The political aspects of unemployment payments

 

Trump could coast to a win in November if he would embrace his inner Keynes.

Unfortunately he’s constrained by Republican orthodoxy, and right-wing think-tank ideologues who reject government interference in the so-called “free market”.

This ideological opposition is nothing new and was spelled out in 1943 by Polish economist Michael Kalecki in Political Aspects of Full-Employment. “…There is a political background in the opposition to the full employment doctrine, even though the arguments advanced are economic…. The reasons for the opposition of the ‘industrial leaders’ to full employment achieved by government spending… [are]: (i) dislike of government interference in the problem of employment as such; (ii) dislike of… public investment and subsidizing consumption… (iii) dislike of the social and political changes resulting from the maintenance of full employment….

Capitalists [have] a powerful indirect control over government policy: everything which may shake the state of confidence… [might] cause an economic crisis…. The social function of the doctrine of ‘sound finance’ is to make the level of employment dependent on the state of confidence…. The dislike of business leaders for a government spending policy grows even more acute when they come to consider the objects on which the money would be spent…. Public investment… be confined to objects which do not compete with the equipment of private business… suits the businessmen very well. But the scope for public investment of this type is rather narrow….

The maintenance of full employment would cause social and political changes which would give a new impetus to the opposition of the business leaders. The ‘sack’ would cease to play its role as a disciplinary measure. The social position of the boss would be undermined, and the self-assurance and class-consciousness of the working class would grow…. ‘Discipline in the factories’ and ‘political stability’ are more appreciated than profits by business leaders. Their class instinct tells them that lasting full employment is unsound from their point of view, and that unemployment is an integral part of the ‘normal’ capitalist system…”

Presently millions of laid-off American workers are receiving generous unemployment payments, with quite a few a lot more than their shit-jobs, but as Kalecki noted, this state of affairs is anathema to the capitalists and their political lackeys. Governors in red states are already moving to reopen their economies in the teeth of the pandemic in order to end such payments. Make no mistake, the arguments about “freedom” are simply cover for their opposition to government largess.

Trump actually ran as a populist Republican, voicing critique of many of the neoliberal shibboleths embraced by politicians on team red and team blue to the dismay of Beltway pundits. However, since his surprise election he’s governed like a typical Republican, with tax-cuts and extreme opposition to workplace regulations and environmental protections. In the process he’s kowtowed to the “free market” ideologues who populate our nations capital.

It’s darkly humorous to see Trump in the bind he’s in, where he could beat the despicable Biden like a gong if only he were to commit economic heresy.

In this environment, where millions of laid-off Americans stand to lose their jobs, insurance and now unemployment benefits, Trump could gain enormous support by simply doing the right thing.

Crazy, I know.

 

 

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Cry Wolf

 

Our technocratic elite are upset because Americans no longer trust “official news” and are instead relying on conspiracy theories.

But whose fucking fault is that?

Since the first Gulf War we’ve been fed a steady diet of unadulterated bull-shit by “official news”. Babies ripped from incubators. Weapons of mass destruction. Crop dusters filled with poison gas. Saddam palling around with al-Qaeda. Gaddafi feeding his mercenaries Viagra. Assad gassing heroic Syrian “rebels”. Etc.

And the biggest whopper of all–that Trump is a secret Russian agent, only elected through the nefarious machinations of Vladimir Putin.

Last week brought confirmation for what many of us out here on the periphery have known all along. That all of the Russia-gate nonsense was exactly that. Nonsense.

“House Intelligence Committee documents released Thursday reveal that the committee was told two and half years ago that the FBI had no concrete evidence that Russia hacked Democratic National Committee computers to filch the DNC emails published by WikiLeaks in July 2016″

Meanwhile, the Justice Department made public documents showing that when, in January 2017, prosecutors wanted to close the collusion case against Michael Flynn, who briefly served as President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, because they found “no derogatory information” against him, Peter Strzok, the philandering F.B.I. agent later found to be shaping an “insurance policy” against a Trump victory in the 2016 election, cajoled them into keeping it open — absence of evidence be damned.

It gets worse. “It looks like President Obama ordered up phony Russia-gate scandal” [New York Post]. “It’s now clear the Obama-Comey FBI and Justice Department never had anything more substantial than the laughable fiction of the Steele dossier to justify the “counterintelligence” investigation of the Trump campaign. Yet incessant leaks from that supposedly confidential probe wound up consuming the Trump administration’s first months in office — followed by the Bob Mueller-led special counsel investigation that proved nearly the “total witch hunt” that President Trump dubbed it.”

What has been the response to this “official” conspiracy theory coming undone?

Crickets.

That’s right. Move on now. Nothing to see here.

But here’s what I have to say to that sentiment. Move on? Fuck no! I can’t stand Trump, but liberals celebrated and venerated the CIA, FBI and national security state during a massive 4 year witch-hunt that destroyed the progressive momentum from Bernie’s 2016 campaign and brought us to the brink of a nuclear conflict with Russia.

They’ll probably get away with it. The American public, thanks to decades of 24 hour cable TV “news churn”, has the attention span of a gnat. And there’s always another bright, shiny object.

Plus, they have the power of the Mighty-Wurlitzer in the corporate media who has been beating the Russia-gate narrative from the start, and now appear to be doubling down with their lies and obfuscation, if the New York Times is any indication. The paper’s report on the dismissal of the Flynn case marked the judgment down as “the latest example of Attorney General William P. Barr’s efforts to chisel away at the results of the Russia investigation.” The Times ran two further pieces attacking Flynn and Barr in Saturday’s editions, here and here, and a straight-out character assassination of Flynn on Sunday.

Unlike the fairy tale where the little boy cries wolf so often that no one believes him and the wolf eats him, the corporate media has come to understand that if they dress up their lies in partisan garb they can retail them endlessly. Thus Obama became a Kenyon/Muslim who lacked a birth certificate on Fox News, while Trump became a secret Russian agent who was Putin’s gay lover in the Times and on MSNBC. They’re just feeding their audience what they want.

Gonzo journalist Matt Taibbi well describes this phenomenon in his book Hate Inc., where he describes how “each consumer had an outlet somewhere to match his or her political beliefs. …We sold anger, and we did it mainly by feeding audiences what they wanted to hear. Mostly, this involved cranking out stories about people our viewers loved to hate.”

 This is not a good sign. Our republic is based at a fundamental level on compromise, on being able to come together based on the same shared reality. In this environment of weaponized, partisan “news” I’m not sure that is possible anymore. This is why America in the age of Trump cannot self-correct.

It is why another Russia-gate is guaranteed.

In  the meantime, get ready for lots of moral scoldings from “experts” about our lack of trust in “experts”.

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Long, hot summer

 

Conventional wisdom has it that an armed revolt would stand no chance against the US military with its tanks and jet fighters. But is that true?

Civil wars, for starters, are not like conventional conflicts. They are messy affairs with conflicting and disparate groups of combatants. There are multiple avenues of loyalty and power.

There’s also that inconvenient fact that the US military has not won any of the counter-insurgency wars that it has waged since Vietnam. Just look at Afghanistan, where a rag-tag group of Islamic insurgents has fought the vaunted US military to a draw.

Which brings up another important point. An insurgency doesn’t have to win but to simply not lose.

Meanwhile, in the wake of our response to the coronavirus and stay at home orders, the conditions for an armed conflict seems to be gestating. Unfortunately, all roads lead to highly problematic social outcomes as the majority of citizens see government dysfunction and worse indifference to their plight. Neighbors and their families have lost jobs and benefits, while sinking further into debt. Food shortages and hunger have made a startling comeback in the wake of the current pandemic.

What kind of country tells its citizens to make a choice between risking their lives or risking hunger for their families?

It’s like we’re led by fools who can’t see that everyone has a breaking point. Desperate people do desperate things, especially when they’re heavily armed.

And, now with the protests against the lockdown we’re getting a taste of what’s to come.

“Multiple armed gunmen storm Michigan’s State House, State police are protecting @GovWhitmer and blocking the gunmen from gaining access to the house floor.”

But nothing to worry about. Our tech overlords have got this handled.

In 2017, representatives of Facebook, Twitter, and Google were instructed on the US Senate floor that it is their responsibility to “quell information rebellions” and adopt a “mission statement” expressing their commitment to “prevent the fomenting of discord.”

“Civil wars don’t start with gunshots, they start with words,” the representatives were told. “America’s war with itself has already begun. We all must act now on the social media battlefield to quell information rebellions that can quickly lead to violent confrontations and easily transform us into the Divided States of America.”

I think maybe we’re past that point and I’m not sure our putative leaders have gamed this out. Having 30 % unemployment and citizens turfed out of their homes and apartments for missing payments, with hungry children is not a great scenario for anyone, even the wealthy elite decamped to their summer homes.

The Hamptons is not a defensible position.

Not to be all negative-Nancy but I’ve come to believe that the default setting will be to some sort of dystopian, cyber-punk outcome where regional and local oligarchs fill the power vacuum left at the Federal level and remain indifferent to the suffering. This outcome is consistent with declining life expectancy never having become a political issue, along with deaths of despair and the opioid epidemic.

Benign or malign neglect, it comes to the same thing.

If violence erupts I think you will quickly see elites barricading themselves into their fortresses, to be protected by unmanned drones and private military contractors. Guard labor would be employed as enforcers and protectors for the rich. In due course these local oligarchs then would develop militias and death squads. A quick glance at history shows this dynamic happens again, and again, and again. It’s guaranteed.

Libertarians, who firmly believe that government is the only source of despotism, would be in for a rude surprise.

In the meantime it’s going to be interesting. What happens when there’s another outbreak? I remain doubtful that a second, government-ordered, lockdown would be accepted by the public. It may be rejected – especially in the U.S., where being ‘anti-lockdown’, and perceiving the pandemic more as a sinister ‘globalist’ plot against American ‘Rights’, is fast becoming a mainstream political movement.

What happens when some states just open up while others try to reopen responsibly? Will those “responsible” states begin limiting access to those from states which have chosen to simply let people die. Will this will mean using State police or calling up the National Guard? Going further, where will the loyalties of the police and National Guard lie?

Just asking.

The problem with insurrections is that all kinds of bad shit happens. Those who are left hopeless, jobless, and without assets could easily turn against those who are better off – and should these people become desperate and angry, our society could begin to disintegrate.

Right now our feral elite are desperate to go back to the hyper-globalized, financialized political/economy that provides their wealth and power but I’m not sure that’s possible. As a famous statesman once said–“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

It looks to be a long, hot summer.

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Looting Opportunity

 

We don’t do competent governance anymore. Everything is simply a looting opportunity.

There are clusters of competence, of course, but they are overwhelmed by incompetence, corruption and callous disregard for anyone who isn’t wealthy or powerful. The elites have become feral, out of touch with actually producing anything of value and only capable of playing political games. They get money by manipulating politics, not by genuine production. Pump up the stock market, let the workers starve and run out of rent money, shovel money to the rich, so they can swoop in to buy up distressed assets.

Why is it okay for the Fed to create $1.5 trillion to buy stocks to prevent rich people from losing, when it’s not okay to print $1 trillion to pay for free Medicare for the entire population? Remember in the debates during the spring when Biden and Klobuchar kept saying, “Medicare-for-All will cost $1 trillion over 10 years.” But suddenly the Fed can create $1.5 trillion in one week just to buy stocks.

It’s perverse Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), where only the rich should be allowed to print money for themselves, but the government should not be allowed to print money for any public purpose, any social purpose — not for medicine, not for schools, not for personal budgets, not for full employment — but only to give to the 1 percent.

The one-time $1200 payment is derisory. Meanwhile, Republcians and Democrats shovel trillions to malefactors of great wealth, unanimously, without a single dissenting vote. Virtually all the relief money has flowed to the top, not the bottom. Landlords and tenants are in crisis. Unemployment is going over 30% and in many places higher. A vast swathe of American small business will be destroyed, and is unlikely to recover in a generation. Meanwhile, corporations, like Boeing, which borrowed money to do stock buy backs, or to give money to their private equity purchasers are bailed-out, but many small businesses will go under.

If you had consciously tried to engineer a massive public health disaster, you couldn’t hope to match the ways in which the whole American system has been calibrated to transform this crisis into a catastrophe. Decades of racist, anti-worker, and plutocratic government policy has created the ideal conditions for a pandemic to turn the United States into a failed state.

What happened? Well, simply put, the rich grabbed hold of political power, took over the government and started to unlevel the playing field. Wherever they can exercise their power they do. They were aided massively by neoliberal ideology, with its emphasis on the sacrosanctness of the market. The result is that over the last 40 years, a large majority of American workers (us) have seen their real incomes stagnate or decline.

It turns out that everything has a cost, and years of attacking government, squeezing it dry and draining its morale, inflicts a heavy cost that the public has to pay in lives. All the programs defunded, stockpiles depleted, and plans scrapped meant that we had become a second-rate nation. What we’re finding out is that government programs in the United States are not designed to solve problems. Rather, they are designed to pretend to solve a given problem so that this problem doesn’t require an amount of spending that would necessitate financial sacrifice on the part of the wealthy.

It would be easy if we had one party that was decent but we have a tag team of evil, opportunistic sociopaths, who would sell out their own grandmother for a campaign donation. We have bad cop, worse cop, where one party supports a brutal, unrestrained version of neoliberalism, and another party supports a marginally less brutal, slightly mitigated version of neoliberalism but with “identity politics” and “safe-spaces”.

Want sprinkles with that scoop of dog-shit?

Presently we have Senate Majority leader and Republican, Mitch McConnell telling state pension funds to drop dead, while, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers is now advising Joe Biden’s presidential campaign on economic policy, including its plans to revive the U.S. economy after the coronavirus pandemic. Got that? The party that is supposedly less evil is bringing back Larry-freaking-Summers, the man who has been wrong about everything. Here’s how one pundit described Summers tenure. “Over the past three decades, Summers has amassed a policy record of almost unrivaled social ruin.”

Lately it feels as if I could write a variation of this post every week, but I’m not sure how long this continues. What can’t go on forever doesn’t. History demonstrates that political institutions and the behavior of ruling elites largely determine the economic success or failure of countries and that momentous political changes take place when a nations elite and the major institutions they control lose public trust.

We’ll talk about what comes after next week.

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The Gray Lady

 

Of all the topics I discuss probably the most confusing is propaganda.

This week I’m going to focus on the New York Times, since it’s the premier-elite newspaper that all other media take their cues from. Going further, the Times, sets the tone insofar as class is concerned. You know, “class”, the 5-letter word that we’re not supposed to use here in America, where everyone is supposedly “middle-class”.

To help us we’ll use as a guide Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s, Manufacturing Consent, with their propaganda model. Their 5 propaganda filters for the corporate media are: ownership; advertising; the reliance on government and business experts; flak as a means of disciplining the media; and anti-communism.

The Times, along with the Washington Post, is an essential cog in the billionaire-owned corporate media that controls the dominant narrative. Indeed, many of our feral elite get both their news and opinions from Times, which largely exists to serve and defend the owners of capital and provide a facade of liberal enlightenment values. In other words, if you really want to understand our all-American propaganda system, understanding the Times is crucial.

It will be fun.

Let’s start with some basics skills of critical reading. What are you reading for? News? Information? Research? Or simply enjoyment? Personally I like to read the Times as background research to help understand the values and preferences of the feral elite who rule us.

Not all of them. If you want to understand elite Republicans the Wall Street Journal is the place.

The Gray Lady, on the other hand, is the standard bearer for the modern day Democratic party. Not the one popularized by FDR and his New Deal, but the neoliberal Democrats who voted enthusiastically for Barak Obama, and the Clinton’s. Crucially, the Times is the loadstar for the professional/managerial/class–also known as liberals. A simple examination of the ads located within the pages reveals a class bias that’s driven by the first 2 filters of the propaganda model–ownership and advertising. After all, the readership of the Times are wealthy enough to buy the products and frequent the businesses that advertise within its pages.

As you read the Times, it’s important to use the table of contents on the 2nd page to examine the stories that the Times is featuring. This way you can divide them into categories. While the Times is a propaganda organ there are subtle differences. Many articles are not propaganda, are well written, and you can safely read every word as gospel. Others, especially the ones that concern economics, foreign policy and politics, are ones that you have to approach with extreme caution and read with a jaundiced eye.

Articles in the Times concerning politics, foreign policy and economics bring the 3rd, 4th and 5th propaganda filters into play. The reliance on government and business experts means that the range of opinion on politics and policies ranges from neoliberalism to neoconservatism. With flak, the Times, is constantly disciplined into presenting a very conservative viewpoint as their list of opinion columnists attests. Though they present themselves as “liberal” they feel the need to maintain a house conservative in Bret Stephens, even as the rest of the crew–David Brooks, Thomas Friedman, Ross Dougherty, Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, etc–are hardly wild-eyed socialists. And, even though communism has been defunct for 30 years, the anti-communism filter can be seen hard at work in the Time’s coverage of the Democratic primaries with it’s clear bias towards Joe Biden, coupled with its extreme hostility towards Bernie Sanders.

Moreover, the Times is a reliable mouthpiece for the US empire. It hasn’t hurt that many of the Times top writers and columnist over the years have been US intelligence agents working to advance “Public Diplomacy”, through covert methods like operation Mockingbird. Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of neoconservatism, the prevailing orthodoxy in the US-centralized power alliance has been to preserve the unipolar world order at any cost. All US foreign policy has been a direct or indirect result of this agenda ever since. The Times is an enthusiastic cheerleader, parroting the official line, whether bashing Russia non-stop with Russia-gate, or, now, neatly pivoting to bash China as the instigator of the pandemic.

This empire cheerleader role is most apparent in articles that focus on countries like Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and of course, Russia and China, and are almost always propaganda. It is well written propaganda, with a lot of true details and much subtlety so you have to read very carefully. A good tactic with such articles is to read the headline, then contrast that message with the end. A lot of the time they bury the good parts at the end of an article since they know most people only read the first part.

The importance of understanding the role and influence of the Times cannot be overstated. The key takeaway is that when it comes to serious matters such as economics, foreign policy and politics it’s is hardly different from state controlled media and a critical reader should consider the Times to be Pravda on the Hudson.

Caveat emptor.

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The Right Stuff

 

As we approach another election featuring two repulsive candidates it’s more important than ever to question what makes an acceptable leader?

It’s become obvious that those who rise to the top are those who are the most talented examples of those who are blind or submissive to power and those who can think most cleverly without thinking critically. Meanwhile, our economic system (neoliberalism) is set up in a way that rewards sociopathy with wealth and power, which means high-functioning sociopaths tend to rise to the top in business, government, and media.

The term for this cadre is a technocrat, but the few who rise to the very top are the ones who can put a happy face on the ruthlessness of our neoliberal economic policies. Think Bill Clinton, or Barak Obama.

In reality, Clinton completed the conservative counter-attack that Ronald Reagan began – much as Barack Obama would do to further the national security state after the horrors of the Iraq invasion. Neither Clinton nor Obama changed the substance of our economic and foreign policies, but they did make them look deceptively attractive by tinkering with social policy.

Were the neoliberal ideology made apparent and articulated by these erstwhile progressives, no one except the billionaires and their lackey’s would vote for such a system. However, neoliberalism is nothing if not adaptable, constantly altering its shape and appearance to deceive us. Powers goal is to keep looking like it has become something new, something innovative. Because the power-structure does not want change, it has to find front-men and women who can personify a transformation that is, in truth, entirely hollow. “Hope and Change”, anyone?

In the upcoming election we will be endlessly told how it will be the most important contest ever with the fate of our country hanging in the balance, but that will be a lie. When you look behind the facade there’s really not much difference between Biden and Trump.

Our liberal gatekeepers have been shrieking about Trump since forever but he’s turned out to be not much different from Obama who turned out to be not that much different than Bush. The angst over Trump, I believe, is largely due to the fact that he isn’t a high-functioning sociopath of the caliber of Obama. He’s so obvious that he gives the game away. Hence the concern from elite political and media talking heads. Also, unlike an Obama or a Clinton, he too clearly illuminates what is really at stake for power–wealth maximisation at any cost–and thereby risks unmasking the deception. Obama, crucially, could keep the sociopathy on the down low, while Trump tweets it from the rooftops.

Going further, the #Resistance to Trump has been largely spearheaded by wealthy members of the professional-managerial-class (PMC), who were Obama’s biggest supporters. I believe that their opposition to Trump is magnified by the secret guilt they feel to be the largest beneficiaries of the neoliberal, globalized economic system that Trump purportedly ran against. These PMC’s have benefitted mightily as American middle-class jobs have been exported to China, resulting in a flood of cheap electronics and consumer products.

They’ve also benefitted from the immigration of Third-World workers to the US. Highly educated woman have achieved great gains in the professional sector (particularly in urban areas), because other women–typically women of color, often immigrants–are fulfilling the traditional care-taking roles within the household, such as childcare, preparing and serving meals and cleaning the house. Thus PMC families have typically been able to profit from the wife working, despite hiring people to perform domestic labor, by paying these workers often non-livable wages for their services.

Trump, as you might recall from the way back-machine, campaigned against all of these things, especially how they affected America’s white-working-class. Of course, he’s turned out to be a typical Republican president with his concern for tax cuts, resource extraction and slashing environmental regulations. Paradoxically, he’s been the right figure head for the populist moment. If neoliberalism has to choose, it typically prefers an insurgent on the right to the left. A right-wing populist figure, like Trump, can usefully serve power too, because he dons the clothes of an insurgent while doing little to actually change the underlying structure.

By the time someone runs for president they’ve more than demonstrated those skills I mentioned at the beginning. That they are blind or submissive to power, can think cleverly without thinking critically, and can reliably deploy their skills where they are directed to do so. Ultimately, these candidates have made Faustian pacts as a condition for being granted access to power.

The election of 2020 will be, once again, a protest election, with the American people desperate for a change of policy trajectory. However, our feral elite have made it clear, once again, that they have no interest in changing a throughly corrupt system that provides them enormous rewards. Indeed, it’s like they’re giving us the finger. Team Red is running a rapist for president. Team Blue is running a rapist for president.

Let them eat cake.

 

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Forest for the Trees

 

At Camelotkidd, I’ve settled into a routine of writing critical articles on neoliberalism, neoconservatism, our feral elite, and propaganda, because I realized that these were subjects that not only interested me but were key to making sense of our chaotic world.

Neoliberalism is about where the money is going. Neoconservatism is about where the resources and weapons are going. An examination of America’s feral elite illuminates the actors.

And by studying our feral elite, especially the projects, candidates, think tanks and media outlets they pour their wealth into, I’ve learned that they exert an incredible amount of influence on shaping how we think about all of these things. Moreover, this dynamic has the advantage of nullifying the corporate media propaganda, with its emphasis on narrative, narrative, narrative.

With each of these topics I can simply watch raw data and ignore all the ways in which the corporate media shapes these stories. Nearly everything that makes up a breathless headline is either propaganda or distracting bull-shit, like summer of the shark in the run up to 9/11, and either way you can safely ignore it. Just watch where the money is going, where the resources are going, where the weapons are going and what the feral elite are doing, and ignore all the narrative.

Neat, huh?

This deconstruction allows us some perspective. Ultimately the “real world”, as it is presented to us, rarely reflects anything we might usefully be able to label as objective reality. It is a set of political, economic and social priorities that have been manufactured for us.

The pandemic has disrupted the matrix. At a moment like this of real crisis, one that overshadows all else, we have a chance – though only a chance – to recognize this truth and develop our own critical perspective. A perspective that truly belongs to us, and not to others. And for that we have to thank a virus. The Coronavirus has put a bright spotlight on the true nature of our world, and in the process has called all of the previous dominant ideologies into question. The desperate flailing from the corporate media about this bad person or that bad country are meant to distract from this uncomfortable reality. Neoliberalism, neoconservatism, the idea of a wise, meritocratic elite have all been proven to be crazy cults. The only thing holding the whole thing together is western propaganda, which is first rate. But even that is starting to fray at the edges. Once the public has caught a glimpse of the naked emperor, well, you get the picture.

However, it’s becoming painfully obvious that our elite managers simply cannot imagine any other ideologies. For instance, as the pandemic calls into question our dubious expenditures on “defense”, which are apparently spent to enrich arms dealers, Joe Biden’s crack team of neoconservative foreign policy “intellectuals” proclaims that the US must gear up to confront China, and Russia.

Plus ça change, as the French say.

And, of course, the neoliberals haven’t changed their spots. Under cover of the public’s fear, and of justified concerns about the state of the economy and future employment, our government is transferring huge sums of public money to the biggest banks and corporations. Politicians controlled by big business and media owned by big business are pushing through this corporate robbery without scrutiny, for reasons that after Citizens v. United should be obvious. They know our attention is too overwhelmed by the virus for us to assess intentionally mystifying arguments about the supposed economic benefits, about yet more illusory trickle-down. Plus, your check for $1200 is in the mail. Trump said so.

I keep coming back to the idea of how in America our ideologies are fucked-up because of greed. Neoconservatives monetized the national security state because government is bad, or something, plus they have to make a buck. The neoliberals moved high-productivity, high-valued jobs offshore in order to raise corporate profits at the expense of domestic consumer incomes because of comparative advantage, or something, plus they can cash out their stock options.

I think Alan Greenspans came the closest to confessing to this cult of greedy-ideology when he admitted that there might be a flaw in his model. He had read so much Ayn Rand that he didn’t quite grasp the fact that his beloved hero’s were greed-driven short-term thinkers—people whose only vision was “I want even more.”

At this point in the game I think the only thing left is narrative. The whole thing just keeps rolling along thanks to our all-American propaganda where everyone has their own flavor of reality. 32 flavors of ways in which to justify the rotten edifice lurking below the surface.

Of course, we don’t have to accept this. The pandemic is an opportunity for a different world. It’s up to us. We have a choice between acceding more control to a dystopian nexus of corporate/government power as we did after 9/11. Or we can collectively recognize the massive failure everywhere of Western leadership and construct a more liveable and sustainable society.

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