Nation Tectonics

Recently mariner wrote a post describing the new international strategy of nations integrating responsibility for economics and other international issues rather than using traditional treaties and trade agreements. He learned that Joe Biden already has started dialogue with this strategy in mind. From Axios:

“President Biden and Secretary of State Tony Blinken meet virtually Friday with the other leaders of “The Quad” — an alliance of Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. that aims at being a counterweight to China, which the administration calls “the biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century.”

The reader may recall in the post that there was a ‘sumo’ league forming around the Pacific Ocean. The quad mentioned includes two of the three sumos: the US and India. Australia already is feeling China deliberately undermining its fishing industry and comically if not seriously, India and China are in a battle using the number of toilets each has to represent modernity.

While the Quad may tie up GDP and political influence among the larger Pacific nations, China also has the ‘Belt and Road’ strategy to bind the Far East, Middle East, Eastern Europe and Russia into a giant supply chain. It’s almost like plate tectonics except it is nations slowly moving into a new economic era.

Mariner is eager for North and South America to establish a similar supply line dependency. Think how many issues could be normalized if both continents had better governments and economies. Maybe immigration would go away if there were no reason to flee failing governments.

Ancient Mariner

As the World Turns

One of the characteristics of life today is that there is a sense among people around the world that something just isn’t right. The global nature of this uneasiness makes it difficult for each citizen to identify cause and effect and to take some reasonable action to set things right.

֎ One of the most notable in its cause and effect is the uprising in 31 democratic nations, including the U.S., of rebellion against the government. The nature of rebellion can lead to disruption of government oversight or even to organized and deadly attacks on government. Already many important nations have suffered a collapse in democratic government that has been replaced with authoritarianism.

֎ Another international crisis that slowly increases is the amount of resources available to sustain the world’s population. The most notable evidence is the slow accumulation of excessive wealth for the elite around the world versus growing poverty and public stress. The community of nations has been derelict in its obligation to ‘change with the times’ as today’s economies begin to falter under the imbalance of global resources and its effects.

֎ Still too political for its own good, the response to global warming and climate change remains inadequate. Most scientists doubt that any meaningful effort this late will slow warming for the next century. The primary cause and effect is the relocation of tens of millions of citizens around the planet who will (and are) suffer from sea rise, loss of potable water, disruption of lifestyle and jobs, and massive migrations much larger than migrations away from violence and collapsed economies that occur today.

A tie-in with the global resource issue will be the stress on virtually every large agricultural area in the world. Even the United States will have to deal with crops grown in the Dixie region as the weather there becomes more like Arizona and New Mexico.

֎ Finally, but probably not least, is the massive destruction of the planet’s ecosystem by the human species. The ‘intelligent’ humans have learned how to steal and ravage Mother Nature for human convenience and profit. Mother Nature, however, can be a bitch and will deal with imbalances in her desire to keep a balanced environment.

The point is this: Because of technology, industrialism, class discrimination, resources, weather and everything else, humanity has reached a point where individual nations can no longer solve global problems. The requirement to feed the world requires an international consortium of super-nations that can address the economic stress.

Already China has begun to move in this direction by creating closed supply chain relationships with other nations; interestingly, the idea of a super-American nation comprised of Canada, Mexico and the United States has been around for well more than a century. Unlike the European Union, which tried to sustain nationalism by allowing each nation to keep its own currency, the new consortiums will operate as one nation with one ‘dollar’ used in a common economy.

The pandemic has expedited these issues to the very front of our twentieth century society’s attention.

The future is in the hands of the electorate. Has anyone seen Chicken Little?

Ancient Mariner

It isn’t what goes around, it’s what has always been

The disarray, some may say discontent, that the United States suffers today has been around for a while. Mariner has said that the damage to the American Dream began with the Reagan administration when regulations and legislation were loosened to allow corporations to invest in foreign markets and at the same time diminished obligations to employees.

Over forty years of discontent in the labor classes yields social discrimination and the splintering of national unity. Labor class unrest led to the militaristic behavior found in the role of police today. The police brutality evidenced in the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota became the new emoji for an old problem.

Flash back to 1991 – 30 years ago:

In 1991, after a drunk-driving automobile chase, four officers struck Rodney King with batons fifty-three times. The LAPD initially charged King with “felony evading,” but later dropped the charge. On his release, he spoke to reporters from his wheelchair, with his injuries evident: a broken right leg in a cast, his face badly cut and swollen, bruises on his body, and a burn area to his chest where he had been jolted with a 50,000-volt stun gun. Three of the four officers were acquitted.

The incident invoked the LA riots which eventually killed 63 people.

In 1992 Rodney became famous for saying, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

Before the Nation’s cultural breakdown can begin healing, Congress must repair the Reagan policy that split the American Dream. Until then the xenophobic organizations will not subside; racial injustice will not be cured; economic fairness among the Nation’s citizens will not occur.

֎ Restore the unions.

֎ Raise minimum wage to be commensurate with inflation since 1980.

֎ Provide universal health care.

֎ Significantly raise taxes on the wealthy and large corporations to release privately stored, useless cash to the government so it can restore the middle and lower classes who live desperate lives today.

֎ Significantly increase the job market by utilizing opportunities offered by inadequate infrastructure, growing damage from climate change and by firm enforcement of antitrust laws.

֎ Repair a dysfunctional housing policy that locks out first time buyers and lower income families.

֎ Promote international economic participation with agreements similar to the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Some critics may claim these suggestions are a promotion of new-age socialism. In fact, it is a restoration to a time in history that ceased existing forty years ago.

Ancient Mariner

Beyond Covid-19

Similar to its addiction to Donald, the press has been consumed with Covid-19. Not that this is unwarranted but the world continues to live and breathe, to live day-to-day and to place each day into a continuing history of nations, nature, and the experience of individual lives.

The pandemic is a fog that prevents clear observation of human activity at every level. But reality still exists beyond the virus and certain policies and philosophies lay waiting as the fog clears.

֎ Most newsworthy has been the interest of the Congress in Big Data – not necessarily for the right reasons but still, Big Data is on the agenda for sweeping changes in antitrust, net neutrality, privacy, accountability, taxation and social responsibility. The Biden doctrine seeks to make high speed Internet available to every American – a source of new jobs.

֎ Every nation around the world is confronted with an old concept of economy that dates back to Adam Smith (1700s). The politics of world commerce is sensitive to how resources are leveraged. The fact that the stock markets of the world still seem to create earned income in the midst of worldwide economic suffering grows ever more fragile. At some point, corporate manipulation will no longer be able to support a profit that doesn’t exist at street level.

The leading thought is for nations to share the confrontation of dwindling resources by joining a common market where several nations agree to share an economic plan together. China is well on its way to creating a number of these international contracts. Economic philosophers use the term hegemonic economy.

֎ Climate change continues to be poo-pooed by the fossil fuel industry and others who would be resistant to enforced behavior by their governments. Nevertheless, like Covid, nature is not political. The sea level, the storm intensity and the rapidly shifting weather patterns forebode hardship on economies, regional disasters and personal tragedy. Forecasters have noted the years of 2030 and 2070 as times of irrevocable confrontation.

֎ Social institutions are forced to be at a crossroad as much as economy and social culture. Whether it is schools, shopping, health, labor policy, employment benefits or housing, there is inadequacy at every turn. The fact is that the very core of family behavior is at risk. How do families sustain themselves? How do families engage in normal behavior similar to education, childcare and achievable lifestyles? How do families prepare for elderly care?

Donald may be out of office but the tsunami of reality in his wake leaves a lot of work for each human being seeking to survive in these historic times of change.

Ancient Mariner

Democracy is like the game of Jenga

Jenga is the name of that game where wooden blocks are stacked one by one to build a narrow tower that grows very high then each player must remove one block at a time without the tower collapsing into a pile of rubble.
Running a democracy is similar. The tower represents the power of a collective effort, the power of vision, cohesiveness, unity of purpose, and power among nations. The tower generates gross national product, human services and military defense. Being a democracy, like Jenga, it is a fragile compilation.
The analogy must be stretched a bit to understand the game of democracy. Unlike Jenga, democracy adds blocks and takes blocks away simultaneously. That is the purpose of democracy: everyone can draw benefits from the tower but in turn must at the same time add a new block to keep the tower strong. Like Jenga, democracy is a fragile construction but is not limited to one architectural vision; democracy is many towers, many broad, low lying configurations and spreads in every direction.
The skill is the ability for citizens to draw a beneficial block from the unity of the tower but to give a personal block back for the good of the tower. For example, the tower provides freedom of speech but in turn requires that a citizen must return that right to the tower for others to use as well. To press the analogy one step further, unity of purpose is the antigravity magic that keeps the democracy tower from collapsing.
– – – –
It is obvious, of course, that today the democracy tower is in disarray. It seems there are many citizens who take a block only and do not add one back to the tower. Many of these citizens are billionaire oligarchs, extremist groups, career-obsessed politicians, oppressed classes and racists. The reader may note the inclusion of the oppressed. Citizens without the benefit of democratic unity often rebel by debunking unity and will refuse to cooperate in any effort to build unity. Currently, they are called Trump’s Base.
Again unlike Jenga, the rulebook is humongous and, in fact, never ends. The rulebook covers subjects like taxes, economy, safety and health regulations, education, rules for corporations and religions, rules for individuals, and on and on. It is a difficult read as well. All of this diversity is held together by that magical antigravity – national unity.
– – – –
Not all the threats to the tower of democracy come from individual greed or misunderstanding. A major threat to the tower is the design of the tower itself. In the game of Jenga, imagine if one player wanted a tower that looked like a Saguaro cactus, another wanted a tower that looked like a Prickly Pear cactus and a third wanted a tower that looked like a Bishop’s Hat cactus.

                   

To make it seem more relevant, instead of cacti, substitute capitalism, socialism, communism, authoritarianism, plutocracy, or likely in the future, hegemony. In practice, a citizen may take a block from democracy but does not put a block back that provides the same function; the citizen replaces it with something different. For example, a citizen may benefit from a change in tax benefits but in return insists on compensating for the benefit by reducing the payout to Social Security – two different images of the tower!
– – – –
This treatise is running long. Take a breath and dive into another Jenga analogy: Suppose everyone is playing Jenga and understands the usefulness of the building squares. Suddenly, as the players draw more blocks, they begin to take on weird shapes like pyramids, octagons, spheres and ellipses. Trying to build the tower – let alone trying to benefit from it – becomes a virtual impossibility. Welcome to Artificial Intelligence (AI).
We must have compassion for our democracy tower. It is faced with AI, climate change, global pandemic, global migration, rapid polarization of human resources, massive economic shifts both in production and in consumption; the Gross Domestic Product has come loose from its leash, and instant global data knowledge from the Internet has the effect of a power hose washing away antigravity.
Democracy needs more than money and politics in November. It needs unity. Vote accordingly.
Ancient Mariner.

Hola

Recent developments in South America have upended the United States’ historical — and often misguided — tendency to lump the region into a one-size-fits-all policy. A politically and economically muscular Brazil, the rise of an anti-American bloc of countries led by Venezuela, and the emergence of economic and even political extraregional rivals in the hemisphere have created a more diverse, independent and contentious region for the United States.


But the reports of the United States’ demise have been greatly exaggerated. Economically and politically, the U.S. remains the leader in what is admittedly a much-changed, more assertive region. What is now necessary, however, is a long-overdue rethink of U.S. policy toward South America.


Meanwhile, South American countries have not stood around waiting for the United States to fill the resulting void. Economically within the region, the U.S. has been losing market share. In 2011, China replaced the U.S. as the major trading partner for Brazil and Chile. At the same time, China has signed free trade agreements or trade deals with Chile, Peru, Cuba and Costa Rica, while providing a series of concessionary loans to Venezuela and Ecuador. Even Washington’s greatest South American ally, Colombia, has refused to wait, signing a free trade agreement with Canada and launching negotiations for a free trade agreement with China. [World Politics Review]


A mariner fantasy for most of his life is the integration of the two Americas, North and South, and throw in Australia and New Zealand. What a trade powerhouse that would be. One continent is in the northern hemisphere, the other in the southern hemisphere – a boon to 12-month agricultural GDP. South America has oil, too, but it leads in amounts of rare minerals like Lithium. In South America, weather similar to the Gulf Coast is as large as the continental United States. In reference to the last post about the Pacific Rim, ten nations from Mexico to Argentina have coasts on the Pacific Ocean – and China knows it.


Two things interfere with collaboration: social history and racism. The United States has been too interested in the northern hemisphere and its cultural links with old world nations. Europe launched the existence of the United States in 1607. That liaison has run its course as new economic and technical forces are reshaping global economics and international policy.


Mariner doubts the US social image of anything south of Florida has changed since Hemingway lived in Cuba and politically since Castro was the dictator. Even Puerto Rico and Hispaniola get short shrift. Otherwise, as Donald would suggest, they are non-white immigrants. The literary relationship is little more than Carmen Miranda and “Don’t cry for me Argentina.” However, several professional tennis players have been quite successful in the US.


But. The coronavirus has reset the totalizator. Overnight new odds and probabilities have become real and immediate which otherwise would have taken a decade to emerge. Momentarily up in the air is how to deal with world recession; that certainly will have an effect on international relations. The disruption has had social ramifications as well because citizen pressure on governments has forced awareness of how incompetent governments have been at managing the wellbeing of the citizenry. The virus has forced to center stage the indigent, helpless and marginally threatened part of the population and indirectly has highlighted growing plutocracy and corporate greed.


Further, the virus has stopped dead the functioning of the job market. This will allow faster adaptation to artificial intelligence and change the way citizens work almost immediately instead of gradually.


It seems a perfect time to revisit and restructure the US relationship with everything in the western hemisphere below 20°N.


. . . and before global warming really grabs our attention!


Ancient Mariner

Over There . . .

In a desperate attempt to escape the gravity of the Trump-news broadcasting conglomerate, mariner has traveled to distant lands – a part of the planet where Donald is a sideshow. As a straightforward example, note this book review covered in a British news outlet:

“In it Rory Medcalf, Head of the National Security College at the Australian National University, highlights an emerging formation on the geopolitical map: the Indo-Pacific, a growing web of alliances centered on the “Quad” of India, Japan, Australia and the US, but also taking in a crescent of maritime states in eastern, south-eastern and southern Asia. Looser and more multipolar than other such formations, it is unified by the quest to balance, dilute and absorb Chinese power. “The Indo-Pacific is both a region and an idea: a metaphor for collective action, self-help combined with mutual help,” writes Medcalf. Two months on from its publication, virtually all of the trends that his book draws together have advanced.”[1]

North America not only has a shoreline on the Pacific, it has been drawn into Pacific Rim activity since the explorer Jorge Álvares reached southern China in 1513.[2] The US involvement in Asia is dominated by wars. Consider: The Korean Expedition 1871, acquisition of Samoa 1898, Spanish American War 1898 and 1913, Boxer Rebellion 1898, World War I 1917, World War II 1939, Korean War 1950, Laotian Civil War 1953, Viet Nam War 1955, 1965, 1974, Communist insurgency in Thailand 1965 and Cambodian Civil War 1967.

As Medcalf points out in his book, things have changed. In the part of the world fronted on the Pacific Rim, China has grown to be a super power in the midst of many smaller nations that easily can be dominated by China. The reader may recall an effort in 2016 called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Twelve nations signed on but the agreement failed to be ratified by the US. The countries were Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States.

The TPP concept of an international trade agreement that assigned an economic role to each nation up front was a new turn in international relationships that heretofore were variable agreements subject to tariffs, internal politics and market activity. Still, many criticized the agreement for allowing business interests to ignore or supersede traditional national rights.

Americans are not accustomed to paying attention to India. However, India is a fellow ‘sumo giant’ along with China[3]. Together, India and China represent thirty-six percent of the world’s population; of every three humans on earth, one of them is an Indian or a Chinaman.

The United States ranks third in land mass and population, but ranks first in GDP at 21.44 trillion. China is second at 14.14 trillion and India is fifth with 2.94 trillion but has the fastest growing GDP in the world.

Mariner hopes his data profile may invite readers to invest time and interest in a part of the world that truly will dominate future centuries regardless of treaties. Already it can be seen that Europe and the Middle East will not have the clout to compete with the Sumo League. For the first time, the center of world civilization may be the Pacific Rim.

In any case, mariner had a great time visiting the ‘other’ world. Donald who?

Ancient Mariner

[1] Indo-Pacific Empire, China, America and the Conquest for the World’s Pivotal Region by Rory Medcalf,    Manchester University Press ISBN: 978-1-5261-5078-3

[2] An interesting side note, a Chinese adventurer named Hwui Shan crossed the Pacific to Mexico in 458 AD.

[3] In 2018, population of China is 41 million more than India. Due to higher population growth of India, margin between these two countries is coming down quickly. And in 2024, India will have more people than China with approximately 1.44 billion people.

Thoughts on Economics

Mariner is not an educated economist. Nevertheless, he seeks common sense relationships that make an economy work and he flavors the numbers with human reality. This flavoring is important to regular human beings who, not being career economists, are not bound solely by interpretations of profit, loss and growth.

An economy flows in a long, somewhat circuitous river that starts in rural areas and small businesses everywhere and like the mighty Mississippi River, feeds into larger and larger economies that eventually reflect the generalized circumstances of a national economy. If the economy dries up at any point, the ‘flow’ stops; words like depression and recession prevail; an example is the coal industry in West Virginia. On the other hand, the economy can flow too fast, which is like the flooding of the Mississippi after significant rainfall; the word becomes inflation – a condition where investment values drop, as in a flooded home; a dollar in hand this morning will buy less tomorrow morning. A few insights:

  1. There are several relatively independent branches of the economic river, e.g., manufacturing, agriculture, investment (stock market, cash savings), services (very large including restaurants, health, transportation, etc.), engineering, and telecommunications. Not a complete list but one gets the idea.
  2. At the state level, economics is fifty separate branches of the economic river. Each state is responsible for the flow of economics within its borders. Modern economic times have altered this independence as corporations grew and merged and as population has shifted, taking income with it.
  3. The Internet has had a profound impact on the relationship of a region, with its geographic ties to productivity, versus the imposition of production from elsewhere, even beyond national borders. Two examples are Walmart and Amazon. Local businesses are disappearing very rapidly. Further, the profits from local sales are not recorded in the local region but reflect income at the home office of the corporation.
  4. What provides current in the economic river is something called Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Typically, one learns about GDP for the nation during news broadcasts. Actually GDP can represent something as small as a neighborhood or small town. GDP consists entirely of how much income is generated within a defined region – including businesses and all residents (AKA jobs).
  5. Until the late 1980’s when computerization and new US economic policy shifted dramatically, GDP was tied almost exclusively to actual production, that is, stuff that is made or grown. A significant shift in how to generate income was launched during the bountiful years of the nineties: investment became as important as making things. The US went from manufacturing to investment.

Suddenly it was more profitable to ship production overseas where production costs were lower than it was to stay in the US. In the abstract, this new economy opened an era of international GDP, e.g., Trans Pacific Partnership, but at the same time reduced the job security that was had in the days of ‘made in America.’ (One can speculate whether this was the source of Donald’s base) Adding insult to injury, many corporations and capitalist-minded entrepreneurs invested their profits in offshore banks to avoid paying taxes – and to forego investing in the US economy.

 

Given these insights, that is the state of affairs in the US economy at present. But as the street-wise aphorism says, “The times they are achangin.” Two huge areas of new history are upon the citizenry and upon the responsibilities of government policy and business practices: Cloud technology and climate change.

֎ Cloud Technology[1]. Awesome. Beyond imagination. It is hard to imagine how Cloud technology (CT) will change everything without exception. Will a ‘job’ exist after CT? Will GDP be measurable in any geographic manner? Will any governmental border matter? Google has always had a stated goal: to know everything there is to know in the world. This includes one’s privacy not just in the home but wherever one is, whatever one is doing, and what one had for breakfast. CT will know when one needs new shoes or an oil change – if there is ‘oil’ in future machines. On New Year’s Eve, CT will pick one out of the densest crowd in Times Square in New York City.

CT, coupled with a faster Internet, will not need to be aware of time zones; all data around the world will be instantaneous. Mariner could go on with matters of awe but the big question is, what will CT do to economics – not just in the US but everywhere? Today, investment strategies count on the delay of stock markets opening in a staggering fashion as the world turns. This single strategy will not be available in the world of instant data. International stock exchanges will, in fact, be one giant stock exchange. It will be impossible to keep anything secret – even perhaps what one will name their newborn baby (Has the name been discussed in hearing distance of Alexis? Can one imagine receiving promotions for babywear that already has the unborn baby’s name on it?).

Still, the main issue is jobs. Another aspect of CT is artificial intelligence. Middle management will take a big hit. So will truck drivers, factory workers, fast food employees, and tens of thousands of person-to-person jobs like tax preparers, retail salespeople and primary care physicians. Further, the role of cash will change. Don’t underestimate cryptocurrency; if properly instituted, one will no longer need cash just as, increasingly, one will no longer need storefront shopping.

CT requires a mountain of economic policy change in the federal government. For this reason alone, voters must not be distracted by party shenanigans, racism, incompetent elected officials or plutocratic domination of ‘our’ government. Without starting another post, vote sensibly in 2020.

֎ Climate Change. Naysayers take advantage of the slow pace of Planet Earth compared to the lifespan of a human being. In January, “Where is global warming now?” or “There have been hot Junes as long as I remember” or “Fossil fuels aren’t the cause.” Well, actual, Donald-proof evidence says it is happening; it has been happening; it will accelerate throughout the rest of this century.

For the sake of brevity, mariner will describe just one issue raised by climate change: rising sea level. There are other ramifications like increased volcanic and earthquake occurrences, extensive extinction of life including plants and especially the ocean environment, and severe changes in drought and rainfall across all regions of the planet that will significantly alter agricultural economies and threaten sufficient food to feed a population approaching 11 billion people.

Rising sea level is the most disruptive and expensive phenomenon associated with climate change – even though it is within the capability of humans to manage it. Today there are those who gripe and complain about immigration around 100,000 to 150,000 at one general location in the US. Consider this issue as practice for relocating people, jobs, homes, churches, factories and specialized services for 11.6 million citizens of the larger cities at sea level from New York to New Orleans. Of course it will be a lot easier because the US has about a decade to pull it off . . . mariner jokes.

What makes population migration scary is that these massive relocations of entire societies will happen around the world. London: 8.9 million; The Indian Sundarbans in India: 13 million; Hong Kong: 7.4 million; Tokyo and Yokohama: 11.8 million. And this is just a sampling.

It will be expensive. So expensive that many smaller economies will become bankrupt. Even the US is in danger of economic instability as it helps pay for relocation of new homes, businesses, health services and other important social functions. How about interstates and airports? Must they be relocated and rebuilt? On and on. Sadly, many island nations will be gone.

These are mariner’s thoughts on the US economy. Nevertheless, enjoy a warm, warm summer.

Ancient Mariner

[1] Cloud technology: cloud computing is storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of accessing private computer hard drives. The cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet but is paired with banks of very high speed computers that can share processing. Limits to data storage and retrieval virtually do not exist; response is instantaneous anywhere in the world.

Primer for the Electorate in 2020

Reaganomics.

In the 1980s Reagan proposed a four-pronged economic policy that was intended to reduce inflation and stimulate the economy and job growth:

1) reduce government spending on domestic programs;

2) reduce taxes for individuals, businesses and investments;

3) reduce the burden of regulations on business; and

4) support slower money growth in the economy.

If the reader recognizes these policies, it’s because today’s Republican Party still believes in the sanctity of these four policies. However, the issues that confronted Reagan (high inflation and high unemployment) do not exist today. Deregulating industry was so prevalent that during Reagan’s Presidency, businesses were allowed to use assets locked in retirement funds as a source for new venture capital. Unions have been decimated by Reaganomics; Reaganomics is a ‘supply-side’ policy, that is, provide products and people will buy them, raising employment as a factor of profit. However, the net result in today’s economic environment encourages capital investment rather than manufacturing.

By reducing or eliminating decades-long social programs, while at the same time lowering taxes and marginal tax rates, Reagan’s approach to handling the economy marked a significant departure from that of many of Jimmy Carter’s policies. The results spread the gap between the wealthy and working classes versus poverty levels. The number of children, ages 18 years and younger, below the poverty level increased from 11.543 million in 1980, 18.3% of children, to 12.455, 19.5%, in 1988. Also, the situation of low income groups was affected by the reduction of social spending, and inequality increased. Hence GOP resistance to universal health strategies and discretionary spending.

Today, the advantage granted to business and wealth has grown to the point of imbalance. The government is close to becoming a plutocracy as the wealthy, large corporations and lobby support for legislators have grown into disruptive proportions.

What needs to happen in 2020:

It’s time for Reaganomics to end. For both houses of Congress, this is done by replacing the old GOP with young centrist republicans and by increasing the number of democrats.

Lack of collaboration and compromise in Congress.

Newt Gingrich is considered the House Speaker who changed a more or less collaborative legislative process into a contest for party dominance. The old days of party leaders negotiating balanced compromises was replaced by a ‘my party first, the Nation second’ attitude in the 1990s (just like Mitch). The Democrats responded in kind, replacing statesmanship with gamesmanship. This situation has grown worse as big money and gerrymandering have become the tools of political power – causing significant damage to the classic strengths of one person, one vote and the democratic engine perceived by the Founders. Part of the reason for Donald’s success is that the electorate has grown tired of a do-nothing Congress.

What needs to happen in 2020:

The electorate always will be influenced by personality first but add a second awareness in 2020: Does the candidate talk about new solutions for current issues or repairing old ones? Pick the one with new solutions.

Corporatism

Corporatism is multifaceted. What will replace Reaganomics is an economy that engages several nations at once. Think of a strip mall with many storefronts and a couple of large box stores at each end. Each store contributes to the overall GDP of the mall. Different stores sell and buy different things but all the stores are dependent on the mall as a whole.

A couple of years ago a consortium of 12 nations participated in designing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)[1], a classic example of international economics. Sadly, it failed muster in the US because of a rift between Republican Congress and a Democrat in the Whitehouse. There were some rough spots where the corporate authors ignored human rights and economic obligations but the attempt was headed in the right direction to launch a new and different economy.

Another facet of corporatism is taxes. Very large corporations virtually are not taxed; they live in several nations at once so they aren’t really controlled by any given nation. The solution is something similar to the European Union or TPP where economic policy is centralized across all member nations.

A third facet (there are more but these three desperately need electorate assistance) is the issue of human rights, privacy and security. Today, giant multinational corporations have no obligation to provide living wages, decent benefits or working conditions. Further, they totally disregard privacy and security. The old Reaganites are afraid to tax corporations because they will locate in another country – which is true because the countries have not banded together to formulate common taxes. Not taxing is not a solution.

What needs to happen in 2020:

Economically speaking, what needs to happen is expressed in the first issue – it’s time for Reaganomics to end. Consider giving the vote to a candidate that doesn’t spout the four policies of Reaganomics.

Further, take notice of candidates that talk about information security (see the recent post, How someone can live your life for you to understand privacy). The security side has to do with national security and high-tech industries that would prefer not to worry about the expense of national security on a nation-by-nation level. If the electorate can fix one security item, let it be US election security.

Manufacturing

A Chinese Corporation won the bid to build Chicago’s new rail system. Electronic manufacturing for US products largely is performed everywhere but in the US. The US is falling behind other nations in knowledge-based industries. Historically speaking, the US doesn’t make things anymore. Even armchair doilies are made overseas.

This is so obvious that it’s Democrats who know how to fix manufacturing! Their proposal is called the Green New Deal (a reference to FDR’s New Deal). The democrats combined the requirements to meet climate change, improve transportation in all its forms and create new industries for a new era driven by Artificial Intelligence into one sweeping manufacturing economy. Generally, the Green New Deal will turn the US into a nation that builds stuff again.

What needs to happen in 2020:

The Green New Deal is the opposite of supply-side Reaganomics; it’s Keynesian demand-side economics. It’s a Democratic Party program that needs a Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress.

Cabinet-Based programs

A citizen is familiar with these issues: health, education, housing, equal rights, immigration, environmental protection, agriculture, and several other state and Federal policies – all managed by cabinet secretaries of one kind or another. Desperately needed immediately is a functioning State Department to restore US leadership in the world and to lead the US into a new economic and social age.

What needs to happen in 2020:

Get rid of Donald.

Ancient Mariner

[1] The TPP was between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. The countries involved produce 40 percent of the world’s total gross domestic product of $107.5 trillion.

Notes from the Alter Egos

Guru speculated about China’s Belt and Road Initiative (in China more often referred to as One Belt One Road or OBOR). Very generally, Belt and Road is China’s plan to be the most powerful economic engine in history. This is not simply bravura but a scale of economic activity necessary to accommodate China’s very large population and its stressed economy. It is a huge goal costing more dollars than anyone can begin to estimate but at the same time creating economic opportunities for about 60 percent of the developed nations in the world today.

Guru noted two things:

  • OBOR sounds aggressive and immediately brings to mind an automated form of colonialism. In truth, to use a mariner metaphor, China needs more stoves to burn its wood. Think of a family with twenty children trying to establish a rotation of food, clothing and household goods without being overcome by storage and process – it is easier to send out for pizza than having to make it at home. Investment opportunities seem to abound both for China and nations on the OBOR. However, economists are less than enthusiastic about using geopolitical solutions to solve internal economic issues.
  • Today, at least until Donald was elected, there was no question that the western nations, especially the US, were at the center of global economics and political influence. Guru proffers that if OBOR is successful, the center of global economy will drift back to the centuries where Sino-Eurasian economy prevailed (The original Silk Road). Still, guru ponders whether nations on the sea route in particular will be susceptible to economic bondage.

Amos has had it with the US citizen. The harsh combination of identity politics, populism, incompetent, party-zealotist and opportunistic Congressmen, news programming required to make a profit, predator corporations, a horrific, selfish, hoodlum-like Whitehouse, and more, all virtually have eliminated the American ethos. Acknowledging activist interest, albeit it often a part of the list above, common citizens don’t care about ethos as long as they have their Facebook, smartphone, Echo, and Netflix. Putin is right – Americans have irretrievably trashed their respected role among nations. And the beat goes on . . .

Meanwhile, Chicken Little is fearful that he may be deported because his grandmother at age nine arrived in the US as an immigrant.

Mariner agrees with dissenters of Elizabeth Warren’s claim to be a Native American. Mariner’s Aunt Mary married a full-blooded Cherokee and had a son that looked more native than the man on the nickel. But that heritage was never used to differentiate their family. Elizabeth should be ashamed for practicing identity politics.

ELECTION DAY: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6. BE THERE AND DO IT – VOTE!

Ancient Mariner