Sunday, September 27, 2015

Why the angry U.S. middle class sees Trump as their spokesman

Below is a graphic representation applied to Argentina by citizens of that country who posted it on Facebook. It also applies in modified form to the USA.
To understand, change “Viene un gobierno popular” (a populist government is elected) to the Democrats take the White House. Let’s set aside the arguments among the three lefty Americans as to whether the Democrats are populists; in comparison, and within the conventional spectrum, they are.

Next, merely translate “aumenta la clase media” (the middle class increases).

In Obama’s case, the middle class was very slowly pulled out of a hole the banks (and Republicans dug); more importantly still, the middle class was saved from altogether disappearing permanently, which in 2009 was a distinct possibility. People forget that for a while it looked as if we were headed for becoming, in socioeconomic terms, the United States of Bangladesh.

“La clase media empieza a creerse oligarqu√≠a y apoya la derecha” at the bottom right means: the middle class begins to think of itself as the oligarchy and supports the right-wing.

In the USA we have to adjust for the fact that even the 1% don’t have the guts to call themselves “the oligarchy.” (Besides, what’s  an oligarchy? Rule of the few). Nonetheless, many middle class people who are benefited by the Democrats' middle class social programs have begun to identify with the poster children for the 1%, Republican politicians.

 “La derecha destruye la clase media” means the right-wing destroys the middle class. Think 2007-08.

“La clase media empobrecida vota a un gobierno popular” means the impoverished middle class votes for a populist government. Think the presidential elections of 1992 and 2008.

We return to the beginning. I think we may be in the next stage, if the Republicans manage to cleverly misdirect the middle class into thinking that they are poorer because of immigrants. As Trump seems to be doing.

Welcome to the United States of Argentina.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What is wrong (or missing) with Obama; Why Hillary seems like more of the same

Consider this: “the Obama administration’s approach to governance: politically rational incrementalism that reinforces the existing power structures and is grossly insufficient given the scope of the problem.”

With that quote, the left-leaning magazine Jacobin has finally distilled for me, in an article about energy policy (which I do not normally follow much) the essence of the practices of the Obama presidency and its problems.

It fits. This is what is wrong with everything Obama has done: the audacity of audacity. Obama is basically The Man’s man.

Apply it to health policy. Remember “health care reform”? The hope in electing Obama was to change the economics of health care so that it was a universal, rationally purchased set of goods and services—“single payer” or what the British and I prefer to call it, socialized medicine.

I’ve used the United Kingdom’s National Health and it was wonderful before Thatcher. I can say the same for the Canadian system of a similar era.

The thing is there is nothing boring, cabbage-like or—horrors!—Soviet about nationalizing and making medicine available to all as a human right. Our closest neighbors and cultural kin have done it without waving red flags.

Instead, we got a worthy, viable, somewhat fairer—but to those already insured—not inexpensive form of health insurance reform. Medicine is still nowhere near universal and the costs of the system run by the mafia known as the American Medical Association (when you find a middle-income doctor, let me know) are skyrocketing still.

Sure, Obama was an eminently better choice than McCain or Romney. I voted for him twice for obvious reasons. He’s smarter, wiser, more adroit. He has never had decent congressional relations people—I can’t fathom why—but he has been a pretty decent president

However, to those of us expecting what he promised—remember what one idiot called the “hopey-changey thing”?—Obama let us down.

This is what makes me leery of Hillary. Sure, she will be better than Trump or Jeb if it comes to that. But might not Bernie Sanders be better and a real change? I am beginning to come to that line of thinking.