To Do I, II, & III
The COVID-19 Pandemic, the inadequate response thereto, and the incompetency of the Trump Presidency in general, combined, have exposed our nation’s weaknesses and failings to an extent unknown since at least the Great Depression. This is likely a do or die moment for America. Recovery will be difficult. Improbable unless we are careful in our choice of goals and daring in our efforts to achieve them. The margins for error do not allow for dawdling. Attempting to just return to a time before Trump and The Pandemic would be disastrous. A time like this should also be seen as a time of opportunity.
First, we must rid ourselves of denominational economics such as Capitalism, Socialism, Hayekism, Free Marketism, … These, but ideologies, dogmas, that some would impose on economics, on the rest of us; have done the Nation great harm. They are, at their very best, reasonings of a time past. As likely to be the answer to today’s problems as Adam Smith is to rise from his grave.
As a first step toward becoming again competitive in today’s world; we must stop blindly paying twice as much for inferior healthcare, internet, and cellphone service,… as is being paid in other developed nations; and while we are at it, we need to solve our homeless problem. These are all essential services that should be provided to all. In the grand competition of things; we’re losing. Have been for a while. Were before the pandemic. Ideology is a luxury we can no longer afford.
Let’s pay for these things that need to be done, and help with our wealth distribution problem, too, by taxing the piss out of the too rich and too profitable. Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Sheldon, Warren, …; fun and games are over guys, time for you to pay up.
Let’s pay for these things that need to be done by cutting the ‘Defense’ Budget in half. Halve the number of Generals, the number of Admirals, the number of Aircraft Carriers, the number of Missiles, …; and full-stop attacking other nations. Half of $720+Billion is $360+Billion; $360+Billion is aplenty for Defense, nothing for Attack, and about right for expanding Medicare to Medicare For All. Ike was right about that and Harry was right about health care.
I. Internet Access and Cellular Networks
All those fireman who died because of poor communication on 9/11/2001 should have taught us the need for an ubiquitous cellular network. Mobile radio networks separate cellular networks should have shown us the need for one network. A police car with a half dozen radio antennas on the roof is ridiculous.
So, too, the fact that our cell phone uses a cellular network, our computers use a cable based internet service, and that we need a WIFI router to use our laptops. What’s now the cellular network should be the WIFI router and these routers should be all over our homes, all over every floor in every building, everywhere on our streets, and all across and over rural America. Ubiquitous. Today, thousands and thousands of teachers across America are trying to remotely teach kids, many of whom have very limited internet access, over an internet system that is not reliable. When the fires struck Santa Rosa, the cell towers went down. The internet w/ phones must work at all times during normal times and during times of emergency; needs to be bullet proof. This new inclusive internet is too critical to be trusted to the ‘Market’. Cell phone and Internet should be one and that one should be regulated as a public utility; a service, as a service application, and, as always, the application dictates. Not the ‘Market’.
As a Post Office service, maybe?
In order to fully utilize our Nation’s productivity, better fulfill our personal lives, and assist in times of emergency, the Internet needs be ubiquitous and bulletproof. We should be able to access the internet from our backyards, on a hike, in the mountains, in transit, …; from anywhere we are or can be. It was a big mistake letting cable companies have the internet and the cell phone companies the phone towers. Let the cable companies have Cable TV. Internet and cell phone transmission should be one and the same; should be a Public Utility. It isn’t about ideology, it’s about how it should be; what should be. Half-arsed won’t get it. If we continue to stick with ideology and dogma, China, Japan, and the EU will continue to eat our lunch.
II. Health Care
Congress’s responsibility is not to protect and preserve the healthcare insurance industry; theirs is to protect and preserve the health of all Americans. We can no longer afford to pay twice as much for half as much healthcare; never really could. We are dying too often, going broke doing it, while paying this twice as much for half as much. Our lack of a national healthcare system is a national disgrace. As consequence of this national failure, millions of COVID-19 survivors owe $billions that they can never pay. In some States of America, the uninsured COVID infected were, are being, sent home to die. Give us a break, there is no instance anywhere ever of the ‘Market’ solving the healthcare problem. It is likely that by the end of 2020 more than 300,000 Americans will have died from COVID-19 and a like number because of it; surely health care is at least as important as defense.
Just as a COVID-19 test result more than 24 hrs old is worthless, so is an employer provided health care insurance when you are unemployed and sick; need it most. High co-pay and high-deductible health care insurance are almost worthless.
Atop the non-profit Hospital and Health Care behemoths sit huge bureaucracies of the overly paid making decisions about closing hospitals and clinics based not on the need for service but on the ‘Market’; telling us via the media and their personal politicians that it is all being done in the name of efficiency. Spending twice as much for half as much is efficient?
It is estimated that one-third of the US prison population is mentally ill; that one-third and perhaps more of the homeless are mentally ill. America’s jails house 10 times more mentally ill than her state mental hospitals; doing no one any good at all at a cost of approximately $50K/prisoner/yr. Mental illness effects at least 25%, maybe up to 50 %, of Americans; costs the public and individuals $billions, and yet, for all intents and purposes, we don’t have a national mental health care policy.
In California, and in other states facing a homeless crisis, large scale construction of public housing should be begin immediately. Doesn’t have to be fancy, just basic housing. Housing is a basic right. Studios, one-bedrooms, two-bedrooms, … as needed. Let’s end this our other national disgrace. Let’s get Americans out of those merciless homeless encampments, out of those RVs parked on streets all over towns. No civilized, first-world society treats it’s people this way. Throw out the Market Crapology and put people to work building housing.
We have all heard feedback loops in a sound system. Some of us have studied feedback loops in re electronics, physics, biology, … Housing bubbles are an example of a positive feedback loop in economics; an all too familiar example of catastrophic ‘Market’ failure. When it comes to housing, instead of being the solution, the ‘Market’ is the problem. Back around 2013, in the SF Bay Area, rents started going up, landlords began raising their tenant’s rents so as to get their entitle ‘Market Value’. Not because of ROI, or how long the owner has owned the property, but because the ‘Market’ had ‘gone up because there was a housing shortage and the tenants have no options. Raised rents soon begat yet another rent increase meaning the ‘Market’ is up again; means a positive feedback loop is in effect. Landlords raise the rent again because the ‘Market’ has gone up again, …, … All obeying the first law of economics; whatever the ‘Market’ will bear. Rental property values go up because rents are going up. Someone buying a rental property at the higher prices, raises the rent so as to command a ‘Market Value’ based rate of return, … In California, and other states, rents now exceed most wages.
Here in the SF Bay Area, a big driver of real estate prices has been money from China. Brief cases full of cash began to showing up. Bought houses on speculation, left them empty, drove the prices up. The higher prices went, the higher they went. It wasn’t about housing at all. It was about a place to stash money, a safe deposit box, …, sometimes, a way to launder money; and a way to speculate in real estate. The ‘Market’, driven by speculation and outside money, was caught in a positive feedback loop; did everything wrong; didn’t do anything right. A catastrophe. The government did nothing at all.
Another most significant driver has been the tech boom and its associated high salaries; salaries that competed for housing with those making a fraction as much. Whatever the ‘Market’ will bear; unfurnished garage apartments are going for premium in the Google, Facebook neighborhood.
Rather than being the solution, the ‘Market’ is the cause of the housing problem. The housing problem is the cause of the homeless problem. The homeless were evicted because of the housing problem that the ‘Market’ made worse. Homelessness isn’t about personal short comings; it’s symptomatic of a systemic failure. Let’s stop blaming the victims and put the blame on false ideologies; where it belongs. Let’s stop going backward and start going forward.
To be continued.
Sorry, but the pandemic is only rated 1 on the scale. It’s not any worse than the 1957 flu outbreak and due to less death in Asia, will have less desth overall.
All Donald Trump had to do was organize the govs with a national test/trace plan. No lockdowns. No restrictions outside some bottlenecks, especially those first few months. Nadda.The
This recovery is already going on.
while health insurance companies do contribute to the health care non system, they are by far not the only ones. we can add the pharma companies, device makers, and last but definitely not the least, providers. the semi close groups flying in semi formation, have set up the broken corrupted system money maker, with a side benefit of sorts, of providing care. some times. with the other feature of restricting care to only those who can pay for it with help from others.
There’s billions of fiat money dollars in them thar bills. Not that I do not agree with you, but we need a movement, an institution, and a strategy to make change. We have a real chicken versus egg dilemma. Self-interest and special interest block a cogent economic movement and that is without even considering corporate influence on the media and politics. Just among the general public, we are fractured and divided and pitted against one another. Our common economic interests seem to have been sidelined by grudges and phobias.
For successful movements to arise there needs to be either an existing steering institution (e.g., unions and labor laws or churches and tolerance) or clear simple issues that provoke and motivate (e.g., women’s suffrage, Vietnam War draft). This is to say that a movement must be compelling enough to create its own institutions if they were not preexisting conditions. BLM is all of the above, i.e., a spinoff from the ages old civil rights movement, which is rich in both institutions and a history of change inducing movements.
As long as the general public has more faith in Wall Street finance than the federal government or each other then mediocrity in economics will be the established norm. The rentier class just has a far bigger footprint in public economic policy than the working class. The working class has bought into the debt and inflation narrative that politicians have been selling for decades. OTOH, enough of the working class still has enough common sense to grasp the connection between trade and job quality that we got Trump.
That said, I still believe that change is possible, but change like making love to a gorilla. The gorilla will call the shots, dictate the terms. We have not seen the last of the Covid-19 gorilla, not even close. I expect a new appreciation for science to emerge by the spring of 2021. However, it may already be too late for science to rescue us from the worst of anthropogenic climate change.
If the Democratic Party wins big in 2020 and then decides to be the institution that we need to bring those changes you mention, the maybe, just maybe there is some hope short of having a mytholgical Phoenix moment in about half century or so.
Want to make all the goodies listed above a part of American everyday life, click here for SEIU counsel Andrew Strom’s proposed path to adequate union membership — with no threats and no sweat. Adequate defined as: anyone who wants to be in a union (or does not want to be) is guaranteed the opportunity to exercise their will on the subject in cyclical balloting.
Make American 50-75% union overnight and all these good things will be granted you besides. Advocate federally required union elections on a regular schedule at every private (non gov) workplace and watch the pro Democrat vote climb out of sight.
Don’t be shy about discussing this magic bullet folks. About the only thing holding it back is that nobody is discussing it.
ATTA BOY! THanks.
while i agree with what i think are your end goals, i am disappointed by your recognizing we need to end the “ideologies,” and then repeat your ideology without apparently realizing that’s what it is.
to keep this short: “tax the rich” won’t work. the rich are not like you and me. they have more money and power, on the other hand we can enact laws that make crimial behavior by the rich criminal… not by calling it “the rich” but by identifying the actual criminal behavior. there are lots of ‘rich” people who don’t like being robbed either, and who can recognize unfairness and dishonesty and stupidity when they see it.
for what it is worth, i was just thinking today… after being treated badly by my internet providers… that it is really stupid of a country to not provide free internet service the way we provide almost free radio and television and, yes, libraries. just as ideology created the financialization of our economy and the destruction of our industrial capacity… including the people who know how to acutally build things… we destroy the intellectual capacity of the people by not providing a way for them to get and use information. i’d say the same thing applies to schools, if i had not been so disgusted by my experience with mass education, and my opinion of elite education (which nurtures blind ambition and pretty much destroys the natural learning about the real world that would occur if people were a allowed time to look around at the real world…. maybe enough to understand what the deplorables are so afraid of.
Course, we can all just ignore the Right to Work states. And of course this Supreme Court would never declare Federal legislation cannot overrule the states on this.
Let’s face facts. Unions are a dying breed. And they have been killed by white union workers electing Federal and State politicians to kill unions.
“this Supreme Court would never declare Federal legislation cannot overrule the states on this”
Such laws are allowed under the 1947 federal Taft–Hartley Act.
Of course federal law overrules state law on labor matters — which is why we have to add regularly scheduled labor union elections at the federal level.
One of the things that made the US great was that it avoided ideology, figured out what worked and did it. Revel’s “Without Marx, Without Jesus” goes into this. (Amusingly, my used copy had a note griping that the book had nothing about Marx or Jesus in it.)
Coberly: The rich can be taxed. We used to tax them just fine, and the nation as a whole did much better then. The rich like to claim that they can’t be taxed, can’t be regulated and so on, and no one ever calls their bluff. It’s like Amazon in NYC. When the city pulled the massive subsidies, Amazon squawked like the usual multi-billion dollar corporation, then they rented space and hired New Yorkers just like everyone else.
of course the rich can be taxed. and should be. more than they are now.
but a “tax the rich”.. specifically “taxing the piss out of the rich”
will not work as a slogan or a program. though it seems to keep some people happy as an ideology.
and since you bring it up, “without Jesus” won’t work as a program either. leave the people their comforting, or inspiring, superstitions if that’s what you believe they are. giving somone like Trump an excuse to call you (us) godless communists is not the way to win elections. i don’t know what your book said about this, so i probably should go into what “jesus” had to do with the making of this country, but other books have said more than a little.
i think i suggested above what would work. no reason to repeat myself.
“This” Supreme Court.
Any chance of helping the labor movement in this country is doomed until Dems can pack the Court.
“The Supreme Court’s conservative bloc delivered yet another 5–4 decision helping corporate interests this week. You may not have heard about it, as these 5–4 pro-corporate rulings are now issued like clockwork. A distinct pattern has emerged among the court’s “partisan” rulings, where the Roberts Five render a 5–4 decision attracting no support from the more liberal justices. This one comes at the expense of American workers.
This latest partisan 5–4 decision—which came in the case of Lamps Plus Inc. v. Varela—used the Federal Arbitration Act, a law governing how parties can resolve disputes through private arbitration proceedings, to deny a defrauded worker a chance at a class action. Again, if you missed it, you’re not alone. Partisan decisions from the Roberts Five choking off the rights of workers and consumers and protecting corporations from accountability have become so boringly predictable that they’re hardly news anymore.”
Although I entirely agree with you in concept without reservation, in implementation we still need an institutional arrangement to meet your stated goals. Our beloved Democratic Party plans to dump Trump for two primary reasons having nothing to do with either economic opportunity nor consolidation of the politically polarized electorate.
1. Black Lives Matter
2. Donald Trump
This is the liberal reflection of MAGA. Political polarization is not the problem, but rather political polarization is the solution by which elites can continue to dominate the electoral majority. This is what our constitutional republic was designed to do, initially to maintain an uneasy truce between bankers and industrialists in the North and slave-owning landed gentry in the South. When that cause was lost then industrial capitalism ruled unchallenged between the Civil War and the Great Depression, while the Democratic Party developed an unlikely marriage between Jim Crow in the South and immigrants and unions in the North. The working dogs had their day in the New Deal, but that was whittled away slowly during the Cold War until the Reds got scared and the Deal was over.
The good news is that there is so much bad news coming that before long the deck may be reshuffled and the working class may be dealt a new hand. I am not sure that either of our present day political parties as now ideologically equipped will survive that change. Each seems to be taking a stab at their own version of the Brave New World, but dystopia finds its own new normal. At our age and under these circumstances then mortality is a blessing.
oddly enough Ithink I agree with you entirely;
except maybe “the worse it gets the better it is for us” hope.
the worse it gets, the worse it gets… unless, of course, we figure out how to actully do something . only thing i can think of at the moment… and it’s not much… is go to church and learn how to make friends with the deplorables. not cynically, but because they are human too and we learn from being kind to people who have different beliefs. i would settle, however, for just going to Democrat Party meetings and suffering through them inorder to get a chance to talk to and gently lead people who have the same beliefs as us to … actually doing something effective. which might be winning the election we have and not sulking over the election we don’t have.
all this is theoretical of course. i am in an advanced stage of sulking myself.
I also think that is pretty odd for you to agree with someone entirely . . . marking the calendar
Understood and agreed. Deplorables would be far less of a reach for me than political elites.
Not likely to be habitual.
I know, we go back about 10 years of bickering from time to time. Not we have just settled in.
Have you looked at Biden’s platform?
Sure. I love Biden’s platform. I just hope that Joe gets elected and the Democratic Party stands by his platform. Locally, the emphasis has been on ousting Trump and BLM, but maybe Joe’s platform is getting attention more in other states. My wife and I have liked Biden for a long time for other reasons, mostly his every-man appeal to ordinary voters. As you know as well as I, then political platforms only matter when the candidate can win their election. Unfortunately, all to often the platform still does not matter after the candidate wins their election. Platforms appear to be most closely tied to fund raising among the general population.