Saturday, July 23, 2016

Economic accountability is the subtext of this election

It would be easy to forget that the biggest issue in politics today is big money in politics. If you watch national news or frequent websites run by the likes of Time, CNN, even USA Today, you're going to get the cult of personality as entertainment. The mainstream media would like us all to believe that this is a contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and implore us to please forget Bernie Sanders even though he's still running for president. You would be forgiven if you didn't think the Trumps and the Clintons were friends at all.

Have a look at this picture:


That picture was taken in 2008. Trump is on the left and who could miss Bill Clinton in the center? So they're all playing a friendly game of golf, right? How many times has this happened? How come I'm not a member of this club?

Because this is the club of high finance. Who is standing between them? Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the 8th richest man in the world, and this photo is from an article in the New York Times from last December. What is the opening line of that article (followed by the next paragraph)?:
For years, President Bill Clinton was the best friend Donald J. Trump always hoped to have.
When scandal engulfed Mr. Clinton’s White House, Mr. Trump leapt to the president’s defense. “He’s probably got the toughest skin I’ve ever seen, and I think he’s a terrific guy,” Mr. Trump told CNN.
Best friends? You're kidding, right? Trump defended Bill Clinton when he was president? Well, it's a pretty tight little club, and we're not invited to join.

What kind of club is this? It's very exclusive and only very special people are ever selected to join the club of high finance. This club is one of the most expensive clubs in the world to join. But who would guess that the middle class pays for their membership? What do they do in this club? They just do mergers and acquisitions in high finance, right? Well, have a look here at a very well written article from the LA Progressive to find out what they've done to America:
These conditions are prevalent in America today, described by a popular newspaper:
  • 66% of American families say they must choose between paying for food and paying for medical care.
  • 108 million Americans have no dental coverage. 25% of adult citizens have untreated cavities or infections.
  • 59% of our people worry they won’t have sufficient retirement funds. 20% of those near retirement age have been unable to save anything.
  • 25% of American families have no emergency savings at all. 50% have some, but not nearly enough.
  • An average family can no longer afford to buy a new car, except in Washington, D.C., the city with the highest per capita income in the nation.
  • Fifty years ago General Motors was the nation’s largest employer. Workers earned, in today’s inflated dollars, an average of $50 per hour. Working for today’s largest employer, WalMart, employees take home $8 per hour.
Above you see a laundry list of conditions created by the club of high finance. Why any captain of industry would be proud of these accomplishments, I don't know. But if you look at Wall Street, they seem awfully proud about it. What I find so interesting is that the economic policies put forth to create these conditions just don't work and the people who put them in place simply refuse to be held accountable for their mistakes.

The economic conditions that prevail upon us today are exacted by a class of politicians known as "neoliberals". The economic philosophy promoted by this class of politicians is "neoliberalism". More from the same article at the LA Progressive on the subject of neoliberalism:
The Reagan years transformed public policy with the crackpot ideology of neoliberalism: cut taxes for the rich, slash social programs, bloat the military, deregulate corporate enterprise, privatize public services and public assets. Reagan’s Republican successor unleashed America’s military power to assure continued access, for U.S. energy corporations, to Persian Gulf oil.
Now that Clinton has chosen vice president as a running mate, Tim Kaine, what can we learn about him? He loves the TPP and he loves the big banks. He's a rent-seeker's dream candidate. He's also a neoliberal, just like Hillary Clinton and just like President Obama. Even Republicans like George W. Bush, his dad and Bill Clinton are neoliberals. Oh, wait. Did I say that Bill Clinton was a Republican? He sure acted like one as president.

Some economists are starting to wise up to the ruse of neoliberalism. Nobel Prize winning economist Joe Stiglitz has been leading a team for years to document the problems inherent in neoliberal economics. From trade to monetary policy, they've been documenting the cause and effects of neoliberal economics. You can find it all here at The Roosevelt Institute. Their latest offering is called "Overcharged: The High Cost of High Finance".

In that paper, they estimate that the total cost of diverted resources and lost productivity, including the financial crisis of 2008, to be roughly $12-22 trillion. If there is any wonder why the economy is slow, it's because an unregulated, unaccountable financial industry has been taxing the economy. Guess who wants a slice of that money for their campaign financing? The Democrats and Republicans. They get a small chunk of that money from the 132 Americans who financed 60% of the superPAC spending in the 2012 election cycle, and they don't want to piss them off during this election.

Like Bernie Sanders, Stiglitz and his team are aware that a revolution is needed to help set things right, a peaceful revolution. The Rooselvelt Institute now has a website called, Rewrite the Rules, where they show how inequality is a choice, it's a matter of public policy. They go on to show us the public policy objectives and goals needed to set things right again. They understand that the extreme inequality (video) present in our economy now has created a class of people who seem to be "untouchable". That might explain why Hillary Clinton has escaped indictment and prosecution so far.

Perhaps it is not too late then. Wikileaks released some 20,000 emails to confirm that the DNC had known all along that they were going to support Hillary Clinton to the exclusion of all other candidates. The emails show a clear pattern of prejudice against Bernie Sanders and favoritism towards Hillary Clinton. Examples in the press show emails that have mocked the Sanders campaign and brainstorming conversations about how to use Sanders' religious beliefs to hobble his campaign.

Isn't the DNC supposed to be neutral? A lawsuit claiming fraud on the part of the DNC as a cause of action has been filed to answer that question. Plaintiffs are seeking monetary and punitive damages for the people who donated to the Sanders campaign and the DNC trusting that the DNC was looking for the best candidate, not just the candidate that would bring in the most money from the biggest donors.

All of the notable events of this primary election smack of a sort of strategy to shoot first, talk about it in court later after the damage is done. From being cut out of the VAN database in December, to voter fraud allegations, to "the endorsement", I believe that the DNC and their backers seem confident that they are beyond the reach of the law, at least in time to change the course of history. They seem more intent on electing a woman as president than electing an honest candidate.

With so much money riding on this election, accountability doesn't even get a mention in the mainstream press. Did you see the story about the man who was shot by the police while laying on the ground, unarmed? They asked the officer why he shot him. The answer? "I don't know." But one thing we can be sure of based on prior history: he will not be held accountable.

I support Bernie Sanders because he is not "untouchable". He is not so wealthy that he is immune from prosecution if he should commit some wrong. He is not so powerful that allies would shield him from any wrongdoing. He does not have a massive, entrenched political network of corporate financiers expecting him to do their bidding should he be elected. He knows that "he who pays the piper calls the tune".

He has not conceded the nomination and he is still running for president, despite "the endorsement". We can expect to see him on the floor of the convention, using every available and legal means, to secure the nomination. He is accountable and that why I want Bernie Sanders for president.
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