Crisis Management By Ideology

Crisis Management By Ideology

The Dems want to bail out citizens who can’t work during this pandemic because their employers have had to close down. They can’t pay mortgages or rent, utilities, college loans, buy groceries and medicines. The way things are set up, if you can’t pay you can’t stay, and you end up in bankruptcy. Small businesses face the same problems on a slightly larger scale and if they can’t reopen then the downstream repercussions will be dire. We are a consumer economy. If no one consumes the economy dies.

Dems say start at the bottom and take care of everyone and maybe not worry so much about the people at the top who have been bailed out and had tax cuts and have banked some really enormous profits. (Except they didn’t bank their profits, what they did was stock buy backs – and now they want more bail-out money.) Dems say rescue everyone, even those who are the poorest people – no means testing. Just flood the bottom with money, both citizens and small business, because money may not trickle down, but a depressed economy can definitely rise from the bottom up.

Yes there are progressive Dems. We’re in the middle of an election. Republicans do not have a progressive bone in their bodies, even dispossessed Republicans who currently have no party. Giving people money means that a Democratic ideology gets a positive vote in Congress. And that goes against everything Republicans believe. They have almost achieved their small government goals. They were ready to cut the safety net the way a winning basketball team gets to cut down the net from the backboard. They have insisted that the coronavirus should be managed in the states, by the states and for the states. They are already having to back off on this policy because the needs are too great for the states to handle without federal help. And now they want Republicans to give away money to hoi polloi which, to them, is like throwing it into a waste basket. They just cannot understand that supporting the economy from the bottom up could help give it a jump start when we are done with social distancing.

There is little taste for rescuing rich folks once again. They have not exactly showered their good fortunes down on the rest of us and if there was a trickle it was so tiny as to be untraceable. The Republicans also want carte blanche over who they will rescue. They want the Treasury Department to be able to disperse the funds as they wish. This is something the Dems can’t swallow having already watched companies spend their windfalls on buying back their own stock and lavishing the dividends of their good fortune on stockholders rather than workers. They were able to ramp up production and hire back workers but this is not actually trickle down as salaries rose very little, although it certainly benefited all of us as good economies always do.

It comes down to the “spendthrift” habits of the Democrats who think a good economy must take care of everyone, not just CEO’s, those progressive socialists as the Republicans like to label them. If Democrats are such spendthrifts then why does the deficit go down when Democrats are in charge? Check it out. Historically that has been true.

Republicans feel that those on the bottom need to struggle more, that this will inspire them to rise, although it is easy to see that this policy is far more likely to cause despair and depression. Republicans have been implementing their ideology of small government, give power back to the states, but some states are so poor that we will have to rescue them from the novel coronavirus or we will all drown in grief. How is Republican small government working? It ended that Pandemic Program (that got folded into another program) and could not function at all when most needed. The Republican ideology is what we are experiencing right now and it is failing miserably. Yet Republicans refuse to pass a stimulus that addresses the needs of both the top and the bottom because it is against their deeply flawed ideology.

But the face of this pandemic, the people who own it on TV every day, are the Republicans. If Republican Senators do to American once again what you are planning to do, insist on only helping those who are wealthy I swear you will lose the 2020 election so badly that your party may not recover for decades. Most Americans know nothing about ideology and they will not care if your stimulus does not stand up to your conservative purity tests. If it works you will be heroes. As a Democrat, if it wouldn’t have such dire consequences for America, I would be happy to watch Republicans go down in flames. But as a human being I have to argue for what is right, which is neither progressive nor conservative, but somewhere in the middle. We so need to see the back of Mitch McConnell.

The president also has an ideology. It is money. It is the economy. It is the stock market. The president thinks that in 15 days America will be restored to normality, I guess by royal decree. Fate does seem to favor Trump and perhaps, once again, the universe will comply with his edicts. I would love this to be over in fifteen days. The only thing I would hate about it is that our resident egomaniac would claim it a personal victory. And he would get his heart’s desire (why is it his heart’s desire) to be reelected in 2020. To try to unravel a pandemic in the midst of an election in a divided America puts us all at risk because those who are supposed to represent us have their intellect clouded by their ideology, which prevents rational, reasoned, targeted action, and literally kills Americans and possibly the American economy.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/03/23/gop-just-smuggled-another-awful-provision-into-big-stimulus-bill/

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – The Hill

Bill Gates Speaks on Raising the Minimum Wage

from progressillinois.com
 
 
 
Brian
Williams reported on Monday’s evening news that 85 people in the world have as
much money as the bottom 3.50 billion people in the world. Yikes! Say income
inequality.  He did not say how many of
the 85 at the top are Americans, but it is a stunning figure. To these rich
folks it probably means that there are 85 individuals unique enough and savvy
enough to amass a huge fortune from their own ambition and their own skill
set.  To the rest of us it may seem like
just the luck of the draw. How many of these very wealthy people started out
poor. Well we do know that some started out from rather average-income families
because we know that Bill Gates made his fortune in computers and we know that
Warren Buffet grew up in a middle class family and that he was born with an
interest in and innate talent for the science or mathematics of probabilities
which he parlayed into money by buying bad companies and turning them into
great companies. Wall Street did not hurt the fortunes of either of these guys
because they had acquired enough money to weather its ups and downs. 

I
caught the tail end of an interview with Bill Gates on MSNBC this morning in
which Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough sat at the feet of the master, so to
speak, and asked the oracle for financial advice on behalf of the American
economy.  Bill Gates does not feel that
financial regulations and deregulations have benefitted the rich, apparently.
He, rather glibly, stated that he doesn’t believe we should raise the minimum
wage across the board because the results will be complicated. The employers
will turn to robots or leave the area and go where workers cost less.  (Oh they already did that.) Most of the mainly
service businesses we currently find in our economy right now, that we would
ask to boost people’s wages could not switch right now to a robot workforce or
leave the area because that is the area where their customers live. 
It is usually true however that no action,
however simple it seems, will bring about only the wished-for results. There
will always be unintended consequences. Can all the unintended consequences be
anticipated and avoided? We don’t have a good track record with this. So, does
this mean we shouldn’t raise the overall minimum wage in America, just on the
say-so of Bill Gates, one of the 85? Maybe it doesn’t mean that at all because,
although wealthy and smart, Bill Gates is not really an oracle. But it might
mean that we need to have experts, without a vested interest in the outcome,
study the issue. Maybe we will have isolated areas like the one in Oregon who
experiment with raising their minimum wage and these areas will furnish us with
case studies for what might happen on a wider scale. There is no doubt that we
are rather risk averse right now when it comes to making any demands on our
employers. Of course, that gives employers lots of power over their workers who
can be hired and fired at will. Can consumers help workers by boycotting
businesses which do not offer a living wage? Once again we can try this, but it
might backfire because this marketplace belongs to employers, not to workers,
or even, apparently, to consumers.

Bill
Gates has taken his wealth and he has gone into the world’s poorest places and
used his wealth to do good things for really poor people. He described the work
that his foundation has done in making sure people receive vaccines against the
diseases that have been almost wiped out in the inoculated parts of the world.
This campaign has been very effective, in fact it has probably been the most
widely accepted of all the anti-poverty campaigns around the world and has had
the most positive outcomes.  He also
mentioned providing poor cultures with seeds so that they can grow their own
food, but I have heard more controversy around this particular campaign. Critics
say that the seeds that are given out or sold are hybrid seeds which do not
reseed in following seasons, but must be repurchased each season in order to
produce new crops. This argument is often discounted as conspiracy theory, and
perhaps hybrid seeds are necessary to resist insects or other conditions in the
environment where the seeds will be planted, or perhaps hybrid seeds are more
productive and produce better crops. However, I have not heard a lot of push
back against those who are doubters about the efficacy of the seed campaign.

Anyway,
Bill Gates did not act at all threatened by learning what a small group of people
he belongs to,  he did not offer to
divide his fortune by the number of Americans in the 99.9% and give us each a
portion of it either. It is obvious that he believes he earned his money and
that it is his to do with as he wishes. I guess we are very lucky that he
chooses philanthropy instead of authoritarian power and we do admire him for
this. However, I don’t think the interview was helpful in terms of discovering
what structures in our economies allowed all that cream to rise to the top and in
helping us make any decisions about what structures would keep more of that
wealth circulating among a larger number of earth’s people. I am betting that
if anyone could figure out what happened, how it happened, and how to make sure
it doesn’t happen again, these 85 people would probably be the ones who could
do it, but they are also the least likely to have the incentive to do it.

So
do we buy this argument that there is nothing to see here folks? Do we buy the
argument that our laws were never skewed to favor certain groups like employers
and investors? Do we wrack our poor inferior brains to keep trying to come up
with that one idea or product that will boost us to the top of the food chain?
Do we sink back into our sofas and conclude that the halcyon days when fortunes
could be amassed from pennies are over? Do we risk more punishment and ask that
we be given more of a fair share of the wealth, at least in terms of being paid
a living wage? How many really wealthy people can there be? Can each and every
one of us be wealthy or must there be a certain proportion of a society that is
not wealthy in order to produce a few wealthy people? Is there math on this?
Well, I sort of agree with Mika and Joe that if only we could pump one or more
of those 85 very rich people we could discover the secret formula to join that
elite group, but Bill Gates was no help at all in that regard. He didn’t offer
one single step to success, not one coded remark worth a fortune, although he
did give us a whiff of conditions around the world that are still much more
primitive than ours here in America. We’re on our own here folks. But I still
don’t believe it would hurt to revise the tax code and close a few of the most
egregious tax loopholes. And perhaps we can take the risk and raise the minimum wage.
 
This is the view from the cheap seats.
This blog post is also available at www.brissioni.com
 
 
By Nancy Brisson
 
 
 
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