Friday, May 27, 2016

Hillary v Trump

Recently, I had a conversation with some folks on FB about Hillary vs. Trump:

Trump is an angel compared to Hillary.

Like · Reply · 1 · 3 hrs

David ApplemanDavid Appleman The people to whom Trump is an angel are the same ones that worshiped Napoleon, Hitler, Lenin, Tojo, Franco, Mussolini... you get the point. Simple minds are attracted to simple, black and white solutions, especially at a time of economic hardship and social complexity. It's usually the wrong solution. Although there have been strong-men that have actually been good for the society - Attaturk helped shorten the chaotic interregnum after the Ottoman empire in Turkey. Even today, Georgia (not US) has a millionaire strongman Saakashvili who could be really turning them around. His biggest enemy is another power-hungry demagogue, Putin. Perhaps his need and ability to fight off Putin is making him seem more democratic. (Turns out Lenin was a peach next to Stalin.) But real good guys are rare. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and few of our lifetime politicians could possibly be as corrupt as Trump, the uber-capitalist, self-aggrandizing, egotistical moron. Bribing and direct influencing will become the way things are done. Our constitution will lie in ruins. This is not a man that cares one iota of America, its greatness, or its people.
Christopher FrancisDavid Appleton Trump is no worse than the Clinton wench or wild Bernie. They are merely the face of a country imploding from broken promises, corruption in ALL quarters and the overwhelming cancer of entitlement. Like all Empires before it the rot is its own demise.

I started writing a response, and couldn't stop:

Is "entitlement" really the cancer, or is it the inequity that has been built up over 40 years of a failed economy that's resulted because of trickle-down and supply-side economics focused on making the rich, richer? (Which may have been thought up by the right, but was actually followed, albeit at a slower pace, by B. Clinton and even Obama - the truth is that we actually haven't been a Socialist-leaning entitlement oriented economy in many, many years.) We wouldn't be the first empire that collapsed due to the huge inequities. Louis XVI had a parliament but together, they did as their rich friends wanted and refused to tax themselves - the poor eventually cracked. 100 years of chaos and suffering followed, while France variously lurched from Napoleon and other strongmen to completely ineffectual representative democracies.

Supply side isn't the only culprit. The technology revolution has been a big part of the picture. Information technology (including data gathering and mining as well as automation and robotics) has created previously unthinkable levels of productivity. And that trend will continue. As less and less people, with more and more concentrated education and specialized capabilities turn out more and more products, the well-educated, privileged few are going to amass all the wealth. Demanding a living wage for burger-flippers, truck drivers, and dog-shit scoopers is a temporary remedy because they’ll all eventually be replaced by automation. The only manual jobs that aren't automated today are the ones that have a low enough labor cost that someone hasn't bothered to do the work to automate it. Garlic is still harvested by hand - but mechanical harvesters have attachments to handle most crops. As soon as the garlic harvesting workers (immigrants) complain enough about their low wages and treatment, someone will invent the garlic harvester attachment.

The military-industrial complex is another big piece of the problem.  The amount of our country’s overall productivity and output that’s been channeled into wars and weapons is bigger than it’s ever been.  We have economic reasons to want to start wars and kill innocents – it’s how a significant portion of us put food on the table.  Why are the European socialist economies doing so well while providing so much free governmental services?  The answer is that they’re not spending half of their money on weapons and war.  Entitlements have nothing to do with it.  It’s war that’s killing us.  We have to change that – put more money into beating the swords into plowshares.  But just like changing our corrupt government, it’s going to be hard – so many people are invested in making swords and so many people are invested in paying off government officials.

Clearly, we need change.  We need to recognize that there is a new set of economic drivers.  When we look at Europe and Japan, we do so with derision – oh, we’re much better than them.  We have freedom!  Our government doesn’t tell us what to do (except for contraception, abortion, and our solution to violence - more violence, where everybody has to walk around armed to the teeth).  Yeah, actually, their governments don't tell them what to do any more than ours.  They have freedom, too.  They have the most fundamental freedom – that of the press.  They can criticize and change their leaders, just like us.  But they have figured out something else.  They have figured out that this business of “entitlement” is not a part of arguing about the freedoms.  What other people get from government does not necessarily effect what you get and what you can do in a negative way.  In fact, giving them a share may be all that's allowing you to pursue your dream.

The government redistributing wealth in some form is going to be necessary if anything looking like a free market society is going to survive.  In the future, the government will have a greater and greater hand at redistributing the wealth.  If all that money can’t be redistributed to the bottom, nobody will spend the money to keep it all going.  So governments will spend the rich people’s money – they’ll provide for global education – well beyond high school.  They’ll provide for global health care.  They’ll provide for a decent minimum subsistence.  Socialism?  Entitlements?  Maybe so…  but how else are we all going to keep the economic machine rolling?  The rich are as rich as they’ve ever been.  They’re not creating jobs.  They’re not insuring that people have access to health care.  They’re not even bothering to provide enough money to keep our environment going, or to keep our transportation infrastructure up and running.

Okay – back to the Donald and Hillarious.

The Donald is dangerous.  He represents the uneducated and scornful guy who’s convinced that he hasn’t gotten his share because the big bad government has taken it all.  He represents the destruction of our government and our basic way of life.  Even where strongmen have eventually been good for their people, they have torn apart the governmental infrastructure, and often changed the social culture that existed.

Hillary is part of the machine.  She is as corrupt and evil as the worst part of the machine, but she is invested in the machine and so will keep it going to protect her fellow rich.

Voting for Trump doesn’t make you a Nazi – a nationalist socialist.  It makes you an anarchist.  You just want to blow everything up.  Let whatever falls out, fall out – it’s got to be better than what we have.  Suppose it isn’t?  Suppose there’s something worse?  Suppose there’s a 100 years of chaos and suffering, when people that make Trump look like a smart, kind, capable, leader, lead us into atomic wars, depressions that make 1929 seem like the good old days.

Suppose there’s a better way out.  The machine has to be changed – corruption has to be stopped.  But can’t we do this slowly, with smaller steps – evolutionary change?  Hillary represents that to me.  Would Bernie have been better?  Maybe – but you know, with a congress still leaning right, Bernie would have had a helluva time – he probably would have done no better than Obama – which, by the way is NOT TOO SHABBY.  Affordable Care Act?  Probably as historically significant as Social Security and Medicare.  Hillary will keep it moving forward.  The rich will stay rich - their money will still be sitting in Panama, the Caymans, and the corporate bank accounts, only a small amount will trickle down to create better jobs and a better standard of living for all Americans.

But if Hillary appoints the next supreme, we're talking about a game changer.  (She'll also let Ginsburg retire.)  We’re talking about something akin to actual representation of our population in the house – no more gerrymandering.  And we’re talking about a restoration of voting rights – our congress will look a lot more like ourselves.  The truth is that we are mostly socialists, we want to take care of each other and we want the government to be an agent of providing that care, and to do it effectively.  And we’ll all keep pushing to get the money out of government, starting with publicly funded elections.  Guarantees?  There are none.  But the odds of you and your children's life improving under Hillary are far better than with a bigoted, caustic, circus strongman like Trump.

Hillary isn’t going to get it all done.  But she’s going to take some very necessary steps.  And she’s going to keep it all together – she’ll give our grandchildren a chance.  With Trump, my granddaughter might as well turn to her dad and ask, “what future?”