Posts tagged ‘Global Warming’

Holy Mackerel, or Republicans are Evil

I don’t know what to tell you. I started this blog to write about policy and the failed logic of conservatives and some Democrats and now I am reduced to trying to explain insanity. Oh, and I would have titled this particular blog Holy Shit, but I am trying to clean up my language. I listen to the news now and must say holy shit at least 50 times a day. Oh what I would give for a slow news day.

I have spoken of the fire and fury and then the doubling down, the myriad of contradictory messages coming out of the government, but the one that got me the most was the Village Idiot’s comments about the 755 State Department employees told to go home, actually thanking Vald:

“I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down our payroll, and as far as I’m concerned I’m very thankful that he let go a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll,” Trump said. “There’s no real reason for them to go back. I greatly appreciate the fact that we’ve been able to cut our payroll of the United States. We’re going to save a lot of money.”

So people who have dedicated their lives to foreign service are just dead weight on a payroll? Now you know how he really feels just about all Americans, they are a means to an end and when they are no longer necessary, kiss your ass goodbye. If you did not think there was Russian collusion or some kind of a Russian hold on the Village Idiot, this should give you pause.

Republicans are living out a self-fulfilling prophesy. They claim government is incompetent and now, by cracky, they have instituted one that makes incompetent look absolutely first-rate. I have said many times, and been accused of hyperbole, that Republicans are evil. But step back for a moment and think about it. The Village Idiot is not an aberration, but the result of a long campaign to dumb down and lie to the American people. Then they are shocked, shocked I tell you at the monster they have created. Then when he got elected, they all fell in line.  How’s that for evil?

The critical evidence in their evilness was the failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. They only needed 50 votes in the Senate and lo and behold, some of them figured out they had no solutions for the replace part of the replace and the repeal, and at least for some, was too cruel (and maybe career ending which is the only thing most politicians respond to). In fact Republicans have no workable solutions for almost any of our critical challenges we face today. They never had to have any as they opposed Obama and became ever more ideological, and now their ideology is a dead-end with no space to turn around. The difficult problems like economic inequality, global warming, failing infrastructure, education costs going through the roof, and loss of high paying middle class jobs are not solved “by the miracle of the market place”.

But we are faced with an increasingly insane* approach to North Korea which could kill millions and destroy much of the world’s economy, and no approach on the “nonexistent” global warming, both will have dire consequences for it now turns out, us, and our children, and we have insanity and evilness at the helm. Had we elected the establishment Hillary and a few progressive Democrats, both situations would have been in good hands.

And all of this makes no mention of a federal budget or the debt ceiling crisis looming. Once again ideology is going to get in the way. The Republicans will scream deficit, deficit, deficit and they will not authorize any more debt, except we already incurred it when they voted for things so now what they are doing is welshing on paying their bills. An it has become an article of faith with many Americans that debt is just bad and we should balance the budget. There is an element of truth herein controling our debt, but in general both are wrong and I have written copiously about why they are wrong so I won’t go into it again.

So they are poised to destroy America as a leader in the world, maybe start WWIII, do nothing about global warming that will destroy much of the world as we know it, destroy our economic standing in the world, and have no workable solutions for any of our domestic challenges except less government and cutting taxes, and you wonder why I know they are evil? They enabled everything we see before us. The people who pride themselves in believing hard work and discipline is all that is required to succeed, have been selling us a free ride for the last 50 years and nothing is free. Government leveling the playing field and making investments in our future, not our rich is what it is going to take. That would be heresy in Republican land.

One final thought. I watched the Village Idiot claim that Manafort is a nice man, but basically who knows. He knows. He put him in charge of everything for two months. He now knows that the government has the goods on collusion and illegal financial dealing and he is trying to distance himself, with the defense, “I had no idea.” It won’t wash which is why we should be very afraid about North Korea. It is the ultimate subject changer. Have a lovely weekend. I am stocking up on survival rations. That would be wine and lamb. Oh, and some beer and wings when I play my DVD recordings of all ball games. I already have a generator.

*You know I do have one crazy thought. While North Korea is crazy and unpredictable, maybe if they see that Trump is the same way, they might actually fear him. Then again they might actually engage him in a war. We will see.

Surprise!

North Korea is not a surprise, yet it captured the news yesterday, whether true or not. Sooner or later they were going to get there and like Trump the President, who they are is no surprise from who they have been. China and the United States, the two parties that could have solved this together, have failed to, looking to their own selfish needs and kicking the can down the road. The can has now arrived. No more road to kick down. And North Korea is no Soviet Union of old. Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) may not force people to be rational. I have argued for years that North Korea is a living hell on earth and that China and the United States could not or would not force regime change was a political and moral failure. Now we have saber rattling with a moron for President.

Make no mistake, the United States could not solve this without China. And China in its own self-serving needs for trade and a firm border to keep immigrants out and buffer to US backed South Korea, could not bring itself to deal with a painful problem. And too many times we have thrown our hands up and just said well, maybe the government will fall. In North Korea, falling means taking everyone with you. That is the critical understanding we have failed to understand. So now we have entered very dangerous times because we refused to do the hard things when we needed to. Now the hard thing is unimaginable. And we have a moron for President.

Oh, and global warming is happening faster and may be more drastic than anticipated. Surprise! Not. We have known about global warming since the 1980’s. We have seen our impact on the planet, not just its weather, but its species for hundreds of years and we do nothing. Oh there are little movements around the edges, but business must come first. Now we are faced with the reality of once again kicking the can down the road, and the road is coming to an end. No more kicking. But like the North Korea problem, we have a moron for a President (not to mention a whole Party in charge of the country whose litmus test is not believing in science).

There has been some debate about whether the latest government report on the rapid increase in the impacts of global warming might force the moron President to change his stance. Sometimes I wonder what planet these people are on. Donald Trump got here illegally by laundering money for the Russians and he certainly colluded with them in the election. The investigation is tightening and he needs his base to terrify Republicans into not impeaching him when the other shoe drops, as it most certainly will. So he is not going to change on global warming, and we are going to see it it full force, and like the Korean thing, the outcome will be disastrous.

Meanwhile in the world of economic inequality, the inequality grows. And sooner or later the markets will come crashing down because the part of the pie that goes to the majority of consumers will be too small to sustain it. The markets are at record highs this week, believing that our moron President will cut regulations and taxes so they can further increase their profits with no concern for the damage they are doing. We have legitimized economic inequality by believing a high tide lifts all boats, except it hasn’t, and we have also kicked this can down the road, and sooner, rather than later, the market is going to crash.

Are you sensing a trend here? We Americans, who can do anything, have done nothing. When things got hard, we went looking for easy simple answers that ignore reality. Enter the Republican Party, facilitated by the Democrats, who know how to pander to Americans looking for the easy answer. Ronald Reagan, the prince of government is the problem, told us to be selfish and seek out gains for ourselves and everyone would prosper. Kiss “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” goodbye. We got tax cuts pay for themselves and the private sector will solve all problems. Driven our roads lately? We are starting to look third world. But don’t forget their main message, investing in government through taxes is a waste of money. Now look at us.

We are reaching a point where ignorance is considered a virtue (remember the rural wisdom of Sarah Palin?),where the ignorance of the base chose a leader that could finally push us over a cliff. We are approaching a critical turning point in the history of our world, conservatism has run its course and almost destroyed us, and we have a moron for President. I don’t think we can wait four years. If Trump continues his “fire and fury” (remember how well shock and awe worked out?) rhetoric, we may not have to worry about global warming as the aftermath of a nuclear war could be much worse. But if we somehow get through this, will we have learned our lesson? Or will we go looking for the next easy answer and not doing the hard things that make life and our country great? I am not optimistic after watching the last 50 years.

America really does have some amazingly hard working and smart individuals and we could solve these problems if we had a leader that made Americans aware of their failures and showed us a path forward.  Even the mindless base of Donald Trump might be led out of the wilderness of ignorance if they understood the challenges before us and a leader who inspires sacrifice.  But where is he/she?  Right now the one we got thinks the solution to jobs is to bring back coal which is never coming back and backed up by a pack or sience and reality deniers.  Hey! Bring on the fire and fury! All we need is a leader who can one again inspire us with, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” and get on with it.  So far we got the moron President and his scared shitless Party.

Willful Ignorance

I think that about describes where we are.  I was watching Vice News (HBO) yesterday while trying to lift weights (Vice is about the only place where news is actually news, not political reporting and they report on what is happening in the world).  Vice was reporting on rising sea levels and how many of Cheeto-Heads properties will be affected and may be he ought to get on board.  Then they interviewed some old lady walking along the water front near one of his properties that thought it was all nonsense.  I literally shouted at her willful ignorance.  The anger I felt toward her was not healthy.  I think it is a reaction to watching willful ignorance being acted out today by Cheeto-Head and his cronies as they gut a government they have no clue how it works or what they are doing.  Willful ignorance is what got us here and my tolerance for it is now nonexistent.

Paul Krugman gave us this this morning to maybe understand how willful ignorance has been cultivated and grown to support Republican ideology, and now it is bearing fruit, sour fruit:

Think for a minute about the vision of government and its role that the right has been peddling for decades.

In this vision, much if not most government spending is a complete waste, doing nobody any good. The same is true of government regulations. And to the extent to which spending does help anyone, it’s Those People — lazy, undeserving types who just so happen to be a bit, well, darker than Real Americans.

I have heard a version of this where I live (conservative country) for years. Now they are trying to “fix” Obamacare and cut all that “waste” in government, except they don’t have a clue how to fix anything and their concept of waste is way out of proportion to reality.  Once you start believing your own lies, then there is no way to understand what does need fixing.

Thanks to these misperceptions, carefully nurtured by right-wing media, politicians can often get away with running on promises of drastic spending cuts: Many, perhaps most voters don’t see how such cuts would affect their lives.

But what will happen if anti-big-government politicians find themselves in a position to put their agenda into practice? Voters will quickly get a lesson in what slashing spending really means — and they won’t be happy.

I guess the real question is how many people will be killed, lose everything, and how much damage can the country sustain before willful ignorance gives way to enlightenment?  Willful ignorance is how ideology gets firmly rooted in place.  Willful ignorance has a long history in human civilization in our belief in religion.  So I guess you can see we have maybe an innate gene that tells us to selectively pick out the facts supporting what we want to believe instead of looking at the whole body of knowledge and asking uncomfortable questions.  The former is comfortable and quite frankly lazy.  The later can be disturbing and require mental work.  It is called critical thinking and what really makes us human.

I guess that is why cults survive.  They give everyone something very simple to believe in that answers all the questions and you can just go mindlessly through life assuming you have found the path.  That is embodied in the Republican worship of the market place, all government is bad, and if we just got our freedom from government (the libertarian branch) all things would be peachy.  But Global Warming does exist, caused by man, and you are soon going to be up to your ass in water.  Government is clunky, but mostly does good and things we need.  Now Trump and his willfully ignorant followers are trying to dismantle government based upon ignorance and false assumptions.  This is not going to turn out well.

Oh, and if you did not have enough to fret about with Cheeto-Head running amok, his Secretary of Defense, Rex Tillerson has just threatened Korea with military action, and we are not willing to negotiate.  I have to tell of my understanding of the North Koreans (spent a couple of years flying in and out of South Korea and doing reconnaissance missions along the DMZ), that is music to their ears.  It is not posturing for a better negotiation deal.  It is providing fuel to allow Kim Jong-un to rally the troops and maintain his control. He is North Korea’s version of Cheeto-Head.  It is exactly what he wants.  I hope I am wrong, but I don’t think this is going to turn out well.

This is not entirely Cheeto-Heads fault as North Korea has not been dealt with effectively in the past and now things are really dangerous.  In many ways we have ourselves been willfully ignorant about the horror of that country and not doing the hard thing way back when it would have been less hard. But talk of repealing Obamacare and budgets that hurt most Americans may become small potatoes if Cheeto-Head is left to his own devices.  Happy Friday.  I think this is why wine and beer were invented at the dawn of civilization.  At least we can go out in an inebriated haze.

Miscellaneous

Well this week ought to be a doozy.  First there is the Korean thing, and we will see if President tough guy starts a major war.  As one foreign policy expert described it, we have a couple of choices.  Sanctions, which is what we have done before to little effect, increase the pressure on China to do more, or take military action.  Actually there is one more, and that is ignore it.  That I think, is the spectrum of choices.  I have argued before that North Korea is going to have to be dealt with and the longer we wait, the worse the options.  They are truly crazy and there are reports (but who knows) that country may be on the brink of collapse, and as Henry V knew well, nothing unites a country like a war.

China fears a collapse of the North Korean regime and massive refugees.  My guess is that is the fear of South Korea also.  And the country will fail eventually, but why wait until they are armed to the teeth with nukes.  No there are no good options here, and sanctions just seem to kick the can down the road.  Really, really smart people have a hard time figuring out what to do so there is no telling what Cheeto-Head will do.  In a perfect world where North Korea (in an imperfect world) is a living hell on earth, we would go in as a world community and rebuild it.  That is not going to happen.

Next up is the ban on refugees and immigrants.  A fool would continue to fight it in court.  A cleaver fighter would recraft it to pass most tests and then dare the courts to ban it.  A strategist would throw the whole thing away as nothing but a political ploy to satisfy a campaign promise while making our security from terrorists much worse.  No telling what Cheeto-Head will do, but this is the week to do it.

Then there is General Flynn.  I don’t happen to think his contacts with the Russians was a flying solo.  Cheeto-Head’s own statements make that far too unlikely.  But there is that throw them under the bus thing, and that is probably what will happen.  Even as incompetent as Cheeto-Head is, he knows superbly well how to blame others, so we will get the General Flynn was a loose cannon and will be dismissed.  I have to wonder though if they were really that good at covering their tracks and does the FBI and NSA have other evidence.  We know that AG Sessions will do the right thing, don’t we?

Oh, and I see where auto makers are beseeching Cheeto-Head to reduce the mileage standards established by President Obama.  It will cost too much.  Hmm.  Have we heard this argument over and over when these companies, saved by the Obama administration, dig in their heels at change, any change?  It is a sad story we see over and over again and of course, Cheeto-Head will do “what is good for business”, not what is good for the country.  No Virginia, they are not the same.

Meanwhile in the states, Republicans are moving quickly to destroy more lives, attacking public unions, women’s right to choose, voter suppression, and of course, providing more and more business friendly environments (read screw the workers).  When Democrats finally get back in, there is going to be a whole lot of damage to repair.

Speaking of damage, I have been glued to my TV as Oroville Dam (the highest dam in the country) almost collapsed and we are not out of the woods yet.  The almost collapse was not at the highpoint but at an emergency spillway after the main spillway cratered.  We are still not out of trouble yet and watching the water flows is to marvel at nature’s power, which we only play at controlling.  It is another giant warning that we should not tinker with Mother Nature, yet Cheeto-Head ignores global warming.  If this is a sign of what she can do to us, we should all be very, very afraid.

Well, just another Monday morning where we are going to make America Great Again.  Glad I live on high ground and can grow my own food (grapes for wine).

Flooding in Louisiana

We got a problem Huston and it is called ignoring reality.  Or maybe I should say there are two realities.  The first is La La Land where this is not part and parcel of global warming and is going to happen more and more frequently.  Oh, and in Donald Trump land he is down there to show his concern and show that the President is ignoring the issue, like that does nothing but detract from the rescue effort.  Of course that is patently false and the head of FEMA is on the ground and the state itself had said please wait for a visit because it does redirect resources needed for rescue and recovery. Oh, and who does not want to fund Flood Insurance?  That would be Republicans.

Now let’s enter reality land instead of partisan twist the facts and never face reality land.  Flood insurance is a federal program because “the market place” could not bear the risk.  And it can’t afford anymore floods, but there will be more.  Here is where politics failed us when reason said we have to quit subsidizing building where it is going to flood.  People would be unhappy and vote for the guy who will bail them out, but how many times do we have to bail them out?  Given the changes in weather patterns brought on by global warming, the program is no longer viable. From the above referenced article:

The White House issued a disaster declaration for 20 parishes in Louisiana following flooding that killed 13 people and damaged an estimated 40,000 homes. Almost half of the people in Louisiana’s high risk flood zones have insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, and more than 85,000 people have registered for federal disaster aid with FEMA. The problem is, the flood insurance program is billions in debt.

…When Congress passed the program, they passed extensive subsidies and the intent was that those subsidies would last for about 20 years, and they haven’t,” she said. “They’ve lasted for more than 50 years.”

Moore said federal policy should stop encouraging and paying for people to rebuild their homes in flood zones. And lawmakers should make information about flood damage and flood risk readily available to home buyers.

Well, so far we have seen political cowardice (authorize a program and not fund it) and we have neither recognized the true flooding threat due to global warming or had the nerve to say we can’t subsidize your risk building in flood prone areas anymore.  Even before global warming was widely known, I worked in the New Orleans District Corps of Engineers, basically designing flood walls along the Mississippi*.  Even then it was well known that the real solution was to not rebuild or build flood walls along the river, but to get people to move back from the river (not rebuild) so the rivers had places to spread out in high flows.  It would be less costly and more healthy for the environment.  But politics being what it is, short term keep them happy is what drives the train. So we built levees and flood walls along the river and created a multitude of other environmental problems.

Now we simply can’t afford it.  It’s a free country and you can build where you want, but you are on your own.  Harsh?  Isn’t that the market place at work?  And in this case true reality?  So what to do about the current crisis in Louisiana?  These are our fellow Americans.

First some snark.  Isn’t Louisiana redder than red in Congress?  Aren’t they the ones who hold back funds on say Zika research and prevention, funding anything to fix the Flint Michigan lead contamination, or deny global warming.  Who wouldn’t fund Sandy relief? Who was in charge during Katrina when FEMA was a hopeless mess? But when they are up to their asses in alligators they cry wolf?  We are a village?  You hypocritical asses. Your problems are everyone’s problem, but their problems are, well, their problem.  Welcome to the world of conservatives and the Republican Party.    Okay, back to being a nice rational person.

Yes, we have to help them.  But we have to do it in a responsible way.  Only about 45% actually have federally funded flood insurance.  So let’s start with them.  Be clear the fund is broke and their representatives probably won’t fund it in the future or even fund it now.  So if they get their money and can rebuild there has to be a disclosure.  This is going to happen again unless we fund and build infrastructure to prevent it, and next time you are on your own.  Global Warming exists and these storms are just the beginning.  You voting Republican is a great part of this problem.

Second, what about all those that lost everything with no insurance?  Well they are not going to like this.  FEMA and the Red Cross will work for temporary relief and housing, and offer them low insterest loans to build again, but it is a loan, another debt.  We will get you through this tough time, but then you have to accept the responsiblity for your choices.  And if you rebuild in the same place, you will not get flood insurance anymore and next time you are on your own.  We can’t keep doing this over and over again.

Tough love.  Not really.  We need to help those who have been hit by a disaster, but the disaster was predictable if you did not ignore science and data.  Politicians and especially Republicans have facilitated this kind of denial, but not funded the results of that denial.  And unless we change our ways, get in touch with science and data, and do planning for our future with that reality in mind, this is just a reoccurring nightmare.  In other words the future is not a Republican one, but one based soundly on science, data, and a balance sheet that says we can’t afford to continue to do stupid things.  It is called being progressive.  Who knew Progressives were more fiscally responsible than Republicans?  Anyone who has been paying attention since the disaster of the Reagan years.  Look at the data.  Oh wait! I forgot!  They have their own data and facts.

*No, during Katrina none of mine failed, but neither did any other flood walls fail.  What failed was the assumptions about the soils beneath the flood walls that allowed them to be pushed over.  Sadly as a structural engineer you rely on the subsurface data given you and apparently a lot of it was simply bad.

Wyoming

There is a thought provoking article in the NTY this morning about the coal industry in Wyoming and how it is being supplanted by wind farms.  Now remember Wyoming has a population of 584,000 people and yet has the same representation in the Senate as California so little changes in their economy have a big impact on how their Senators vote.  Right now the coal industry in Wyoming has laid off 592 coal workers which is a fairly large impact on the state’s population.  Coal’s real enemy is cheap natural gas, but since coal is the primary contributor to global warming, further rules on carbon emissions further restrict coal mining.

Coal, like the horse and buggy or vacuum tubes are going away, but in Wyoming, there aren’t many alternatives to employment so the state is denying Global Warming and it is big government that is destroying their jobs:

“We have reached the point where the restrictions and regulations for the industry are past our ability to adapt. It has put thousands of hard-working people out of work and is devastating families.  Give us a chance,” Jillian Balow, the Wyoming superintendent of public instruction, said last month in a public hearing by the Interior Department in Casper to gather input on the current halt on new coal mining on the state’s public lands.

Yet, coal is a goner.  The argument of course is that we have no choice assuming you actually understand science.  So there are two things going on here.  The first is how our economic interests determine how we view facts, and the second is how we must not forget the human element.  In the first case, the very market place conservatives so love is killing coal.  Yes, regulations on carbon emissions will even make coal less competitive, but the nail is already in the coffin, and that is if we ignore the real cost of coal to the environment, not just from burning it, but from digging it up.  So global warming must be a farce, and big government is the problem.  If it is all I know or doing the responsible thing for my children, well, screw the future.

The second issue is the human one.  Again, against the conservative grain, but they need help to learn new skills.  On this one I realize I come from another planet.  In my life as an Air Force brat, we moved every 3 years.  Relocating is an adventure, not a tragedy.  Second, there was no question I would go to college and my engineering degrees taught me how to be disciplined and how to learn.  So a changing world is not as threatening to me as it would be to someone who has lived in Wyoming all their lives and have limited skills.  Just moving to places where there are more jobs could be daunting, much less learning a new trade.

So in the end the market place which they worship is screwing them.  First it is taking away their jobs (both mechanization and natural gas), and second, the market place will not help those displaced.  So the reality is that need government to help them transition because progress moves on.  Because we have a Republican Party in charge that worships the market place, and ignores reality, these people are screwed.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

Stephen Hawking’s Real Warning

This is from Think Progess this morning which of course the major Media is ignoring because we all know that there are two sides to global warming (not):

A lot of people consider astrophysicist Stephen Hawking to be the smartest man in the world. His research and theories have explained some of the deepest mysteries of time and space.

So it’s understandable why, on Tuesday, people sort of freaked out when Hawking said there was one thing he could not explain: The popularity of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

“I can’t,” Hawking responded, when asked to explain Trump’s rise as part of an exclusive interview with British news station ITV News. “He is a demagogue, who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator.”

But here’s the thing: in that same interview, Hawking also said he didn’t believe Trump was the greatest threat facing America, or even the world. The greatest threat, he said, is human-caused climate change.

“A more immediate danger is runaway climate change,” Hawking said. “A rise in ocean temperature would melt the ice-caps, and cause a release of large amounts of carbon dioxide from the ocean floor. Both effects could make our climate like that of Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees.”

Stephen and I are on the same page on this one as I have opined recently that Global Warming and Economic Inequality are the two major issues in this election if you care about our survival. So since Stephen and I are on the same page, maybe you ought to read more of my stuff and think seriously about it.  I might have a lot of other stuff dead right, no pun intended.

What Do I Think They Are All Missing?

Two things, really:  Global Warming is a national emergency on a global scale; and the economy doesn’t work the way the majority of people assume it works any more (economic inequality is the result).  That is it in a nutshell.

On the first one, to say that is described by many as “alarmist,” but it isn’t.  We are facing a climate and ecological disaster that will have far-reaching impacts both on our economy and on foreign relations.  The models that are predicting it keep having to be updated as the trends accelerate faster than the models predicted.  The data is now overwhelming, but its threat is not at “the gate” (Barbarians at the gate) yet so we have a whole segment of our society that denies it.  They have to because they don’t think government should do big stuff, and this threat requires really big stuff.

Second, and what most partisanship is about, is how the economy works.  We have had this model that says if businesses thrive, all of us do.  So far so good.  Now we get into the great divide.  Basically the majority of Americans are fiscally conservative, that governments should do little (little spending) and with less regulation and low taxes businesses will in fact thrive.  There were environments where that worked, but it depends on one other important factor, demand.  After WWII, we had pent-up demand, income and savings to support it, and an economy ready to transition from a war machine to a domestic machine.  We invested (G.I. Bill) in education and we took off.

The trouble is we don’t live in that world anymore. We don’t have pent-up demand in the form of disposable cash to support spending.  We live in a world where jobs are being offshored that decreases domestic income and spending power.  And finally, more and more of what we do earn stays with the very rich (economic inequality).  Is that the fault of the world economy?  Maybe partially, but it is reality and you can’t shut it out.

So as domestic consumption, especially in the middle class, stagnates, investment moves overseas to wherever markets exist, and competition for competing goods drives labor markets also overseas to find the lowest labor costs.  Couple all that with the failure of government to invest in our own infrastructure and people (cutting government spending), has created an economy that doesn’t operate any longer by normal rules.

We have built an economic system through rules, regulations, trade agreements, copy rights and intellectual property laws, lack of support for unions, and a stagnating minimum wage that favor wealth accumulation for the few assuming it will flow down, and it does not.  So domestic demand has shriveled.  Now come our economic assumptions:  If we just lower the interest rate, business will borrow and invest, jobs will be created, and we will all thrive.

Except it hasn’t worked.  Interest rates are at record lows and businesses are not making the projected investments.  They are already cash rich, but they don’t see the demand, at least domestically, to support expanding.  It isn’t about confidence, government regulation, or low taxes, it is about whether there is sufficient pent-up demand (and spending to support it) to expand.  Their answer: No.

So the next thing the Fed did was “print” money.  They created additional money supply to buy back some of their loans.  Conservatives told us the interest rate would go out of sight.  It did not.  So we have very low interest rates, more money put into the system, no inflation, no soaring interest rates, and the economy remains sluggish.  Say what?  The Fed wants to raise interest rates because they feel the unemployment rate now supports it and they want to head off inflation.  What inflation?

Inflation happens when too many people are trying to buy not enough things and prices rise. Or there is not enough labor for jobs and wages rise. Neither has happened. In fact a little inflation would help us because it would force businesses to quit hanging on to cash and invest it.  Bottom line, the economy is not working they way we assume anymore but we keep doing the same counter productive things assuming it is.

The good news is that both of our critical issues , global warming and the economy (economic inequality), can be solved by the one thing we absolutely refuse to do:  Spend to create demand.  Long story short, we invest massively in infrastructure upgrades including necessary mitigation measures for global warming effects, and in R&D to transfer us off of carbon based fuels.  Combined with that we revise tax codes, regulations and all the stuff listed above to make sure that there is a fair sharing of GDP increases.

We incentivize investments in production and new facilities and de-incentivize investments in financial instruments.  This then provides good jobs that increases domestic demand and the multiplication factor throughout the economy has been estimated at about 1.5.  For every dollar the government spends you get about $1.5 in economic activity. Note that it works in reverse.  For every $1 cut from federal spending, you lose about $1.5 in economic activity.

Where does the money come from? We borrow it because interest rates are so low that when you factor in what inflation there is, it is free money.  Won’t that balloon our debt and then we are in big trouble right?  Define trouble.  We have been scared shitless by debt rhetoric that has no basis in reality.  Debt becomes a problem when no one will loan to us and interest rates rise.  But we can print money to pay it off or invest it directly.  Then inflation might occur and our dollar would be worth less, right?  Well a little inflation would also be good for exports and they make our goods cheaper while making foreign ones more expensive.  So buy domestic.  The reality is we have seen neither effect in this new economy and until we do, we are shooting ourselves in the foot heading off a phantom problem.

If our economy takes off as many of us think it will, this will increase tax revenues and decrease the impact of deficit spending.  And it not just spending, it is spending for stuff we need for the future.  In good times, the return on investment could just help pay down that debt.

Now the Conventional Wisdom from most corporations and Wall Street is all this is bad because their whole structure is based upon the world economy that makes them rich while making the rest of us poorer.  That is where the money comes from that flows into Washington.  That is what drives conservatism and moderate Democrats to hang on to that fiscally conservative thing.  But in the new world order, it is a losing game for most of us and that is what our current crop of politicians don’t get or don’t care to get.

If we don’t get a handle of economic inequality and we don’t invest in fighting global warming, our deteriorating infrastructure, and our people, it will soon become the world of corporations and the workers.  But that won’t work either because sooner or later they have to realize that if people are working at slave wages, who has the income to buy their stuff?  And while all that is going on, global warming will impact rain, available water, coastal regions, and start whole new international competition (read wars and conflicts) for the “high ground”.

It is just a no duh moment and right now we have one candidate who denies that whole reality, and another who thinks she can inspire with incremental fights at the margins.  That is what they don’t get. In this case, Chicken Little is right.  The sky is falling.

An Election Without Issues

Donald Trump meets with Paul Ryan to make nice nice.  Trump has a mandate from his electorate to say stupid things.  Bernie wins West Virginia by double digits.  Hillary is killing it in the South among black voters.  Lets review the electoral count.  Republican Party rolling over and supporting Trump.  Hillary has to now fight the campaign on two fronts.  Bernie has a marginal chance to win the nomination.

Are you getting the drift?  This is what is feeding the airways 24/7 and there is no serious discussion about policy and issues.    I read this quote from a Charles Blow editorial that kind of summarizes how brain dead about issues and facts we are:

West Virginia is also heavily reliant on the coal industry, which is at odds with liberal clean-energy initiatives.

You see? Whether we should be supporting or dismantling the coal industry is a partisan issue, not a rational response to the reality of global warming and protecting our environment.  Liberal clean-energy initiatives are, well, LIBERAL!  Now it is true that progressives want to dismantle the coal industry, but it is based upon an environmental imperative, global warming and the need for clean energy.  And let’s try not to forget that Liberals would be more likely to try to help displaced workers than let the market place decimate them.  We are so used to not reporting news, but reporting politics that we can’t seem to separate them anymore.

Now in my mind the election comes down to two overriding issues.  Economic inequality and global warming which are both a fact.  Oh sure there is women’s equality, LGBT rights, systematic racism, a more fair tax code, immigration, and on and on, but they are all subsets of economic inequality (except for maybe systemic racism although if we really removed their barriers to equal education and equal income, it would go along way to dealing with systemic racism).  Global warming is a threat to all of us.  It is like WWII.  Either you fight it or you succumb to Hitler.  Now if we could agree on the fact that these really are the two issues, the contest becomes quite simple.  Who represents the status quo that increases economic inequality and pumps carbon into the atmosphere?

This election would be a landslide if we could actually make these two issues front and center as the crisis of our times, and then examine the candidates positions at best attacking these problems.  Bernie would be the choice over Hillary, and the Donald and his pandering cohorts would be headed for oblivion.  So why doesn’t it happen?  Because so far, the media does not talk about issues and when they do, it is pure he said/she said as though data and science were just opinions.  Let’s take a poll to find out if global warming exists!

It may be fun and easier to talk about the gossip, the political infighting, the polls, doing statistical analysis on voters and delegates to conventions, but it is all mental masturbation.  It is not what this is all really about.  It is about issues and whether we care about our future.  What is so frustrating for me and many progressives is that the facts are out there.  Yes we face tough choices, but they could be guided by a rational discussion of solutions and potential outcomes.  We have plenty of data, current and historical, that tells us what path we should be taking, and yet we are buried in the minutia of the political soap opera instead of the reality of the policies.  Note, if we took this approach, it would just be a contest between Hillary and Bernie because at least they are both dealing with the facts.

So as I watch the news, mostly I want to bitch slap all of the reporters.  They actually think they are doing journalism when they are probably one of the largest forces in our society today that is undoing us.  But wait!  It is what the media market place has decided provides the most profit so it must be good right?  Oh, my brain hurts.

A Topsy Turvy World

Let’s See.  Nancy Pelosi wrote a nice op-Ed today in the NYT about how the balanced budget Republicans have blown up the budget with $2 trillion dollars in spending that is unpaid for.  Donald Trump, the Republican front runner, is winning due to his populist appeals (along with xenophobic and racist appeals) in a Party that labels the Democrats as populist.  Oh, and Republicans claim Democrats have ruined the country but refuse to even consider a moderate judge for the Supreme Court and will only appoint on if  the NRA approves him.  Who again is the problem?

In Cuba, the President is trying to open up the country to new ideas after 60 years of failure to do just that by ignoring them, and the Republicans just want to sit in a corner and pout.  Sooner or later they will break, right?  Our Republican geniuses deny that global warming even exists while the latest study finds that it is happening much faster and could be catastrophic for our kids, not our kid’s kids.  We are finding in Colorado and other states that legalizing drugs (marijuana) cuts the crime and impacts the Mexican Cartels, but we just can’t, because of our conservative nut jobs, transfer that lesson to the country as a whole.  Who again is the problem?

We live in interesting times, but one has to ask how did we get into such an Alice in Wonderland World where up is down.  By that I mean we have one political party, which should at this point be clear to anyone, is in total disarray, that has caused almost all of the problems they claim to want to fix, offers cartoon characters to run for office, offers plans and policies to fix our economic woes that 4th grade math will show does not add up, denies science and data, demands the other side compromise while they don’t give an inch, and attacks the other side’s plans and policies while have no viable plans or policies of their own, and yet we accord them equal respect in our media and pretend they are making sense?

And we wonder why the White Mob (Trump Supporters) are so oblivious to his lies and nonsense?  We wonder why we don’t just gape with an open mouth when the Republican Establishment can’t figure out how Trump and the White Mob were not their creation.  Maybe it is because the media once again failed to do its job in a world where viewer share defines journalism.  You think?