The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic

by John Quiggin on July 4, 2020

That’s the title of a book I’ve agreed to write for Yale University Press (their editorial director) Seth Ditchik commissioned my previous two books, Zombie Economics and Economics in Two Lessons when he was at Princeton UP.

When we first discussed the book, I took the view that most of the writing would have to be done after November, since the outcome of the US presidential election would be crucial to developments in the US and globally. I’m now working on the assumptions that
(a) Biden will be the next president
(b) he will have a workable majority in Congress.
(c) mainstream Democrats recognise the need for radical change, and Biden will align with the mainstream position as he always has done

The first of these assumptions was problematic until recently, but seems safe enough to work on now. The third, I’ll leave for comments.
That leaves the question of a workable majority. Roughly speaking, I mean that the Dems have enough votes in the Senate to abolish or restrict the filibuster and pass the kind of program I’ll be advocating (allowing for a couple of defections, that would be 52 or more). Winning that many seats is still a stretch on current polling, but not out of reach.

The immediate question is that of how to get rid of the filibuster. Doing so pre-emptively would be problematic in all sorts of ways. Biden needs to start with the 2008 Obama playbook of reaching out across the aisle in the spirit of bipartisanship. But unlike in Obama’s case, once the proffered hand (or perhaps elbow bump) of friendship is slapped down, as it surely will be, Biden needs to point to his electoral mandate and whip up the necessary votes. Obama realised this, to some extent, in his second term, but by then he had a hostile Congress.

More concretely, I’d suggest starting with health care. Biden should call on the Repubs to drop their endless campaign against Obamacare, and work together on fixing the health systme. He should start with a proposal to expand Medicaid to all states, with incentives redesigned to get around (at least arguably) the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling that States had to have a “genuine choice”. Biden should offer the Repubs a chance to have a say in the framing of the legislation with the aim of bringing the country together.

Politically, this ought to be a no-brainer for the Repubs. The fact that Oklahoma voters just passed a referendum to expand Medicaid over the opposition of the governor, ought to make it clear that this is a fight they can’t win. But given that they are still fighting to abolish Obamacare, it seems unlikely that they will see this.

Even if Congress passes the legislation, it could still be invalidated by the Supreme Court. But, unlike 2012, this would be a fight that Roberts couldn’t win, since Congress could keep tweaking the law and sending it up again. Repeated rulings in favor of the Republicans on an issue where they have almost no public support https://www.kff.org/medicaid/poll-finding/data-note-5-charts-about-public-opinion-on-medicaid/ would provide the ideal case for expanding the Court so as to nullify the Gorsuch and Kavanagh appointments.

This isn’t the only test case Biden could use. But it seems like an obvious place to start.

{ 229 comments }

1

Doug Weinfield 07.04.20 at 4:48 am

I usually like your writing John; this one not so much. While Biden may end up following the path you lay out, it’s just not clear after the Republican viciousness and lack of effective governance over the past 10 years that preemptively removing the filibuster is a mistake. If I’m not mistaken, it’s much harder to remove the filibuster if it’s not done at or near the beginning of a Congressional session. Beyond that, I’m not sure that preemptively removing the filibuster would cost Biden or the Dems any votes in the next election. Failing to deliver on campaign promises due to Republican intransigence (or for. other reasons)–that would cost votes.

2

J-D 07.04.20 at 7:59 am

The more you tie your analysis of economic consequences to the assumption of a Democratic victory in the Presidential election and a Democratic majority in the Senate, the more of it will be at risk of being rendered moot by the Republicans retaining either the Presidency or a Senate majority or both, but I guess you know that and are implicitly accepting the risk of having to do a lot of rewriting in that event (if the book is supposed to appear after the elections) or of the book rapidly losing value after the elections (if it’s supposed to appear earlier).

By the same logic, the more you tie your analysis of economic consequences to one particular the way the political strategic battle will play out following the election of a Democratic President and Congressional majority, the more of it will be at risk of being rendered moot by the Democrats pursuing a different strategy. Given the initial assumption of a Democratic President with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, I suggest you would do better with a short discussion at a very high level of generality about why (a) you expect the Democrats to have the necessary political determination to overcome obstructionism by a Senate minority and/or the Supreme Court and (b) you believe there are strategic and procedural options available (not necessarily just one option) by which the Democrats could overcome Senate and/or Supreme Court opposition to a substantial extent if not entirely. You may be right in advising the selection of health care as the issue to fight on, but if the Democrats choose a different one and achieve a similar procedural victory, the economic consequences will be much the same, surely?

I’m assuming that the title is supposed to be a genuine indication of the main topic of the book and not a way of disguising a real topic of ‘What’s Going to Happen Next’ or ‘What Should Happen Next’, which would not be quite the same.

3

Tm 07.04.20 at 8:47 am

It must be me but somehow I’m missing the connection between title and content of the OP.

4

Tm 07.04.20 at 9:44 am

Maybe I can help you with your title, though 😎. How about:

„Predictive economics. With an introduction by John Maynard Nostradamus“

„The revelations of John the economist“

„Obamacare according to the Mayan calendar“

5

nastywoman 07.04.20 at 10:26 am

”The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic”

What a coincidence?

We are working on a ”visual”… presentation of the Economic Consequences of the Pandemic – but NOT connected in any way to US ”Party Politics” –
Just on the ”Revolutionary Fact” –
that –

‘THE PARTY IS OVER”!

6

john street 07.04.20 at 10:37 am

Sound more like “The Political Consequences of Covid in USA”.

What about other countries ? Why wouldn’t you start with the economic depression?

7

Louis N Proyect 07.04.20 at 11:51 am

More concretely, I’d suggest starting with health care. Biden should call on the Repubs to drop their endless campaign against Obamacare, and work together on fixing the health systme.

It is likely the Republicans won’t fund a spell-checker.

8

Tim Worstall 07.04.20 at 12:16 pm

“He should start with a proposal to expand Medicaid to all states,”

Which states don’t currently take part in Medicaid?

True, some states haven’t expanded the coverage but all have at least some of it. Perhaps “expand Medicaid in all states” is what you meant?

9

SusanC 07.04.20 at 1:39 pm

There’s considerable potential for being unpleasantly surprised by election/referedum results. Like Trump getting elected the first time. Or Brexit.

So while I agree things look pretty bad for Trump at the moment, I wouldn’t be that surprised if he gets re-elected. At least, basing a book on the hypothesis that he won’t be re-elected carries the risk of being overtaken by events.

I was wondering whether to add Boris Johnson to the list of nasty surprises. But while Brexit and Trump came as a surprise to many, a big majority for Boris was a likely risk.

I am half-expecting Trump to be replaced at some point by a more competent Trumpist. The winning formula is now known, and it shouldn’t be hard to find someone smarter than Trump to take over his playbook.

10

Eszter 07.04.20 at 2:32 pm

Just want to note that I’m excited to see you working on this.

11

JimV 07.04.20 at 4:06 pm

It sounds like a very uplifting and engrossing work of fiction, in the wish-fulfillment genre, perhaps worthy of Heinlein at his best. Or maybe I’m way too cynical. I would like to believe in it.

My best guess at this point is that the post is a sort of April-Fool’s joke, moved to the 4th of July. Second guess: it’s a novel in non-fiction form aimed not at prognostication but at best-seller status and movie rights. (Which I think would be a success, on those terms. I would buy it and see the movie.)

12

Lee A. Arnold 07.04.20 at 5:20 pm

If the Democrats take the White House and Congress they’ll have a very short window to get anything done. The plutocracy will react by weakening the dollar e.g. by moving small amounts into the euro, cryptocurrencies and/or even the renmimbi. Interest rates will rise, and this will frighten many (or most) of the Democrats into austerity measures to reduce the budget deficit. Thus will arise the old propaganda refrain that Democrats don’t know what they are doing, and the resulting frustrations, and Fox News falsehoods, might prompt voters to return Congress to Republican control in the midterms.

Therefore the Democrats should adopt a strategy of getting a few irreversible things done at the very beginning by ditching the filibuster and passing some popular programs which might ALSO help the party against Republican propaganda in future elections. This can be done in healthcare, comprehensive immigration reform, infrastructure, and new constitutional amendments.

Healthcare — Push for a public option so people can choose to join a national single payer: “Health Care National Choice.” 70% of the people want this. This can grow to subsume and finally eliminate Medicaid, which is a tough sell to many state governments and their voters because they have to pick up half the Medicaid costs after several years.

Immigration — Pass the total package: improved border security (including fencing) and an expanded immigration court system + immediate citizenship for DACA and a path to citizenship for the 11 million other illegals. “Comprehensive Immigration Reform.” 70% of the people want this, too. It has been proposed a half-dozen times in one form or another since Bill Clinton’s presidency, and the moderate Republicans come on board, but the rightwing fringe opposes it so it doesn’t get passed, and then the Republicans lie in the very next election that the Democrats want open borders. This insanity has to stop — stop being victims of the rope-a-dope, and get rid of the filibuster!

Constitutional amendments — 1. Amendment against anonymous property holdings: A. End to dark money campaign contributions. B. End to anonymous shell corporations. C. Any candidate for US President must release the last ten years of tax returns.

Amendment against executive misconduct: A. Executive branch inspectors general shall not be removed but by Congressional approval. B. Not complying with Congressional subpoenas is an impeachable offense. C. In the case of House impeachment, “executive privilege” is automatically voided. D. If a President is removed from office, all of his or her pardons are automatically voided and the miscreants returned to jail.

13

Bryan Rasmussen 07.04.20 at 6:50 pm

there has been quite a number of people suggesting that if Trump lost he would not accept it and exit as is customary, what is the effect of that?

14

RobinM 07.04.20 at 7:04 pm

From the way the project is framed, it seems to be a quite traditional top-down view of how things might/will unfold. What seems to me to be absent from the outline is the possibility that the underlying social reality the politicians regularly try to cope with has been so churned up during the last few months that no attempt to comprehend “the economic consequences of the pandemic” can get very far unless that new reality is first evaluated.

15

Hidari 07.04.20 at 8:20 pm

@8 yes I don’t understand that either. Does the OP mean Obamacare? Because that’s a non-starter.

@12 ‘If the Democrats take the White House and Congress they’ll have a very short window to get anything done.’

Yes absolutely. Even if it’s a landslide for Biden, even if the Democrats take Congress, even if (much less likely) they take the Senate…so what? Carter was swept into power with a similar revulsion against Nixon (in many ways much more sincere and widespread than the ‘revulsion’ against Trump) and…..4 years later we got the ‘Reagan Revolution’. The Republicans will do everything in their power to prevent Biden making any significant changes to anything. A huge stimulus package is not impossible, however.

@9 ‘I am half-expecting Trump to be replaced at some point by a more competent Trumpist.’

Tucker Carlson.

16

Andres 07.04.20 at 8:29 pm

John: “I’m now working on the assumptions that
(a) Biden will be the next president
(b) he will have a workable majority in Congress.
(c) mainstream Democrats recognise the need for radical change, and Biden will align with the mainstream position as he always has done”.

(a) Assumes a fair election. If the Republicans continue to suppress votes and also hamstring mail-in balloting by sabotaging the USPS, then we could still get a repeat of 2000. For that matter, I’m still having trouble ruling out the possibility that Biden will be so uninspiring that we may get another 2016.

(b) Though Senate turnovers happen, never bet on them happening. Also, a working majority is insufficient for anything other than budget legislation unless the filibuster is also removed. Removing the filibuster on legislation (e.g. through the nuclear option) would be a declaration of war that I doubt Biden has the intestinal fortitude to embark on.

(c) If mainstream Democrats (i.e., the Democratic leadership with Wall Street connections) did not recognize the need for radical change after 2008, I find it hard to conceive that they will do so after 2020. Probably the key indicator will be healthcare. If Senate Democrats resort to the nuclear option in order to add a public option to the ACA or to pass some more extensive healthcare reform, then I will concede that they may be serious about radical change. Otherwise no.

17

nastywoman 07.04.20 at 8:43 pm

@14
”What seems to me to be absent from the outline is the possibility that the underlying social reality the politicians regularly try to cope with has been so churned up during the last few months that no attempt to comprehend “the economic consequences of the pandemic” can get very far”

That’s why we focus on the truly revolutionary consequences of the Pandemic and the already existing ”NEW WORLD A.V. (After the Virus) like – that currently there is around 40 to 50 percent ”less wealth creating economic activity” – and if you talk to
people who used to go ”FULL SPEED” -(in a matter of speaking) B.V. – most of them
estimate that they never will (want to) reach that level again – and they estimate that it finally will be (voluntarily) between 10 and 25 percent less –
Flying crazily around the World –
Feeling the need to Party – and/or consuming ”like Drunken Sailors” –
AND – HEY – a lot less spending for a Education you can do online!

AND so –
Our ”Cult of Less” got ”THE REVOLUTION” – we – not really asked for – BUT as it has happened – y’all need to learn enjoying the frugality of ”Swabian House Wives” – as are the ”Schwaben” don’t sell enough Porsches and Mercedeses anymore – and there is hardly a better measurement for the so called ”economical health” of the world as the ”Verkaufszahlen” of cars.

18

Andres 07.04.20 at 8:45 pm

Lee Arnold’s amendments:

“Constitutional amendments — 1. Amendment against anonymous property holdings: A. End to dark money campaign contributions. B. End to anonymous shell corporations. C. Any candidate for US President must release the last ten years of tax returns.

Amendment against executive misconduct: A. Executive branch inspectors general shall not be removed but by Congressional approval. B. Not complying with Congressional subpoenas is an impeachable offense. C. In the case of House impeachment, “executive privilege” is automatically voided. D. If a President is removed from office, all of his or her pardons are automatically voided and the miscreants returned to jail.”

The amendment against anonymous property holdings strikes too close to the root of capitalism to be ever proposed by the mainstream Democratic leadership, however much they may want to enact it. And of course it would only pass over the dead bodies of the Republican opposition. Same for the amendment against executive misconduct, as Republicans have believed at least since the time of Reagan (if not Nixon) that the President is and should always be a quasi-monarch whose only constraint is getting elected and re-elected.

But in general, the problem with constitutional amendments is that in today’s age they require bipartisanship and thanks to the increased degree of economic aristocracy and the resulting degree of political polarization, bipartisanship is utterly dead. It will only be after some dramatic political blowup that amendments like this get passed, and then more likely by something like a constituent assembly than by the House and Senate.

19

Anarcissie 07.04.20 at 11:47 pm

@14 — That’s what I was thinking as I read this — you have to start with the material facts ‘on the ground’ as people like to say. High-level politics and economics often seem rather fictive, but current events have blown away a lot of that, at least temporarily, and facts like the production, transportation, and consumption of real goods and services are going to matter. Even if politicians and political theorists have not caught up yet.

Also, I would certainly not assume Trump can’t win the election.

However, if he loses the election, and refuses to vacate the White House, he’ll just be removed by whatever force is necessary. He has not done the necessary work of organizing a private army or suborning the regular forces to effect a coup. Or if he has, he has done it in a miraculously secret manner. If his legal problems are as advertised, his best move would be to vacate the White House well in advance of his successor’s inauguration, and go to some country willing to provide asylum.

20

Barry 07.04.20 at 11:47 pm

Bryan Rasmussen 07.04.20 at 6:50 pm

” there has been quite a number of people suggesting that if Trump lost he would not accept it and exit as is customary, what is the effect of that?”

Note that the military leadership has publicly disavowed him. He can be removed by the Secret Service quite easily, unless he has inspired loyalty in them :)

21

likbez 07.05.20 at 2:29 am

So called “Democrats”, especially Biden himself, and Biden entourage are sellouts to financial oligarchy. They represent defeated in 2016 wing of the US neoliberal elite — adherents to classic neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization.

To expect them to attempt anything of value other the kicking the neoliberalism can down the road is extremely naive.

In this sense Lee A. Arnold post ( 07.04.20 at 5:20 pm #12) is completely detached from reality.

22

likbez 07.05.20 at 4:49 am

@RobinM 07.04.20 at 7:04 pm (#14)

What seems to me to be absent from the outline is the possibility that the underlying social reality the politicians regularly try to cope with has been so churned up during the last few months that no attempt to comprehend “the economic consequences of the pandemic” can get very far unless that new reality is first evaluated.

Right. And not only COVID-19 is a “known unknown.” Riots are yet another factor. If iconoclasm activity continues, chances of Biden with his semi-senility as an albatross around his neck might become more problematic. Essentially rioters increase the chances of Trump re-election.

So, let’s not count chickens before they hatch.

23

J-D 07.05.20 at 6:23 am

Removing the filibuster on legislation (e.g. through the nuclear option) would be a declaration of war that I doubt Biden has the intestinal fortitude to embark on.

Eliminating the filibuster is a question for the Senate. So is restricting it. Biden’s attitude is irrelevant. A Senate majority can eliminate or restrict the filibuster regardless of the President, so the question is whether there will be a Senate majority with the necessary intestinal fortitude, not whether the President will exhibit same. If the Senators are determined, they can do it; if they aren’t, they won’t.

24

Hidari 07.05.20 at 7:05 am

A vague point that may or may not be relevant: Slate magazine in an article with the neutral title ‘The Seven Biggest Factors Working Against Donald Trump’s Re-election Bid’ (thus pretty clearly putting their cards on the table), has, as point 1 ‘The white-collar realignment. It’s complete.’ By which they mean that the Democrats, traditionally, the left wing, working class party, has now become the party of educated white middle class males (and, especially, females). The corollary of this (presumably, although Slate doesn’t point this out) is that the white working class will continue to move to the Republicans. Of course, Slate, (owned by the Graham Holdings Corporation), thinks this is a good thing as it achieves Peak Liberalism: leftism without leftism. Of course their conclusions are based on just one poll. But it might well indicate just how ‘radical’ Biden is prepared to be, if the Democrats become openly (as opposed to covertly) the party of the educated bourgeoisie, plus African-Americans and some immigrants. Also there was an article in Counterpunch which argued that if (very big if, but if) Biden takes on the cop unions, it might mean the final break of the Democrats with organised labour. Anyway this is all highly speculative, but a party that is no longer of the working class is unlikely to pass legislation that benefits the working class.

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/07/trump-biden-2020-polling-demographics-voters-enthusiasm.html

25

nastywoman 07.05.20 at 8:28 am

@22
”So, let’s not count chickens before they hatch”.

That’s why we – concerning ‘The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic” will firstly count the Millions of Americans – who in the coming month will be evicted from their homes –
(because they couldn’t pay their rent or mortgages anymore) –
And tracing it back to a ”Original US Sin” which was very well described in an article of the NYT with the title:

”European Workers Draw Paychecks. American Workers Scrounge for Food”.

As this article explains very well – ”US GENERAL (economical) STUPID”!

26

ph 07.05.20 at 8:31 am

If the focus of the book is on the US rather than the rest of the world, fair enough.

Working at home is now a thing, across the globe. To what extent will companies try to take advantage of the new normal to reduce the number of employees in high-labor cost nations?

How will nations respond to the next virus? Lock-downs? Restrictions on movement, assembly, disseminating ‘false’ news?

Your point re: health care is spot on. I can’t see Biden bridging the gap within in his own party.

My assumption is that 80-90 percent of politicians of both parties in the US are totally owned by globalist multi-nationals, and by their own special interest groups. Ordinary citizens have no voice in either party.

So, the simplest description given all your conditions will be a return to a decline in real wages, a bailout for multi-nationals, ‘peace’ with China (Biden has been called China’s last, best hope), a 15 dollar an hour minimum wage, and crap health care for a larger cohort of the American public. If voters get a sense of this is all that Biden offers, displacing the unpopular president will be more of a challenge.

America first and buy America is the backbone narrative/fiction of a substantial section of the American electorate. Squaring that circle, and/or addressing the challenges of de-coupling the supply chain from China might be worth a paragraph or two.

I’m sure you’ll do a good job. Good luck!

27

Tm 07.05.20 at 10:06 am

SusanC 9: At the risk of repeating myself: Trump doesn’t have a “winning formula”. He is historically unpopular for a first term president. His vote result in 2016 was barely better than McCain’s, worse than Kerry’s and Romney’s, despite the fact that he was running in a favorable environment after two Obama terms and had a lot of help- from the FBI, Facebook, Russian troll farms, and the mainstream media in general who accorded him absolutely unprecedented coverage.

I agree complacency is dangerous. The US not being a democracy, it is still possible that Trump manages again to be appointed president by an unrepresentative body after losing the election. But please let us stop the Trump mythology. Trump isn’t a winner, he’s just extremely deft at gaming the system.

28

Hidari 07.05.20 at 10:32 am

@22
Not to mention this!

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/jul/05/kanye-west-declares-he-will-run-for-us-president-in-2020

Also I understand that Jesse Ventura could still run as Green Candidate, although I could be wrong about this.

It’s bad for Trump right now but far from hopeless.

29

Lee A. Arnold 07.05.20 at 11:02 am

Andres #18: “…the problem with constitutional amendments is that in today’s age they require bipartisanship…”

John Quiggin’s thought experiment is about what the Democratic Party ought to do if they achieve majorities in Congress which are likely to be marginal. I say: take a leaf from the Republicans, forget bipartisanship and do what you can, if only to make future campaign issues. Yes, constitutional amendments need 2/3rds majorities in both House and Senate before being sent to the statehouses for final approval by 3/4s of them. But even if they are voted down in Congress, they make good campaign issues for the future. Note that, with the exception of an end to anonymous shell corporations, enough Republicans may be forced to vote yes by their own supporters. Republicans may even consider these amendments to be a good bet, since the first thing they can do is wield them against Biden when they retake Congress.

30

Bill Benzon 07.05.20 at 11:06 am

And if Kanye West ends up as President?

31

Lee A. Arnold 07.05.20 at 12:06 pm

likbez #21: “So called ‘Democrats’, especially Biden himself, and Biden entourage are sellouts to financial oligarchy. They represent defeated in 2016 wing of the US neoliberal elite — adherents to classic neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization.”

Now let’s think it further. Here is what we are up against: “Free markets promote freedom and efficiency.” There is NO other economic theory that is politically viable because nobody has provided one that is just as succinct, comprehensible, automatic. So, while some Democrats are sellouts to “neoliberalism”, the rest of them are flailing about for a simple theory that doesn’t yet exist.

Thus, all the Democrats will fall down (or mostly all) when the “financial oligarchy” makes its likeliest move: Treasury security prices go down (i.e. interest rates go up), a slow run on the dollar, and accompanying propaganda about “economic deterioration, lack of business investment, higher taxes,” etc. in the Wall St. Journal and Fox Business.

One of the ironies of the present moment is that Trump’s “nationalism” has weakened the United States and strengthened the financial globalists by alienating the EU and other friends and mounting an unwinnable trade strategy against China. This will provoke and enable the euro and renminbi currency blocs to design policies to be more attractive (even if only temporarily) to a financial oligarchy looking to punish any arousal of more progressive policies in the US.

But, how many people understand this? I wrote this scenario here years ago just after Trump was elected, and I’d like to be wrong, but only just now the same theme is being discovered in some foreign policy periodicals.

A very basic condition of the US electorate (and all electorates in general) is individual cognitive limitation. The world is getting more complex, and individuals don’t have the time or expertise to understand what is really going on. You can wait for “labor” to wake up, but it ain’t gonna happen.

In the US, the thing to do in these conditions is to rid of the filibuaster, push a few things hard while you have the chance (and where many of the legislative details are already researched, compiled, ready to go) — healthcare, infrastructure, immigration, amendments — keep it simple, and then work on your strategy for the next election.

32

Hidari 07.05.20 at 1:31 pm

‘One of the ironies of the present moment is that Trump’s “nationalism” has weakened the United States and strengthened the financial globalists by alienating the EU and other friends and mounting an unwinnable trade strategy against China. ‘

It’s only unwinnable if you take the factor of military force out of the equation.

‘Smith and Wesson beats four aces’.

33

Ben Alpers 07.05.20 at 2:15 pm

Please don’t assume anything about the outcome of the US elections this November. If 2016 taught us anything, surely ot taught us that. Though the fact that your book might become a morbid joke before it’s even published is the least of my worries when I see folks assuming that beating Trump and taking back the Senate is a done deal.

34

Kurt Schuler 07.05.20 at 3:36 pm

To echo #2 above, I suggest that you not pin your analysis on a Biden victory. Even apart from the possibility that it may not happen, you have no special insight into U.S. politics. Being halfway across the world is much less of a disadvantage in observing another country’s politics than it used to be, but some disadvantage remains. It would be better not to center the analysis on the United States and to write more generally about what policies you think are best for different countries or different sorts of economies (rich, middle-income, poor; floating exchange rate, fixed rate; heavily debt constrained, not so constrained; etc.). In particular, many countries will come out of the pandemic with substantially higher government debt and maybe household and corporate debt. How much of a problem will it be?

35

likbez 07.05.20 at 3:50 pm

@Hidari 07.05.20 at 7:05 am (#24 )

The white-collar realignment. It’s complete.’ By which they mean that the Democrats, traditionally, the left wing, working class party, has now become the party of educated white middle class males (and, especially, females).

Upper middle class whites in costal cities were always part of the neoliberal base. They are net beneficiaries of the neoliberalization of the USA economy (especially those who are in education, finance, IT, Big Pharma, and healthcare.) That’s why around large 300 Silicon Valley, transnational and financial companies declared their support for BLM.

I think around half of S&P500 listed companies did. At least till November ;-) . The list is pretty interesting reading by itself https://conservativeus.com/the-full-list-here-are-the-269-companies-who-are-supporting-blm-antifa-riots/

But if those whites feel the threat of riots as the threat to their well-being, then realignment can happen in opposite direction.

Question: What if neoliberal Dems overplayed “identity wedge” hand?

36

Ebenezer Scrooge 07.05.20 at 4:42 pm

Sam Wang has the Senate at 53 D as of today.
If I were Chuck Schumer, I would have my wish list ready by December. Not specific legislation; just about four topics. Tell Mitch McConnell (or his successor) that any attempt to filibuster the topics on the list will end the filibuster. I would include: a.) electoral reform; b.) COVID stimulus; c.) tax reform; and d.) labor law reform. Ymmv. Also tell McConnell that if the filibuster ends, it will end with a court-packing bill. What the Dems would offer in return is Chuck Schumer’s personal promise that the filibuster will not otherwise end. (The PM of Finland made a personal promise to Nazi Germany that Finland wouldn’t pull out of the joint war effort. When it came time for the Finns to leave the Nazis, the PM resigned, keeping his promise. Because of personal ambition, this is an elegant way of making a soft but real commitment.)

37

Orange Watch 07.05.20 at 6:44 pm

The underlying problem with any proposal of radical action by hypothetical full Democratic control of two branches is the leadership. Even if the radical action is no more than “wonkish incrementalism, but with slightly larger increments”, that will be too much to ask of Biden, Schumer, or Pelosi, to say nothing of all three in a sustained manner. The conservative “moderate, pragmatic centrist” leadership of the party has taken this primary season as vindication of their ideal, and their ideal is “return to business as usual”. Between this conviction and their conviction that the future of the next several electoral cycles is cementing the loyalty of suburban college-educated workers and professionals (thus finally achieving the long-sought grail of leftism without leftists), and the last thing anyone should expect is radical action, particularly radical action that undermines the prevalent corporate structure (particularly corporate influence on governance and elections, as that’s integral to the leadership’s grasp on power within the party) or political balance of power between branches. The only agenda will be milquetoast symbolic gestures meant to show all of (and only) the stakeholders that the Dem leadership considers relevant that the sensible, serious grownups are back in control.

38

byomtov 07.05.20 at 7:11 pm

Lee Arnold,

I agree that the Democrats must act quickly and decisively, and not spend a lot of time trying to negotiate with Republicans. It won’t work, and the window may well be two years or less. They shouldn’t waste a lot of time haggling among themselves either. Get egos in check. Lots of legislation has been passed by the House and died in the Senate. Revive the most important pieces, and pass them with little or no modification.

But I would give highest priority to a new comprehensive voting rights act which would, at a minimum: extend voting times and the use of mail-in ballots; criminalize various gimmicks designed to suppress voting; require the states to provide to provide enough polling places and voting machines that, say, 95% of voters are expected to have wait times of 15 minutes or less. To the extent possible, this should eliminate gerrymandering as well.

After that, immigration and health care.

39

likbez 07.05.20 at 10:36 pm

…a party that is no longer of the working class is unlikely to pass legislation that benefits the working class.

This is an important point worth repeating again and again.

This is a zugzwang for neoliberal Dems. Without working class votes they can’t win. And those votes are lost. Clinton gambit that in Cola-Pepsi duopoly the working class has nowhere to go (because Republicans are ever worse) worked for a couple of decades but in 2016 suddenly stopped. They same happened in UK. And will soon happen in Germany as Merkel is history too: Biden without senility.

Using “identity wedge” and amplifying the current riots is a desperate move of “substituting with minorities” the lost working class votes. They want to split the country in such a way that Republicans are in minority. Probably will not work as nationalism as a platform is on upswing now and Trump’s “national neoliberalism” has some grass roots support even among the minorities, despite that his promises are all fake. Riots dramatically increased polarization and the result of this polarization are not necessary beneficial to neoliberal Dems.

We need to accept the fact that the Neoliberal Dems lost its key constituency and that limits their ability to win the political power. They can’t even select a decent leader, because Biden as a party leader is a cruel joke. The fact that “there is no alternative” no longer holds — the return (on a new level) to some form of the New Deal is clearly an alternative. The alternative that the majority of population wants. All this neoliberal fairy tales about “free market” (can it exists with multinationals in power?), “personal responsibility” (which means unlimited ability of capital to eliminate decent jobs and replace them with perma-temps, or offshore them) and that “rising tide lifts all boats” no longer works. That’s why Bezos supports BLM while paying below average to the workers in warehouses. He “feels the pain.” ;-)

IMHO 20% of upper middle class is not enough as the key constituency simply because a part of this voter block belongs to Republicans. And that essentially all what the neoliberal Dems, as “Republicans-lite” currently have.

Although in 2020 they might have a unique chance due to Trump self-disintegration. But their ability to hold into minorities votes, while selling those minorities down the river is an aberration, so in this case in 2022 they might lose all the gains.

Biden in a way symbolizes the crisis of Clinton wing of the Democratic Party really well: they have no future, only the past.

While Republicans now can play the nationalist card like in Wiemar Germany. And the recent riots play into their hands and this effect will last till November.

40

Michael Cain 07.05.20 at 11:19 pm

As soon as possible, make Medicaid a purely federal program. Administration can be left in state hands, a la SNAP, if sufficient controls for good behavior are put in place. It accomplishes John’s goals. It also fills a hell of hole that traditional Medicaid leaves in the state budgets.

41

J-D 07.06.20 at 12:18 am

Now let’s think it further. Here is what we are up against: “Free markets promote freedom and efficiency.” There is NO other economic theory that is politically viable because nobody has provided one that is just as succinct, comprehensible, automatic. So, while some Democrats are sellouts to “neoliberalism”, the rest of them are flailing about for a simple theory that doesn’t yet exist.

‘Free markets promote freedom and efficiency’ is not a theory, it’s a slogan, and it’s demonstrably not the only possible effective slogan for an election campaign; for example, ‘Make America great again’ is obviously an effective slogan for an election campaign.

Come to that, I don’t recall any examples of an election campaign using ‘Free markets promote freedom and efficiency’ as its slogan. Possibly the relevant point is that no slogan denying that free markets promote freedom and efficiency is politically viable, but surely that still leaves lots of possibility?

42

Alan White 07.06.20 at 2:03 am

Frankly I’m beyond tired of the “I hate Trump but” posts at CT.

I hate Trump, full stop. Given over a $1000 to the Dems so far–and will give far beyond the “stimulus” check that is just my money in taxes partly refunded. I’ve never given more than $200 in any election cycle before. If that Agent Orange narcissist virtueless excuse for a human being is reelected because of the stupidity of the electorate, I genuinely need a reason to look in the mirror and say “I tried.” Full stop.

43

Lee A. Arnold 07.06.20 at 2:32 am

Hidari #32: “It’s only unwinnable if you take the factor of military force out of the equation.”

Let’s put aside the fact that no one in the world really believes that a deal with Trump is worth the paper it’s written on, they all know his business history, and focus instead on the Chinese side. Please describe a scenario in which a Chinese breach of the trade deal (e.g. by not buying enough US soybeans, or by stealing another US trade partner) could be effectively, lastingly solved by the use of military force.

44

Lee A. Arnold 07.06.20 at 2:56 am

J-D #41: “‘Free markets promote freedom and efficiency’ is not a theory, it’s a slogan”

It is the basic theory, well-argued from Locke through Milton Friedman on the freedom side, and by the theorems of welfare economics on the efficiency side. It was the precise subtext of the Reagan campaign, exploited in hundreds of supportive op-eds, although their actual campaign slogan was “Get government off our backs.”

Since there are “lots of possibility,” please construct a slogan by which you will convince most of the people in the US not to freak-out when interest rates rise, the burden of financing the federal budget deficit increases, and the predictable mantra about “government inefficiency, economic malaise and lack of business confidence” starts up again with an incessant tribal drumbeat.

45

bruce wilder 07.06.20 at 4:11 am

mainstream Democrats recognise the need for radical change, and Biden will align with the mainstream position as he always has done

You said you would leave this, your third assumption, to comments, so here is my comment.

The U.S. is in the midst of a deep legitimacy crisis and contrary to popular belief among liberals, it is not Trump particularly whose legitimacy is being called into question. Oh, sure, there have been relentless attacks on him — from partisan opponents and from much of mainstream media — but like the “anti-racism” of the recent protests — much of it is dissembling and distraction. Charges of colluding with Putin to win the 2016 election turned out to be fake news — rather obviously so from the beginning — but a big enough mob went down that path with no self-awareness. I am not saying Trump is not an egregiously bad President; he is. But, notice please, before you go assuming that mainstream Democrats are going wake up in 2021 wanting to govern in the real world 🌎, that they have not shown much inclination toward truth-telling or critical realism these last 20 years.

It is July. By January 2021, the U.S. economy will have suffered a structural collapse in multiple sectors. That is the economic consequence of the pandemic. Restaurants, shopping malls, bars, colleges, hotels, airlines, cruise lines — easily 15% of the workforce will be unemployed and another 25% seriously underemployed.

Did I mention that the U.S. is undergoing a legitimacy crisis?? Whose legitimacy is being called into question?

I would submit that the legitimacy of the elite professional and managerial classes is being called into question, for want of performance or any sense of responsibility. The urban PMC are the core constituency of the establishment Democratic Party. The vestigial working class elements and the ideological Left are distant memories and oppressed minorities seeking social justice, mere props. I would say the Party establishment is confident they can put the re-animated corpse of Biden into the White House. And look how gleefully they welcome Republican never-Trumpers into the clubhouse! If you were one of the fools and tools who thought Obama did not want Republicans to control Congress, you are getting another chance to see how the Obama Alumni Association works with the Lincoln Project, how happy they are to deliver the kind of policy that appeals to rich, old, suburban Republican women.

The thing is, the political classes — the millionaire media pundits, the politicians, the lobbyists, the generals, the journamalists, the manipulative political operatives and propagandists, the pious policy “experts”, the highly paid executives and financial managers running monopolies into the ground and non-profits into irrelevance — they have enacted their neo-liberal agenda and it doesn’t work.

We have just watched the once highly touted CDC completely botch the great Pandemic. They could not devise a test. They screwed up the rules on who could or should be tested. They lied early on about the need to wear masks. They staged a moral panic over a need for ventilators, when ventilators are a terrible therapeutic alternative. In the new Puritanism, they shut down public beaches but they watched passively as liberal heroes like Cuomo set off a holocaust by sending COVID-19 patients to nursing homes.

This in a country that cannot manufacture PPE. Or win a war. Trump, in his fumbling way, might get the U.S. out of Afganistan, but the NY Times — who brought us WMD not that long ago — reports the Russians are paying bounties on American soldiers killed. No report on the treatment of Julian Assange though. Boeing is going to get the 737 Max in the air real soon now. Citibank is borrowing at 0.03 from the Fed and lending to credit card users at 27% and may be insolvent.

So, let us assume the Democrats, after nominating an elderly sob who had a hand in the crime bill that gave the U.S. the highest incarceration rate in the world, the bankruptcy bill that saddled tens of millions with credit card and student debt that cannot be discharged, and every stupid war of the last nearly twenty years, will suddenly see the necessity of radical change. And, after making an alliance with conservative Republicans hostile to even Trump’s fake populism in order to elect Biden, seeing the light on radical reform is so likely! So plausible.

And, what’s the play? The carrot of bi-partisan cooperation coupled with the fearful stick of abolishing the filibuster someday somehow if they don’t play nice. You do realize that only Republicans are allowed to manipulate the filibuster and only in ways that favor their agenda of, say, stacking the courts? And, the strategic vision? Reinforcing the Rube Goldberg contraption which is Obamacare? You do know Biden is on record as adamantly opposed to Medicare4all? And, that Medicaid is a need-based nightmare of controlled deprivation? In a country where public health is such a shambles that a pandemic is running out of control.

You can do better.

46

J-D 07.06.20 at 5:06 am

Sam Wang has the Senate at 53 D as of today.

Sam Wang was 100% confident that Hillary Clinton would beat Donald Trump in 2016. The cake was baked, he wrote. He promised to eat a bug if he was wrong (and, to do him justice, he ate that bug).

If I were Chuck Schumer, I would have my wish list ready by December.

That remains the astute course regardless of his estimate of the probability of Democratic victory, given any non-negligible probability.

(It remains my opinion that the polls are right more often than they’re wrong, and that any other indicator/predictor is even less reliable than the polls; on that basis, it can only be supposed that a Democratic victory is more likely than a Republican one, but the chance of a Republican victory remains non-negligible.)

47

Peter Dorman 07.06.20 at 5:11 am

All the attention in this thread so far has been on the political dimension of uncertainty, but it seems to me the public health dimension is also crucial and quite up in the air. What will the trajectory of the virus look like in the US over the next several months? Will infections continue to explode out of control? What will this mean for health outcomes — not only mortality but also severe illnesses and susceptibility to future diseases due to long-lasting tissue damage? (We know very little at this point about long term scarring, but enough to be concerned.) If we’ve learned nothing else about the economics of the pandemic, we should recognize that it is risk of infection, not government dictates or the relaxation of them that determines the level of output loss.

Similar questions arise for other parts of the world where the pandemic is especially virulent. Indeed, there is also uncertainty over whether countries that seem to have mostly suppressed the first wave can continue to hold the line.

I would hold off on putting the future down on paper.

48

Chetan Murthy 07.06.20 at 6:45 am

likbez @ 39:

Without working class votes they can’t win. And those votes are lost

It’s helpful that you told us who you were, in so few words. The Dems didn’t lose working-class votes in 2016: the median income of a Hillary voter was less than that of a Trump voter [or maybe it was average? In any case, not much difference.] What the Dems lost, was “white non-college-educated” voters. They retained working class voters of color.

But hey, they don’t count as working-class voters to you. Thanks for playing.

49

MisterMr 07.06.20 at 8:21 am

Two points:

1) White collar are, by definition, working class, because they don’t own the means of production. What I see is an opposition between blue collars and white collars, that are two wings of the working class, not that democrats are going against the working class.
For some reason, the main divide in politics today is a sort of culture war, and republicans and other right wing parties managed to present the traditionalist side of the culture war as the “working class” one, and therefore the other side as the evil cosmopolitan prosecco sipping faux leftish but in reality very snobbish one, so that they pretend that they are the working class party because of their traditionalist stance.
But they aren’t: already the fact that they blame “cosmopolitans” shows that they think in terms of nationalism (like Trump and his China virus), which is a way to deflect the attention from class conflict.
So comparatively the Dems are still the working class party, and the fact that some working class guys vote for trump sows that they suffer from false consciousness, not that the Dems are too right wing (the dems ARE too right wing, but this isn’t the reason some working class guys are voting Trump).

2) Neoliberalism and free markets are not the same thing, and furthermore neoliberalism and capitalism are not the same thing; at most neoliberalism is a form of unadultered capitalism. However since neoliberalism basically means “anti new deal”, and new deal economies were still free market and still capitalist (we can call them social democratic, but in this sense social democracy is a form of controlled capitalism), it follows that the most economically succesful form of capitalism and free markets to date is not neoliberalism.

50

MisterMr 07.06.20 at 8:30 am

@Chetan Murthy 48

“the median income of a Hillary voter was less than that of a Trump voter”

This doesn’t automatically mean that the Dems get the working class: what happens is that conservative vote is U shaped, they get a ton of votes fom very low incomes, and a ton of votes from very high incomes, but few votes in the middle.
Since income distribution is pear shaped (there is more distance between high incomes and the median than between low incomes and the median) this still gives an higer average income than the Dem’s base, but it is still true that in the very low incomes Reps rake up a lot of votes (although, as for my previous comment, I think this is a case of false consciousness, aka they cling to their guns and their Bibles, aka they’ve been bamboozled).

51

Hidari 07.06.20 at 9:59 am

‘All the attention in this thread so far has been on the political dimension of uncertainty, but it seems to me the public health dimension is also crucial and quite up in the air. What will the trajectory of the virus look like in the US over the next several months? Will infections continue to explode out of control?’

Not just the public health, but the economic effects of the public health. As I pointed out in a previous thread, it’s not difficult to work out why Trump looked like he was going to win in January: the stock market was booming, unemployment was low, crime was low, there were no new wars…it’s not a mystery.

People vote with their wallets.

If Trump someone manages to face down the neo-liberals in his own party and arrange for a gigantic stimulus bill (bigger than the last one) and keeps ‘benefits’ going past August, he is in with a shout. If he doesn’t, and if the economy continues its path to free fall, he will lose.

People vote with their wallets. It is not difficult. You don’t need to invoke Russia and etc. to work out why Trump won in 2016 (the impact of the Obama stimulus package, which was too small, hadn’t et ‘percolated through’ to people’s bank balances at that point). And, if Trump loses in 2020, the reasons will be self-evident and nothing to do with ‘people seeing through him’ or ‘brave liberals averted a turn to fascism’. If he loses it will be because he screwed up on the ‘good’ economy.

People vote with their wallets.

52

nastywoman 07.06.20 at 10:41 am

@45
”It is July. By January 2021, the U.S. economy will have suffered a structural collapse in multiple sectors. That is the economic consequence of the pandemic. Restaurants, shopping malls, bars, colleges, hotels, airlines, cruise lines — easily 15% of the workforce will be unemployed and another 25% seriously underemployed”.

How true – and as mentioned before – millions of Americans will be evicted AND most destructing – the VIRUS REVOLUTION will be still ”raging”.

And Mr. Wilder – as most commenters here – will (still) write comments about Party Politics – while ”A Coloured” Sister of mine -(as US VICE) – will have to try to solve all these… problem in the only possible way with giving Americans –
LESS INEQUALITY
with
Payable Health Care –
Affordable Housing
Secure jobs with long vacations
Free Education
AND
A Green New Deal.

As some countries in Europe -(NOT the UK) have finally demonstrated to US – the only way ONWARD to deal with such a Pandemic!

53

nastywoman 07.06.20 at 11:06 am

@
People vote with their wallets.

Or what did a famous US Philosopher -(and Used Car Dealer) once say:
It’s the economy stupid!

BUT as the (C-19)REVOLUTION has shown ”the people” –
(at least ”most” of the people)
that – as a Famous Swiss Philosopher -(and my favourite Cheesemaker) always says:

DIE GESUNDHEIT IST DAS WICHTIGSTE!

There was a whole new mind-set distributed – which REALLY hurt the economy – where it REALLY hurts – in the Party-Stimmung.
As how many people do you guys know – who still want to Party like it’s 1999?
AND you guys MUST be aware – that Partying like it’s 1999 ALWAYS was THE thing which held the US economy tooo-gether!
Or as US economists used to say:

”Consumer spending is the single most important driving force of the U.S. economy. … These additional components of the gross domestic product aren’t as critical as consumer spending. Even a small downturn in consumer spending damages the economy”.

So – EVERYBODY? – THE question:
Concerning The (Psychological) Economic Consequences of the Pandemic?
How much ”less consumption” -(and thusly ”less wealth”) will it be?

25? – 30? or even 40 percent?

54

J-D 07.06.20 at 11:41 am

It is the basic theory …

Anybody who (like me) was not disposed to accept that assertion the first time you made it is not going to be influenced to accept it by your repetition of it.

It was the precise subtext of the Reagan campaign …

That may be true (I don’t recall), but if it is true that makes it a slogan, not a theory, just as I said.

Since there are “lots of possibility,” please construct a slogan …

That I have no aptitude for sloganeering is undisputed, but there’s no reason to suppose that what I can’t do another also can’t do.

If it is of genuine interest to you, you can as easily as I discover the slogans used by the Cleveland, Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, and Obama campaigns (or, for that matter, the campaign slogans of Republican Presidents).

55

Lee A. Arnold 07.06.20 at 12:47 pm

bruce wilder @45, I enjoyed your screed but would extend the legitimacy crisis further, into the comprehension skills of the US public in both parties and beyond. We can’t blame this all on the nefarious machinations of, say, neoliberalism. Also note that Russian collusion was not concluded to be fake insofar as the Mueller Report goes (and the Senate Intelligence Reports may leave you less than confident that voting booths were not really hacked). Also note that the CDC had trouble with a test rollout for COVID-19, but all of their botched decisions (including the fact that the US did not start testing much earlier with the WHO’s existing, readily available test) may have been forced upon them by confusion and misdirection of the White House, which has been making ALL of the decisions, and also put a gag order on every person and agency involved since around January.

56

JimV 07.06.20 at 1:52 pm

bruce wilder 07.06.20 at 4:11 am (45):

Charges of colluding with Putin to win the 2016 election turned out to be fake news — rather obviously so from the beginning …

Time Magazine, https://time.com/5610317/mueller-report-myths-breakdown/ :

Myth: Mueller found “no collusion.”

Response: Mueller spent almost 200 pages describing “numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign.” He found that “a Russian entity carried out a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.” He also found that “a Russian intelligence service conducted computer-intrusion operations” against the Clinton campaign and then released stolen documents.

While Mueller was unable to establish a conspiracy between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians involved in this activity, he made it clear that “[a] statement that the investigation did not establish particular facts does not mean there was no evidence of those facts.” In fact, Mueller also wrote that the “investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.”

57

Mike 07.06.20 at 2:33 pm

Likbez: “This is a zugzwang for neoliberal Dems. Without working class votes they can’t win. And those votes are lost.”

Following up on Chetan, I would also want to know what definition of ‘working class’ Libkez has in mind. I too worry that it must just be excluding non-white people, which is, of course, not an acceptable definition.

MisterMr’s U-shaped hypothesis won’t save Libkez’s claim. See the bottom chart here:
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/11/07/us/elections/house-exit-polls-analysis.html

And I don’t think we should be worried about Likbez’s claim that “Essentially rioters increase the chances of Trump re-election.”, given recent polling shows both a big increase in support for BLM and that many more people think that Biden will be better than Trump at bringing the country closer together and handling race relations, which is hardly surprising.
https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2020/06/30/publics-mood-turns-grim-trump-trails-biden-on-most-personal-traits-major-issues/

58

Andres 07.06.20 at 4:54 pm

Chetan Murthy @48: “The Dems didn’t lose working-class votes in 2016: the median income of a Hillary voter was less than that of a Trump voter [or maybe it was average? In any case, not much difference.] What the Dems lost, was “white non-college-educated” voters. They retained working class voters of color.”

I doubt that the Democrats have “won” working class votes, white, black, hispanic, or other, since the time of LBJ, and possibly before that. What they have “won” is an electorate where a significant minority, but still a minority, are the party faithful but the majority (growing over time) vote Democratic only as the lesser evil, i.e. because they believe that the media coverage and electoral system’s exclusion of third parties in effect forces them to vote Democratic by holding a gun to their head. Maybe I’m wrong, but then I would want to see more media coverage of third party candidates combined with “Is the Democratic Party nominee your first choice?” polling before conceding that I am.

What I see is that U.S. voters are forced into a choice between a conservative center-right national-security party (Democrats) whose main virtues are that they are not fascist or racist and are willing to provide a basic welfare state safety net, though one not as extensive as in Europe. Opposed to them is a party whose ideology and behavior are degenerating into something combining the pre-conditions of fascism (e.g., pre-Great War Germany) and the 1860 secessionist South.

Changing this state of affairs is not something that will be accomplished by elections, but by large and sustained protest movements (think Occupy or BLM multiplied many times). The next few decades will be interesting, but not fun.

59

Orange Watch 07.06.20 at 5:40 pm

Chetan Murthy@48:

It’s helpful that you told us who you were, in so few words. 43% of the US are non-voters. The median household income of non-voters is less than half of the median income of a Clinton voter (which was higher than the overall US median, albeit by less than the Trump median was). Clinton didn’t lose in 2016 because of who voted as much as who didn’t; every serious analysis (and countless centrist screeds) since Trump’s installation has told us that. Losing the working class doesn’t require that the Republicans gain them; if the working class drops out, that shifts the electoral playing field further into the favor of politics who cater to the remaining voting blocks. Democrats playing Republican-lite while mouthing pieties about how they’re totally not the party of the rich will always fare worse in that field than Republicans playing Republicans while mouthing pieties about how they ARE the party of the rich, but also of giving everyone a chance to make themselves rich. I know it’s been de rigour for both Dems and the GOP to ignore the first half of Clinton’s deplorable quote, but it truly was just as important as the half both sides freely remember. The Democrats have become a party of C-suite diversity, and they have abandoned the working class. And when their best pick for President’s plenty bold plan for solving police violence is to encourage LEOs to shoot people in the leg instead of the chest (something that could only be said by a grifter or someone with more knowledge of Hollywood than ballistics or anatomy), the prospect of keeping the non-white portions of the working class from continuing to drop out is looking bleak.

MisterMr@49:

The traditional threading of that needle is to expand class-based analysis to more accurately reflect real-world political and economic behavior. In the past (and in some countries who updated the applicable definitions, still), the most relevant additional class was the petty bourgeoisie; in the modern US, however, the concept of the professional-managerial class is the most useful frame of reference.

60

Gorgonzola Petrovna 07.06.20 at 7:01 pm

@22 likbez “Essentially rioters increase the chances of Trump re-election.”

We proud emigre fascists here at GRU agree with likbez. If liberals want to win, they need to perform some version of the Night of the Long Knives, before the election. Similar to what is being done, quietly, in Seattle, only on a wider scale. But if they do it for real, they’re likely to lose a whole bunch of different votes. Yes, a bit of zugzwang.

But then maybe they don’t really want to win this time? Who the hell knows.

61

nastywoman 07.06.20 at 7:55 pm

And I think I forgot to mention:
Every American will become a ”Baker”.

62

Andres 07.06.20 at 8:07 pm

Lee Arnold @44: No, “free markets promote freedom and efficiency” has never been a theory (in the sense of a scientific hypothesis) but an ideology. To be fair, practically all broad economic theories including Marxism are ideologies as well, to the extent that they pretend to be scientific. The “problem with free markets promote freedom and efficiency” is that it isn’t even a logically consistent ideology: the assumptions of perfect information, rival excludable products, perfect competition and lack of external costs needed to make the theory true are non-existent in the real world, so that the government regulation needed to correct these problems results in unfree markets. So any decent analysis downgrades “free markets promote freedom and efficiency” from wannabe hypothesis to political slogan.

I also have scant respect for macroeconomic scaremongering. U.S. economic history points to interest rates rising above normal levels only when inflation is becoming unmoored. And this same history also points to supply shocks combined with wage indexation (usually union-connected) being the main cause of inflationary pressure, not federal budget deficits; even LBJ did not preside over an excess capacity/forced saving situation; only FDR did so and his administration incidentally showed that an extensive rationing system could keep inflation under control during wartime.

While I’m not completely in agreement with MMT, they are 100% right that as long as the U.S. has its own sovereign currency, issues debt in this currency, and does not cause spending to push the economy above the combined domestic capacity plus imports constraint, then there are no short-term negative effects to government borrowing.* All the babble from PK’s “very serious people” about rising interest rates, government bankruptcy, and low business confidence is not even scaremongering but is actually a dog-whistle extortion threat: keep the public sector down or we go on an investment and hiring strike. That is in fact how class politics intrudes on macroeconomics.

The only conceivable long-term negative effect is distributional: upper bracket tax cuts that drive up the deficit also worsen distribution and worsen low aggregate demand and secular stagnation.

63

J-D 07.06.20 at 11:36 pm

… what happens is that conservative vote is U shaped, they get a ton of votes fom very low incomes … it is still true that in the very low incomes Reps rake up a lot of votes …

Not as many as the Democrats, though.

64

likbez 07.07.20 at 12:15 am

People vote with their wallets.

The answer is “not always” due to existence of “What the matter with Kansas” effect.

People can and do vote against their economic interests, although this is more common for lower strata of population then for the elite.

This is the essence of the current play by the Neoliberal Democrats. Mike Whitney pointed out that their support of black population is just a tactical trick:

The protests are largely a diversion aimed at shifting the public’s attention to a racialized narrative that obfuscates the widening inequality chasm (created by the Democrats biggest donors, the Giant Corporations and Wall Street) to historic antagonisms that have clearly diminished over time. (Racism ain’t what it used to be.)

The Democrats are resolved to set the agenda by deciding what issues “will and will not” be covered over the course of the campaign. And– since race is an issue on which they feel they can energize their base by propping-up outdated stereotypes of conservatives as ignorant bigots incapable of rational thought– the Dems are using their media clout to make race the main topic of debate.

In short, the Democrats have settled on a strategy for quashing the emerging populist revolt that swept Trump into the White House in 2016 and derailed Hillary’s ambitious grab for presidential power.

The plan, however, does have its shortcomings…

…Let’s be clear, the Democrats do not support Black Lives Matter nor have they made any attempt to insert their demands into their list of police reforms. BLM merely fits into the Dems overall campaign strategy which is to use race to deflect attention from the gross imbalance of wealth that is the unavoidable consequence of the Dems neoliberal policies including outsourcing, off-shoring, de-industrialization, free trade and trickle down economics. These policies were aggressively promoted by both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as they will be by Joe Biden if he is elected. They are the policies that have gutted the country, shrunk the middle class, and transformed the American dream into a dystopian nightmare.

They are also the policies that have given rise to, what the pundits call, “right wing populism” which refers to the growing number of marginalized working people who despise Washington and career politicians, feel anxious about falling wages and dramatic demographic changes, and resent the prevailing liberal culture that scorns their religion and patriotism. This is Trump’s mainly-white base, the working people the Democrats threw under the bus 30 years ago and now want to annihilate completely by deepening political polarization, fueling social unrest, pitting one group against another, and viciously vilifying them in the media as ignorant racists whose traditions, culture, customs and even history must be obliterated to make room for the new diversity world order. Trump touched on this theme in a speech he delivered in Tulsa. He said:

“Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children. Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities.”

He then went off the rail, but still the part of his analysis reproduced above looks pretty prescient.

65

Nick 07.07.20 at 1:43 am

“…mainstream Democrats recognise the need for radical change, and Biden will align with the mainstream position as he always has done”

That is the saddest, most delusional thing I’ve read in some time.

Bernie was backstabbed, again, by the Democratic National Party (there is no Democratic National Party) precisely because mainstream Democrats will accept nothing but moderation (being totally beholden to corporate interests.)

And those running Biden & Placeholder will thwart his every (2 or 3 ) move (up to his death) toward ‘radical’ change, thus ever widening the gyre…

66

J-D 07.07.20 at 1:53 am

Changing this state of affairs is not something that will be accomplished by elections …

Elections change some things but not others; therefore, it’s a reasonable strategy for change to direct effort both into electoral politics and in other ways.

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faustusnotes 07.07.20 at 2:44 am

Orange Watch, how come the 43% of non-voters are non-voters because of the democrats? Why is everything the democrats’ fault? Could it be possible they don’t vote because the GOP isn’t right-wing enough for them? How many Republicans sat out the election because of Trump?

In every story you, likbez et al tell, it’s always the Democrats with agency. It’s never the Republicans’ fault.

Also, I have a vague memory that JQ banned likbez from his threads for going full white nationalist the last time he came around here.

68

J-D 07.07.20 at 3:31 am

The only agenda will be milquetoast symbolic gestures …

It’s possible that actions which you would evaluate as milquetoast symbolic gestures will turn out to be of substantial value to some other people; it’s hard to know without specifics of the kind of milquetoast symbolic gestures you’re expecting.

69

Chetan Murthy 07.07.20 at 3:44 am

Of what utility is a comment section, when imbeciles like “likebez” post tripe like comment #64? Does he not know that Obamacare was a massive redistribution downward on the income ladder? That the Obama justice department pursued consent decrees and monitoring of racist police departments? Is he unaware that the Democrats had to move rightward after losing election after election in the 70s and 80s?

It’s very tiring having to deal with this tidal wave of bullshit.

70

J-D 07.07.20 at 3:46 am

Likbez: “This is a zugzwang for neoliberal Dems. Without working class votes they can’t win. And those votes are lost.”

Following up on Chetan, I would also want to know what definition of ‘working class’ Libkez has in mind.

I would also want to know what definition of ‘zugzwang’ likbez has in mind.

Oh, and a pony.

71

nastywoman 07.07.20 at 5:52 am

@64likbez

”He then went off the rail…”

”THEN”?

After he said:
“Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children…

That’s what a Famous German Philosopher wrote about Trump – when he had came out as a Birther and wanted to become US President.

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nastywoman 07.07.20 at 6:22 am

“Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children”.

Which reminds me on the SADEST Economic Consequence of the Pandemic.

NOBODY wants to visit my homeland anymore –
As if you guys didn’t know yet – BUT America used to be the HUUUGEST Amusement Park –
In the World! – For the World!
(and especially NYC!)
And that already changed more and more when the Birther was erected –
but when the Virus hit – and von Clownstick said:
How great – now Americans will have to stay in their own country –
he just forgot how much the US Service Industry depends on ”Fureign Visitors”
and Tourism – and – okay – Venice and Paris does too –

BUT Venice and Paris are NOT in a country where EVERYTHING gets ”liquidated” –
in such a crisis – while in my homeland EVERYTHING get’s liquidated in NO time.
And while NYC Real Estate already lost 17? percent – a ClownstickVulture in Laguna Beach got one of my favourite Beach Shacks already for 25 percent less – compared to B.V.
And as we made a Documentary about the last Burst of the Housing Bubble –

https://youtu.be/vCEkP8XKuJk

THIS ONE is going to be far – faaaar worst!

73

Hidari 07.07.20 at 7:25 am

Attempting to get the discussion back to the OP:

Trump is an unusually weak President in that he has found it particularly difficult to keep all the ‘wings’ of his coalition together. This didn’t really matter when things were going well, although, due to his personality and the way he presented himself, his approval rating were always low for a President (although they were also unusually stable).

But now the wheels have come off the bus, and his coalition is fracturing.

For example: Trump was elected on a promise of ‘draining the swamp’ and off seeing off neoliberal Republicans (he stated very clearly that he would never cut Medicaid, for example). But now, we see, in a pandemic, that neoliberal Republicans want to cut Obamacare, presumably because Republicans’ ‘donors’ and ‘lobbyists’ in the medical sphere want it.

(https://www.politico.com/story/2019/07/14/republicans-obamacare-2020-1415313)

Whatever one thinks of Obamacare, this is simply insanity in the run up to an election, and if Trump lets it happen it’s one of the many reasons he will lose. What Trump should say is : guys this is madness! Let Obamacare stand until I get re-elected and then we can talk. But he seems to be incapable of standing up to them, something which may well doom his presidency. *

Another thing is that unemployment benefits run out in August. (https://thehill.com/policy/finance/505744-congress-gears-up-for-battle-over-expiring-unemployment-benefits)

Republicans, in yet another, ‘I’m going to shoot myself in the face for the sake of some kind of principle that I’m not even sure that I understand’ want to cut these benefits.

In the midst of possibly the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression, and 3 months from an election.

This is again, completely insane, and if it happens it’s something that will help to doom Trump’s chances. If Trump were strong, he could stand up to them, but it’s not clear that he is strong. The Republican ‘mainstream’, although they are some way to being Trumpified, still don’t like Trump very much, and it seems they are willing to throw Trump to the wolves for Republican ‘principles’ (being as nasty as they wanna be, hurting the poor, just generally being scumbags).

It’s still not clear how deep Republican insanity runs (please note here I am talking about the insanity of so-called ‘mainstream’ Republicans here, not Trump), such that they are willing to essentially throw an election just purely to hurt the poor, get rid of a candidate they don’t like much, and lose power for 4 years, just for their tawdry ‘principles’.

But if so-called ‘mainstream’ Republicans get their way, the economy will crater, Trump will lose, and the American economy will be a charred post-apocalyptic wilderness by January 2021.

So, given that, I think Biden’s initial impulse will be to try and get a huge stimulus package through Congress, and work on keeping Obamacare and only then think about expanding it, although this depends on whether the Coronavirus is by the ‘a dead issue’. Due to Trump’s incompetence, maybe it will still be ongoing, who knows? In which case, medical help will be important.

But Biden, or at least his advisers, will clearly understand that he has to get the economy sorted, and quick, or he will lose Congress and then be well on the way to being a 1 term President.

*Another sign of Trump’s weakness is his completely unwillingness to stand up to his big business mates in terms of the Coronavirus, and his fear of the ‘cultural conservatives’ who for some reason, don’t want to ‘wear the mask’. Big business wants American open, even at the risk of killing off Trump’s core support . so Trump is being pushed into a position vis a vis ‘reopening’ that is going to hurt him electorally (and already has, according to the polls).

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bruce wilder 07.07.20 at 11:35 am

a note on voter demographics and partisan alignment:

most of the poor and what used to be called working class do not actually vote. the electoral strategies of both Parties are tuned in part to discouraging turnout, as much or more than motivating turnout. not incidentally, neither Party nor much of anyone in office champions electoral integrity. (my own county of Los Angeles has introduced a technology for voting that seems positively designed for fraudulent vote counts — a design consistent with other local practices of long-standing, such as setting election dates with only a very few items on the ballot or changing polling locations or encouraging mail-in ballots)

it is wrong to suppose that Trump has much support among the working class, let alone the poor (see above about not-voting). the rough divide between Dems and Repubs lies along the fault-lines of the nature of education and the nature of related income and employment. people whose employment is credentialed by university education and especially those who work in collegiate formations (“staff”) doing “creative” professional or technical work tend to vote Democratic; people who own businesses or work in business hierarchies (“line”) directly dominating subordinates doing more or less physical work, and had only incomplete university education tend to vote Republican. most of those who do that somewhat physical, not-credentialed work mostly do not vote at all, but if they do vote, they tend to vote Democratic.

the spectrum of political opinion reflects human ambivalence, which encompasses diverse reactions to any slogan or proposal: people vote their resentments as much as their wallets. people who think the Democratic Party is responsive to the concerns or interests of the poor and working classes are delusional, full stop. the people in counties where the plague of, say, opioid addiction has been rampant who voted for Trump, are not the addicts who did not vote at all, nor are they anti-capitalist neo-Marxists with a deep concern about social cohesion and thorough-going understanding of the policies that brought about de-industrialization and licensed irresponsible distribution of highly addictive “prescription” drugs. Apparently, neither are the morons who voted for Hilary Clinton, because they thought she cared.

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Lee A. Arnold 07.07.20 at 12:01 pm

J-D #54: “… there’s no reason to suppose that what I can’t do another also can’t do.”

You are making me fear that there is plenty of reason. Let’s review:

I argued that the Democrats, if they win control of the US government, may be forced into federal budget austerity, essentially because they have no easy, simple reply to propaganda based on the theory of markets which is likely to inundate all screenways just as soon as a new economic slowdown and malaise is touted by Wall Street (my comment #31).

I wrote that comment, because I partly disagree with likbez’s comment that the Democrats are neoliberal sellouts to the financial oligarchy. I believe that would not be the case for most of them, if there were a simple opposing theory that the public would accept. The two requirements are: 1. existence of an opposing economic theory that is as easily expressed and understood, and 2. its acceptance by the public.

You replied that this is only a matter of having another slogan for the next campaign (#41).

Now, I had been writing about Democratic policymaking, in response to public discourse and polling, AFTER the election and before the next campaign: John Quiggin’s thought experiment for part of his next book. But I shifted gears and asked you what that campaign slogan would be, without an alternative theory of the economy that is simple and complete for the public to understand (#44). Because what the public is likely to be living with, at the midterms, is the same macro shit sandwich without Trump-McConnell’s phony veneer.

You replied that, again, it is only a matter of concocting the correct winning campaign slogan (#54).

But in your first comment (#2) you justly raise the question of “why (a) you [we] expect the Democrats to have the necessary political determination to overcome obstructionism”. I think this is the main question. And I submit once again that the answer is directly tied to having an alternate economic theory of the case that the public will understand and trust, which can be put into sloganeering that can withstand the coming movement into financial retrenchment.

Yet the evidence of your comments so far is that you think it is not germane. So I’ll ask it in a different way: How and why would the Democrats muster that political determination? What is your political economic theory of their case?

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MisterMr 07.07.20 at 12:06 pm

Orange Watch 59

“The traditional threading of that needle is to expand class-based analysis to more accurately reflect real-world political and economic behavior. In the past (and in some countries who updated the applicable definitions, still), the most relevant additional class was the petty bourgeoisie; in the modern US, however, the concept of the professional-managerial class is the most useful frame of reference.”

Sure, but one has to adopt a logicwhen building “class” groups. One relrvant dimension is educational attainment, which is IMHO where the “professional-managerial” class comes from.
But, not everyone with a degree is a manager, and “professional” normally implies a level of income that is higher that that of an average rank and file white collar.

So the question is whether this “new class” is really managers, or just white collar workers who work in services instead than in industrial production.
Furthermore, as technology increases, it is natural that a larger share of people will work in services and a smaller share in industry, for the same reason that increased agricultural productivity means less agricultural jobs.

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bruce wilder 07.07.20 at 12:08 pm

@ Lee A. Arnold and JimV re: Mueller Report not proving a negative

clinging to shreds is leading you to miss the larger point, which is that the manipulative “leadership” of the so-called Resistance to Trump chose to focus its opposition on made-up issues of no importance.

Trump, in terms of the policy agenda(s) of his crony-infested Administration and of his own dubious business history, is presumably a target-rich environment. The Democrats and their allies in the Media, the Foreign Policy Blob™ and so-called Intelligence Community either do not actually oppose Trump’s agenda in detail or (and this is important!) do not want to openly advocate for their own reprehensible agenda(s). Charges of collusion with Russia are convenient misdirection. Half of Americans are so stupid and ignorant that they do not even fully grasp that Russia has not been our Communist enemy for going on thirty years. And, it suits the interests of some of these factional elements to aggravate the relationship with Russia, a nuclear power, while other elements simply do not care; none of them want to oppose, for example, the self-destructive policy of perpetual pointless and fabulously expensive war in the greater Middle East. So, Betsy DeVos and Steve Mnuchin never attract much opposition despite their open promotion of authoritarian corruption — and they are the relatively salient crooks.

And, yes, Mueller chose not to clear much of anyone. Let’s also note that, if the Russians did, as Mueller claimed, play an instrumental role in disclosing emails from the Podesta and/or the DNC, those emails were genuine and revealed the truth of the Clinton campaign’s deliberate circumvention of campaign finance laws, a circumvention that weakened the Party’s institutional integrity as well as its efforts at State and local levels to win down-ballot races. I should not have to keep reminding people of that aspect of the 2016 election.

and by the way, Julian Assange is being tortured in a British prison at the behest of American authorities and that does not seem to trouble much of anyone in the American political establishment, of either Party.

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notGoodenough 07.07.20 at 12:15 pm

Apologies to everyone, but I would like to interject some ramblings from a neophyte if I may…

On the 2016 election

I am, as previously noted, not particularly versed in US politics[1], so perhaps I have missed something obvious. However, I’ll confess I am a bit confused – it seems that some commentators are framing the 2016 elections as though Clinton barely scraped by due to a lack of interest, while Trump swept to victory on a tidal wave of popular support.

Again, perhaps I have inferred what was not implied, but that would seem to be an interpretation which is not exactly supported – as far I can tell, the results of the last decade of elections were:

2000: Bush (50,456,002) Gore (50,999,897) Total voters (101,455,899) turnout 50.3%
2004: Bush (62,040,610) Kerry (59,028,444) Total voters (121,069,054) turnout 55.7%
2008: McCain (59,948,323) Obama (69,498,516) Total voters (129,446,839) turnout 58.2%
2012: Romney (60,933,504) Obama (65,915,795) Total voters (126,849,299) turnout 54.9%
2016: Trump (62,984,828) Clinton (65,853,514) Total voters (128,838,342) turnout 55.7%

Voter turnout:

It would seem not unreasonable to conclude that from 2004 – 2016 the number of voters has been between 121 and 129 million (ca. 7% difference) with the number of voters in 2016 being less than 1% lower than the maximum (in 2008). So, while one can certainly argue that a 55.7% turnout is not representative of a majority, it would seem to be broadly consistent with what is typical in the US (i.e. not more than 5% less than the majority of other elections within the last decade) [2]. Given that countries without mandatory voting appear to generally experience less turnout than those which do, I don’t know that 2016 was a horrifically low turnout given the system as is (whether or not the system is desirable is a different question, of course, and somewhat outside the scope of this thread).

Trump popularity:

Again, when looking at the numbers, it would seem that Clinton and Trump were both more-or-less within the distributions. Trump was superior to a 2004 Bush and Clinton worse than a 2008 Obama, but Clinton still received more of the vote than Trump. It would certainly be fair to say Clinton was not sufficiently more popular than Trump to achieve the Presidency, but (in terms of votes, at least) she would still seem to have been more popular.

Of course, this may be a facet of the two-party system. Perhaps Trump was beloved while Clinton was despised. Possibly people voted for Trump with great enthusiasm while they voted for Clinton with considerable reluctance. Maybe people believed Trump was going to change the world as a popular president, while they thought Clinton was a shill for banks who would sell everyone out. Potentially all Trump voters would have voted for him regardless, while all Clinton voters would have seized upon any reasonable alternative. However, I think that would need some supporting evidence about which I have not yet been made aware of – it certainly doesn’t appear to be obviously clear cut from the voting patterns [3] – so it would seem to be a bit speculative in the absence of additional data.

To reiterate, it is entirely possible I have missed the obvious, but it would seem the ideas that “obviously people were tired of Clinton and view Democrats as sellouts” or “obviously Trump is popular because he appeals to the working class” are not necessarily as straight-forward as they appear to be being offered. Though again, if people can provide some reliable evidence, I would be most interested in reading to try and improve my (no doubt rather flawed) understanding.

(US only) Economic consequences of the pandemic:

Radical change:

To bring this back to the topic of the OP, taking the scenario JQ sets up (i.e. Democrats control presidency and congress) it would seem the disputed part in the comments is (c) “mainstream Democrats recognise the need for radical change, and Biden will align with the mainstream position as he always has done”

As far as I can tell, the main objections to this are (1) mainstream Democrats will not recognise the need for radical change, and (2) Biden would not align with any radical change agenda even if (1) were not the case.

To address the 2nd point first – is it really so likely that Biden would defy both party consensus and the majority of the base in order to prevent any significant change? I could be wrong on this, of course, but it seems not entirely indisputable that – were the majority of Democrats in favour of radical change – Biden would so strongly oppose it as to be unconcerned with the political ramifications.

Under the (admittedly uncertain) assumption that it is reasonable to assign a relatively low probability to (2), then the sticking point would seem to be (1). To look at (1) more closely, surely if mainstream Democrats are not going to recognise the need for radical change, the solution is not to elect a more radical President (who, after all, would likely need the support of the party) but rather to elect different Democrats to those positions?

Of course, that does rely on the scenario JQ lays out (which, while far from impossible, is not exactly a certainty either), but if we do assume that that will be the case it isn’t clear to me why (c) is so implausible.

Again, I speak as a neophyte to US politics, so perhaps this is akin to questioning the laws of thermodynamics, but it seems as though this isn’t yet well addressed with supporting evidence. Perhaps other commentators (if so inclined) may be able to point me towards suitable resources?

(I should note that I do not assert the counterpositive and, from a purely personal perspective, don’t think that most governments in the whole world are being sufficiently radical in addressing the need for change – but that is a completely different argument, and “radical change” is, as it is currently left undefined, a bit subjective anyway).

JQ’s proposition:

While, as JQ notes, (a) and (b) are by no means “in the bag”, if we work within the hypothetical, I am inclined to agree to a certain extent in that healthcare would seem to be an obvious place to start. Given the recent events of the pandemic, surely healthcare is a “hot topic”? My understanding is that with similar “radical changes” in the past, (assuming the change is for the positive) these tend to be initially unpopular but then improve as familiarity increases. If that were the case, it would seem to make sense for it to be introduced early on in the hypothetical timeline…

[1] I have freely admitted that this not an area about which I know much. If people wish to correct me, or offer alternative perspectives, this is something which I would welcome (provided it is constructive and supported with evidence). I certainly am not particular familiar with the most reliable tools for understanding elections within the US (not only is it a different subject, it is a different country and culture!). I should note I am not trying to convince others (I am certainly not so confident in my understanding to propose it is reliable), but rather trying to seek some clarity on the topic.

[2] This is a bit simplistic – and I should note that the numbers are not universally agreed upon (though I cannot find universally reliable sources which would resolve this, but this seems to be a relatively “agreed with” perspective of the tally), making an accurate assessment tricky. I certainly wouldn’t claim this is an indisputable truth (so if people could avoid accusing me of deliberate mendacity this time it would be nice). However, as far as I can tell (and painting with a broad brush) one the one hand, voter turnout has been varying but generally increasing since 1950s, and that the 2016 election is not a significant outlier. On the other hand, the % eligible voters are a bit lower than the 60s (ca. 55% vs ca. 63%). On the other, other hand, given the changes in the society, it would be rather difficult to draw much of a conclusion from that either. If one goes from 1972 (which, I believe, is after universal suffrage and the voting rights acts), the % seems to have been broadly in the 50 – 58% ballpark, so I believe my comment is relatively fair – though I wouldn’t insist it is a universal truth.

[3] I should note this is, of course, a very broad look. Perhaps a more detailed examination of the breakdowns is illuminating or highlights what I have missed. But again, from this very simplistic look, it would not seem obvious that Clinton was significantly less popular or Trump significantly more popular than one might think reasonable based on general trends. Nor is it clear that the “working class” (in general, until you start breaking down further along racial lines) supported Clinton significantly less than her predecessors when compared to Trump. And while wealthier people tend to vote more than those less economically privileged, it doesn’t (at least to me) seem clear that that is necessarily more due to a lack of motivation rather than opportunity. But of course, I would be happy to be corrected.

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ph 07.07.20 at 12:25 pm

I’m not sure how many will take the time to read this, but anyone interested in US trade policy and COVID might be interested in this piece by Robert Lighthizer https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2020-06-09/how-make-trade-work-workers

The comments have been excellent, which is normally the sign of a good OP. If others believe that a magical door number 3 exists, I’d be keen to hear about it. We don’t get to choose our change agent. The only person willing to dismantle the trade deals which have screwed workers in the west is the current occupant of the WH.

It’s that, or we turn all power over to the hands of the very few. He’s surrounded by globalists in both parties, and it’s something of a miracle he’s managed to survive the non-stop onslaught. But he’s right – they’re not coming for him, they’re coming for us.

The rioting and looting in the streets is elite rage at ordinary folks who decided they’d had enough screwing from both parties. If Trump wins in November, elites may take even more radical steps to dismantle rejection of the globalist order. Read the link and decide if there’s a better alternative. Biden is the globalist’s last, best hope.

Let’s hope he goes down in flames.

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Lee A. Arnold 07.07.20 at 1:28 pm

Andres @62, My point here isn’t what we think about the ontological status of theories in social science, or whether we have scant respect for macroeconomic scaremongering. My point is about what most of the voting population understands, and will believe — because that will determine what happens next economically.

“Rising interest rates” is shorthand. 1. What happens is that the GDP slows down, so debtors and taxpayers feel the pinch more. 2. Also, rising loan default rates may increase new credit interest rates — no inflation needed. 3. Also, if investors respond to any new circumstances by getting out of Treasuries, then interest rates may go up a little — no inflation needed.

What PK’s “serious people” will say, is exactly the political-economic game I described in comments #12 & 31 above. It’s an oldie but goodie: Alan Greenspan used it against Bill Clinton in his first days in office, causing Clinton to massively reduce his government spending plans, and it’s why Obama reduced budget deficits from nearly 10% of GDP in 2008 to nearly 2% by 2015, helping to cause the public narrative of sluggish growth (although Trump’s best GDP growth rates never bested Obama’s).

As you describe it, MMT seems rather naive on the issue of the private financial system’s possible tactics in regard to public borrowing and spending which they don’t like. There may be even new dangers to good policymaking ahead, if the credit system’s response to the delaborization caused by the post-scarcity economy is to support nationalist policies that eventually push interest rates back upwards while keeping everybody slaving at a 40-hour week. (I think there is a whole scenario yet to be explored on downsizing “neoliberalism” to quiet the hoi polloi.) And, does MMT describe the political economic effects of alternate reserve currencies? Soon it may not matter if you’ve got a sovereign currency if you don’t have capital controls.

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Lee A. Arnold 07.07.20 at 1:33 pm

likbez #64: “…the part of his analysis reproduced above looks pretty prescient.”

The provision of an entire kooky narrative to “analyze” events that are happening for other reasons is not exactly “prescient”.

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Lee A. Arnold 07.07.20 at 4:27 pm

As if on cue, Wall Street is “worrying” that a Biden presidency would mean higher taxes, reduced arms sales abroad, and restricted domestic leases for oil & gas production, thus slowing down the economy. Front page of the NY Times today.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/07/business/wall-street-joe-biden.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage
All the Democrats have in response is their left screaming at them, saying Biden is a neoliberal shill.

83

ph 07.07.20 at 10:34 pm

From TAP, Biden a” blank slate, uncurious, no sense of history…” a 450 k per annum sinecure from U Penn which involves no teaching. Here’s your return to normal:
https://prospect.org/world/how-biden-foreign-policy-team-got-rich/ And that’s absent the uglier story Biden’s family profiting off the Iraq war reconstruction and his VP gig.

Very much looking forward to learning how lower-wages, outsourcing jobs to China, and enriching the elites will improve the lives of all Americans.

84

Lee A. Arnold 07.08.20 at 1:14 am

There will be economic (among other) consequences now that President Scheisskopf has officially withdrawn the US from the WHO, although if Biden is elected he will likely reverse this insanity as one of his first acts in office. But can you calculate the economic consequences of the loss of trust in the US?

85

John Quiggin 07.08.20 at 3:22 am

Likbez, you’ve said enough. Nothing more please

86

J-D 07.08.20 at 3:36 am

Bernie was backstabbed, again, by the Democratic National Party (there is no Democratic National Party)

Well, make up your mind! If it backstabbed Bernie, then it exists; if it doesn’t exist, then it didn’t backstab Bernie.

It is at least possible for you to be wrong about both these things, but it’s impossible for you to be right about both of them.

87

J-D 07.08.20 at 3:38 am

It’s very tiring having to deal with this tidal wave of bullshit.

You don’t have to deal with it. Nobody is forcing you to read likbez’s comments.

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J-D 07.08.20 at 3:50 am

You replied that this is only a matter of having another slogan for the next campaign (#41).

Since you tell me that’s what you thought I meant, I accept that you thought so. But it’s not what I meant, no matter what you meant by ‘this’: however, I think it’s worth pointing out that what you mean by ‘this’ is one of the things you have not made clear.

If you mean that beliefs and attitudes with wide public acceptance act as a constraint on the freedom of Democratic politicians to act, then as a general proposition I agree.

However, if that is what you mean, then another of the things you have not made clear is what kind of actions are the actions which you think Democratic politicians are constrained from taking by publicly accepted beliefs and attitudes.

Given this lack of clarity about the more general points you are trying to make, I zeroed in on one narrowly defined point, namely, that the statement ‘Free markets promote freedom and efficiency’ is not appropriately described as an economic theory.

I accept that this narrow point is probably not essential to whatever broader points you are trying to make, but I can’t sensibly discuss those broader points until they are made clearer.

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Anarcissie 07.08.20 at 5:11 am

I’ve been reading The Hidden Injuries of Class which leads me to believe that the prospects for Trump are better than many of you think they are. However, the future of a further Trump administration seems direly unpredictable, whereas Biden-Rice (my guess) will try to bring back the good old days — didn’t B. say ‘nothing will change’? In the spirit of looking for my keys under the streetlight where I can see, rather than in the dark where I probably dropped them, I’ve been trying to think about the trajectory of this very conservative team in the midst of what I think will turn out to be a fairly catastrophic, fairly rapid set of changes. Some things that seem to be evading a lot of people’s calculus here are Biden-Rice’s continued devotion to warmongering and imperialism, which I think might actually have consequences even if it’s intended only as political claptrap; I expect as well the continued production of funny money to inflate asset prices — these impinge on the poor through rents. When the poor are evicted, where will they go? Into the streets. There are some unanswered questions here for students of Biden and Company.

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nastywoman 07.08.20 at 5:21 am

@79
I’m not sure how many will take the time to read this, but anyone interested in US trade policy and COVID might be interested in this piece by Robert Lighthizer https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2020-06-09/how-make-trade-work-workers

As I was VERY interested I read it – and read:
”To that end, the right policy is one that makes it possible for most citizens, including those without college educations, to access the middle class through stable, well-paying jobs”.

YES!!

But then I sadly had to read:
”That is precisely the approach the Trump administration is taking”.

And that’s a lie!

Okay –
it’s just one of the thousands of lies of the Trump administration – BUT this one is a really HUUUGE Lie – as it tries to fool the American people into believing:
”that to that end, the right policy is one that makes it possible for most citizens, including those without college educations, to access the middle class through stable, well-paying jobs”.

while everybody – who knows a little bit about economics – knows – that you can’t ”make it possible for most citizens, including those without college educations, to access the middle class through stable, well-paying jobs” by imposing self defeating tariffs – and getting into trade wars.

You HAVE to ”make it possible for most citizens, including those without college educations, to access the middle class through stable, well-paying jobs” by doing what countries do – which make it possible for most citizens, including those without college educations, to access the middle class through stable, well-paying jobs.”

Right?

And what the Trump administration did – and does is: ”Cheating”!

Right? – Just like Trump himself.
So in reality – Trump always was ”the best hope” of the ”cheating” – mostly Rich Americans – who as his Niece’s wrote ”views cheating as a way of life’’ – BUT as the American people now how have found out – that such a STUPID Cheater costs far too many Americans life – he will ”go down in flames”

Even if he was ”the last best hope” of everybody who loves Golden Toilets.

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Orange Watch 07.08.20 at 5:31 am

fn@63:

If you want to invoke comforting half-truths like Murc’s Law, go ahead and do so by name. I’ll note, however, that it is a half-truth, and you’re showing exactly how it’s a half-truth by attacking me for suggesting the Democrats is losing the working class as a whole to non-voting, but not sparing a peep for people upthread who suggested the GOP was actively stealing the working class from the Dems. It’s grand hypocrisy to complain that your interlocutors only assign agency to Democrats when you yourself never assign agency to (good, serious, centrist) Democrats – only their opponents. The Democrats and the GOP both actively and passively fail the working class. My prior comment should have made very clear.

…relatedly…

Lee A. Arnold@82:

If all the Democrats have in response to hostile actors on Wall Street trying to influence voters with fiscal scare mongering is criticisms of the center coming from their left wing, that’s an extremely damning indictment of a silent, passive, unresponsive center that’s afraid to be judged by who they are and what they plan rather than who they aren’t. Just like in 2016.

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Alan White 07.08.20 at 5:35 am

“The only person willing to dismantle the trade deals which have screwed workers in the west is the current occupant of the WH.”

As if he understood or cared about micro- or macro-economic issues (which I’m sure his hired lackey to take his SATs probably did understand to a much better extent). This comment alone should disqualify anyone from assessing Trump’s utter incompetence without displaying deep bias. Trump does not move from principle, just reaction to anything Dems have or especially Obama has done–and I think it’s obvious what he thinks about black lives mattering in any sense or form. Any attribution of altruistic principle to Agent Orange completely misses who he is and why he acts.

Contorting Trump into some kind of hero is completely disgusting, and ignores the evidence we’re showered with in every single news cycle.

He’s killing people who wouldn’t have to die every day with his non-response to C19. Look at our death rates compared to any reasonable country and Europe in general. What in god’s name makes him a leader of the people in any sense.

There is no defense of Trump. Just some kind of emotional identification with a narcissist autocrat that I simply cannot fathom.

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nastywoman 07.08.20 at 5:45 am

”Even if he was ”the last best hope” of everybody who loves Golden Toilets”.

and – please don’t take me wrong – as I love the Golden Toilet (called ”America”) by Maurizio Cattelan – too.

BUT @79 – you probably read that ”America” was stolen – just before 5 a.m. on Sept. 14, out of Blenheim Castle – the Castle Queen Anne built for her ”Favourite.”

AND there has been no trace of it since.

AND the police are still looking for the missing john – ”but, so far, they remain empty-handed. A spokesman for the force carrying out the investigation, Thames Valley Police, declined to discuss the case, except to confirm that six people had been arrested in connection with the theft, only to be released later without charge.
The police may not know what has happened to the toilet, but residents of Woodstock, a town near the palace, have plenty of theories – the utmost believable one – that the toilet was stolen by a ”Trumper” – who had America –

MELTED DOWN.
(if you know what we mean?)

94

Orange Watch 07.08.20 at 5:53 am

notGoodEnough@78:

Re: voter turnout, vote tallies, non-participatio, etc. you have missed what should be obvious: raw national numbers are not useful unless the election is decided by a national popular vote. On the national level, voters are not fungible.. If voter participation in solid blue/red states was up, but it was down in purple states, then in effect voter participation was down because of the archaic peculiarities of our creaking, tottering electoral system. To say that 2016 was essentially the same re: participation as recent prior elections, you will need to drill down and show it was the same in states where non-participation could tip the vote rather than merely determining by how much the state’s winner ran up the score.

95

Tm 07.08.20 at 8:38 am

Like in the bad old days of 2016, this thread has degenerated to a feast of Trumpist propaganda, both from the part of the fascists and indirectly from the part delusional leftists who don’t know any history. It is a depressing spectacle to behold, more so since „the economic consequences of the pandemic“ would have been a very important topic for constructive debate. That neither the OP nor a single one of the comments is more than remotely related to the title of the thread must, I have to say, be blamed on you John. If you really want to talk about your chosen topic, you’ll have to start a fresh thread and write something about, er, economic consequences of the pandemic. I for one would be very much appreciate your thoughts.

Attempts at political prophesy are, imho, as helpful as a hole in the head. Whether Biden will win, what he can accomplish if he wins, whether he can win and keep control of Congress, how the Right will regroup, and so on, all of this isn’t some predetermined fate but it depends on the agency of American citizens, and if I were American, I would invest my energy into action that might make the outcomes I prefer more likely. As it stands, I am just one among the 7 billion people who cannot vote in the election but will be heavily affected by its outcome, and most of these 7 billion people pray for the Trump nightmare to end.
(I’ve been telling this to American friends on the left who,when Sanders didn’t win the nomination, started talking about another third party vote. Believe me I’m frightened, and I can tell you if these assholes pull it off one more time to help a fascist win against a liberal because “what’s the difference really” and “we’ve had enough of lesser-evilism”, history’s judgment will not be kind.)

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Lee A. Arnold 07.08.20 at 1:14 pm

Bruce Wilder #77: “…miss the larger point, which is that the manipulative “leadership” of the so-called Resistance to Trump chose to focus its opposition on made-up issues of no importance.”

We already agree that there are many other important issues. By “‘leadership’ of the so-called Resistance” I think you are referring to the convenient affordances among three things: the political actors/supporters, the media, and the military-intelligence-industrial complex. Let me take them separately to distinguish the motivations which are different:

The political actors/supporters do their usual things, both honest and dishonest as usual. As soon as one election is over, the next campaign starts. So yes they will latch onto Russia or whatever. We agree.

The media doesn’t give us all the news, because both broadcast and social media are going on all the time, thus to get and to keep advertising revenue share, they repeat the same top stories over and over, as directed by editors or algorithms. This crowds out the other important news. MSNBC may create an appearance of resistance, Fox an appearance of support — but businesswise they are just repeating feeds from political actors/supporters that are consonant with their viewers’ preferences. So yes they will latch onto Russia or whatever. We agree.

But the third thing? The military-intelligence-industrial complex (a.k.a. the “deep state”) is probably 70% conservative Republicans and they should LOVE Trump. He’s given them massive defense spending, massive arms sales, fattened pocketbooks, conservative judges.

So why doesn’t the so-called “deep state” love Trump?

Your answer is that some of them want “to aggravate the relationship with Russia, a nuclear power, while other elements simply do not care; none of them want to oppose, for example, the self-destructive policy of perpetual pointless and fabulously expensive war in the greater Middle East.”

Here I think your analysis doesn’t work. Trump never posed a real threat to any of this. They should be very happy that he is continuing to fight in the Middle East via proxies and arms sales: reducing US casualties is a public-relations win for the “deep state”. The Afghanistan drawdown is reversible theatrics, and even Trump knows it. US-Russia relations are strained but manageable, even after Crimea. In all, Trump poses no threat to the military-industrial complex. Your analysis doesn’t work, perhaps because it is not cynical enough.

You are left with supposing that Trump’s own explanation is true: that the
“Russia collusion hoax” is a concoction that is animated by certain Democratic allies in “the Foreign Policy Blob and so-called Intelligence Community” (despite your observation that they too “do not actually oppose Trump’s agenda in detail”). Okay that is cynical, but is it realistic? You could try to make the case that a handful of people like John Brennan went insane and decided to capitalize their own careers by cable news appearances piggybacked on, say, the Buzzfeed revelation of the Steele dossier. Thus, they blew the whole thing out of proportion.

But why did they do this? You admitted and I just argued that his agenda is no real threat to them. So then it comes down to: they did it for mere partisan politics? That’s a lot of work to do, against their own professional and institutional preferences and expectations: even the Democrats in the deep state ranks know that all of this will pass, the Trump Administration will be gone in four years or eight.

So Bruce I ask you: Why didn’t the deep state just let Trump pass by?

97

Tm 07.08.20 at 1:15 pm

Orange Watch 59: the observation that a large part of the low income population doesn’t vote in US elections is correct, in part because young voters sadly are far less likely to care to vote than seniors. But electoral turnout has been trending upward, not downward, in recent elections. It may be tempting to construct a narrative along the lines: „the Democratic Party used to have the support of the working class but since they turned neoliberal, more and more people feel there is no meaningful choice anyway and so they don’t bother to vote.“ But the data clearly contradict that narrative.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_turnout_in_the_United_States_presidential_elections

98

steven t johnson 07.08.20 at 2:12 pm

A note on the “professional-managerial class,” if you don’t mind? Generally a professional is a small businessman. A clergyman may not be able to sell his practice but a doctor or a lawyer can. But clergy have even greater powers over who gets to compete than the AMA or the Bar do. As for managers, those with an individually negotiated contract, especially those that include things like stock options, golden parachutes, etc. seem to me to be in an entirely different, well, class, than most others. Academics who have an agent have a different situation than those who don’t. Even so-called police unions have enough influence over policies and budgets (as near as I can tell) that the Fraternal Order of Police, or the Police Benevolent Association are more like the Bar than a trade union. I suggest “professional-managerial class” is not enough a genuine thing to be useful at all.

The notion that socioeconomic status is the difference between working and middle classes strikes me as more convenient to obscurantists than useful to serious analysis. Even worse, true SES is better defined by the acceptability of marriage partners. (This brings up religion, by the way, meaning Sunday segregation is an overlooked phenomenon in discussions of systemic racism.) In particular, in dealing with so-called working class people, the issue of property, particularly home ownership, seems to be sharply pertinent. This is true in the form of privilege, such as interest mortgage deduction and property tax rates. (Yes, I know this is not an acceptable use of the term “privilege” but this actually means something, so there.)

And other issues such as decline in property values, tax rates, school districts, are pertinent to individuals deciding what their “wallets” are doing. The question for many is, what’s going to happen for their families in the long run, not just this quarter’s profits. The fact that most people don’t make profits is even more relevant in my opinion. (Yes, Obamacare was something of a redistribution…the biggest since Shrub added prescription benefits. This kind of reasoning tells us Nixon was a liberal president!)

Most of all, many people live in de facto one party systems, where elections don’t make much difference. Much of this country would be more usefully understood I think as more like Mexico or the Philippines, where caciques and landed families tend to run things. The factional struggles play out in the struggles for nominations of the ruling party, while the Outs play catchup in the Out Party, whatever it may be called. The larger part of the people have no political vehicle at all, therefore are largely disengaged.

On the subject of change, change from time is remorseless, invincible but usually invisible. It is always today, which is pretty much like yesterday, and tomorrow is pretty much like today, but the changes still come, despite the plans of a changer. This is true despite the seeming invulnerability to time of all manner of habits, from the imperial measures to the QWERTY keyboard. The idea that all sorts of things may be so simply because they were and there hasn’t been enough of a conscious decision by the majority to re-arrange such things may deflate exaggerated ideas of agency. But it’s so.

Lastly, on the OP, I’m not at all convinced the near collapse of the stock market and the international credit system last winter, which prompted the reversal of all efforts by the Fed to “normalize” the financial system, wasn’t the beginning of the economic consequences we face. And that the pandemic is simply the gust of wind that toppled the house of cards.

99

MisterMr 07.08.20 at 4:30 pm

@ph 83 and others who blame outsourching jobs to China

“Very much looking forward to learning how lower-wages, outsourcing jobs to China, and enriching the elites will improve the lives of all Americans.”

Employment/population ratio in the USA, 2018: slightly above 60%
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/EMRATIO

Employment/population ratio in China, 2018: 65.6%, clearly falling since the nineties
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/SLEMPTOTLSPZSCHN

Employment/population ratio in Germany, 2018: 58.8%
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/SLEMPTOTLSPZSDEU

Employment/population ratio in Italy, 2018: 44.4%
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/SLEMPTOTLSPZSITA

So, the USA is a huge net importer, but has an higher employment/population ratio than Italy (a net exporter) and Germany (a huge net exporter). It is lower than China’s, but China’s employment/population ratio is in free fall since the 90s so I assume that this is caused by demographic factors in China (more old people) rather than by globalisation.

People take for granted that the fact that the USA is a net importer is bad for jobs in the USA, but this is far from certain. It probably shifts jobs from the tradable sector to the local consumption sector, but that’s it. (peak employment/population ratio for the USA was at 64.4% in 2000, when globalisation was already well in place).

I think people in the USA blame outsourcing way more than what is realistic, because they have a very optimistic view of what are the normal employment levels in an exporting country.

100

Hidari 07.08.20 at 9:15 pm

‘I’ve been telling this to American friends on the left who,when Sanders didn’t win the nomination, started talking about another third party vote. Believe me I’m frightened, and I can tell you if these assholes pull it off one more time to help a fascist win against a liberal because “what’s the difference really” and “we’ve had enough of lesser-evilism”, history’s judgment will not be kind.’

And yet, in an identical situation across the pond, with Corbyn vs Johnson (and remember that Johnson’s politics are almost literally identical to Trump’s) it was all very different. Then no one was calling Johnson (who to repeat, has essentially identical politics to Trump) a ‘fascist’. No one was talking about ‘lesser-evilism’. Then, indeed, suddenly it was all very complex and who can say who is better, the war-mongering misogynist lying endlessly corrupt racist, or the man who, despite his flaws was obviously not that.

‘ to help a fascist win against a liberal .’

And the key word here, of course, is ‘liberal’. Because if it’s a ‘helping a fascist to win against a socialist’, we know precisely where the liberals stand, in that particular context.

Where they have always stood.

Don’t get me wrong! Vote for who you want to vote for. Chomsky, after all, wants us to vote for Biden (albeit in swing seats only) and maybe that’s the best choice. But do not delude yourself for a moment.

This is not an ‘epochal’ election, despite the fact that the DNC want you to think that.

American democracy (such as it is) will not collapse if Biden loses, despite the fact that the DNC want you to think that.

Trump will not declare himself dictator if he wins, despite the fact that the DNC want you to believe that.

It’s a perfectly normal American election between, as Chomsky, in a different context stated: ‘In the US, there is basically one party – the business party. It has two factions, called Democrats and Republicans, which are somewhat different but carry out variations on the same policies.’

If you want to vote Biden, do so because his policies on the environment are better than Trump’s (true enough), or because (with rather less evidence), you think he may tone down Trump’s dangerous aggression against Russia and China (and ignore the nonsense from the DNC which, with a straight face, argues that Trump, who has pursued a wilfully and dangerously aggressive policy towards Russia, is ‘Putin’s Puppet’*). Or because you think his domestic policies will be slightly better for the American working class than Trump’s (Democrats are probably right about that). But don’t delude yourself for a second that the ‘fate of American democracy’ hangs on the result of this election, as the DNC would have you believe.

*The DNC’s vociferous denial of objective reality on this issue is a serious reason to doubt that Biden will be any better than Trump on this issue, and he may be worse.

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ph 07.08.20 at 9:39 pm

Still waiting to hear about the magical door number 3.

I’m pleased, however, to read that the record levels of employment among minorities and new jobs going to women never happened and/or is not a net good. All such reports of economic improvement in the last four years are lies. OK.

Still, discussion of the economics of the current administration over explanations which depend on ‘Russia is controlling our President.’ Evidently, every single witness who testified under oath in closed-door sessions before Congress that they had seen zero evidence of collusion with Russia by any American citizen confirms the opposite. Yes, that level of denial still exists among some in 2020.

And no wonder, when facing facts is the alternative. The current administration has delivered less than promised, but far, far more than expected/predicted by pretty much every detractor, including many or most here.. Markets that would ‘never’ recover quickly did. Or, perhaps market recovery never occurred either.

Discussions about COVID and its economic impact are essential. Hating people we’ve never met, and attempting to discern motive even among those we know, is a dubious practice at any time, as is believing the worst about others. I suspect JQ’s open dis-affection for Trump will not interfere with his assessment of the data. The less able will likely resort to levelling charges of propaganda, or ‘white nationalism,’ than addressing the questions raised in the OP and in the more sensible comments.

Will the US surrender to neoliberalism (see BW and others), or turn the wheel over once more to a political amateur bent on ending trade deals which flat-lined American wages for those without a college degree for the last 30 years? How will COVID shape economic and political outcomes in the US?

If door number three actually exists, please point us to it. Like others, I suspect that most voters in November will not return to the illusion of security offered by the Democratic nominee, especially in light of COVID.

102

ph 07.08.20 at 9:52 pm

Sorry about the elision in my last. Short form: Denying neoliberalism fails significant sections of the electorate is what elected Trump in the first place, and led to Brexit – two events most experts confidently asserted would never happen. Will US voters turn to Biden-style neoliberalism in 2020, or Trump’s America-first version?

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Lee A. Arnold 07.08.20 at 10:18 pm

J-D #88: “you have not made clear…what kind of actions are the actions which you think Democratic politicians are constrained”

The constraint: I wrote at #12 that macro events would “frighten many (or most) of the Democrats into austerity measures to reduce the budget deficit,” because (writing further at #31) they have no alternate theory of the case to put up against “Free markets promote freedom and efficiency.” (I wrote #31 in response to an objection to my #12 that is expressed by a commenter in #21.) I wrongly supposed that you, in your comment #41 criticizing my #31, were following the logic in this tortuous subthread — and so, you have a slogan for them to use.

Anyway, again this leads right back to your general challenge in #2 as to whether Democrats will have “the necessary political determination to overcome obstructionism.”

I invite you or anyone to comment on my thesis that one of the main problems that the best and most well-meaning of the Democrats have, is that there is no alternative economic theory that is succinct, comprehensible, automatic — and believed by the public. Because anyone’s complaint that the Democrats will not do something radically different, always raises the question of what that thing really is, and how it can be maintained against the opposition.

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Lee A. Arnold 07.08.20 at 10:31 pm

Orange Watch #91: “If all the Democrats have in response to hostile actors on Wall Street trying to influence voters with fiscal scare mongering is criticisms of the center coming from their left wing, that’s an extremely damning indictment of a silent, passive, unresponsive center that’s afraid to be judged by who they are and what they plan rather than who they aren’t.”

As I explained to J-D just above, my observation is that the left has come up with no good alternate theory, succinct comprehensible and automatic, to convince the public away from fiscal scaremongering, and so most of the centrists capitulate to the theory that “Free markets promote freedom and efficiency.” So I blame the complainers on the left, before I blame the centrists.

105

Orange Watch 07.08.20 at 11:01 pm

steven t johnson@98:

There are a great many unstated assumptions baked into this comment, but I’ll take a shot at a foundational one. You suggest PMC is a distinction without difference vis a vis middle class appears to suggest that you’ve bought into a commonly accepted “truth” that can’t withstand close scrutiny, and your claim that economic status is not a useful distinguisher only further drives it home. What is the cutoff between middle class and rich? I’ve seen far too many well-educated idiots with professional degrees make ridiculous claims like $150k household income representing a solidly middle-class income. That’s in the upper 15% of national incomes, but it’s being called middle class. 240% of the national median household income, but it’s “middle class”. And to pre-empt cost-of-living arguments, it’s 175% of the median household income in Manhattan. So when you say PMC is not a useful concept, and that income is not a useful class distinction, I need to ask you where you draw your lines, or if you’re asserting that class has no economic aspect at all. If you’re arguing that households in the upper quintile and bottom quintile don’t have different concerns, outlooks, values, and lifestyles – that someone in either could be working class or middle class (but I assume not upper class? Arguments like what yours appears to be typically don’t start the upper class anywhere below the 1%…) is hard to treat as serious. If that is an assertion you’d stand by, what that tells me is that you’re using private definitions of working and middle class, and they’re essentially unintelligible.

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notGoodenough 07.09.20 at 12:15 am

Orange Watch @ 94

Apologies, but I struggle to understand exactly the relevance of your comment with respect to mine. Perhaps you would care to elaborate? You seem to mostly be addressing the first part, so I too will focus on that.

1) “To say that 2016 was essentially the same re: participation as recent prior elections, you will need to drill down and show it was the same in states where non-participation could tip the vote rather than merely determining by how much the state’s winner ran up the score.”

I believe you have rather strongly mistaken my point. While I thought I was relatively clear, no doubt the fault is mine – I am not always the best at communicating.

To clarify, I am not making such an assertion. I am making no claim with respect to whether or not HRC has or has not lost certain demographics, or is less/more/equally popular. My point is that people making those claims in this thread do not (as far as I can tell) appear to have demonstrated or supported those claims.

In short, I would likely agree that someone making claims about the relative changes in popularity would need good evidence to support that claim. My point is that to date, to the best of my understanding, that burden of proof has not been met in this thread.

2) “Re: voter turnout, vote tallies, non-participatio, etc. you have missed what should be obvious: raw national numbers are not useful unless the election is decided by a national popular vote.”

I would certainly agree that national votes are a poor way to analyse data as they lack sufficient granularity. That would be why I noted as such in my comment. Sadly people (including, I must point out, you) have neglected to offer alternative data sources, and as I have yet to find access to anything more accurate I am stuck with what I have. Perhaps if you find a better source you would care to share – I would certainly be much obliged.

Again, I am not claiming that the raw national numbers proves anything – I am merely pointing out that they do not appear to support the hypothesis that HRC is significantly less popular than any predecessor. To be clear, it doesn’t necessarily conflict with that hypothesis. However, again, my point was not that what people have said is wrong, my point is that people seem to have been making the assertion as a fact, yet have not offered any evidence to support it. I would think that pointing that out and asking for the evidence is not unreasonable. As I noted, there could be many reasons why the national vote tally does not reflect hypothetical changes in Democrat voters (and my list was in no way intended to be exhaustive). As I said in my comment:

“I think that would need some supporting evidence about which I have not yet been made aware of – it certainly doesn’t appear to be obviously clear cut from the voting patterns so it would seem to be a bit speculative <bin the absence of additional data.”

3) “On the national level, voters are not fungible. If voter participation in solid blue/red states was up, but it was down in purple states, then in effect voter participation was down because of the archaic peculiarities of our creaking, tottering electoral system. “

I’m afraid this would seem to be a bit confusing to me. Do you mean people in purple states count as more of a person than those in blue/red states? I am, after all, not discussing this from an election perspective (in terms of viable paths to presidency) but in terms of how popular the candidates are (as my previous comment was in response to discussions of losing people’s support – not necessarily election strategy).

For example, in the country of Hypotheticalia it may be that, due to the electoral system, Voter A’s vote is more strategically important than Voter B’s vote (I certainly wouldn’t dispute that that can often be the case). In Hypotheticalia, the 2016 Sinistral candidate was Candidate X, the 2020 Sinistral candidate will be Candidate Y. Let’s imagine Voter A voted for Candidate X in 2016 but will not for Candidate Y in 2020. B, by contrast, is the reverse (did not vote for X but will for Y). As far as I can tell, assuming everything else is identical, Candidate Y is less likely to “win” than X was (as we assume A’s vote is more strategically important), but overall the popularity of X and Y is the same (even if appealing to different people).

Now, let’s say that (in this purely hypothetical example) A is a Demographic A Working Class Voter (WCV) who believes Y is a sellout and hates them. B is a Demographic B WCV who believes Y is a perfectly fine candidate. Again, all else being equal, the working class representation has remained the same (even if Y has lost the Demographic A part).

In that case, I am confused as to why it would matter from a popularity/WCV support perspective as to where or what Demographics A and B are (even though it would be important from a “winning the election” perspective).

4) Final remarks

Now to be clear (since you appear to have misunderstood me on this point before) I am in no way making claims as to what happened in the 2016 election. I am merely pointing out that the assertion that Trump is more popular than his predecessors and the HRC was less so does not yet seem to have been supported.

I am not asserting the opposite, and I am not saying I have accurate data to support firm conclusions. Instead, I am pointing out that there are other people who seem very convinced that this was the case, but don’t yet (as far as I can see) offer a reason for it to be accepted as true.

In short, if I am making any claim in this thread it would be this: assertions should be demonstrated before being accepted (it is epistomology 101 to not accept something until sufficient evidence is presented which warrent that).

As I am not making a positive claim regarding the elections, the burden of proof is surely not on me. As some people appear to have been making claims, I would think that the burden of proof rests with them. That being the case, it would be nice if it is met at some point.

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J-D 07.09.20 at 1:11 am

I’ve been reading The Hidden Injuries of Class which leads me to believe that the prospects for Trump are better than many of you think they are. However, the future of a further Trump administration seems direly unpredictable, whereas Biden-Rice (my guess) will try to bring back the good old days — didn’t B. say ‘nothing will change’?

My estimate of the chance of Trump being re-elected is ‘non-negligible, but less than the chance of his being defeated’, based solely on the polls, because every other basis for estimating the chances is more unreliable than the polls (I know nothing of the book you’ve been reading, and therefore nothing of its merits, but I’m sure it’s not a more reliable basis than the polls for estimating the chances of this year’s election results).

I see no basis for concluding that the effects of a first term for President Biden are more predictable than the effects of a second term for President Trump. I wouldn’t attempt to predict either. However, I think the evidence of more than a century is a reasonable basis for concluding that a Democratic Presidency is to be preferred to a Republican Presidency.

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J-D 07.09.20 at 1:37 am

If you want to invoke comforting half-truths like Murc’s Law, go ahead and do so by name. I’ll note, however, that it is a half-truth, and you’re showing exactly how it’s a half-truth by attacking me for suggesting the Democrats is losing the working class as a whole to non-voting, but not sparing a peep for people upthread who suggested the GOP was actively stealing the working class from the Dems. It’s grand hypocrisy to complain that your interlocutors only assign agency to Democrats when you yourself never assign agency to (good, serious, centrist) Democrats – only their opponents. The Democrats and the GOP both actively and passively fail the working class. My prior comment should have made very clear.

There are two distinct questions here:
1. How do working class people vote?
and
2. How does the performance of each party affect working class people?
It’s important to understand that these are distinct questions.

No matter what the answer to the second question is, the answer to the first question is still that the Democratic Party receives more votes from working class people than the Republican Party does.

109

J-D 07.09.20 at 1:43 am

“The only person willing to dismantle the trade deals which have screwed workers in the west is the current occupant of the WH.”

The relevant question now is not ‘What words come out of Donald Trump’s mouth?’ and also not ‘What goes on in Donald Trump’s mind?’ but rather ‘Has President Donald Trump improved life for workers in the USA?’ If he has not done so in his first term, it would be folly to expect him to do so in a second.

110

J-D 07.09.20 at 4:28 am

If voter participation in solid blue/red states was up, but it was down in purple states, then in effect voter participation was down because of the archaic peculiarities of our creaking, tottering electoral system.

Comparing the 2016 Presidential election with the 2012 Presidential election, voter turnout was up in the majority of States: in States which the Democrats won by wide margins (like California and Massachusetts), in States which the Republicans won by wide margins (like West Virginia and Wyoming), in States which the Democrats won by narrow margins (like Nevada and New Hampshire), and in States which the Republicans won by narrow margins (like Florida and Pennsylvania). Turnout was down in Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington, and Wisconsin (no obvious pattern there).

111

nastywoman 07.09.20 at 5:44 am

@95
”If you really want to talk about your chosen topic, you’ll have to start a fresh thread and write something about, er, economic consequences of the pandemic”.

OR we ALL finally list the economic consequences – from each commenters perspective?-
And as I had started a while ago with some consequences which should be especially interesting for this blog?

”EDUCATION” or the NYT in an article about:
”For $30,000 a Semester, Online Classes Need to Get a Lot Better.
College Courses Online Are Disappointing. Here’s How to Fix Them”.

And as I also read these posts – here – how NOT only somebody like ”Harry” struggles with A.V. – aren’t you (teaching) guys worried that one of the major economical consequences for all kind of teachers – will be – that in the future education HAS to be FREE -(at least the way its is in most European Countries?)

I’m really curios about that – and as already mentioned before – about the economical consequences for everybody who is working in Service and Entertainment -(as my homeland the US was/is so ”entertaining”)

So – wht’yall think:

IS THE PARTY FINALLY OVER?
(or will it ALL come roaring back – with just 20 to 30 percent less?)

112

nastywoman 07.09.20 at 6:08 am

@99
Employment/population ratio in the USA, 2018: slightly above 60%
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/EMRATIO

and I always wondered about such (funny?) statistics? –
As in 2018 we interviewed so many Americans who had two to three jobs -(in order to survive) – while – for example – in a more… let’s call it ”structured country” like Germany most workers just need ONE job to survive.
(and they STILL – very often have ”real working contracts” which in ”the country of gigs” – the US had become ”very rare”)

So – how do Americans Statistics deal with all these Americans who have ”at least two gigs” -(besides driving for Uber)?

113

Gorgonzola Petrovna 07.09.20 at 10:13 am

@MisterMr
White collar are, by definition, working class, because they don’t own the means of production

That’s not the definition. For example: despite not owning any means of production, lumpenproletariat is not part of the working class.

What I see is an opposition between blue collars and white collars, that are two wings of the working class

If this is the way you feel, that’s fine. It is, however, a controversial view. An alternative (and quite convincing, imo) view is that “white collars” belong to the ‘professional-managerial class’, with entirely different interests.

Anyhow, a bourgeois democracy (aka ‘dictatorship of the bourgeoisie’) does not and can not represent interests of the working class; this is indeed “by definition”. Any benefits encountered by the working class are coincidental.

And in the current circumstance, the struggle between the remains of domestic bourgeoisie and global finance capitalism, the former faction is definitely – obviously – better aligned with interests of the domestic working class.

114

J-D 07.09.20 at 10:15 am

J-D #88: “you have not made clear…what kind of actions are the actions which you think Democratic politicians are constrained”

The constraint: I wrote at #12 that macro events would “frighten many (or most) of the Democrats into austerity measures to reduce the budget deficit,” because (writing further at #31) they have no alternate theory of the case to put up against “Free markets promote freedom and efficiency.” (I wrote #31 in response to an objection to my #12 that is expressed by a commenter in #21.) I wrongly supposed that you, in your comment #41 criticizing my #31, were following the logic in this tortuous subthread — and so, you have a slogan for them to use.

That removes some of the unclarity, but greater clarity would still be an improvement. You suggest that Democrats will be frightened into austerity measures to reduce the budget deficit; this suggests the possibility that what you mean, or part of what you mean, is that Democrats won’t dare to take measures which increase the budget deficit. If you don’t mean that, then my response to that suggestion will be irrelevant, but for what it’s worth my response is that there have been occasions in the past when the budget deficit has been increased, and it’s not immediately apparent what’s changed between then and now that would make it impossible for similar measures to be taken again. A little searching for information about the history of the US budget deficit leads me to the discovery that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is supposed to have increased it, so if the question is ‘How can the Democrats dare to take deficit-increasing measures?’ then I don’t know why the answer shouldn’t be ‘the same way they did in 2009’.

115

ph 07.09.20 at 12:40 pm

China’s last, best hope hoping to rebrand as an America First populist – Trump Lite: https://www.wsj.com/articles/biden-looks-to-curb-covid-19-economic-damage-with-buy-american-plan-11594287005

The reality: Biden discussing “his new pose, proposal? er I’m taking up too much time…” July 8th. https://youtu.be/l9yXP9lTnuQ

I can’t see Biden surviving another 3 months of these gaffes, even with the media covering for him. Will we see an intervention?

116

Lee A. Arnold 07.09.20 at 1:25 pm

J-D #114: “there have been occasions in the past when the budget deficit has been increased, and it’s not immediately apparent what’s changed between then and now… the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is supposed to have increased it”

What changes is, who’s in and out of power. Since 1980, Republican Presidents (Reagan, Bush, Trump) have used tax cuts to create short-term GDP growth (a cyclical upswing), orchestrated through the financial markets. The inevitable downturn which follows (if not an outright crash) comes as the Democrats return to power (Clinton, Obama, and whoever is next), who then are blamed for the downturn and the resulting deficits. The Republican campaign propaganda starts immediately, and the intent is to hamper progressive policy initiatives. This is the politicians’ game, and public always believes it.

For example, the Bush Tax Cuts pumped up the financial markets (it went into mortgages and derivatives) which then crashed. Bush handed Obama deficits over 9% of GDP. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 should have been almost twice as large to effectuate a quicker recovery but it was fought tooth and nail by the Republicans to keep it smaller. Then the Republicans used the sluggish recovery, the budget deficits etc. against the Democrats in the 2010 midterms and regained control of the House and picked up 6 seats in the Senate.

Another example, the Trump Tax Cuts added $1.5 trillion to the federal debt (projected over 10 years; and the realistic figure pre-COVID was nearer to $2.2T) to pump up the stock market for a another bubble economy underneath it. This economy was already looking at higher deficits before it began to slow down; and it began to slow down before COVID-19 hit. If you were a progressive elected next, how would you explain this to the public so they will follow the story and believe it, instead of blaming you for the slow economy and the increasing budget deficits?

117

tm 07.09.20 at 3:51 pm

If one believes, like Hidari, that people vote exclusicely “with their wallets”, one has little choice but to deny the relevance or even existence of fascism. Why does Trump’s entire campaign strategy consist in whipping up hate against minorities, hate that will neither feed his supporters nor make them any richer, if all voters care about is money? And why do his supporters applaud him for putting immigrant children in cages while they couldn’t care less about that promised grand infrastructure plan that never materializes, when it’s all about “the economy”? This vulgar materialist narrative is seriously outdated – which of course doesn’t mean economic interests are any less important to understand politics; but to deny the potency of ideology is a sure way to misjudge reality.

I have no desire to follow Hidari’s trollish invitation to discuss whether Johnson is “essentially identical” to Trump. Perhaps Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had no right to decry Trump’s “fascist presidency” without adding a ceterum censeo concerning Johnson? (https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/06/trump-and-the-rhetoric-of-fascism.html) Such sophistry won’t let Trump’s useful idiots the antiliberal lefties off the hook.

Hidari: “Because if it’s a ‘helping a fascist to win against a socialist’, we know precisely where the liberals stand, in that particular context.”

Just one data point: Not long ago, the CDU chief of Thuringia was forced to resign because he had collaborated with the fascist AFD against the Linkspartei, which is the strongest party in the state but doesn’t have a majority. The CDU then helped elect the leader of the Linkspartei as premier. Merkel herself had strongly pushed for that solution. Yes Hidari, you wouldn’t believe some of the things that happen. (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regierungskrise_in_Th%C3%BCringen_2020)

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MisterMr 07.09.20 at 8:22 pm

@Gorgonzola Petrovna 113

So is an accountant part of the professional-managerial class? What about an high school teacher?

119

Andres 07.09.20 at 11:46 pm

tm@95: “Like in the bad old days of 2016, this thread has degenerated to a feast of Trumpist propaganda, both from the part of the fascists and indirectly from the part delusional leftists who don’t know any history. It is a depressing spectacle to behold, more so since „the economic consequences of the pandemic“ would have been a very important topic for constructive debate. That neither the OP nor a single one of the comments is more than remotely related to the title of the thread must, I have to say, be blamed on you John. If you really want to talk about your chosen topic, you’ll have to start a fresh thread and write something about, er, economic consequences of the pandemic. I for one would be very much appreciate your thoughts.”

sigh Er, no. The only potential Trumpist I see here is Gorgonzola Petrovna (a very stinky cheese indeed) who can be ignored. Your optical illusion might be that you identify all critics of the Democratic leadership as either Trumpist or delusional leftists, forgetting first that Trumpists have their own echo chambers and that leftist and liberal delusions are in the eye of the beholder.

The real culprit is not John’s fault, but the dissociative collective personality of the Democratic voting base: liberal social democrats who are fully committed to Obama/HRC/Biden vs. left wing socialists who vote Democratic only as the lesser evil (and who imo, have understandable reasons for calling the Dems the lesser evil; except for the willingness to sacrifice the lives of U.S. soldiers, little else in the party leadership has changed substantially since Viet Nam). If there were ranked choice voting or parliamentary governance in the U.S., this discordance wouldn’t happen as often since there would be a stronger tendency for the two to separate into different blogs. As it is, the presence of the two sides in the same comments section is like spilled gasoline that can be ignited by the slightest spark. That’s also a large part of the reason why the CT moderators have a truly thankless job.

That said, it is impossible to write only about the economic consequences of the pandemic without first knowing the outcome of November 2020, and that simple fact provided the spark for the past 100+ posts. A Trump victory would likely see a continuation of the social breakdown triggered by an increasingly white supremacist party supporting police violence and exacerbated by the pandemic; you are no longer talking about an economic crisis but a political one as well; the economy might continue to tank as protests spread. And even a Democratic victory might not avoid political breakdown if Biden goes on some ill-advised foreign policy adventure (e.g., doubling down on the attempted overthrow of Syria or getting provoked into a war with Iran) or if Biden and Congress fail to effectively reform U.S. policing. But even assuming that both disasters are avoided there is definitely still room for pessimism:

After a treatment/vaccine for COVID-19 is implemented there will still be a general level of caution due to reduced income and spending and due to companies wishing to reduce future pandemic exposure. Unless something is done, the office/hotel/big box retail CRE markets will be in the doldrums for years and will have corresponding downward multiplier effects in core metropolitan neighborhoods.
Because of 1, there will also be a slower job market recovery in the absence of further fiscal stimulus and also slower household formation.
And assuming that Biden and the Democratic leadership hold true to the Obama template, we will likely see a repeat of 2009-2016, including (a) a post-COVID19 fiscal stimulus that is enough to avert economic disaster but insufficient to lead to a faster recovery, (b) a renewed healthcare reform that increases coverage but does little to address the underlying cost-inefficiency of the system (c) stagnant real incomes for the bottom 80% of the income distribution, and possibly a decline for the median and lower (d) policing reforms that might reduce the frequency of fatalities but do not fundamentally change the quasi-racist, siege-mentality outlook of too much of the police force, (e) increased Republican gains in state and local elections as the electorate perceives that little has changed economically under Biden and company.

It is thus likely that there will be a handoff to the new Clownstick (Cotton or Cruz or some other beautiful person) in 2024 or 2028 at the latest, at the same time that wildfires, droughts, hurricanes and possibly new pandemics punctuate the politics, and as social stratification is unchanged or worsens and the economies of the small and mid-tier metro areas continue to deteriorate, and lastly as continued interference in the Middle East spoils much of the improvement there may have been in the world’s perception of the U.S. Fun.

Utterly pessimistic, yes, so I can only add that I desperately hope the Democratic party leadership proves me wrong. The focal point of the tragedy over the past 12 years has been those voters (not all white, and possibly not even majority white) who voted for Obama in 2008 and either (a) didn’t vote or (b) voted third party or (c) voted Trump, in 2016. My question to the Democratic leadership (Biden, Pelosi, Schumer, etc. and their financers) is: what are you going to do to avoid such defections in the coming eight years? Keep me posted.

120

J-D 07.10.20 at 12:41 am

Lee A. Arnold

I accept that anti-deficit propaganda is used against the Democrats. I’m not sure how much direct evidence there is of the effectiveness of this kind of propaganda, but the fact that it keeps being used suggests that it has some.

Anti-deficit propaganda can be effective agains the Democrats to the extent that people believe (a) that deficits are bad and (b) that Democrats are more prone to deficit spending than Republicans. It follows that an effective strategic response by the Democrats would be assisted by understanding why people believe these things.

It’s easy to understand the reason, or at least part of the reason, why people believe that deficits are bad. People have no difficulty understanding the principle enunciated by Mr Micawber in David Copperfield: ‘Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.’ There are corresponding obstacles to persuading people that they needn’t worry about deficits. The only relevant point worth making that occurs to me is that I think it should be feasible to get most people to understand that, although borrowing money is not always good, it is also not always bad: for an individual or for a business to take out a loan is a routine enough procedure, and often not merely harmless but obviously beneficial. If you have any insights to offer (about how people can be persuaded to be less concerned about government deficits) I would be interested; however, if you think that the reason people believe that deficits are bad is because they believe that free markets promote efficiency, I think you’re barking up the wrong tree, as no connection is evident.

It’s harder to understand why people believe that Democrats are more prone to deficit spending than Republicans, given that in recent decades Republicans have done much more to increase budget deficits than Democrats have. If you have any insights to offer about why people hold beliefs in defiance of the facts (and how they might be induced not to do so), I would be most interested; but again, if you think that the reason people believe that Democrats are more prone to deficit spending than Republicans is because they believe that free markets promote efficiency, I think you’re barking up the wrong tree, as no connection is evident.

121

J-D 07.10.20 at 12:55 am

Just one data point: Not long ago, the CDU chief of Thuringia was forced to resign because he had collaborated with the fascist AFD against the Linkspartei, which is the strongest party in the state but doesn’t have a majority. The CDU then helped elect the leader of the Linkspartei as premier. Merkel herself had strongly pushed for that solution. Yes Hidari, you wouldn’t believe some of the things that happen. (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regierungskrise_in_Th%C3%BCringen_2020)

For those like me who have little or no German, there is a corresponding page in the English-language Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Thuringian_government_crisis

122

nastywoman 07.10.20 at 4:52 am

@
”It is thus likely that there will be a handoff to the new Clownstick”

Was für ein Quatsch!
(and excuse my German – but as TM also is ”PartGerman”?)
Can’t WE all finally stop this Nonsense –
that when America will elect somebody who believes in Science –
(and right away returns to the WHO and the Paris accord) –
AND who supports BLM –
and thusly is a ”Anti-Racist” as the Clownstick is ”Racist” –

That such a return to CIVILIZATION –
is like… ? – like a handoff to the new Clownstick”

TM is right – such Nonsense is ”Trumpist Propaganda” –
as actually the TrumpTeam knows – that the most effective Propaganda – in order to fool some of my naivest friends – was/is to pretend that Trump in any was some kind of ”Anti-Mainstream” Dude OR even more successful pretending that Trump isn’t/was the HUUGEST US Warmonger we have ever seen.

123

ph 07.10.20 at 9:08 am

@ 119, Andres, I wanted to thank you for the best short summary of Keynes etc. I’ve read, on the other thread. Your clear explication of the strengths and weaknesses of JQ’s points is, imho, an excellent example of an expert at work.

We can, of course, see the past more clearly and easily through a variety of rubrics. We process the present through emotions, however. So, it’s quite understandable you would so badly mis-understand a significant subset of Trump supporters, his appeal, and his agenda.

I’m an open Trump supporter, former HRC supporter, and active supporter of various socialist politicians and parties. Other Trump supporters I know are academics and entrepreneurs from New Zealand, the US, and the UK. Some own guns, some don’t. Some are people of faith, others aren’t.

As right as you appear to be about your area of expertise, you’re quite wrong about our desire to see police beating people in the streets, or ‘white supremacy.’ We do support free speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press. We believe in due process, which is why MAGA people are not running riot in the streets despite the attempts by corrupt individuals (both Republican and Democrat) in America’s security and intelligence establishment, their peers in other countries, and various special interests, to overturn the 2016 election. Indeed, we’re still waiting (four years after the fact) for the results of investigations into this affair to arrive. Contrast our patience with cancel culture and the various rushes to judgement over the Covington kids, Hands Up, etc. etc. etc. Not the least of which is the winner of the 2016 election is an agent of a foreign power.

I’m precisely the sort of person who supported Democrats right up to 2006, when Pelosi decided impeaching Bush might reveal just how similar the two parties are, especially in terms of bombing the hell out of people in the Middle East. The rancid behavior of both the Clinton and the Obama campaigns during the primaries, and after, drove me into neutral ground. The corruption of the Obama administration, Hillary Clinton’s Libya and Ukraine debacles, and the bankers bailouts, all blessed by a pliant and fawning media, removed all scales from my eyes.

I didn’t know a thing about Trump until Lee A. Arnold posted a link to one of Trump’s speeches. He was saying things I agree with – ordinary people are ignored and treated with contempt (see White van man), by our ‘leaders;’ the rich and well-educated sneer at flags, religion, patriotism and love of country.

In my experience, elites treat people of faith as fools. Many ‘smart politicians’ believe significant numbers of the people they serve are, in fact, surplus to national requirements. Nobody is speaking for ordinary people and the problems we face. The educated left hates and fears the working class.

Academia is as corrupt as every other institution. I’ve been teaching 16 ninety minute classes a week for nearly three decades and have seen my real income decline, and my work load increase, while administrators invest in new buildings and computers. Those who do the actual teaching are treated as temporary labor by many fulltime faculty.

So, yes, I absolutely believe the warped Orange Monster is the only person who might change the status quo and marginally improve my lot and those of my peers. And I’ll continue to support him until a better alternative shows up. Like you, I pray that Dems finally start to take the needs of ordinary people seriously. The fact that only Bernie Sanders (not a Dem) could generate enthusiasm, should explain exactly how people like me could end up supporting Trump. It’s both a question of who pretends to care more, and who has a clearer record of messing up. Biden represents the absolute worst of the old Democratic party. He’s not as openly contemptuous of the law as HRC is/was. I expect corruption and dishonesty from our leaders. But if Trump can continue to redo the trade deals and wind down the war Afghanistan, and fight cancel culture, I’ll feel he’s done a good job.

Bad me.

124

Hidari 07.10.20 at 9:14 am

‘ useful idiots the antiliberal lefties off the hook.’

And when were the useful centrist idiots who facilitated the Johnson regime ever on the hook?

Please remember ‘antiliberal lefties’ that when it’s a centrist, you will always be expected to dutifully march up to the ballot box, do your duty, follow orders, and STFU.

But the favour will never, ever be repaid (CF Sanders 2016).

125

tm 07.10.20 at 11:41 am

One has to be wilfully blind to history to deny the obvious parallels between Trumpism and other brands of fascism. Here are some (the list could go on) ideological characteristics common to most fascist movements both in the 20th and 21st century, including Trumpism:
– “Make the nation great again”
– The enemy within threatens the nation and we will fight them.
The enemy within are racial, religious and sexual minorities, socialists, unions, the social justice movement, liberal cosmopolitans.
– Critical journalists/intellectuals are the enemy of the people.
– The nation is victim of an internationalist/globalist conspiracy, led by a liberal elite.
– A propaganda strategy consisting of large scale gaslighting, subverting public discourse by constant lying, creating an alternative reality in the minds of supporters and immunizing them against empirical reality and critical interrogation.

The Trump apologists from the antiliberal left are deluding themselves into thinking that fascism either “can’t happen here” (thank you American exceptionalism), won’t affect them (thank you White Privilege), or is a thing of the past. 21st century fascism won’t repeat the exact same playbook as its historic predecessors. But doesn’t it give you pause that contemporaries of Hitler also downplayed the potential threat with very similar arguments – he won’t last long, he won’t get much done anyway, he isn’t that different from his predecessors? (Many of those who made such predictions ended up murdered or in exile).

And the best argument Trump apologists have on offer – the fact that in his first four years in power he hasn’t started a major war – would also have applied to Hitler. How reassuring is that?!

[Can you discard the earlier comment – unclosed tag, sorry]

126

tm 07.10.20 at 11:47 am

Thanks J-D 121 :) I didn’t expect there to be an English link. Of course, readers can nowadays find ways to understand the gist of a foreign language text if they care sufficiently.

127

Lee A. Arnold 07.10.20 at 12:26 pm

J-D #120: “It’s harder to understand why people believe that Democrats are more prone to deficit spending than Republicans, given that in recent decades Republicans have done much more to increase budget deficits than Democrats have.”

It’s because Republicans do not increase deficits by spending. They increase deficits by tax cuts. These tax cuts will “pay for themselves”, i.e. erase the deficits they cause. How and why? Because free markets promote freedom and efficiency, and government does not.

This syllogism is as far as economic understanding goes, for almost everyone. It is the essence of Milton Friedman’s popular message. It has been expressed in countless op-eds by the conservative middlebrow intelligentsia, Hayekians and Chicago economists, until it has filtered down into the taverns and gyms. Some Republican Senator will remind everybody about it, tomorrow. I watched one of them repeat it to the cameras last month.

Of course tax cuts and spending are both expansionary fiscal policy. The Senator may even secretly know that, but tax cuts are better because they “pay for themselves” and “it’s your money.” Efficiency and freedom.

In reality these tax cuts have never paid for themselves. After a cyclical spurt, their effects on business investment and long-term growth are negligible. But the voters don’t follow the technical outcome. Always the pressure has been on the succeeding Democratic presidents to bring down those deficits.

So when you write, “…if you think that the reason people believe that deficits are bad is because they believe that free markets promote efficiency, I think you’re barking up the wrong tree, as no connection is evident,” I assume that you have not been studying political-economic rhetoric in the United States for the last 40 years (and no one will blame you). It is the basic theory, quick short and connected, and the Democrats have never had an effective answer to it. What would you do about it?

128

steven t johnson 07.10.20 at 3:15 pm

Orange Watch@105 is very confused by absurd unstated assumptions. In particular, the notion that the US “middle class” must be exclusively defined by income (as opposed to wealth, even claiming property isn’t even an economic category!) and…well, the whole discussion is so unintelligible I can only guess at the fundamental error. Which appears to be, “class” must be a kind of bell curve, with the upper class being like two standard deviations from the “average” (median?) income, and the working class being non-college educated, which isn’t income, but as I say, unintelligible.

Sorry, no, decades old twaddle about how everybody is middle class and that’s what makes America great aren’t an argument. Any sensible definition of middle-class does focus on property, and especially property generating income. The idea used to be that owning a home was enough—and a huge effort was made to sell this idea that your potential capital gains from maybe someday selling your house before or after death put you in the same category as someone who actually had an estate! There were also huge efforts, like the mortgage interest deduction etc. made to spread home ownership.

Sorry, yes, the haute bourgeoisie and their highest ranking employees are a tiny fraction, and the petty bourgeoisie are closer to 15% of the population than the plus or minus one standard deviation in a bell curve. It may strike a pang into the black reactionary heart to think that most people in the US are deluding themselves about their real places. Personally, I think this reality is a fine explanation for why there is so much irrational lashing out at enemies. (Note, if you believe the future is a zero sum game, lashing out at competitors is “rational” in a purely self-interested, wallet sense.) And yes, this is why in the long run—something so hard for any of us to make plans for!—equality is in the best interest of the large majority of us.

The brief exchange between Gorgonzola Petrovna and MisterMr showed the uselessness of the supposed professional-managerial class. The issue is not the different “values” held by the lowest quintile from the highest, but different interests within each quintile. The sense in which the owner of a modestly successful car dealership shares interests with a Jaime Dimon or a Jeff Bezos is not useful for anything but sowing confusion. And by the way, the notion of “values” is an allusion to some really backward, superstitious ideas. A sensible class analysis will not come from conventional wisdom, because conventional wisdom has been manufactured to prevent it.

Andres is incorrect that Gorgonzola Petrovna is the only Trumpist, as it omits ph. ph is lying, if only to ph, about Trump’s economic program, and about Trump’s foreign policy program, if only because economic warfare is still war, and is hysterical about cancel culture.

The notion that lower status believers are treated badly because they are believers is nonsense: They are condescended to because they are lowers. Suitably well-mannered faith is always acceptable despite the truth, which is that superstition of any kind is always deplorable. There is in fact far more excuse for desperate people than the comfortable trash who make fatuous excuses. The hysteria about cancel culture overestimates its importance, no matter how many absurdities there are. I will say that a ph who falsely heroizes Trump is not essentially different from someone randomly villainizing people: Personal morality is not the engine of history. The notion is partly a flattering delusion of agency, a vastly overrated concept.

Andres however is perfectly correct and tm is perfectly wrong. The Democratic Party has impeached Trump, which is as official as it gets. The Democratic Party did not impeach Trump for anything fascistic. It impeached Trump for not being nationalist enough! If there’s one thing fascism is, it’s nationalistic. The Democratic Party is not opposing fascism and every claim it is is false.

129

bob mcmanus 07.10.20 at 4:03 pm

Arnold:Of course tax cuts and [deficit] spending are both expansionary fiscal policy.

And, as seen above, I disagree with this, at least for the intermediate and long term. Kalecki 1943 deals with the deficit spending part, financing gov’t by selling bonds just gives creditors, oligarchs, and capital political power over policy. Ask Greece about this.

Tax cuts for worker consumption, that theoretically high-multiplier action, will always be countered by inflation favoring capitalists unless there is popular pricing power (ohh, rent control, public housing, mortgage support for examples). To me, this is just common sense, if a landlord reads that her tenants will all be receiving a bonus check she will immediately raise rents. Why shouldn’t she. And this is what we have been seeing for fifty years, tax cuts including for workers and middle class, price increases for health care education and housing, the concentration of wealth and immiseration of the lower classes. This is not coincidental.

I am on balance MMT favorable without understanding (but I definitely trust Kelton, Tcherneva, Wray etc more than many of their peers) it partly on this basis, that it doesn’t borrow and is a little vague maybe indifferent to taxation. Just print til they make us stop.

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Lee A. Arnold 07.10.20 at 4:42 pm

ph #123: “I didn’t know a thing about Trump until Lee A. Arnold posted a link to one of Trump’s speeches.”

I didn’t mean to mislead you. It was probably a comment about rhetorical strategies in the 2016 Republican primary. I know a lot of people who were snookered by Trump — they can’t discern a con man, they don’t understand what is causing the economic distress, Clinton was a bad political candidate — but there is no excuse for supporting Trump this time around. He hasn’t fixed a thing. A leader needs intellectual connective tissue between the ears. Trump is obviously, dangerously short-sighted. Anybody else would be better.

131

anon/portly 07.10.20 at 4:49 pm

ph 123

The educated left hates and fears the working class. … The fact that only Bernie Sanders (not a Dem) could generate enthusiasm….

The actual members of the “working class” tended to prefer Hillary to Sanders, and Biden to Sanders. The “educated left” tended to prefer Sanders.

Does ph make an effort to explain why both the “educated” and the “uneducated” Democrat voters tend to vote for the “wrong” candidate (the one opposing their interests) each time? Or acknowledge this small problem in his analysis? No.

123 But if Trump can continue to redo the trade deals….

Back in 79 ph references a piece which argues (dishonestly and poorly, but still) that we should reduce the trade deficit. Trump’s policies have of course made the trade deficit larger. Does ph acknowledge this small problem in his analysis? No.

132

Hidari 07.10.20 at 4:59 pm

Funny how Godwin’s law just doesn’t seem to hold when it comes to Trump isn’t it?

Holds up pretty well when it comes to Benjamin Netanyahu though, apparently.

133

Nia Psaka 07.10.20 at 11:18 pm

“…which combines”

134

J-D 07.11.20 at 12:25 am

It’s because Republicans do not increase deficits by spending.

That’s not true. In recent decades Republicans have done more than Democrats to increase government spending. If you have any insights to offer about why people might believe, in defiance of the facts, that the Democrats are bigger spenders than the Republicans (and how they might be induced not to do so), I would be most interested; but again, if you think that the reason people believe this is because they believe that free markets promote efficiency, I think you’re barking up the wrong tree, as no connection is evident.

135

J-D 07.11.20 at 12:28 am

ph #123: “I didn’t know a thing about Trump until Lee A. Arnold posted a link to one of Trump’s speeches.”

I didn’t mean to mislead you. …

I wouldn’t worry yourself about it. There is no good reason to believe that ph’s statement is accurate.

136

ph 07.11.20 at 2:11 am

@131 A simple control/command F search using the term ‘trades deficit’ would confirm that I never mentioned ‘trade deficits’ (contra your explicit claim) at any point anywhere in this discussion. I don’t recall discussing trade deficits at any time in any forum.

Your own commitment to factual accuracy, and exposing sloppy claims, can’t be framed any better. Many thanks.

John, Biden’s America First economic nationalism is getting some traction in the press, whether it’s ‘borrowed from Bernie, or Trump Lite. I saw two pieces on this yesterday. If America First economic nationalism is a major feature of the coming debates, discussions on China-US relations (economic and otherwise) are going to play a major role.

The last four years of ‘foreign governments’ interfered in our elections was a fantastic waste of time at best. At worst, we saw a new McCarthyism practiced by Democrats like Schiff who waived pieces of paper claiming to hold ‘proof’ of Trump Russia collusion. Night after night for the last four years (even now): with Trump – all roads lead to Putin. That’s Nancy Pelosi just recently. The streets are filled with people defying COVID restrictions because the burning urgency of their issue demands such.

Trump is already open suggesting China ‘may have’ lied about COVID to hurt him electorally. The electorate is primed for a wave of anti-Sino bigotry which both candidates will have to negotiate. Trump is certain to tie Biden to China for reasons we need not explore here.

Biden faces an immense challenge trying to walk away from his legislative legacy (credit card Senator/NAFTA/), not to mention his own questionable dealings with various nations. Trump is certain to paint China as the enemy, and Biden as China’s last, best hope: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2019/08/27/joe-biden-is-probably-the-only-man-who-can-save-china-in-202o/#6d6f73093826 as well as the globalists’ last best hope: https://www.ft.com/content/cb3085e2-7ef9-11ea-82f6-150830b3b99a

Yes, those are the actual titles of the articles. So, how does Biden convince voters he’s not soft on China? Three guesses.

137

Anarcissie 07.11.20 at 3:18 am

J-D 07.09.20 at 1:11 am @ 107
‘…. I see no basis for concluding that the effects of a first term for President Biden are more predictable than the effects of a second term for President Trump.’

I was thinking more of the way in which a Biden administration would be likely to unfold, if I may use that word. While we don’t know what reality will do to it afterward, we can guess at some of its early development because of its ideology and composition. For example, soon after the anointment of Mr. Biden, the abominable Larry Summers came snuffling around, and seems to have been made welcome. Given Mr. Summers’s history and activities, this gives us an idea, does it not? Moreover Mr. Biden, or his handlers, have been emitting hostile noises about Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, and so on, to the extent of baiting Mr. Trump about his not being as warlike as they. This suggests a certain kind of foreign and military policy, a certain fondness for imperial illusions. I believe they have even signed on to the latest Russia fable. By chance I caught some 10 seconds of Rachel Maddow ranting about this on YouTube, and it is not an experience I want to repeat any time soon. These seem like important matters and yet they’re just slipping by while people talk about Mr. Biden’s curious vocal productions. Like, what if a lot of the American people don’t want further wars in the Middle East? If Mr. Trump runs to Mr. Biden’s left, where’s Mr. Biden going to go? There is not a whole lot of room in the other direction.

138

nastywoman 07.11.20 at 4:29 am

@
”Andres however is perfectly correct and tm is perfectly wrong”.

Who says so?
As I think that tm is perfectly correct and Andreas is perfectly wrong.

As when in my homeland – the US – the only way to finally ”get” a ”Mafia Boss” – is for ”tax evasion” -(and NOT for ”the crimes” – he really committed) – that’s just a problem of our… ”weird judicial system” – Right?

BE-cause the Democratic Party would LOVE to impeach Trump for EVERYTHING he could be impeached for – but did I already mention this… weird… ”US judicial system”?

AND so the Democrats definitely didn’t impeach Trump NOT – for ”not being nationalist enough”! And it’s true that fascism is ”nationalistic”. BUT it’s also true that the Democratic Party also is opposing fascism in any form – proven by the Democratic Party’s support NOT only of BLM – but also by the Democratic Party’s fight against a US Right Winger like…
Trump.

139

Alan White 07.11.20 at 5:13 am

@130 “Clinton was a bad political candidate — but there is no excuse for supporting Trump this time around. He hasn’t fixed a thing. A leader needs intellectual connective tissue between the ears. Trump is obviously, dangerously short-sighted. Anybody else would be better.”

Amen googolplex.

Trump pardons war criminals and cronies–Stone just today (the late Friday scheme to try to minimize the news cycle–ho-hum)–and even Barr, who argued the stricter sentences for felonies were too harsh–still maintained the integrity of the prosecution itself. Barr! The saint of sycophants!

And that is just a latest sampling of Trump’s incompetent criminal behavior.

And for the record about my own background as to this “elite” crap–my parents never saw a high school classroom, and neither did either of their parents’ parents’ parents and on back as subsistence farmers in the South who as my own father (and white) often sharecropped just to have a place to live. As a kid I picked cotton with my mom during “cotton-picking vacation”–yes–a real thing in the Fall when I grew up in the 60s that released school to do that chore–in rural Tennessee. Only sheer luck in life gave me a decent education that led to a PhD and a career as a professor, and I bless my lucky stars–not any fundamental credit to me, because I’m basically no more gifted or talented than most people I’ve met in life–for it. But never, never accuse me of not knowing what it is to share bathwater after your brother has used it or having cornbread and milk as your special dessert. Yeah my parents provided for me as best they could, and thank god for that because I never went hungry. But there are plenty like me who know we are not “elite”–we just have seen both sides of the tracks and know the Trump types who don’t care about us except as some kind of cheerleaders to be manipulated (or else ignored) when we’re on the side of the tracks he’s never ever seen or understood. And to hell with him for that.

Here’s the difference between Trump and Biden by an intuitive test: say that both read my previous paragraph (a real hypothesis for Trump’s reading attention span)–which of the two would genuinely understand and relate in some real degree to what I’ve said?

140

J-D 07.11.20 at 7:38 am

I was thinking more of the way in which a Biden administration would be likely to unfold, if I may use that word.

I don’t understand what you meany by writing ‘if I may use that word’, but whatever you mean by unfold, there’s no basis for concluding that the way the first term of a Biden administration unfolds is any more predictable than the way the second term of a Trump administration unfolds.

If Mr. Trump runs to Mr. Biden’s left, where’s Mr. Biden going to go?

There’s no reason for anybody to expend a minute’s effort on thinking about what might happen if Trump runs to Biden’s left.

141

nastywoman 07.11.20 at 7:42 am

@
”Here’s the difference between Trump and Biden by an intuitive test: say that both read my previous paragraph (a real hypothesis for Trump’s reading attention span)–which of the two would genuinely understand and relate in some real degree to what I’ve said”?

and if we could add that question to our very simple test in order to identify a Trumper?

How about:

Do you support BLM?
Do you support wearing a mask?
Do you genuinely understand the two questions above and relate in some real degree to what I’ve said?

142

Hidari 07.11.20 at 8:01 am

@136

Trump’s aggressive provocations to China are one of the major, defining features of his ‘reign’ and have, therefore, been essentially ignored in the corporate media. For example, even as we speak the USS Nimitz and the USS Ronald Reagan (ahem) are currently conducting exercises in the ‘disputed’ South China Sea (the ownership of which, one might have thought, would be indicated by the name, but apparently not), and this act of imperialist (and extremely dangerous) war mongering, carried out on behalf of a man who, we have been told, with a straight face, on this very thread, is The New Hitler ™ has been essentially ignored by the so-called American left, swept off the pages by the extremely interesting debate about whether or not Joe Biden will be the new FDR (to which the response, of course, is ‘of course he will! What could be more likely?’).

Rising tensions with China, the blame for which lies solely and wholly with Trump (and before him, Obama) will be one of the defining features of the next 20 or 30 years, and it’s extremely dubious whether Biden will be better than Trump in this regard (to be fair it’s hard to see how Biden could be worse).

If there was a left in the US (there obviously isn’t), this would be a time they could actually be of some use, putting pressure on Biden to promise to reduce tensions with China and pursue peace talks (given that war has essentially already broken out with China albeit with the US using a proxy, on the India/China border, and of course in Hong Kong).

But they won’t, because the American ‘left’ are not, in any meaningful sense, anti-war or anti-imperialist (or left, for that matter) and, therefore, not in any meaningful sense, anti-Trump. I’m willing to stand corrected here, but I haven’t heard a single condemnation of these reckless provocations from any ‘left’ source. (I think there was one article in The Nation, but that was it).

‘John, Biden’s America First economic nationalism is getting some traction in the press, whether it’s ‘borrowed from Bernie, or Trump Lite.’

Steve Bannon has gone on record as praising Biden’s economics. (https://www.nationalreview.com/news/trump-2016-adviser-bannon-praises-bidens-buy-american-plan-i-tip-my-hat-to-them/)

Since the core essence of Trumpism is economic nationalism, then Biden’s economic approach is very similar to Trump’s.

143

Gorgonzola Petrovna 07.11.20 at 9:06 am

@MisterMr,
I wrote a reply but it hasn’t survived moderation. Shorter version:
Working class simply sell their labor, man-hours.
And accountants provide loyal service. It’s a career, intertwined with the fortunes of the company.

144

Tm 07.11.20 at 9:50 am

ph 136 accuses anon/portly 131 of misquoting him. For the record, anon/portly is correct and ph is lying, as is easy to verify. And yes, the trade deficit has increased under Trump.
https://www.citizen.org/article/the-trade-deficit-is-up-under-trump/

145

Hidari 07.11.20 at 10:03 am

‘Here’s the difference between Trump and Biden by an intuitive test: say that both read my previous paragraph (a real hypothesis for Trump’s reading attention span)–which of the two would genuinely understand and relate in some real degree to what I’ve said?’

Here’s a literal word for word transcription of a Biden speech.

‘“And so I was saying that, and what they turned around and said, Joe Biden said, in effect, they said, that Joe Biden said that what he was told, that what, that what the white supremacists argue, that we have no problem, that our, our, our basic English jurisprudential system is not the problem. The problem is those countries like Africa and Asia and those places, they’re the reason why we have all these problems. So they turn it around to make it sound like that, and by the way, the title of the article is, was, is the Washington Post ‘The Deceptively (indecipherable) of Joe Biden Singles, Signals What Is Coming’ and that is that’s a whole bunch of lies. The generic point I’m making here is that, what has happened is that, I know we’re going to get in to, whomever the nominee is of the Democratic Party, is going to have a plethora of lies told about him or her, and misrepresentations and this went on the internet, this edited article, it got retweeted by some press people and then they realized it was edited to make it look like something not… white supremacists, see, Biden’s acknowledging that the problem here is that that all those folks, all those minority folks are the problem. And so, in essence. And so they corrected, they corrected. You’re going to see a lot more of it. You’re going to see a lot more of not only my statements being taken out of context, and lied about, or altered, you’re going to see whomever the Democratic nominee is because that’s how this guy operates. Now. Whether or not I can win?’

So yeah. Trump has also, of course, been accused of having dementia, probably with some reason, so this is not a pro-Trump point. But remember that Biden will have access to the nuclear codes.

So the word ‘understand’ in a sentence about Biden, is not an easy ‘match’.

Just to reiterate, for the millionth time, I don’t care who anyone votes for. I’m not an American. Vote for who you want to. But whoever you vote for, don’t tell yourself you’re a hero for doing it, or that this is some kind of epoch-shatteringly important election on which the fate of the so-called ‘free world’ depends. The Republic is not ‘tottering’. American democracy, such as it is, does not stand on the brink. You are not being a rebel in voting for who the DNC tells you to vote for.

(Unless you are talking about climate change. But, of course, no one is).

Also remember that if Tulsi Gabbard was the Democratic nominee, there would be a very very different tone in elite discourse, and we would be hearing a lot less about ‘the lesser of two evils’ and the evils of the left for not doing their patriotic duty, and ‘Vote Blue, no matter who!’.

146

steven t johnson 07.11.20 at 1:05 pm

Sorry, forgot to note that the political consequences of the pandemic (read in the OP as economic consequences) may be decided by current VP nominees, as both principals have a significant chance of not finishing the term.

147

Anarcissie 07.11.20 at 1:37 pm

@130 & @139 — Mr. Trump’s incompetence, however, seems to limit the effects of his malevolence, whereas I don’t see a similarly limiting factor in Mr. Biden (or the people who run him, if such is the case). So far.

148

Orange Watch 07.11.20 at 2:12 pm

Lee A. Arnold@104:

As I explained to J-D just above, my observation is that the left has come up with no good alternate theory, succinct comprehensible and automatic, to convince the public away from fiscal scaremongering, and so most of the centrists capitulate to the theory that “Free markets promote freedom and efficiency.” So I blame the complainers on the left, before I blame the centrists.

With all due respect, this is absurd. If the centrists choose to accept a paradigm ostensibly promulgated by the right that the right only adheres to when the centrists are in power, that’s not an act of “capitulation”, that’s an act, full stop. You’re denying all agency to the center; things “just happen” to them, but the right actively concocts masterful, irrefutable narratives and the left actively chooses to undermine the center by not singlehandedly countering the right? Please. The center as you describe them is either too ignorant, ineffectual, and helpless to be allowed to have power at the national level… That’s hard to believe considering how competent they are at intraparty and local politics. It seems an awful lot more likely that they’re proponents of the underlying principles of fiscal conservatism since they advocate for it far more consistently than its ostensible proponents do. At an absolute bare minimum, they’re more willing to accept it than to try to formulate a competing theory – but since they push it even though we’ve been able to see for a generation that it’s a theory whose practice protects but does not constrain the right even as it constrains but does not protect the left, it seems far more likely that they’re fine with it, and are merely putting on a show of wanting an alternative.

Lee A. Arnold@127:
It’s because Republicans do not increase deficits by spending. They increase deficits by tax cuts.

This is simply not true. Republicans increase deficits by tax cuts coupled with spending increases; they merely increase spending on things that Democrats are also prone to increase spending on, such as “defense”. Pretending that borrow-and-spend Republicans are fundamentally different than tax-and-spend Democrats in their spending habits requires one to carefully ignore large swathes of the governmental spending behind the deficit. It is, however, quite handy for reinforcing the Republican narrative that simplistic, superficial notions of fiscal conservatism are good and spending is bad. So why are you promoting this idea when it’s clearly counterfactual?

J-D@108:

No matter what the answer to the second question is, the answer to the first question is still that the Democratic Party receives more votes from working class people than the Republican Party does.

The answer to the first question is at best extremely incomplete, and at worst willfully missing the point. If all but one working class people cease to vote, it’s utterly meaningless for the single remaining working class voter to vote Democrat. Treating abstention as irrelevant to electoral outcomes is misleading and dangerous.

J-D@110:

Turnout may have been up in all of these states, but were the same people who voted in 2012 still all voting? When nationally 43% of the population doesn’t vote, it’s quite easy for different groups of marginal (non-)voters to selectively participate or abstain based on enthusiasm. It’s quite dangerous to assume – as many here seem to want to – that non-voters are a consistent block from election to election – that if electoral participation is up, it means everyone who voted in the prior election plus a block who typically don’t vote participated rather than (locally) some typical voters abstaining while (nationally) a larger number of typical abstainers voted. That notion actually fits rather well your “no obvious pattern”, BTW.

149

Orange Watch 07.11.20 at 3:08 pm

steven t. johnson@128:

Suggesting that wealth is clearly a better class distinction than income suggests that class boundaries are a purely rational affair, and carefully elides the complex role debt plays in most of the economy. The fact that there are people in the upper income quintile living paycheck to paycheck does not mean that they suddenly have the same class identity as people in the bottom quintile living paycheck to paycheck. You do not cease to think, act, and identify with a particular stratum of society simply because you’re only able to live in it by living above your means – especially when living above your means allows your children to be raised within that stratum and accrue some – even if not all – of the benefits that stratum enjoys.

150

anon/portly 07.11.20 at 4:59 pm

136

@131 A simple control/command F search using the term ‘trades deficit’ would confirm that I never mentioned ‘trade deficits’ (contra your explicit claim) at any point anywhere in this discussion. I don’t recall discussing trade deficits at any time in any forum.

In 79 ph says “anyone interested in US trade policy” should read a piece, which, as I stated with complete accuracy, argues that the US should reduce the trade deficit. Then in the last paragraph of 123 Trump has done a “good job” in ph’s view partly because of Trump’s successful (“redo the trade deals”) trade policy.

Now in 136 for no good reason he says, correctly, he never specifically mentioned trade deficits. In 131 I said “ph references a piece which argues (dishonestly and poorly, but still) that we should reduce the trade deficit.”

Your own commitment to factual accuracy, and exposing sloppy claims, can’t be framed any better. Many thanks.

At first I was going to take this as sarcastic. But since that would make no sense, and make ph look like a complete idiot, I will be charitable and take it as non-sarcastic. You’re very welcome, ph,

151

bruce wilder 07.11.20 at 5:35 pm

Biden does not seem to me to be a credible “alternative” to Trump along any substantive dimension. He is just another stupid, authoritarian crypto-racist sob fronting for the greed of giant corporations and billionaires and flirting with dementia in his old age. Doesn’t the Democratic candidate have to be different from the Republican to make the argument for “lesser” evil somewhat plausible?

Biden might be able to “relate” to Alan White’s life experience — at least he has a reputation for being able to project that “caring” on teevee — but is that a genuine difference? I know people who supported Trump in 2016 because they caught him saying something colorably truthful during one of his incoherent stream-of-consciousness rants while they could not penetrate Clinton’s carefully coded but empty rhetoric. Neither one of them mean it when they do their schtick or show much sign of a political will to govern intelligently on behalf of the interests of the great majority. The political reality of Biden’s empathy for the working class is that he put it to work for MBNA, that he pushed harsh crime bills and oppressive bankruptcy legislation and free trade and perpetual war.

Trump was able to triumph over the Republican elite establishment in 2016, because of a vast gap that had opened up between the desiderata of the elite and the interests and desires of the Republican electoral base. What he was willing and able to do for the Republican electoral base, who are not the most politically discerning people in their attitudes, is not much in total. That cannot be the issue as Biden makes clear he, too, is committed to the billionaires uber alles.

And, the Dems do not even care that there is no substantive difference. The absurd impeachment over Ukraine just highlighted the ways in which Biden and Trump mirror each other, as Biden doing the same damn thing as Trump was at the center of the whole affair. The sameness is a feature, as reprehensible Republicans migrate to the Democratic Party and are praised in this strange political afterlife for principles they never honored in power. (David Frum, anti-Trumpist, can be no argument that Biden is any less evil.)

The argument of the OP that the consequences of the pandemic turn on the outcome of the November election fails on the horrid realization that the essential safety valve of rotation in office has already been pre-emptively thwarted. The electorate can have the satisfaction of throwing Trump-the-Bum out, but the neoliberal counterrevolution has secured power for itself in an election that will be a meaningless coin-flip.

152

Lee A. Arnold 07.11.20 at 6:20 pm

J-D #134: “In recent decades Republicans have done more than Democrats to increase government spending… why people might believe, in defiance of the facts, that the Democrats are bigger spenders… no connection is evident.”

We should correct your fact to say that government spending is on a fairly smooth curve upward through Administrations (except 2010-2014) and the percentage changes are small.

Republicans lead with tax cuts. They rush to get a tax cut passed, and then increase spending in their downturns/crashes. People believe Democrats are bigger spenders, not because free markets promote freedom and efficiency, but because Democrats don’t lead with big tax cuts, especially ones trumpeted by Wall St. Then when a Democratic downturn comes, conservatives can convince some voters that it was caused by government spending. They immediately cite the economists who say that government is inefficient, it gets in the way of free markets, which promote freedom and efficiency. This also makes it easier to goad Democrats into decreasing the deficits. The connections are readily evident.

Your theory seems to be that most voters don’t think that far, they simply respond to their current circumstances, so far as economic issues go. If either party increases deficits, by tax cuts or spending, and it works well, then voters will reward it. I think we all take this as understood.

But you seem to jump from there to the assumption that voters don’t carry around a basic justificatory theory for their beliefs, to employ when times are bad. Yet when times go bad, we discuss what to do, we want a nominally logical explanation for our next choices. Why do you think that conservative propagandists have spent millions of words in decades of pop books, op-eds and speeches constructing and honing the theory that free markets promote freedom and efficiency?

153

Andres 07.11.20 at 6:24 pm

It is a good day when other commenters can bring about a change in one’s world view. ph corrects my assertion on the number of Trumpers in this thread and in the process writes a coherent and consistent (though still very wrong, imo) defense of his support for the Clownstick, in the process also correcting the misconception that all Trumpers are racist know-nothings. And Tm, a committed Democrat (which I share with him in voting though not in political outlook), writes a screed that reminds me of some of Dipper’s worst rants against the EU. Actually, scratch that, Dipper’s posts were more eloquent whereas Tm reads like what Trump would sound like if he were a die-hard Democrat.

For starters, very little of what he says is true. There may well be an anti-liberal left (though my position is that the Democratic leadership is not liberal and has never been liberal since FDR’s time), but the one thing it is not is apologist for Trump. Read any “anti-liberal left” website like Jacobin or Shadowproof and it will be instantly clear that they hate the Trumpstick more than anyone, though whether they do so enough to urge their readers to vote Democratic is another issue (I definitely think they should, btw, and fully agree that voting for third parties or not voting has been and would now be an act of almost criminal stupidity). In Tm’s fevered imagination, criticism of the Democratic leadership is the same thing as apologia for Trump.

It is true that those fools who consciously decide to vote third party or not vote rather than vote Democratic are unwittingly helping Trump, but to then label them as Trump apologists is to apply a Fox News-like perversion of the actual situation.

154

anon/portly 07.11.20 at 6:28 pm

134

In recent decades Republicans have done more than Democrats to increase government spending.

That’s not necessarily true; it’s complicated. The Republicans (Reagan, Bush 2 and Trump) cut taxes and are generally fiscally irresponsible; the Democrats (Clinton and Obama; also Bush 1) raise taxes and are generally fiscally responsible.

Ultimately the higher taxes of the Democrats allow for a higher long-term “path” of government spending while the lower taxes of the Republicans push us onto a lower path, or so it sees to me. If you really want higher government spending in the US, you will get that by electing Democrats, not Republicans.

155

Andres 07.11.20 at 6:51 pm

In case anyone is interested (probably not, but hope never fades), here is a quick take on my own political outlook. John, I know this is flying off way on a tangent, so feel free to not post. Still, it is unavoidable that any discussion of the U.S. near-term political economic-outlook is going to head off into such tangents/derailments.

Reading through Tm’s laundry list of fascist tropes, it never seems to strike him that this list is in fact a transformed version of the socialist left’s criticism of the U.S. oligarchy and U.S. history in general, but with the perverted Fox News re-twisting intended to make working class voters, or at least white working class voters, vote for reactionaries instead of socialists or even liberal progressives. There are good reasons for a wise observer of late 19th century Germany asserting that anti-semitism is the socialism of fools; today’s Fox News is a fool-generation factory, but with xenophobia, law-and-orderism, and anti-islamism taking the place of anti-semitism. The fact that these fascist tropes have metastasized over the past 30 years indicates how unsustainable the existing oligarchic set of political-economic institutions is becoming.

Namely:

– “Make the nation great again”

The socialist left outlook is that with some infrequent exceptions (1865, 1920, 1941-45, 1965 as landmarks; though maybe 1941-45 shouldn’t count as any country can be a great country when faced with an overt threat to its existence) the U.S. has mostly not been a great country though it has aspired to greatness, with the retrospectively tragic preambles to the Declaration and the Constitution being the most succinct statements of this aspiration. Most working-class Americans are unconsciously aware of this situation, but of course are misled by one-line platitude slogans.

“– The enemy within threatens the nation and we will fight them. The enemy within are racial, religious and sexual minorities, socialists, unions, the social justice movement, liberal cosmopolitans.”

There is an enemy within, but it is the corporate elites who finance both parties and who wish to preserve the U.S. as a corporate oligarchy rather than a democracy. Whether or not racism/xenophobia/homophobia/fascist rhetoric is used as a tool to help maintain the oligarchy is one of the few substantive differences between the leaderships of the Ds (no) and Rs (yes).

“– Critical journalists/intellectuals are the enemy of the people.”

It is not critical journalists/intellectuals who are the “enemies of the people” (a.k.a. the defenders of oligarchic government), but the individuals who write their paychecks with the aim of eliminating their “criticality”. Thanks to a complex system of occasional censorship, more frequent self-censoring, pre-determined news area focus, and careful selection of prominent journalists, the role of the news media has mostly been to either manufacture consent (Chomsky’s term, I think) for the oligarchic system and policies (i.e., CNN, MSNBC, NY Times, BBC, etc.) or to act as propaganda for neo-fascist ideology (e.g., all of Rupert Murdoch’s UK and US megaphones). Journalists who still manage to remain critical within this network are few and far between.

“– The nation is victim of an internationalist/globalist conspiracy, led by a liberal elite.”

The correct version is that the world economy is the victim of an emergent policy process led by an anti-liberal corporate elite. There are many ways to describe this emergent policy process; Phil Mirowski’s work on neoliberalism, though it has flaws, is as good as any description of the process.

– A propaganda strategy consisting of large scale gaslighting, subverting public discourse by constant lying, creating an alternative reality in the minds of supporters and immunizing them against empirical reality and critical interrogation.

The difference between this and the Dem. leadership, as well as the pre-Fox News Republican leadership is one of degree, not kind. Both leaderships want the public to believe that the U.S. is a liberal democracy; many of them have even deceived themselves into believing it. But true liberal democracies do not allow the wholesale rewriting of history as happened with the Lost Cause from 1876 to 1964, approximately; true liberal democracies do not have news organs that feed racist rhetoric under the table. If you’re going to feed a narrow set of broad lies to the U.S. public, why not go whole hog with an army of specific lies?

Before anyone accuses me of being a cynic, I still harbor the hope that pressure from the ground up will eventually (a) lead to the political defeat of Fox-style neo-fascism, and (b) either make the Democratic party irrelevant or convert it into the true progressive/liberal party it should have been since the 1950’s at least. Occupy, BLM, and demonstration feminism are specific instances of a broader, spontaneous backlash that might yet transform the country, though I fear that things will have to get much worse before that can happen.

156

Andres 07.11.20 at 8:00 pm

nastywoman has a point in that the rules of the game can often force the Democratic leadership to Do the Right Thing. Not supporting BLM would be political suicide for most Democrats, even for those Democrats who hate street demonstrations and looting and see little need for police reform. And Trump could only be impeached on narrow technical grounds where there is well-documented evidence, which excludes the broad array of his racist cheerleading that’s has moved the country in the direction of 1861, or his consistent disregard for the truth that has been toxic to any form of give-and-take debate. Given that the rules of foreign policy engagement were clearly violated in the case of Ukraine, that the Democratic leadership embarked on impeachment was the right decision despite the pre-ordained outcome.

But once again, this illustrates that the U.S. was not a liberal democracy even before Trump. A liberal democracy would not allow for a police system characterized by a siege mentality plus borderline impunity. A liberal democracy would have drastic punishments for public figures who use quasi-fascist rhetoric. And a liberal democracy would exclude from the political process anyone who consistently made up his own facts. I have a few criticisms of Germany, in particular the economic inequality that has helped feed neo-fascist groups in Ost and other regions, but ironic as it sounds Deutschland is much closer to a liberal democracy than is the U.S.

And to repeat again, the Democratic leadership is not racist, not fascist, not militarist, and against a distribution of wealth and income that is so drastically unequal as to be politically destabilizing. But these good qualities by themselves do not add up to support for liberal democracy. The Dems still function as a center-right conservative party that preserves corporate oligarchy in general and in particular does reprehensible things in foreign policy thanks to its national security, U.S. interests-come-first outlook.

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Andres 07.11.20 at 11:43 pm

ph @123: As I mentioned in a previous post, I think your reasoning is more consistent and coherent than tm’s (and that’s the only reason I’m bothering to reply), but unfortunately he doesn’t set a very high bar. A few points regarding your statements:

“In my experience, elites treat people of faith as fools. Many ‘smart politicians’ believe significant numbers of the people they serve are, in fact, surplus to national requirements. Nobody is speaking for ordinary people and the problems we face. The educated left hates and fears the working class.”

Fools come in all sorts of religious belief flavors. The disasters of atheist communism, the catholic Crusades, modern Islamic jihadism, protestant-perpetrated massacres in Ireland, etc. should teach you that if when people are utterly dogmatic and gullible, they will commit crimes no matter what their faith or lack of faith is.

I don’t suffer the delusion that the Biden wing of the Democratic party respects me as an individual even though I vote for it in general elections; neither should you delude yourself into thinking that the agenda setters at Fox News, nor the Trumpstick, have any respect for you.

Sorry for flirting with Godwin’s Law violation, but the idea that the educated left hates and fears the working class is a classic dolchstosslegend lie that has been peddled at least since Wagner and the Protocols, and you need to wake up to that. The fact that the Democratic leadership has played into that lie by its continually Wall Street-friendly economic policy is absolutely not an excuse for voting for the opposition that peddles this lie. It is the educated left that is criticizing the Democratic leadership from the left, and which has blasted the economic policies that led to the decline of small and mid-tier metro areas across the U.S.

“Academia is as corrupt as every other institution. I’ve been teaching 16 ninety minute classes a week for nearly three decades and have seen my real income decline, and my work load increase, while administrators invest in new buildings and computers. Those who do the actual teaching are treated as temporary labor by many fulltime faculty.”

Either you have your terminology wrong or you must have gone through a different academic universe than I did. The extreme inequality in academia is a different problem altogether than corruption. As a graduate student TA and then lecturer, it was the university administration that treated me like crap, not the professors I worked for, and all of them came by their beliefs and their teaching the old fashioned way, no one bought them. If you really want to see an example of corruption in academia, try the Mercatus Center, but that is an exception rather than the rule.

Lastly, while I acquit you of a white supremacist desire to see the police beating the crap out of black people or even shooting them as a way of maintaining law and order, you need to do a serious reckoning. Orange Dude has:

–Called Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers.
–Encouraged the treatment of Muslims as potential terrorists.
–Encouraged the presence of white supremacist counter-demonstrators at anti-racism and BLM demonstrations.
–Blasted the pulling down of Confederate statues as a re-writing of history, even though those statues only exist because history was re-written before him.
–Boasted that Andrew Jackson, the only U.S. president arguably guilty of wholesale ethnic cleansing, was his main inspiration as President.

Your first question: if you don’t think of yourself as a white supremacist, how do you look at yourself in the mirror when voting for such a candidate?

Second question: Getting to your last sentence, after four years of Orange Dude, there is no end to the war in Afghanistan, continued threats and a near war against Iran, the re-negotiated trade deals with China are as no-change cosmetic as the re-negotiated NAFTA, and further police brutality has caused cancel culture/de-funding demands now become a major factor in political outcomes. So will you finally admit that you have been conned? Think about it.

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J-D 07.12.20 at 2:51 am

Working class simply sell their labor, man-hours.
And accountants provide loyal service. It’s a career, intertwined with the fortunes of the company.

Many accountants are employees of corporations; many other accountants are self-employed and not employees of corporations.

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J-D 07.12.20 at 2:56 am

@130 & @139 — Mr. Trump’s incompetence, however, seems to limit the effects of his malevolence, whereas I don’t see a similarly limiting factor in Mr. Biden (or the people who run him, if such is the case). So far.

For people who are interested in a comparative evaluation of Donald Trump and Joe Biden as candidates for the Presidency in this year’s election, it is impossible to conduct it by comparing the records of the two as holders of that office, because only one of them has such a record.

Personally I feel that it’s possible to conduct an adequate comparative evaluation on the basis of the fact that one will be the Republican nominee and the other the Democratic nominee, and the record of Republican and Democratic presidencies over the last century or more.

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J-D 07.12.20 at 3:44 am

If all but one working class people cease to vote, it’s utterly meaningless for the single remaining working class voter to vote Democrat.

Although technically correct, this observation is devoid of practical value because there is no prospect of the number of working class people who vote falling to one.

Treating abstention as irrelevant to electoral outcomes is misleading and dangerous.

As a generality, it’s true that abstention is a phenomenon relevant to electoral outcomes, but it’s not clear what specific relevance you’re attributing to it.

It’s true of every US Presidential election in modern times that if all the eligible non-voters had turned out and voted for the Democrat, the Democrat would have won; it’s equally true that if all the eligible non-voters had turned out and voted for the Republican, the Republican would have won. Even back in 1912, if all the non-voters had turned out and voted for Taft, he would have beaten both Roosevelt and Wilson; but then, if all the non-voters had turned out and voted for Debs in 1912, he would have beaten all three of them! That’s of some interest to the trivia buff, but what is its practical significance?

Propensity to vote correlates with economic security: the poor (and other disadvantaged and marginalised groups) are less likely to vote than the rich (and other advantaged and privileged groups). But this is true generally, independently of partisan behaviour. The conclusion I draw from that is that it should be made easier to vote, and currently there’s some evidence of campaigning for that exact objective, which I applaud, independently of any partisan considerations.

Turnout may have been up in all of these states, but were the same people who voted in 2012 still all voting? When nationally 43% of the population doesn’t vote, it’s quite easy for different groups of marginal (non-)voters to selectively participate or abstain based on enthusiasm. It’s quite dangerous to assume – as many here seem to want to – that non-voters are a consistent block from election to election – that if electoral participation is up, it means everyone who voted in the prior election plus a block who typically don’t vote participated rather than (locally) some typical voters abstaining while (nationally) a larger number of typical abstainers voted. That notion actually fits rather well your “no obvious pattern”, BTW.

It’s true that it’s possible for the aggregate turnout figure to remain steady at the same time that turnout is increasing significantly among some groups and decreasing significantly among others. For example, it’s possible for a decrease in urban turnout bo exactly balanced by an increase in rural turnout going up; also, the exact opposite is possible. If there are multiple possibilities, and some of them are exact opposites of each other, then it’s important to know which is actually happening to evaluate possible political responses. I don’t know how to figure out what’s actually happening in this case and would be interested in any insight you could provide.

Your theory seems to be that most voters don’t think that far, they simply respond to their current circumstances, so far as economic issues go. If either party increases deficits, by tax cuts or spending, and it works well, then voters will reward it. I think we all take this as understood.

But you seem to jump from there to the assumption that voters don’t carry around a basic justificatory theory for their beliefs, to employ when times are bad. Yet when times go bad, we discuss what to do, we want a nominally logical explanation for our next choices.

I don’t understand how people decide who they’re going to vote for, I don’t pretend to understand, and I don’t have a theory about it. I think it’s something that should be studied, but I don’t know how to study it. If you know of any studies that provide relevant insights, I would be grateful to learn about them.

I accept it as a possibility without being prepared to treat it as a certainty that people regard the Democrats as bigger spenders than the Republicans because Republicans cut taxes more than Democrats do. But there is still no logical relationship between the statements ‘high taxes mean high spending’ and ‘free markets promote freedom and efficiency’.

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Anarcissie 07.12.20 at 4:41 am

Andres 07.11.20 at 8:00 pm @ 156:
… the Democratic leadership is … not militarist….

They have been baiting Trump about not dealing with Russia, China, Venezuela and all ‘our’ other so-numerous enemies aggressively, so if they’re not actual militarists, they’re fake militarists, which seems even worse, like fake racists. Recent Democrats in high leadership positions have also been very enthusiastic about interventions in general. I am sure I need not name them. It is true they do not have Trump’s offensively infantile style. But otherwise they seem pretty militaristic, no? Especially if Trump is as crazy as claimed.

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Alan White 07.12.20 at 5:25 am

@145 “Just to reiterate, for the millionth time, I don’t care who anyone votes for. I’m not an American. Vote for who you want to. But whoever you vote for, don’t tell yourself you’re a hero for doing it, or that this is some kind of epoch-shatteringly important election on which the fate of the so-called ‘free world’ depends. ”

The judiciary and legislature and executive all matter as potentially standing for individual versus corporate rights, for women’s health and reproductive choice, for the rights and opportunities of non-whites, for decent minimum wages for workers, for the idea of education as a public good, and on and on, all of which Trump completely and unwittingly opposes because he is the uber-Apprentice who sees the Republican party as just an audience watching him and giving him good ratings, but which in turn uses him very passively and aggressively and effectively to resist all these issues in legislation and jurisprudence in order to increase their own self-interests.

I may not be a hero for opposing Agent Orange, but I am quite rational as an American who does in fact have a vote against all this. To disparage me for that is itself an affront to my support of very basic matters of human rights and dignity, and either is irrationally condescending or just intellectually bankrupt, from my obviously very limited perspective.

“My bad” I guess I should say to chew someone else’s tongue in my cheek.

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nastywoman 07.12.20 at 5:45 am

@157
”So will you finally admit that you have been conned”?

If Ph won’t – and commenters like Bruce Wilder or Anarcissie neither –
I will – I have been ”conned” – ”BIGLY” as the Clownstick would say – BUT not by Trump -(as I’m NOT STUPID enough to get ”conned” by such an obvious ”Cheater”)

I got conned by: ”The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic” – and as the topic of this thread is:
”The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic” —
REMEMBER GUYS!!
I never thought – that I actually couldn’t return to ”my homeland” (the US) for now – how long???!
And what am I saying? – as I actually could fly back – BUT who could be ”conned” to fly back to a country – where ”THE VIRUS AND THE STUPID” rules to such a degree – that
there are STILL some of my fellow Americans – who think there is no difference between a Science Denying Racist and the Opposite.

And about:
Bruce Wilders: ”Doesn’t the Democratic candidate have to be different from the Republican to make the argument for “lesser” evil somewhat plausible? and/0r
Anarcissie: Mr. Trump’s incompetence, however, seems to limit the effects of his malevolence, whereas I don’t see a similarly limiting factor in Mr. Biden.

THAT IS WHY –
MY (OUR) CANDIDATE IS ”QUEEN ANNE”
and as she definitely is ”different” from Trump AND from Biden – AND as her incompetence, definitely also limits the effects of her malevolence – I very much hope that Mr. Wilder AND Anarcissie -(if they are currently residing in the homeland) will support Anne’s Candidacy – AS – coming back to the ”The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic” – WE had planned a HUUUGE Rally in Philadelphia as kind of a ”October Surprise” –
(If y’all know what we mean) –
AND we were sure – that we got enough ”Wilder-Type-Or-Anarcissie-Voters” – who would make Queen Anne our next President) – BUT as the Virus now completely rules America NONE of our ”Human” Campaign Organisations can effort to go ”over there” –
NOT because of the ”travelling costs” BUT because of the ”economical HUMAN cost”
-(if y’all know what we mean?)

And so – Moderation – PLEASE would you do US the favour and pass this comment?
(even if it seems to be more ”personal” than some of the comments already passed?)
BUT we REALLY need HELP in ”the homeland” – to welcome the Queen – when we send her back (ALONE) end of September! –
(after the Facelift she currently had received in London)

And please listen very carefully to TC 2:26 of
https://youtu.be/RzpP8F5ELS0

AND we even can promise some ”very positive economic consequences” for everybody who is willing to help US – to organise a ”Virtual October Surprise” for the erection of the !!!!
NEW AMERICAN QUEEN!

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J-D 07.12.20 at 8:22 am

@145 “Just to reiterate, for the millionth time, I don’t care who anyone votes for. I’m not an American. Vote for who you want to. But whoever you vote for, don’t tell yourself you’re a hero for doing it, or that this is some kind of epoch-shatteringly important election on which the fate of the so-called ‘free world’ depends. ”

I may not be a hero for opposing Agent Orange, but I am quite rational as an American who does in fact have a vote against all this.

Elections change some things but not others; therefore, it’s a reasonable strategy for change to direct effort both into electoral politics and in other ways.

I am not an American, but I do care how Americans vote: you should vote Democrat, not Republican. If you do, it doesn’t lead me to think of you as a hero, but it does prompt me to thank you.

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MisterMr 07.12.20 at 9:35 am

@Gorgonzola Petrovna 143

I don’t really understand your point. Teachers and accountants also sell their labor (I’m assuming that they are employees) in man-hours.
The difference I think is in the level of labour specialisation, but even there most blue collars nowadays perform specialised labor of sorts.
I can see a difference between credntialed and non credentialed, and I can see a difference between management and non-management, however not all white collars are management.

Now in a situation, like it was in Marx’s times, where very few people have a degree (for example), it makes sense to say that people who have a degree face radically different careers than others, who mostly have middlw school or lower education, and so they are a different class. But in our society more and more people have a degree, and most people have an high school diploma (and in reality the cultural difference between an high school diploma and a degree are not as big as those between middle school and high school), I don’t think the difference is still that big.

Now there are certainly some differences, and I think that the most important difference is self identification (and this is what actually drives votes), but in practical economic terms I think the big divide is still between asset owners and non asset owners, moreso than credentialed VS non credentialed.
In fact my view is that the populist right uses the cultural self-identification divide between credentialed and non credentialed to pull non credentialed workers towards the right, while in pratice the right makes pro asset owner policies that they paint as if these policies were against the credentialed, hence my opinion that this distinction is based on false consciousness (of perceiving the credentialed VS non credentialed divide instead of the asset owner VS non asset owner divide).

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Hidari 07.12.20 at 10:22 am

‘Sorry for flirting with Godwin’s Law violation, but the idea that the educated left hates and fears the working class is a classic dolchstosslegend lie that has been peddled at least since Wagner and the Protocols, and you need to wake up to that. The fact that the Democratic leadership has played into that lie by its continually Wall Street-friendly economic policy is absolutely not an excuse for voting for the opposition that peddles this lie. It is the educated left that is criticizing the Democratic leadership from the left,’

And there goes the cat, screeching out of the bag. An attempt to rewrite the class struggle with, not the working class, but the ‘educated’ (preferably at elite institutions) bourgeoisie, mainly white, mainly male, and working at (for example) tech, academia and the media, as the ‘motor of class struggle’. Or to put it another way, if only ‘we’ were to hand over control of all our political institutions to the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, and other figures of the ‘left’ then everything would be fine. And if you disagree that everything would be better if all American institutions were firmly under the control of white, (Harvard, Yale) educated, middle-class males (although they are all terribly ‘woke’ of course), not like that dreadful Trump man, who is such an oik, but cultured ones with class and taste, you are an antisemite and a Nazi.

I love CT comments threads. ‘Normie Dems’, posting late at night, frequently with a few too many classes of chianti in them, as the cliche has it,’saying the quiet bit out loud’. It’s most illuminating.

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ph 07.12.20 at 10:51 am

Andres – Thank you, I’m extremely pleased by your reply. I’ll happily acknowledge that Trump is a cynical, vulgar, race-baiting buffoon entirely willing to exploit racial tensions and divisions to further his own political ends.

As such, I see him as no different from any other politician, other than the fact that’s his messaging and willingness to play the race card was exceptionally effective in controlling the news cycle from his announcement up to the present.

Your list of ‘what I need to do and think about’ is an implicit and explicit assertion that I haven’t (enough) thought about any of Trump’s speech code violations, promises kept, and unkept, and that somehow wandered into my current position for reasons unknown.

You present hearsay and opinion as fact, and substantive facts at that. What he says? I prefer to focus on what people do, what Democrats did 2008-2016, and what they’re certain to do again, in some form or another, should they win in 2020.

Obama destroyed Libya, a nation which represented no threat to the US on any level, and did so on a whim. Upon later reflection Obama described the decision as a ‘mistake.’ Only an American president could call the destruction of a nation ‘a mistake.’ Sorry! Shouldn’t have done that! Gosh, if only I’d thought more carefully before destroying that country.

And Libya wasn’t a one-off. Democrats and their doofus Republican allies also organized a coup in the Ukraine, choosing as their allies active anti-semites who erect statues to real WWII Nazis. For real. Obama’s botched attempt to finesse Russia ended up ceding the Crimea to Russia. What about ISIS? Shrug; they’re ‘jv’ no worries, leading to the creation of a 7th-century mini Cambodia, replete with slavery (see Libya!) and the destruction of ethnic peoples living in the region, all funded by billions in oil. The US ‘helped’ in Syria, too. How? Hillary Clinton and her neocon pals did their best to prolong the Syrian civil, with the blessing of John McCain and scores of Republican a-holes. Bipartisanship at work!

So, yes, Andres. I certainly will consider whether I’m happy with my support for Trump. I’ll consider it whenever I see Biden trying to remember his name. I doubt very much, however, that I’ll forget Hillary Clinton laughing on camera: “We came, we saw, he died” when describing the US destruction of Libya, or the race-bating and tactical deployment of the race card by all US politicians when it suits them, or the cynicism of ‘I feel your pain’ politicians. There’s an active thread detailing how Americans of both parties (many of whom wouldn’t dream of using a ‘bad’ word) strive to ensure their kids don’t end up in predominantly black public schools. But ‘Trump’s words!’

Nice to know what you think I need to think twice about. I will! And your explicit absolution on charges of ‘white supremacy.’

Wow, that’s big of you. Didn’t realize that was your job, but thanks! I couldn’t have slept.

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Lee A. Arnold 07.12.20 at 12:19 pm

Hidari #142: “Rising tensions with China, the blame for which lies solely and wholly with Trump (and before him, Obama) will be one of the defining features of the next 20 or 30 years, and it’s extremely dubious whether Biden will be better than Trump in this regard (to be fair it’s hard to see how Biden could be worse).”

Hidari #145: “don’t tell yourself…that this is some kind of epoch-shatteringly important election on which the fate of the so-called ‘free world’ depends. The Republic is not ‘tottering’. American democracy, such as it is, does not stand on the brink.”

I wonder. I think Trump has set up a disastrous war with China, coming in about 20 years, and it is best to vote him out and try to prevent it. Here is why. The theory of US foreign policy since the end of WWII has been to promote private capitalism and democracy, by violent means when necessary. The US public went right along with it. Capitalism for the profits, democracy to prevent nuclear proliferation. Develop everybody economically. The rise of China has been on the radar for decades. It was understood that the US would eventually be in a multi-power world with economic and military equals. The theory, again, was to help China develop (by “globalization”) so it would be peaceful and democratic. And that’s a good thing: help get ‘em out of poverty. Recent presidents up until Trump countered the security & economic downsides by various policy changes, and finally by trying to get all the other countries into trade agreements (e.g. Obama’s TPP) to counter China’s unfair trade practices etc. Because any deal with China will be simply unenforceable otherwise. Trump came along thinking it’s all about him and he can make any deal, in regard to all opponents and allies. (Actual 2016 campaign quote: “I know how to deal with these people!” i.e. the Chinese.) Instead of staying in the TPP (much as it needed fixing) and staying in the Iran deal, and instead of committing to the very-long-term work to make China and Iran into peaceful allies, now Trump has greatly strengthened the China-Iran axis (I assume you saw the major announcement yesterday). Beyond this, China is trying to pick off US trade partners, will develop an alternative currency bloc, and is throwing its military weight around (as you noted). The US public, frustrated and resentful, is not going to react to loss of its empire very well. They will lash out.

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Lee A. Arnold 07.12.20 at 12:26 pm

Orange Watch #148: “…not an act of ‘capitulation’… You’re denying all agency to the center; things ‘just happen’ to them…”

You are right, “capitulation” is a bad word. But I disagree that they are fine with the reigning theory of how the system is supposed to work. They are worried, they are flummoxed, they care a little more about the poor and disadvantaged, they are not telling people to suck it up and stop complaining, they are Democrats.

I think it is because there is no other economic theory that fits on a postcard, or in contemporary terms, a tweet.

On why people believe the political-economic rhetoric that “Republicans do not increase deficits by spending,” and not the facts about government spending, I responded in #152 above.

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Lee A. Arnold 07.12.20 at 1:25 pm

J-D #160: “I don’t understand how people decide who they’re going to vote for, I don’t pretend to understand, and I don’t have a theory about it… there is still no logical relationship between the statements ‘high taxes mean high spending’ and ‘free markets promote freedom and efficiency’.”

Your position is that you don’t know why people believe things in opposition to science — but then again, you don’t really know what people think.

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Tm 07.12.20 at 4:36 pm

Andres 153: Claiming telepathic insight into my imagination is a bit unconvincing. If you wish to take issue with my actual arguments, try to offer a rebuttal.

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Tm 07.12.20 at 4:50 pm

Hidari: „a man who, we have been told, with a straight face, on this very thread, is The New Hitler ™“…

Let me offer you a tiny correction: Nobody on this very thread has told you such a thing. If it is what you understood, you need to take the usual advice: work on your reading comprehension and logic skills.

For those who haven’t followed the thread closely, here is what I actually wrote.

“The Trump apologists from the antiliberal left are deluding themselves into thinking that fascism either “can’t happen here” (thank you American exceptionalism), won’t affect them (thank you White Privilege), or is a thing of the past. 21st century fascism won’t repeat the exact same playbook as its historic predecessors. But doesn’t it give you pause that contemporaries of Hitler also downplayed the potential threat with very similar arguments – he won’t last long, he won’t get much done anyway, he isn’t that different from his predecessors? (Many of those who made such predictions ended up murdered or in exile).

And the best argument Trump apologists have on offer – the fact that in his first four years in power he hasn’t started a major war – would also have applied to Hitler. How reassuring is that?!”

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bruce wilder 07.12.20 at 5:03 pm

Here’s my ballot.

🗹 Queen Anne

She can be her own cabinet — very efficient! and very handsome, too.

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Orange Watch 07.12.20 at 5:20 pm

bruce wilder@151:
Doesn’t the Democratic candidate have to be different from the Republican to make the argument for “lesser” evil somewhat plausible?

Biden and Trump ARE very different. Trump (and his cabinet) are reducing the strength and efficiency of most of the federal gov’t, so that cronyism can operate unchecked at the state and local level with less scrutiny and a lower tax burden, with the federal courts acting as a backstop to prevent a resurgent federal gov’t reclaiming its prerogatives or large liberal states like CA using their market power to interfere with decentralized crony capitalism. Biden (and his cabinet) would strengthen the existing systems to allow for institutionalized, legitimized, semi-transparent international crony capitalism to operate under the watch of an ostensibly responsible gov’t that promotes individual social rights in lieu of structural economic reform, with the federal court acting to prevent local gov’ts from undermining the federal agenda. But the most important difference is that Trump (and the GOP) does not want a federal gov’t that governs, while Biden (and the Dems) does – and during a domestic crisis that really does matter. As anon/portly points out, Dems DO want to govern and have an active federal gov’t. That really does matter in some very important ways – when it’s merely a question of whether a federal or local LE agency pays the wearer of the boot on your neck it’s not so important, but when it’s a question of coordinating unified response across state lines to a pandemic it’s quite important. And if you’re a Dem living or aspiring to live a relatively comfortable PMC/owner-class life where your main concern is not having your civil liberties restricted rather than survival, Biden is of course a positive good rather than a lesser evil.

To try to be at least mildly on-topic, in ways that related directly to social and economic consequences of the pandemic Biden is unquestionably a lesser evil as it is his intention to govern, while Trump intends to continue dismantling the non-LE/non-“defense” portions of the federal government. Any hope of coordinated response and/or recovery to the pandemic in particular rests on a Biden victory. It’ll be anemic and corrupt – see e.g. Pelosi finally breaking out the powder she’s carefully kept dry for years to try to roll back SALT deduction caps to benefit the upper 10% of households in blue states – but it’ll be coordinated and actively trying to do something.

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Andres 07.12.20 at 5:47 pm

Nastywoman, if by QUEEN ANNE you mean anne the commenter (on Economists’s View and other blogs) then you really are a softie :-) . But I don’t think you will be doing her any favors.

And while Picasso-prose seems to be your forte, don’t forget about the foresight part. John Q. Pandora starts a thread titled “The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic”, which subject is impossible to write about without (a) making assumptions about who wins in November and (b) making assumptions about the character of the cabal that will lead us after November. Are you really surprised then that the crap starts to fly at high speeds in all directions? As soon as I saw the VIRUS-like exponentiation of comments, I knew that John had a Chernobyl on his hands.

Speaking of which COVID19 is not the only pandemic. The other pandemic gripping the U.S. for a long time now is the yuuuge number of voters in love with Clownstick or at least favorably disposed to him; I get post-apocalyptic nightmares about being pursued by mobs of drooling gibbering cannibalistic MAGA hat-wearing zombies (no ph, you’re not one of them). Since the Democratic cabal was in charge of the white house in 2009-2016 when this first pandemic was really spreading, they were as incompetent in controlling it as Clownstick is in controlling COVID19. The VIRUS is a symptom of the STUPID, don’t forget.

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Andres 07.12.20 at 5:56 pm

Anarcissie: er, no. 2001-2008 gave us a small taste of real militarism, 1964-1968 was the working lunch, while 1930’s Europe and Japan was the banquet. The one thing the Democratic leadership learned from the Viet Nam cluster**** was to keep U.S. military casualties to a minimum when doing foreign policy interventions. Which means that they fight their wars by proxy (Serbia, Libya, Syria) and let foreign militarists do their civilian killing by proxy (Egypt). Criminal, yes. Less damaging to the U.S. than the administration of President Dick Cheney and his sock puppet? Also yes, I think.

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anon/portly 07.12.20 at 6:50 pm

145 Hidari

But whoever you vote for, don’t tell yourself you’re a hero for doing it, or that this is some kind of epoch-shatteringly important election on which the fate of the so-called ‘free world’ depends.

Hidari is wrong. This is obviously an important election. For Trump to win one term was bad enough – not just for what it said about “the right” but almost as much for what it said about “the left.” If you can’t beat someone as unpopular as Trump once, that’s one (amazing) thing, but twice?

There’s just too many ways in which having a person like Trump as president simply damages the country – not in the sense of “the left doesn’t get everything it wants,” which is I think the main concern of progressives, but in the way it fuels division and stupidity all around. Trump is unpopular for all kinds of good reasons.

151 bruce wilder

[Biden] is just another stupid, authoritarian crypto-racist sob fronting for the greed of giant corporations and billionaires….

Here’s how bad things are on the left: Bruce Wilder, who used to be somewhat poetic in his odd musings, is now writing the same sort of mindless crap that any idiot could write.

Biden isn’t stupid, isn’t “crypto-racist,” and I don’t think it’s that obvious that his percentile rank for “sob-ness” for the category of “elderly Democratic politicians” isn’t somewhere around P50, so who cares about that?

If Vegas had an over/under on “the number of CT commenters who actually voted for Biden in a thread lasting 163 (the current number) comments,” it would probably be 0.5. (And thanks to me, you should bet the over!).

The political reality of Biden’s empathy for the working class is that he put it to work for MBNA, that he pushed harsh crime bills and oppressive bankruptcy legislation and free trade and perpetual war.

Well, in my view the relationship between the interests of the “working class” – however defined – and credit issues and crime and free trade is actually much more complicated than this suggests. Biden was re-elected to the US Senate six times, each time with between 58% and 65% of the vote, and four of those times while the other Senator was a Republican, so not in the bluest state in the country, maybe. Maybe the Republicans always ran bad candidates, or maybe actual “working class” voters view things somewhat differently than the typical CT commenter. This of course leads me to ph….

123 ph

In my experience, elites treat people of faith as fools. Many ‘smart politicians’ believe significant numbers of the people they serve are, in fact, surplus to national requirements. Nobody is speaking for ordinary people and the problems we face. The educated left hates and fears the working class.

ph, the champion of the ordinary man! He loves Trump and Bernie! He hates hates hates Obama and Biden.

Yet the “ordinary man,” when going to the polling place, for some reason disagrees with him. Upper middle class white progressives voted heavily for Warren and Sanders, but somehow Biden won. How did that happen?

And could you imagine Obama vs. Trump in 2020 if only people from the bottom half of the income distribution were allowed to vote? Trump wouldn’t even bother campaigning! It would be slaughter.

136 ph

Biden’s America First economic nationalism is getting some traction in the press, whether it’s ‘borrowed from Bernie, or Trump Lite. I saw two pieces on this yesterday. If America First economic nationalism is a major feature of the coming debates, discussions on China-US relations (economic and otherwise) are going to play a major role. ….. Trump is already open suggesting China ‘may have’ lied about COVID to hurt him electorally. The electorate is primed for a wave of anti-Sino bigotry which both candidates will have to negotiate.

At the end of 136 ph links to a Financial Times piece entitled “Joe Biden is the last, best hope for globalists.”

This is of course ridiculous, as globalization is both good, overall, and not going away, but forgot about that – what someone needs to write is a piece entitled “China is the last, best hope for pro-Trump kooks.”

As if it isn’t bad enough that we have Peter Navarro (author of Death By China) in the White House “prim[ing]” “anti-Sino bigotry” and Tucker Carlson on Fox News doing it and poorly-educated conservative “intellectuals” like Rod Dreher lapping it up, here on CT we get exposed to this wonderful and nuanced outlook via ph.

ph doesn’t want to move to America and work as a low-skill manufacturing worker, but he (and Navarro and Tucker and all the rest) fervently believes that (1) lots of Americans desire this kind of employment; and (2) there are these “America First” policies that will have a positive and significant effect on the number of such jobs.

We can’t wind the clock back to the 1960’s, when monetary policy was more employment-focused and the rest of the world hadn’t caught up yet, nor should we want to. Both (1) and (2) are basically false and shallow notions.

There’s all this talk of “racism” in America today, and half the time it’s not really about racism at all, it’s just white vs. white status gaming (e.g. white guy BW calling white guy JB “crypto-racist,” see above), and nothing illustrates the true disinterest on the left in actual racism issues than the casualness with which “globalization” and “neoliberalism” are thought of as evils – as if the “great uplift” in China and India just happened out of nowhere. The Trumpist worldview isn’t just evil and stupid on immigration, it’s evil and stupid on trade as well. And nothing could possibly be more evil and stupid than concocting an “enemy” out of China. That ph can push this sort of nonsense without stronger pushback from “progressives” is ridiculous.

178

steven t johnson 07.12.20 at 7:14 pm

Brief notes on strange things…

Hidari@145 refers again to the “DNC” as if the Democratic Party was a programmatic party rather than a franchise for political entrepreneurs/pirates, a losers’ league for mutual aid and comfort. The true party, the rich donors, invest in their preferred party, generally the Ins who can dispense favor, even while hedging their bets with the others. Confusing the DNC with hazy red-baiting images of the Comintern is like confusing an advertising agency with the boss, rather than who hired them. The larger point, that there is nothing left about the remaining owners invested in the Democratic Party, is correct.

Orange Watch@148 attacks Lee Arnold while apparently not realizing his remarks on “centrists” is an excellent description of Orange Watch politics. The intensely felt need to attack MMT now, before it gets anywhere near a government budget is provocative. It suggests that people who like to say they’re left are not in any meaningful sense left at all.

Also, there is no good reason for Lee Arnold to worry about military spending as a partisan difference, as it isn’t a partisan difference at all, which Orange Watch tacitly admits!

Orange Watch@149 somehow thinks if I talk raise the issue of home ownership and its mortgage debt, I’m ignoring the role of debt. That should be enough to dispose of Orange Watch’s opinions.

But, if you must read, Orange Watch also wrote ” You do not cease to think, act, and identify with a particular stratum of society simply because you’re only able to live in it by living above your means – especially when living above your means allows your children to be raised within that stratum and accrue some – even if not all – of the benefits that stratum enjoys.”

Stratum is a weasel word in this discussion. Whether it’s malice or genuine hopeless confusion is irrelevant. Anyhow, anyone who thinks buying admission to a “stratum” with borrowed money is somehow not paying is wrong enough to earn a Dunning-Kruger prize. Why members of a “stratum” don’t ever do a credit check is a mystery to me? There’s even a faint hint Orange Watch is indignant at posers sneaking into the wrong circles! What’s next, a call for the return to sumptuary laws?

There’s more than a faint hint that Orange Watch very much wants to reduce everything to differences in consumption, aka “taste,” dividing the world up into those with good taste versus those with bad taste. Condescend to those too deprived for any taste as you wish, I suppose. Trying to make a principle out of the superficial, or imagined inner states, is worse than useless.

Andres@153 blatantly upholds the idiotic proposition that you can vote against some one. There are no votes in the US system “against” anyone, they are always for someone. Pretending otherwise is invariably unprincipled. The abuse dealt out to people for thinking they should vote for the candidate closest to what they are actually for is no doubt gratifying, but it is anti-democratic in principle.

Last and least, FDR’s New Deal coalition essentially was a Popular Front, including a tacit alliance with Communists/Socialists. As such, it was not liberal, but closer to actually being left. The norm when Truman and McCarthy purged the left from US politics is still liberal, even if Andres doesn’t want to admit to sharing the perspective that a political spectrum with the left cut out is the ideal.

Andres@155 commits even harder to the “No true Scotsman” fallacy by invoking a true liberal democracy. The notion in particular that true liberal democracies would not rewrite history itself rewrites history! Also, the invocation of Fox News seems to imagine that Fox is a non-profit NGO. The customer base for Fox is a certain kind of audience. Very rich people really want to invest in creating that kind of audience. Focus on Fox News per se is the bull chasing the cape, I think.

Andres@156 wrote “And Trump could only be impeached on narrow technical grounds where there is well-documented evidence…” which is no more true than the idea that “we” can only afford social spending if “we” have enough cash in the bank. Stevens wrote an article of impeachment against Andrew Johnson that didn’t fool around with the Tenure of Office Act. The decision to attribute Johnson’s acquittal to principle rather than bribery and insist only the most narrow of technical grounds can be considered was a reactionary political position. (Especially if Kennedy claimed otherwise!)

Diversion of funds to the wall or police brutality in ICE internment qualify even in those restricted grounds. The impeachment of Trump was deliberately limited to offenses against nationalism, including absurd McCarthyesque charges of treason, as a specific, right-wing political commitment. The Democratic Party as a whole, especially its leadership, abhors criticizing Trump from the left.

Andres@157 wrote “Fools come in all sorts of religious belief flavors. The disasters of atheist communism, the catholic Crusades, modern Islamic jihadism, protestant-perpetrated massacres in Ireland, etc. should teach you that if when people are utterly dogmatic and gullible, they will commit crimes no matter what their faith or lack of faith is.” The nonsense about atheism being a religion is beloved with the reactionaries which should make it suspect as a libel. The implicit claim here is that Germany gave up Chrisitanity in the Nazi days, turned bad because of atheistic Nazism (or Odinism?) then returned to the Christian fold in May 1945, June at the latest! Sorry, no, Germany was Christian but not especially dogmatic. The exclusion of catholic massacres, the pretense the Crusades were the last time Christendom (aka the West) attacked Muslims, the blame the people’s dirty souls for being dogmatic and gullible instead of social upheaval or invasions for very worldly motives or colonial despotism…all, all bad faith arguments.

J-D@158 in the endless pursuit of a gotcha, claims that saying some accountants are small businessmen with their own firms refutes Gorgonzola Petrovna’s claim they are not proletarians! Gorgonzola Petrovna strikes me as someone pretending to hoist lefties on a Marxist petard, or at least spike them on a sharp Marxist phrase. But on this instance, nonetheless, Gorgonzola Petrovna is right.

And as to the OP again, I still think the economic consequences are not due to the pandemic, but triggered by the pandemic. And I don’t understand how anyone can claim to think otherwise while ruling out a V-shaped recovery. They should be with Trump! I think the world economy is in yet another capitalist crisis, which is yet another reason I’m not with Trump, not even via fascist friends in Ukraine or would be civil warriors in Hong Kong.

179

Tm 07.12.20 at 9:24 pm

BW 77: “The Democrats and their allies in the Media, the Foreign Policy Blob™ and so-called Intelligence Community either do not actually oppose Trump’s agenda in detail”…

Oh really. Can you name two or three examples of the Democrats “not actually opposing” Trump’s nefarious agenda? Like when they didn’t actually oppose that Trillion dollar tax cut, except by voting unanimously against?

“So, Betsy DeVos and Steve Mnuchin never attract much opposition despite their open promotion of authoritarian corruption — and they are the relatively salient crooks.”

They “never attract much opposition”, wonderful. Care to name a single project of theirs that hasn’t attracted opposition? Of course, in matters under the executive jurisdiction of these corrupt crooks, there isn’t much the opposition can do. Oh, here’s a thought: the most effective opposition would have consisted in voting Democratic in 2016 to prevent the crooks from taking power in the first place! Need I mention that Wilder represents precisely the fraction that helped Trump and his cabinet of horrors gain power on the theory that the Dems aren’t any better?

Everybody who follows the news should be aware that DeVos and Mnuchin are awful. E. g. the NYT has really paid them a lot of attention. One always wishes for more attention to their misdeeds but frankly, this is an administration completely corrupt in every bone, and every single act coming out of it has been nefarious, intentionally designed to burn the planet, hurt workers, students, teachers, increase inequality and enrich the cronies, and on and on, to the extent that it is impossible to keep track of every one of them. And frankly, people like myself have warned four years ago that this is what would happen if Trump gets into the WH. But these warnings have been dismissed by the antiliberal left, and once again they invest enormous energy denying and downplaying the damage caused by Trump and the threat he poses, as demonstrated by the sad spectacle of this comment thread. It is the very definition of chutzpah when Wilder of all people now complains there isn’t enough opposition to Trump.

180

Andres 07.12.20 at 10:22 pm

ph: “Nice to know what you think I need to think twice about. I will! And your explicit absolution on charges of ‘white supremacy.’ Wow, that’s big of you. Didn’t realize that was your job, but thanks! I couldn’t have slept.”

If you vote for a politician who is either making a very good white supremacist imitation or is an actual white supremacist, you have only yourself to blame if you are presumed a white supremacist until proven otherwise. Trust me, not voting for Orange Dude (even if you don’t vote for anyone else) may well improve your social life.

181

Andres 07.12.20 at 10:27 pm

Ha. I have reached CT’s equivalent of flashing lights, sirens, and money pouring out of the dispenser opening. There ought to be a named law for the following: no matter how radical you are, if post on comment threads long enough someone like steven t johnson will (crawl out from under a rock and) call you a reactionary. The idea that only a socialist democracy can be a liberal democracy seems to elude him. C’est la vie.

182

nastywoman 07.13.20 at 12:11 am

@173
”Here’s my ballot.

🗹 Queen Anne

She can be her own cabinet — very efficient! and very handsome, too”.
YES!!! – and SHE knew it –
that Mr. Wilder –
and Anarcissie
and Ph
and Hidari
and ALL of these other commenters who had such a HARD time to differentiate between a Science Denying Racist and the Opposite –
FINALLY will come around –
AND NOT getting conned anymore – into believing that Trump could be ”better” than QUEEN ANNE -(and @Andres – this is her: https://youtu.be/BK1c2kCHrME)

AND as she now has even Mr. Wilder on her side – let’s ALL join in – and work for her –
and her program against ”The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic!”

183

nastywoman 07.13.20 at 1:09 am

AND so Her Majesty agrees with –
@178 who thinks:
”I think the world economy is in yet another capitalist crisis”
and Her Majesty thinks it’s even ”worst” as the Virus has very effectively OVERTHROWN Capitalism in violent and deadly REVOLUTION which made even the
German Government ”socialising” the proud ”Bird” of German Capitalism ”Die Lufthansa”.

AND that a self-described ”Socialist” like ”steven t johnson” missed ”The Socialistic Revolution” in such a ”BIGLY” way only CAN MEAN that he wants to join OUR movement too –

Right? ”Steven”? –
and can WE call you ”Steven”? –
AS we would like to make YOU!!! –
”Her Majesty’s Pandemicminister” –
as you ”still think the economic consequences are not due to the pandemic, but triggered by the pandemic” AND you don’t understand how anyone can claim to think otherwise while ruling out a V-shaped recovery.”
EVEN if some of the commenters here would come to the conclusion that such ”understanding” means – that there is no difference between YOU and Trump!

WE know that there… ”IS” – as there ALWAYS is a difference between a ”Racist Science Denier” and his Opposite!

Right?

184

faustusnotes 07.13.20 at 2:35 am

Just backing up Tm here, every democrat voted against DeVos’s confirmation. I would think that counts as “opposition”. Hmm.

For the Orange Watches et al who think the DNC rigged it so Sanders couldn’t win, I’d like to point out recently he tweeted that the US should cut its defense budget by 10%. He’s so radical! Definitely we could have expected a sea change in US politics from such a radical thinker as him!

185

nastywoman 07.13.20 at 7:09 am

AND the following HAS to be said here too:

I think I echo many Americans, and people of the world in general, when I say that I’m having a hard time fully grappling with the gravity of this moment.

It is still hard to absorb that a virus has reshaped world behavior, halted or altered travel, strained the economy and completely reshaped the nature of public spaces and human interaction.

It is also hard to absorb that this may not be a quickly passing phase, an inconvenience for a season, but something that the world is forced to live with for years, even assuming that a vaccine is soon found.

There’s this notion that things could turn on a dime, not because of a human action, but rather because humans are under attack.

The idea that years of planning for graduations and weddings, home purchases and retirement, might all come to a screeching halt is humbling and disorienting. The confusion over how and when children can safely return to school and adults can safely return to work is frustrating because it leaves people’s lives in the lurch.

The idea that face coverings and elbow bumps may be the new normal is a shock to the system.

It seems that on multiple levels, society is being tested, and often failing.

People are rebelling against isolation, and against science and public health. They want the old world back, the pre-Covid-19 world back, but it cannot be had. The virus doesn’t feel frustration or react to it. It’s not aware of your children or your job or your vacation plans. It’s not aware of our politics.

The virus is a virus, mindless, and in this case, incredibly efficient and effective. It will pass from person to person for as long as that is possible. The political debate over mask wearing is a human concern, one that works to the virus’s benefit.

And it is these politics, particularly as articulated by Donald Trump, that are allowing the virus to ravage this nation and steal tens of thousands of lives that should not have been stolen”.

186

Hidari 07.13.20 at 7:10 am

@168 ‘I wonder. I think Trump has set up a disastrous war with China, coming in about 20 years, and it is best to vote him out and try to prevent it. Here is why. The theory of US foreign policy since the end of WWII has been to promote private capitalism and democracy, by violent means when necessary. ‘

Do you really think so? Maybe you are right, and it’s possible. But my own feeling is that the ‘pivot to the East’ (commenced by Obama) and continued and intensified by Trump is probably bi-lateral. Without going into the long and ignoble history of American imperialism, anti-Chinese racism and the desire to control China has been a long standing tradition in American foreign policy, going back to the early 20th century (anti-Chinese racism of course, having its roots back in the mid 19th century).

Also: the United States has fought almost innumerable wars since its inception, and, since 1950, almost all of them have had the explicit intention of ensuring the United States keeps its global hegemony. The Chinese will achieve ‘parity’ with the US in sometime about 2050. Maybe slightly before. Maybe slightly after. But in that time period.

My own personal feeling is that the US will do anything (and one should interpret the word ‘anything’ in a very strong sense here) to stop that happening and that some kind of low-grade war will be fought between the US and the Chinese (indeed, it has already started on the Indian Chinese border). As I said in a previous thread, if we are ‘lucky’ it will be a cold war, which ‘only’ led to the deaths of about 20 million people. If not, it will be a hot war, and both China and the US are nuclear powers, although if this does happen, it will happen by accident.

I am unclear as to whether Biden will be better than Trump in this respect. Trump has always been much more aggressively anti-Chinese and openly racist about the Chinese than the Democrats, but all sides of the political divide are totally devoted to American exceptionalism and American imperialism, so….there’s that too.

On the other hand Biden might be better on Russia. Trump has been highly aggressive towards the Russians. But if Biden wants to pursue aggression against the Chinese he may want to ‘make nice’ against Russia to prevent having to fight a war on two fronts (and the Russians have many more nuclear weapons than the Chinese…for now). There was an article on WaPo the other day pointing out that Biden has a long tradition of working on and signing arms limitations treaties and he may pull back from Trump’s bellicosity and try and ‘reinstate’ the various treaties with the Russians that Trump pulled out of.

Y’all should subscribe to Quora. It’s got lots of serious experts letting their hair down, and you can ask them anything. Anyway one person asked ‘Will the current Cold War with Russia last?’. And some dude (forgotten his name now) argued that some kind of alliance to prevent the rise of China was inevitable between Russia and the US. The question is: will the Russians go for it? Trump has treated Putin with complete contempt, and it’s going to be difficult to undo that damage. People will take their chances depending on their reading of the situation. Everyone knows the US Empire is declining, but it’s not clear yet at what ‘stage’ of its decline it’s at. It may have decades (or even, God help us all, centuries) to run. If Putin figures the US is still a serious power, he might ally with them. If he figures it’s all over, he will go for the Chinese.

And of course we now the climate change, which increasingly looks as if it’s going to spiral out of control, which will be another randomising event.

Anyway, interesting times!

187

Gorgonzola Petrovna 07.13.20 at 8:35 am

@MisterMr
Teachers and accountants also sell their labor (I’m assuming that they are employees) in man-hours.

No, imo they don’t sell their labor. Like I said, they’re making careers. “Accountant” is a step on the career ladder, towards management positions, ultimately the CFO.

Also, professionals don’t work hours. Or do they, in Italy? I’d be surprised. The places I’ve seen, they work for as long as necessary, with no overtime pay. They serve.

…the populist right…to pull non credentialed workers towards the right…

I can’t really discern the traditional left-right spectrum in the 21st century politics. Who’s left? Who’s right? No, there’s something else going on. Global communications and containerization changed the mode of production. We need to adjust our analysis accordingly.

I do feel that the education level is an important factor in the class structure. As it always has been. Somewhat similar to aristocracy in the old days, I suppose. With no assets you’re still nobility; you sell your personal service…

188

Tm 07.13.20 at 12:10 pm

Good point faustusnotes 184. Here’s how Democrats failed to pay oppose Mnuchin and DeVos:

WASHINGTON — Betsy DeVos, a wealthy Republican donor with almost no experience in public education, was confirmed by the Senate as the nation’s education secretary on Tuesday, but only with the help of a historic tiebreaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence after weeks of protests and two defections within her own party.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/07/us/politics/betsy-devos-education-secretary-confirmed.html

WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed Steven T. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker and Hollywood film financier, to be Treasury secretary on Monday, putting in place a key lieutenant to President Trump who will help drive the administration’s plans to overhaul the tax code, renegotiate trade deals around the world and remake financial regulations.
By a vote of 53 to 47, the Senate confirmed Mr. Mnuchin, who was Mr. Trump’s top campaign fund-raiser. During a long debate over Mr. Mnuchin’s credentials, Democrats argued that his experience on Wall Street exemplified corporate malpractice that led to the 2008 financial crisis. [One Dem voted for Mnuchin]

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/13/us/politics/steven-mnuchin-confirmed-treasury-secretary.html

And if you want to know how the “Liberal media” have totally failed to pay any attention to these crooks, google “Gail Collins Mnuchin Devos” or “Meet Trump’s worst”, you’ll find plenty worth reading, which you shoudn’t deny yourselves after all the nonsense you’ve had to wade through in this sad spectacle of a comment thread.

189

Lee A. Arnold 07.13.20 at 12:41 pm

Hidari @186, There is no preventing the rise of China, either economically or militarily. I doubt that anyone in the US foreign policy, military and intelligence communities believes it is possible. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a useless futile war — the US’s failure to revitalize its own economy for the challenges of the 21st century, alongside Trump’s unproductive distractions about the trade deficit, could create enough frustration to whoop-up the American jingoists into a hot war as soon as somebody sets off a bomb somewhere. Forbes’ review of the parts of John Bolton’s book dealing specifically with Trump’s China “policy” is instructive.
forbes.com/sites/williampesek/2020/06/26/john-bolton-tells-us-why-china-is-eating-trumps-lunch/#777974801ea6
Where did you get the idea that Trump has treated Putin with contempt? All of the evidence is to the contrary. Far from being highly agressive against Russia, Trump was forced into sanctions against Russia by his own Senate party. He wants to build a hotel in Moscow.

190

Tm 07.13.20 at 12:59 pm

187: ““Accountant” is a step on the career ladder, towards management positions, ultimately the CFO.”

And how likely is it for someone trained in accounting to end up in a management position, ultimately as CFO? This debate is just another distraction (Marx would turn in his grave…). But there is an interesting page of statistics concerning party support by profession:
http://verdantlabs.com/politics_of_professions/

Hint: CPAs lean Republican whereas accounting clerks lean Democratic. In case this comes asa surprise to anybody, the statistics do not support the idea of a coherent “professional class” identity.

191

nastywoman 07.13.20 at 1:17 pm

@186
”Anyway, interesting times”!

Yes?…
And how… interesting? – that on a thread about:
‘The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic” – somebody manages to completely ignore ”the economic Consequences” OR – even totally and absolutely ”THE PANDEMIC” – and writes all of these… ”things” – as if the Virus never have… happened?

How is that… possible?!
AND how… how… ”interesting”? – that right before comment 186 there is/was comment 185 with all these quotes from somebody who wrote -(in the NYT)

”I think I echo many Americans, and people of the world in general, when I say that I’m having a hard time fully grappling with the gravity of this moment.

It is still hard to absorb that a virus has reshaped world behavior, halted or altered travel, strained the economy and completely reshaped the nature of public spaces and human interaction.

So do you guys think that all these guys on the Internet who still write ”stuff” as if ”the REVOLUTION” – never would have happened – will wake up one day and go:

WOW – there is this Virus out there?!

192

nastywoman 07.13.20 at 1:38 pm

@186
”Anyway, interesting times”!

Yes… and how… interesting? – that on a thread about:
‘The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic” – somebody manages to completely ignore ”the economic Consequences” OR – even totally ”THE PANDEMIC” – and writes all of these… ”stuff” – as if the Virus never had… happened?

How is that… possible?!

AND how… ”interesting”? – that right before comment 186 there is/was comment 185 – with all these quotes from a Mr. Blow – who (a bit belated?) – got the idea that the Virus was/is changing…
EVERYTHING?

193

nastywoman 07.13.20 at 1:52 pm

”the Virus was/is changing… EVERYTHING”?

meaning – does it really STILL make sense:
”Without going into the long and ignoble history of American imperialism, anti-Chinese racism and the desire to control China has been a long standing tradition in American foreign policy – if WE even don’t know if such ”issues” are still ”relevant” A.V.
(after the Virus)

I mean if – THE REVOLUTION – turns both – America and China into – two –
pretty much ”isolated countries” –
there is no reason to worry about America and China anymore.

It will be just like now – if being in Germany right now – there is just ”Germany” -(or perhaps some of the other EU countries who seem to have the Virus under control)
while ALL of my friends and family in the US -(and even in Australis) –
just live on a completely different planet!

194

steven t johnson 07.13.20 at 2:51 pm

Andres@181 confirms opposition to “atheist communism,” for one assertion, wasn’t just a lapse, because of haste and inconsistency, but a deeply felt key moral commitment. In retrospect, insisting the Democratic Party obviously could not charge Trump for offenses like abuse of prisoners because he couldn’t be convicted in the Republican-controlled Senate while simultaneously approving the Democratic Party (aka DNC, isn’t it?) for…impeaching Trump basically for treason even though he couldn’t be convicted in the Republican-controlled Senate, is perhaps the most absurd nonsense in what wasn’t just a bad day, but a confession of bad faith. That it couldn’t occur to Andres the Democratic Party could have made a statement with charges a President who attacks parts of the people of the US is abusing his office, is puzzling in the most radical commenter, no?

Insofar as there is any content other than personal abuse, it is the odd claim true liberal democracy=socialist democracy. Andres I believe has not thought things through. Perhaps this https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/constant-the-liberty-of-ancients-compared-with-that-of-moderns-1819 will help clarify things? I say, the liberal democratic vision of freedom is that every man can buy whatever he can afford, sell whatever he has, do with his property what he will and that private parties have the just power to control the economy. And, by contrast, socialism that denies all these things is tyranny. So, I say socialist democracy=/=liberal democracy.

195

MisterMr 07.13.20 at 4:44 pm

@Gorgonzola Petrovna 187

“No, imo they don’t sell their labor. Like I said, they’re making careers. “Accountant” is a step on the career ladder, towards management positions, ultimately the CFO.”

Since “careers” are set up as pyramids, most accountants in an office will stay at the lower level (and they work hours), otherwise the world would be full of CFOs.

“Also, professionals don’t work hours. Or do they, in Italy? I’d be surprised. The places I’ve seen, they work for as long as necessary, with no overtime pay. They serve.”

Schoolteachers certainly work hours in Italy (though they work shorter ours than others, at least in public schools). I assume that in the rest of the world schoolteachers also generally have weekly hours, or how could the schools orgainze lessons?

“I can’t really discern the traditional left-right spectrum in the 21st century politics. Who’s left? Who’s right? No, there’s something else going on. Global communications and containerization changed the mode of production. We need to adjust our analysis accordingly.”

At least in my experience, nationalists are almost always on the right, because they generally are cultural traditionalists.
This is not necessarily true in all cases, though.

“I do feel that the education level is an important factor in the class structure. As it always has been. Somewhat similar to aristocracy in the old days, I suppose. With no assets you’re still nobility; you sell your personal service…”

I think that educational levels are less important today than, say, 100 years ago (simply because people have on average higer educational levels today), however as there are much more people with high educational levels today than there were 100 years ago the split is perhaps more evident.

196

JimV 07.13.20 at 4:51 pm

From an engineer whose parents were teachers, my perspective is that some such salaried workers are in it for the chance to advance to managerial positions and go up the ladder, and others feel they are doing useful work where they are, and if they do accept managerial openings (I didn’t), do so because they believe they can do good work in those positions and not because they want to become CAO’s (Chief Anything Officers).

I know one very hard-working and accomplished engineer who accepted an open position as manager of a design office, tried it for a few months, then asked to be returned to his old job because he thought he could do better work there then he was doing as a manager. Unfortunately, one of the rules of life seems to be that management jobs go to those who want them the most, usually. (The same is true for political offices.)

There used to be expert machinists, welders, etc. in the factory who rose in level and pay-grade as such (some of them made twice as much as the average engineer, what with overtime), without becoming bureaucrats, but now most such jobs are out-sourced to other countries, at least at GE where I worked. The plant had 28,000 workers when I started there and 4000 when I left. No doubt that made sense financially (although I wonder sometimes) and improved conditions in those other countries, but it was a major dislocation of people here. I guess every Golden Age is often somebody else’s Dark Age, and vice-versa.

197

Tm 07.13.20 at 5:33 pm

Gorgo 187: “Also, professionals don’t work hours. … The places I’ve seen, they work for as long as necessary, with no overtime pay. They serve.”

How I envy the professional class the privilege of working overtime without pay!

Fun Fact I: in the US, salaried workers are not entitled to overtime pay if they make $355,680 a year. Oops little mistake, the figure is all of (tadam) … $35,568!.

Fun Fact II: Obama mischievously tried to deny millions of workers the privilege of working for free by raising the threshold to $47,476. Fortunately, a right-wing judge and the Trump administration intervened to prevent that historic injustice!

Gorgonzola or Gorgo Medusa or whatever his name, is he really that ignorant or extremely cynical? Or is it safe to assume it’s both?

198

Orange Watch 07.13.20 at 6:22 pm

steven t johnson@178:
Why members of a “stratum” don’t ever do a credit check is a mystery to me?

It’s almost as if credit is extended on the basis of perceived ability to make payments on the debt rather than having enough savings to repay the debt on a moment’s notice! Acting as though obtaining credit is an exclusively economic activity rather than one with deep social implications is naive at best. Given your insistence that what I’ve said here is evidence that I’m a gatekeeping rich anti-MMT [really?!?!?] centrist elite, it’s hard to be so charitable as to assume you’re merely naive. But if we’re talking about weaseling and bad faith arguments removing credibility, your characterization of a claim that wealth rather than income is a better measure of socio-economic interests as being “raising the issue of home ownership and its mortgage debt” is perfect- not least because you absolutely did not mention mortgage debt. Let’s try this again: a doctor with several hundred thousand dollars in student loans and a negative net worth will not have the same interests as a member of the working poor with a negative net worth, even if both perceive themselves as living paycheck to paycheck. Their income is a far better indicator of their economic allegiances than their wealth, as it indicates the social stratum that society – particularly the monied portions who grant or deny credit – perceive them to belong in. It’s certainly better than your unstated criteria, which appears to be “economics are irrelevant; class is a state of mind based on socio-political goodthink about how humble and enlightened you are, or badthink about how you’re a self-appointed elite who’s superior to everyone you disagree with”.

Your analysis seems to be entirely derived from neo-tankie leftier-than-thou, enemy of my enemy is my friend groupthink cut liberally with reactionarism. It oozes unexamined privilege and a lazy but supremely confident Manichaen worldview. I’m strongly of the opinion that MMT is the correct answer to dealing with the consequences of the pandemic, as well as the consequences of late-stage capitalism currently being underscored and exacerbated by the pandemic. Having said that, I’ll be pinching my nose and voting against Trump in the fall, because as horrid and corporatist and anti-MMT Biden, Pelosi, and Schumer are, they’re pro-governance, and voting for their tourniquet is voting against Trump’s “ignore it and it’ll stop bleeding eventually”. If I could find a trustworthy reluctant pro-Trumper I could voteswap with in November I would, but in this climate I don’t see that happening so the only way to vote against him is to vote for the lesser evil, no matter how unserious and self-interested that evil might be. You go to the polls with the electoral system you have, not the electoral system you want.

199

Jerry Vinokurov 07.14.20 at 2:38 am

Or to put it another way, if only ‘we’ were to hand over control of all our political institutions to the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, and other figures of the ‘left’ then everything would be fine.

Since I do not know the minds of all CT commentators, I cannot perfectly vouch that none of them believe this, but what I can say is that no plain, or even non-plain reading of this thread can support this inference. I have no idea who thinks that Zuckerberg or Musk are figures of “the left” but I see no evidence that anyone in this thread believes this.

And if you disagree that everything would be better if all American institutions were firmly under the control of white, (Harvard, Yale) educated, middle-class males (although they are all terribly ‘woke’ of course), not like that dreadful Trump man, who is such an oik, but cultured ones with class and taste, you are an antisemite and a Nazi.

Again, this is a completely absurd reading of anything anyone has said here. While this is a thing that some people believe, probably, it does not appear to be a thing that anyone actually engaged in this discussion believes.

200

Anarcissie 07.14.20 at 4:11 am

Andres 07.12.20 at 5:56 pm @ 176 —
I was writing in somewhat deeper (?) terms. As I see it, the state is war, but some states are much less active about this business than others. In particular, the United States, in the 1940s, became and remained much more continuously active in the war business, probably because its leadership class felt it had to; they had all read the history of the post-World War 1 debacle. The logic of state power leads to imperialism; imperialism necessitates war; imperial war is facilitated by militarized police, surveillance, propaganda, racism, and so on. So when I say ‘malevolent’ I’m not talking about some roguish Machiavellian flair, but a coolly decided policy that has put to death maybe four million people, not at the time harming the United States or any of its citizens, and further harmed millions more. At first, I think the idea was to follow Kennan, and ‘contain’ the Soviet Union and related commies elsewhere until they got tired and calmed down, but then ‘mistakes were made’ and so on. That’s my overview.

So when we come to 2020, we have Biden and company, who seem to propose a continuation of business as usual (see above) and may be competent to carry it forward in a quasi-rational manner, and we have Trump who seems to be profoundly incompetent. (If he’s the fascist he seems to want to be, he even neglected to organize a private army, a step which his 20th-century predecessors certainly didn’t miss.) So which is more dangerous, calculated malevolence or random malevolence? Which door is the tiger behind? How did we get conned into a tiger-door situation?

Incidentally, I was hoping this thread would actually discuss the economic consequences of the Pandemic, which I do think might be possible to some extent without knowing results of the upcoming election.

201

Hidari 07.14.20 at 8:36 am

@189

I glanced at that Forbes piece but any article that starts with a presupposition of anything other than that John Bolton is the anti-Christ who belongs in jail (or Hell) is worthless. Trump’s China policy has been bad enough: goading him with the lie that he has been too soft on China (a viewpoint which is genuinely insane, like Bolton) is extraordinarily dangerous.

Trump’s Russia policy has also been dangerous and provocative and it’s again endlessly depressing that so many liberals have persuaded themselves of the opposite. Obviously if you read a propaganda rag like the NYT then that’s an inference you might draw, but nobody sane would do something like that. Here’s a list of 25 times that Trump was dangerously hawkish to Russia, a nuclear power.

https://consortiumnews.com/2019/11/19/25-times-trump-has-been-dangerously-hawkish-on-russia/

Biden, on paper, is not really all that bad (don’t get me wrong, he’s terrible, but that’s only because he’s a centrist Democrat). What genuinely worries me is the people who surround him and who propagandise for him, many of whom are objectively and obviously crazier than Trump, and who are given prime-time access on pro-Democratic Party media outlets (MSNBC and others). As Chomsky has tirelessly pointed out, Trump’s reckless and aggressive policy towards China and Russia has been one of the worst features of his reign and it’s depressing that so many liberals either think that his aggression has not gone far enough or else (in the case of Russia) simply ignored it and chosen to live in a fairy tale world in which Trump is Putin’s puppet and similar nonsense. Outside of the fantasy world of liberals, the Union of Concerned Scientists (who actually, unlike NYT journalists, know what they are talking about) moved their Doomsday Clock to the closest to midnight it has ever been and this was explicitly because of Trump’s aggression to China and Russia, risking nuclear war, and his global warming denialism (that battle is probably lost by the way, no matter who wins in November).

https://thebulletin.org/doomsday-clock/current-time/

To quote actual scientists: ‘, the United States (i.e. Trump) has adopted a bullying and derisive tone toward its Chinese and Russian competitors.’

It’s really not enough to persuade ourselves that Trump is awful: this is something that we can all agree on. It’s: will Biden be better.

Some questions might be relevant here.

When has Biden openly condemned Trump’s aggression on Russia, for example ,withdrawing from strategic arms limitation treaties, and his ‘bullying and derisive’ tone to Russia/Putin?

When has Biden openly condemned Trump’s aggression on China, not limited to whipping up racist hatred of Chinese nationals, but also dangerous brinksmanship in the South China Sea?

The ‘joker in the pack’ is of course climate change, where it is obvious that Biden is better than Trump, although whether his ‘Green New Deal’ (or what’s left of it after the Republicans get through with it) will be enough is very much a moot point.

Finally: ‘ There is no preventing the rise of China, either economically or militarily.’

There is if you bomb it.

‘I doubt that anyone in the US foreign policy, military and intelligence communities believes it is possible’.

You have a great deal more faith in the intelligence and sanity of people in the ‘intelligence’ and ‘military’ ‘communities’ than I have. May I suggest that now might be a good time to lose that faith.

202

Tm 07.14.20 at 9:13 am

Jerry 199: Hidari sincerely believes that a white nationalist plutocrat who literally had a gilded toilet bowl installed can be to the left of a middle class liberal. Don’t try to make sense of it, it’s futile. In the Trumpist alternative reality that the antiliberal left has in large part assimilated, the true marker of “elite” isn’t wealth and power but culture and education. Of course this doesn’t make sense even on Hidari’s own terms since Trump himself studied at the Ivy League U Penn (and his cabinet is full of Ivies) (*). Oh and if Hidari really didn’t want “white middle-class males” in charge, he had a female choice in 2016.

But don’t worry, none of this really has anything to do with verifiable facts and coherent arguments. It’s all about finding ways to express hate for the liberals.

(*) Remember that GWB also posed as a folksy anti-elite-education figure despite being Ivy League himself. What counts in the logic of the right-wingers and their delusional left emulators doesn’t seem to be how a politician was actually educated but whether he or she values it. It’s normal for a plutocrat to buy his children an expensive education, that illogically doesn’t make them “elite” as long as they express contempt for that education. What really makes a person hatefully elitist is when they come from a humble social background, like Clinton or Obama or Biden (whose father by the way was a used car salesman), and from there move up thanks to hard work and education.

203

nastywoman 07.14.20 at 10:15 am

@
”I was hoping this thread would actually discuss the economic consequences of the Pandemic, which I do think might be possible to some extent without knowing results of the upcoming election”.

But didn’t I already present the major economic consequences?

Ups? –
I think I forgot the following one:
”This Recession Is a Bigger Housing Crisis Than 2008
by Eric Levitz

The wealthiest country in human history has trouble keeping its people housed, even in good times. In 2017, the United States boasted one of the strongest economies in the world, and nearly half of its tenants were rent burdened. A majority of households in the bottom quintile of our nation’s income distribution give more than 40 percent of their disposable income to landlords each month. Only three other developed countries force their poor to shoulder heavier housing costs.

In times of crisis, the unaffordability of American housing is exacerbated by our “just in time” socioeconomic model: Steady GDP growth is the duct tape holding together this jerry-rigged social order in which low-income Americans have little to no emergency savings, many basic welfare benefits are contingent on employment, and the threadbare safety is patchy by design. This top-heavy, gold-plated jalopy of a political economy can pass as road safe in fair weather; try to ride it through a once-in-a-century epidemiological storm and it starts to break apart.

Between 2006 and 2014, about 10 million Americans lost their homes to the foreclosure crisis. Today, upwards of 20 million U.S. renters are poised to be evicted between now and September, according to Emily Benfer, the chair of the American Bar Association’s Task Force Committee on Eviction.

At present, the impending flood of evictions is partially dammed by a federal moratorium that covers one-fourth of all renters, the $600 federal unemployment insurance bonus, and the recent dispersion of $1,200 coronavirus relief checks. But even with these protections, a great many renters are being washed out of their homes while millions more accrue onerous debts. Roughly one-third of U.S. households have not made their full housing payments for July, according to a survey by the online retail platform Apartment List. In New York City, one-quarter of all renters haven’t paid their landlords since March.

This is in part because fiscal aid has not reached everyone in need (many state unemployment insurance systems have failed to keep pace with applications; many workers do not qualify for federal unemployment benefits; and others were reliant on informal work), and the federal moratorium on evictions does not cover most renters. But it is also because the federal moratorium doesn’t actually have an enforcement mechanism. Fifteen states have passed legislation requiring landlords to verify that their buildings aren’t covered by the federal ban before seeking to remove their tenants. In all other states, the obligation lies with the tenant, which is to say a renter must verify that their building is covered by the moratorium and prove it in court…

Just duckduckgo the whole article!
It’s very…
”interesting”…

204

Hidari 07.14.20 at 10:34 am

More on Biden’s foreign policy here:

https://www.axios.com/joe-biden-doctrine-allies-matter-foreign-policy-d0d37753-6701-415b-bb69-ab60d0354662.html

Biden seems to be pretty keen, more or less, to continue Obama’s foreign policy goals, and govern, essentially, as the third term of the Obama administration, which will doubtless please some on this thread.

Others, not so much.

205

Hidari 07.14.20 at 10:39 am

‘Incidentally, I was hoping this thread would actually discuss the economic consequences of the Pandemic, which I do think might be possible to some extent without knowing results of the upcoming election.’

I think, given Trump’s incompetence (at least at public messaging, if nothing else), it’s safe to say that the effect on the American economy of the pandemic will be apocalyptic. At some point you have to wonder when this changes from accident to design, and if the idea isn’t to tank the economy such that Biden inherits a new Great Depression, which then cripples him, and ensures he is a one term President.

Certainly, unless Trump pulls something out of the bag, and quick, it does increasingly look as if he is toast in November, and that, therefore, just burning everything to the ground and then blaming the Democrats might not be the best policy.

Or perhaps I’m being too cynical.

206

MisterMr 07.14.20 at 10:59 am

@Orange Watch 198

“Their income is a far better indicator of their economic allegiances than their wealth, as it indicates the social stratum that society – particularly the monied portions who grant or deny credit – perceive them to belong in. ”

The problem is that some income comes from wealth, and a large part of wealth is financial/fictitious, so people who have a lot of wealth will have an immediate interest to policies that (a) increase the share of income that goes to wealth and (b) pump up wealth (like in bubbles).

So for example a policy of fiscal stimulus by tax cutting is going to be more beneficial to high wealth individuals, one of fiscal stimulus by increased government spending/government service will be more beneficial to low wealth individuals.

This alone, I think, explains the politics of the last 40 years.

207

nastywoman 07.14.20 at 12:22 pm

AND If I may correct ”tm” –

when he wrote: ”this thread has degenerated to a feast of Trumpist propaganda, both from the part of the fascists and indirectly from the part delusional leftists who don’t know any history. It is a depressing spectacle to behold, more so since „the economic consequences of the pandemic“ would have been a very important topic for constructive debate”.

It is NOT ”depressing” AT ALL!
It is one of the utmost ”BEAUTIFUL” -(as the Clownstick would call it) – threads of CT –
in the spirit of the GREAT British Philosopher Sir Monty Python – about:

AND now to something completely different!

AND you guys might have noticed – that we are producing all of these videos -(remember the TRUTH – https://youtu.be/BnzXMRkBjMY) –
in order to mirror the complete confusion in my homeland (the US)…
BUT we never really succeeded in TOTALLY talking -(or writing) – about something completely different as the promised issue or topic – in such a BEAUTIFUL way as this thread.

208

nastywoman 07.14.20 at 12:38 pm

AND about@200
”As I see it, the state is war, but some states are much less active about this business than others”.

That might be the real problem – that so many Americans (still) think – that ”the state is war” -(even as even in the US ”war” had been kind of outsourced to some ”professionals”) – while ”some states” are sooo much ”less active about this business than others” – that they are able to FOKUS – if it comes to a ”war against an invisible enemy” -(as the STUPID calls it)

209

nastywoman 07.14.20 at 1:18 pm

AND NOW!
let’s start to discuss
”The economic consequences of the Pandemic”

AND isn’t the HUUUGEST Economic Consequence – that ”the market” never ever will be able to help US ALL – as only ”governments” have the means and money to do so?

So –
WELCOME GUYS – to WORLD WIDE –
”Denmark”!

210

hix 07.14.20 at 1:54 pm

First things first, Musk isn´t just not left and shares some character traits with Trump, he is also a Republican based on his donation patterns in the first place.

211

steven t johnson 07.14.20 at 2:37 pm

When I wrote @128 “mortgage interest deduction,” I was writing about mortgages, which is debt. So much for the false claim I didn’t.

When I wrote @98 “Generally a professional is a small businessman. A clergyman may not be able to sell his practice but a doctor or a lawyer can,” I am noting a difference between a young physician still paying student debt and someone who has a job, rather than a career.

Orange Watch@198 continues the defense of nonsense about the PMC by writing “Their income is a far better indicator of their economic allegiances than their wealth, as it indicates the social stratum that society – particularly the monied portions who grant or deny credit – perceive them to belong in.” Skipping over the repeated assumption that only short-run interests are taken into account, the claim here is that “class” is a mental phenomenon, a perception by an abstraction called society. I don’t know whether to reject this as arrant superstition or as a grotesque falsification of what “society” perceives—-which is that everyone is “middle class!” I suppose we could have Richard Dawson survey his audience for us, to determine the true factoid!

But when Orange Watch@198 writes “economics are irrelevant; class is a state of mind based on socio-political goodthink about how humble and enlightened you are, or badthink about how you’re a self-appointed elite who’s superior to everyone you disagree with” (as a malicious pseudo-quote put in my mouth) Orange Watch is the one who in the sentence right before (!) explained that class was “society’s” perception of a stratum. It’s still not clear what a stratum is.

PMC is still not a useful concept, income-generating property is still a better objective measure of class status, class interests are still not defined for families by today’s income. Nothing Orange Watch has written forms a coherent argument against such simple generalizations.

The real animus is captured in the phrase “neo-tankie.” I think Orange Watch is endorsing imperialism which is really lacing politics with reactionary attitudes. But then, I would think that, wouldn’t I? Yet it has nothing to do with the invalid nonsense of PMC, or the economic consequences of the pandemic.

And the real political issue—confused with the economic consequences of the pandemic, somehow—is encapsulated in the declaration “…so the only way to vote against him is to vote for the lesser evil, no matter how unserious and self-interested that evil might be. You go to the polls with the electoral system you have, not the electoral system you want.” There is no voting against. That is a fact, not an opinion. T

The OP is devoted largely to attacking MMT. If Orange Watch were genuinely interested in supporting MMT, Orange Watch should defend it. There’s a kind of MMT going on right now, where the Fed supports the stock market and banks with trillions of dollars of fiat money and corporate debt soars….but the political issues of government spending, which strictly speaking is what MMT means to address, are barely discussed, much less defended. When I mentioned the hostility to MMT, it was meant to be a step back to comment on the OP and the thread as a whole. It was not meant as a response to Orange Watch’s comments defending MMT, which I don’t remember.

Two points on Anarcissie@200. First, the imperialism of the US and the ferocious bloodlust in pursuing it, long predated WWII. There are a lot of SF fans here, so they might recall Heinlein’s references to Little Brown Brother in Glory Road. This was a coy reference to murderous assaults on the peoples of the Philippines.

Second, the point about the economic consequences being discussed is good in a way, except that the OP tied this very much to the political consequences. I think that the deliberate efforts to prevent parties by the Framers met with great success, which is exactly why elections so rarely change anything. I believe that the decision by the owners to let people die as God wills it and reopen the economy has been made and despite whatever temporary roadblocks are erected by pesky issues of the mass of people not being onboard (aka the problem with majority rule, which is widely deemed to be tyranny itself,) will not matter very long.

The thing is, those who believe it’s the “pandemic” that’s causing the economic crisis should conclude there will be a V-shaped recovery, though it is entirely unclear why they would expect the V to be symmetrical. But I think the root problem is simply another crisis of capitalism, an inherently unstable and irrational system whose gyrations will confront states with insurmountable challenges in defending the wealth of their owners. And that ultimately, as in the days of the Great (Class)*War, when there was no Bolshevism, the system will collapse politically, into war.

*Thanks to Jacques R. Pauwels.

212

Tm 07.14.20 at 3:38 pm

Ana 200: “If he’s the fascist he seems to want to be, he even neglected to organize a private army, a step which his 20th-century predecessors certainly didn’t miss.”

Anybody who thinks that 21st century fascism must look exactly like its historic predecessors, down to the brown uniforms, is caught in hopelessly ahistoric thinking. If you applied the same logic to socialism, social democracy or liberalism, you’d easily find that the parties and movements and ideologies that we today denote by these names are not identical to their early 20th century namesakes either. To give a salient example (in the current context), it may come as a surprise to certain historical illiterates around here that the SPD and KPD, as well as other political parties, also ran their own paramilitary organizations during the Weimar Republic, with hundreds of thousands of members. To be sure, the Left was mostly acting in defense against the increasing aggressiveness of the Right and the fascists. The parties of the Left also notoriously fought each other; the Iron Front, the pro-Republican defense organization dominated by the SPD, was described as a “social fascist terror organisation” (“Terrororganisation des Sozialfaschismus”) by the Communist Party leader.
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roter_Frontk%C3%A4mpferbund, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Front).

213

Anarcissie 07.15.20 at 12:04 am

nastywoman 07.14.20 at 12:38 pm@202, 203 — The reason Denmark seems less warlike is that other states, to which it submits, have done and are doing its warring for it. Currently it is part of the EU, which, although restless, is still pretty much a satellite of the US. Thus, token Danish forces supported the US invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, and other targets. In any case, ‘focus’ may be ambiguous. Recall the enhanced Welfare state of Bismarck, which was focused on keeping the home front quiet in support of imperial expansion abroad.

Tm: ‘Anybody who thinks that 21st century fascism must look exactly like its historic predecessors….’

I was speaking of the sort of fascist I imagine Trump wants to be. No doubt more advanced models have been developed. We cannot expect mature tastes in fascism or anything else from such an infantile personality.

214

J-D 07.15.20 at 12:57 am

As I see it, the state is war, but some states are much less active about this business than others.

The propensity of states to go to war correlates, not perfectly but strongly, with size and strength. Instances of the smallest states going to war are vanishingly rare.

The logic of state power leads to imperialism; imperialism necessitates war; imperial war is facilitated by militarized police, surveillance, propaganda, racism, and so on.

Again, imperialism is a practice of larger states, practically never engaged in by the smallest states.

215

Orange Watch 07.15.20 at 1:44 am

steven t. johnson@205:

I’m done bothering responding to your bad-faith trolling. I should have known better than to respond in the first place. My mistake, for which I apologize to the thread at large.

Tm@190:
CPAs lean Republican whereas accounting clerks lean Democratic. In case this comes asa surprise to anybody, the statistics do not support the idea of a coherent “professional class” identity.

Ah, but even though those statistics you vaguely reference don’t meaningfully support the idea of a coherent professional class identity, they don’t in any way refute the idea of a coherent professional class identity either – not unless you’d be surprised to learn that the leaders of the Democratic Party are not bomb-throwing anarchists. There’s absolutely nothing distinguishing about two different types of professionals tending to support two different political parties when both parties have the same fundamental economic agenda (oligarchical corporate capitalism upholding the existing financial system with only minor tweaks).

216

Andres 07.15.20 at 4:18 am

Hmm. In reading the last several dozen posts, I’m starting to think that I’m not cut out for this CT commenting routine, though it is incredibly entertaining. My own highlights of the past 200+ posts:

–tm accuses all left-wing critics of the Democratic party (aka “anti-liberal leftists”) of being apologists for Trump. [I lovez my OrangeDude…and he’s cuddlier than Cheney]

–steven t johnson has fits because I imply that atheism is a type of faith; if God is a hypothesis that is “not even wrong” in the sense of being not subject to any empirical proof (there being no fully agreed on definition of god, for starters), it follows that the assertion of his non-existence is just a much an act of faith as the assertion of his non-existence, right? Economic consequences of (godless) COVID19, anyone?

–Not content with fulminating against my attack on atheistic communism, steven t johnson then says that liberal democracy (a very rare bird indeed, almost as uncommon as the unicorn) is not much different than the much more prevalent reactionary right wing “democracy”; in effect, there is no such thing as favoring one bad option in order to vote against the other.

If I were a cynic, I would say that steven t johnson is the same poster as tm, trying to do a parody of an anti-Democratic leftist in order to prove tm right. But not being a cynic, I’ll just wish that the two of them would sit down over coffee to debate.

–hidari also has fits because I assert that the educated left does not hate the working class. As counter-examples he cites Zuckerberg and Musk (??!!! :-0 ). Next thing, he’ll tell me that Larry Summers is a raving, over-educated, worker-hating MIT communist. Summers is part of the educated left, right? ;-)

–On a more serious note, ph accuses Obama/HRC/Kerry of crimes in Libya, Egypt, Syria, more or less true, and makes zero mention of the invasion of Iraq, which unlike the former killed thousands of U.S. soldiers, nor of the fact that Trump’s delightful foray into assassination nearly led us to a war with Iran that would have been much worse. Hey, I’m fully on board with a realistic, no-illusions, lock-them-up appraisal of the Democratic foreign policy leadership (much as Chetan and tm might object), but any decent accounting makes clear that the other guys are—surprise!—much worse.

–nastywoman wants to vote a youtube video for president/queen. If ranked choice voting were an option I too would be a QueenAnneist.

Ok, that’s the colorful stuff. Of the above colorful characters, I would say that nastie is the only one close to being sane, that I have wondered into the proverbial Bedlam, and that the next step is a dialogue with crazy Tom O’DNC, the educated leftist Earl of Kent, and another crazy old man raving at clouds who lost his kingdom after voting for Clownstick. My own damn fault for posting too much.

Ok, back to the economics…

217

ph 07.15.20 at 4:41 am

White supremacist curator forced out for? SFA. https://reason.com/2020/07/14/gary-garrels-san-francisco-museum-modern-art-racism/

I’m indifferent to the white supremacy charge and being maligned as such by my intellectual and moral superiors. Guilty until proven innocent, whether it’s Russia or white supremacy, is the new liberal normal.

Andrew Sullivan just quit NYM, Bari Weiss just left the NYT citing a toxic climate of bullying and worse. Chomsky signed the Harper’s letter, and when challenged about the pushback, replied – that’s only half of it – ‘I’ve had an equal number of email from leftists horrified at the toxic culture, but too scared of getting the Weiss treatment.

So, take a bow all those who believe Trump supporters have to ‘prove’ to ? that we’re not ‘guilty of something.’ Given time, we’re sure you’ll find something to hang us for.

Parking tickets? I’ll still collect art from white men?

Wonder what the voters make of all the goodness on display.

218

nastywoman 07.15.20 at 5:23 am

@213
”The reason Denmark seems less warlike is that other states, to which it submits, have done and are doing its warring for it. Currently it is part of the EU, which, although restless, is still pretty much a satellite of the US”.

IF ever? –
not anymore – as how can a country be a ”satellite” of a state of suicide?
As I saw it –
”the state” WAS Party” –
and as mentioned before:
NOW the Party is over –
which could lead US to the topic of this thread:

”The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic”!

219

Andres 07.15.20 at 5:37 am

Politics, politics. Ok, I’ll make one final effort to make nastywoman happy, and make no mention of HeWhoMustNotBeNamed, nor the policing brouhaha, nor any of the Denizens of the CT Aquarium. I claim no expertise here as I do not follow the nuts and bolts of federal fiscal policy in detail, and these are critical to the outlook.

The standard appraisal of the economic situation seems fairly straightforward on the surface but relies on some pretty strong surface assumptions.

About the only factor that will not change regardless of the November outcome is the slow recovery of the CRE sector, especially offices, hotels, and probably also big box retail. Even once a vaccine is in wide distribution, corporates will physically decentralize in order to reduce future pandemic exposure, and this will mean less office demand, less commuting, and negative spending multiplier effects on large office-dense urban areas. All of which will drag on urban space demand, with resulting side effects on job growth. That’s as far as I previously got talking economics before the shiny lights of the Aquarium led me astray.

Let’s assume that the Swedish Chef is president in January, and being more interested in slaughtering defenseless muppet animals on camera, he does not enact any COVID19-related executive orders. Statler and Waldorf at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue are too busy laughing at him or impeaching him, so that no new Pandemic Relief Bill is passed. We are then in deep **** because jobs will still not be close to their pre-pandemic level, state unemployment comp. will ebb as will CARES Act paychecks, evictions will restart unless state governments take action, and mortgage, student loan, and other consumer debt will start to deteriorate in performance. And drag down jobs and spending; and through it, state and local revenues. In short: Inaction is not an option.

Fortunately, baseline forecasts assume less colorful and more policy oriented leadership in the White House and Congress. One typical baseline forecast assumes a Pandemic Relief Bill of $1.4 trillion in various measures, something close to half of which will be direct aid to state governments so as to allow them to at least keep up the pretense of balanced budgets without mass state employee layoffs. The rest is various forms of direct aid to state individuals.

Whether $1.4 trillion will be enough is anyone’s guess; it may well not be if infections in the Sun Belt states continue to trend upward and are still high by the end of this year, so that re-shutdown measures are still in effect. Also, a Relief Bill of this size assumes either that McConnell’s whining against blue state bailouts was an act or that he is not re-elected and/or the Rs lose their senate majority and fail to regain the House. Also, such a Relief Bill assumes that the question mark in the white house gives enough of a damn about his legacy or about the economy (not the stock market, of course) to not veto it and not sabotage it before or after it is signed. Er, which party’s presidential nominee fits this description? Ok, don’t go there.

Anyway, with a Pandemic Relief Act a baseline assumption, it is still likely that recovery will be a slow 2010-2016 affair in part because of hysteresis effects: part of the structure of the economy will have been permanently altered. e.g., large retail will have an even harder time coming back now that most U.S. households have gotten used to ordering stuff; CRE-related jobs will be slow to recover, and supply chain problems will still be an issue unless there is a complete reversal on trade with China. Reduced personal income growth and new pandemic caution will also lead to reduced travel demand; energy prices will stay subdued and the airlines may need to go into something like conservatorship in a way similar to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the housing crisis.

One thing which is still open is to what extent the individual assistance in the Relief Bill helps tenants. I worry that the additional help will be insufficient to help tenants service their other debts and pay back accumulated rent arrears. Either a haphazard gaggle of state legislation or federal tenant relief either in the Relief Bill itself or a separate bill will be needed to prevent a spike in evictions.

All in all, I see slow job and income growth during the next presidential term, plus a shortage of structure or equipment investment, plus an increased likelihood of an eviction wave, which will spell trouble for the incumbent party in 2024.

Ok, that’s as much as I can scrape off my brain with a spoon late at night without doing further research. But except for the questions on the character of the Congressional or POTUS leadership, it is all so straightforward and boring; laughing at steven t johnson is much more fun. But that can wait for another comment thread.

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nastywoman 07.15.20 at 5:40 am

AND@
”There’s absolutely nothing distinguishing about two different types of professionals tending to support two different political parties when both parties have the same fundamental economic agenda (oligarchical corporate capitalism upholding the existing financial system with only minor tweaks).

Es sei denn –
there is something called ”a Pandemic” – and both parties DO NOT have the same fundamental agenda (Science denying Racism upholding the existing STUPID with only minor tweaks).

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nastywoman 07.15.20 at 5:55 am

AND –
Wait! –
Just to let everybody know – when I wrote:
”As I saw it, the state is Party” –
that was NOT the type of statement Anarcissie made when he wrote:
”As I see it, the state is war” –
that was more the type of statement the Famous British Philosopher Sir Monty Python made when he said:
“Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government!”
OR/AND
”Denmark is NOT a satellite of US”
AS
Island is NOT for sale – even if Anarcissie might think so…

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faustusnotes 07.15.20 at 6:35 am

The reason Trump didn’t form a militia before his election is that he was incompetent and didn’t care; that doesn’t mean he’s not a fascist, and it should also be clear that the response to the BLM protests shows a nascent movement there if any American leader wants to take it on (remember the white dudes with baseball bats chasing BLM demonstrators, or the video of the armed squad as the BLM people walk by?) It’s kind of madness at this point to be suggesting Trump doesn’t have a nationwide body of stormtroopers at his disposal, in light of what happened in Charlottesville (which, recall, he defended).

It’s really amazing to see some of the fantastic views of American politics in this thread, and how so much of the US far left have managed to work themselves into an almost logically impossible place from which to analyze the actual events happening in the real world.

For example, Hidari wants us to think Biden is even more aggressive on Russia than Trump, but because Hidari refuses to accept that Russia meddled in the US elections, poisoned someone in the UK, or does anything bad anywhere in the world, he can’t imagine that Biden’s response to Russia is actually quite reasonable, and that a properly engaged fascist government under Trump would be even more aggressive than Biden wants to be. This is the result of three years of denying basic material reality, in order to sustain a narrative that Trump lost because the Democrats are too right wing, and not that he lost because of a combination of misogyny, foreign interference and the Dems not being right wing enough. Thus we have that Elon Musk is left wing (?!) because Hidari is arguing with an imagined left wing composed entirely of Fyre festival attendees, not the actual working class political movement that is under attack in the USA now.

There’s similar weirdness going on from JimV, an engineer – so presumably someone whose entire career has been spent supporting the automation of some part of industry – complaining that jobs went from 28000 to 4000, as if this is somehow the fault of poor foreigners and not him and his mates in the automation sector.

It really is amazing to me how people building this dems are too right wing narrative act like the collapse of American industry is something that people just noticed in 2016. Tm cited Heinlein, so I’ll match a similar generation’s cultural icons by citing Dire Straits’ Telegraph Road, or Jethro Tull’s Farmer on the Freeway or indeed – for a slightly newer generation – pretty much all of Bon Jovi’s work. The hollowing out of US industry has been a well-known part of US culture for 40 years. It’s not Clinton’s fault and it’s not something that Trump was ever going to do anything about, or that anyone around him knew or cared about.

Before you can make these pronouncements on American politics you could at least try to be aware of some facts vaguely pertaining to what is actually happening in the real world!

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J-D 07.15.20 at 7:14 am

if God is a hypothesis that is “not even wrong” in the sense of being not subject to any empirical proof (there being no fully agreed on definition of god, for starters), it follows that the assertion of his non-existence is just a much an act of faith as the assertion of his non-existence, right?

Nope. It is sufficiently clear what religious believers mean when they say that there is a God, and the assertion they are making is therefore susceptible of testing by comparison with the empirical evidence, a test which it fails. It is precisely for this reason that theologians obfuscate the subject. Theology offers the possibility of reconciling continued nominal adherence to a religion with recognition that belief in its tenets is not rationally sustainable, but this doesn’t affect what it is that ordinary adherents believe.

Specifically, the existence of a wise and good creator and ruler of the universe is incompatible with the facts of suffering (this is not, of course, a new argument: it’s an extremely old one, which is why believers have so much practice in evading it, as I did myself when I was a believer). Theologians may talk about how God is not a wise and good creator and ruler of the universe but rather a predicate or a process or some other such rot, but you know as well as I do that when ordinary believers talk about God, they do mean a wise and good creator and ruler of the universe. Either there is a wise and good creator and ruler of the universe or there isn’t. Well, there isn’t.

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Tm 07.15.20 at 9:50 am

OW 215: Why don’t you give us a coherent definition of what you consider the “professional class”, and provide some evidence that there does exist a coherent “profesional class” identity? Otherwise, I would have to say that your claims are “not even wrong” – they are meaningless. In that sense, you may correctly state that I haven’t “refuted” your claims – because there is no substance that can meaningfully be refuted.

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notGoodenough 07.15.20 at 12:01 pm

[OP: this is a bit of a tangent, so please feel free to delete as it may be a bit of a derail]

Andres @ 216

With apologies to both you and the OP, I would like to offer a (relatively minor) thought for your consideration. With respect to:

“I imply that atheism is a type of faith; if God is a hypothesis that is “not even wrong” in the sense of being not subject to any empirical proof (there being no fully agreed on definition of god, for starters), it follows that the assertion of his non-existence is just a much an act of faith as the assertion of his non-existence, right?”

It all depends a lot on how you are using the terms. I don´t say this to say you are wrong, but rather as a note of caution that not everyone would use those terms in the same way you do (and typically I would not).

Atheism is often defined as “disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods”. So, if you ask Person X “do you believe one or more god(s) exist?” and they answer “no”, then they are an atheist. However, this does not mean they are asserting the counterpositive – you could ask Person X “do you believe no god exists” and the answer could still be “no”. Think of it a bit like a court case – if you say the defendant is “not guilty” you do not necessarily accept the claim that the defendant is innocent (that would be another claim). In the same way, you can be in the position where you do not accept the claim that god(s) exists, but this does not necessarily mean you accept the claim no god(s) exist.

The assertion “no god exists” is not necessarily atheism – it is often typically referred to as “hard atheism”, “strong atheism”, or “positive atheism” to make that distinction. One does not need to make that claim to be an atheist, and many atheists do not necessarily claim “no god exists” but more something like “I reject the assertion a god exists as I have yet to see sufficient evidence to warrant accepting that claim”.

This is a minor point, but I only bring it up because you might end up inadvertently annoying some atheists (by asserting they are claiming something which they may in fact not be claiming).

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Lee A. Arnold 07.15.20 at 12:59 pm

Hidari #201: “any article that starts with a presupposition of anything other than that John Bolton is the anti-Christ who belongs in jail (or Hell) is worthless… Trump’s Russia policy has also been dangerous and provocative…”

I don’t agree with either of these. Bolton is a warmonger with a self-regard as big as Trump’s. The point is not to like Bolton. The point is what he reveals, from his own views, about U.S. China policy before now, and about Trump’s feckless new approach. You wrote in #142 that the blame for “Rising tensions with China…lies solely and wholly with Trump (and before him, Obama).” That is false. It’s been going on for longer, but now Trump’s mismanagement is possibly disastrous. The book reviewer adumbrates the reasons. It’s not a mere question of being harder or softer on China.

The same with Russia. I won’t be reading Bolton’s book anytime soon but the word is that Trump exhibits a personal deference to Putin that is unexplained and mystifies Bolton, considering Trump’s rough attitude toward all other leaders. Yet even so, Trump pretty much follows standard US policy against Russia. Trump hasn’t been more hawkish or less hawkish. Policy is pretty much the same as it might have been under any President.

So Consortium’s list of 25 reasons why Trump has been “dangerously hawkish” should omit the “dangerously”. Most of that list is dramatic theatricality and both sides know it, despite their public protestations. US and Russian top military commanders are in nearly constant communication to try to avoid deaths on either side, among other things. The two countries are not going to war anytime soon, probably not even in the case of Crimea.

About that: Why is the US’s refusal to recognize the seizure of Crimea counted as dangerous aggression against Russia (Consortium’s #22)? And why would anyone believe that Russia truly feels aggressed upon by Trump’s exit from the JCPOA (#24)? If anything, it’s a laugh to them.

You have to be a realist from the cynical point of view of every country. You don’t have to have “faith in the sanity and intelligence or people in the intelligence and military communities,” you just have to follow their own logic for their own reasons. The idea that you could prevent the rise of China by bombing it –aside from being a horrifying thought– is illogical from their own point of view. Because it could not work.

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Tm 07.15.20 at 1:57 pm

Andres 216: “tm accuses all left-wing critics of the Democratic party (aka “anti-liberal leftists”) of being apologists for Trump.”

That is nonsense. Pseudo-leftist apologists for Trump are easy to tell apart from real leftists. I’ll name just a few obvious signs:
– Claiming there is no meaningful difference between the parties etc.
– Denying or downplaying Trump’s racism
– Denying or downplaying the damage already caused by the Trump administration
– Attacking the Democratic party dishonestly, e. g. with claims they don’t really oppose Trump’s agenda (I discussed a comment of Wilder above at 179; Wilder is not misinformed or ignorant, he’s just blatantly lying).
– Falsely attributing Democratic identity to right wing people like Musk, falsely claiming that the Democrats are the party of financial capital
– Falsely attributing responsibility for right-wing policies to the Democratic party or exaggerating the party’s agency
– Reproducing anti-education, anti-intellectual, anti-cosmopolitan propaganda directly out of the right wing echo chamber
– …

Examples of all of these, and more, are easily identifiable in this very comment thread. I’ll leave it there. If you, Andres, are interested in a meaningful exchange, it’s up to you to come up with actual arguments. You have several times attacked my with unfounded accusations. I already challenged you in 171 to come up with rebuttals if you wish to take issue with my arguments. So far, nothing. Again, it’s up to you.

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steven t johnson 07.15.20 at 2:30 pm

No doubt the fact this agrees with me inclines me to take it seriously, but for what it’s worth: https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2020/07/15/wealth-or-income/

Andres goes even further off-topic @216. “if God is a hypothesis that is ‘not even wrong’ in the sense of being not subject to any empirical proof (there being no fully agreed on definition of god, for starters), it follows that the assertion of his non-existence is just a much an act of faith as the assertion of his non-existence, right?”

And a white handkerchief proves ravens are black too, right? Inasmuch as there is no agreed upon definition of god, then there is no proposition to affirm. Which means denying it is simply reason, not faith. So, no, this is incoherent nonsense. It makes as much sense to accuse Andres of the religious faith of not believing in Odin. Unless of course Andres is an Odinist. After this nonsense, who knows?

If there’s any sense in what Andres writes at all, it seems to be an equivocation on atheism being the positive assertion the supernatural is either impossible because incoherent, or (my preferred position,) has been refuted by experience. Unless Andres is a Mont Pelerin neoliberal who worships Karl Popper and denies the possibility of induction* or is as much an irrationalist as any card-carrying fascist, Andres is simply wrong. Secretly or openly all irrationalists rely on force, if only the force of convention in the politer versions.

Orange Watch@215 believes being told that mortgage interest deductions imply mortgages and that mortgages are debts is “bad faith trolling.” The news that this sort of thing is trolling Crooked Timber shows me more forcefully than ever exactly what sort of community Crooked Timer is.

*If induction is invalid, the induction of an external reality is as invalid as the induction of the ego. Professional philosophers don’t like to spread the news on Popper because his politics are so useful, but if pressed they will generally concede Popper is somewhat out of date. And besides you shouldn’t read so literally and/or draw such linear conclusions to an argument, as it’s uncharitable.

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notGoodenough 07.15.20 at 6:44 pm

As a slightly more on point thought, I have to wonder how on point any detailed discussion of the Economic Consequences of the Pandemic will be once it goes beyond the general. After all, we would still appear to be in the middle of the pandemic (and potentially some countries, such as the US, may still be closer to the beginning), so specifics will be somewhat affected by ongoing events.

No doubt I’ll be corrected if wrong, but it would seem to me that a discussion along the lines of that of JQ’s OP would be more-or-less the best we can do…

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