
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    1 week ago
  • Whakatāne to go predator free with Government backing Ngāti Awa led efforts
    The important brown kiwi habitat around Whakatāne will receive added protection through an Iwi-led predator free project announced by Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau. “The Government is investing nearly $5 million into Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa’s environmental projects with $2.5 ...
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    1 week ago
  • Growing Goodwood: Expanding wood waste recycling plant in Bay of Plenty, Waikato
    An extra 4,000 tonnes of offcuts and scraps of untreated wood per year will soon be able to be recycled into useful products such as horticultural and garden mulch, playground safety surfacing and animal bedding as a result of a $660,000 investment from the Waste Minimisation Fund, Associate Environment Minister ...
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    1 week ago
  • Scott Watson’s convictions to be referred to Court of Appeal
    The Governor-General has referred Scott Watson’s convictions for murder back to the Court of Appeal, Justice Minister Andrew Little announced today. Mr Watson was convicted in 1999 of the murders of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope. His appeal to the Court of Appeal in 2000 was unsuccessful, as was his ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago