No Wonder Millennials Hate Capitalism

Great article and quite blunt commentary on the recent tax bill…

 

Nowhere is that clearer than in the wretched tax bill passed by the Senate in the early hours of Saturday morning, which would make the rich richer and the poor poorer. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the bill directs the largest tax cuts as a share of income to the top 5 percent of taxpayers. By 2027, taxes on the lowest earners would go up.

She blasts every argument in favor of the bill:

There is no coherent economic rationale for what Republicans are doing. Academic economists are basically unanimous that the Republican tax plan would increase America’s deficit, which Republicans used to pretend to care about. With unemployment low, many experts say the economy doesn’t need a stimulus. The tax cuts are likely to increase the trade deficit, which President Trump purportedly wants to reduce. Republicans often say they want to simplify the tax code, but as the accountant Tony Nitti argues in Forbes, the tax bill would make much of it more complex.

And explains, in simple terms, why:

Part of it is simple greed, but there’s also an ideology at work, one that sees the rich as more productive and deserving than others.

… It’s the raw exercise of power by a tiny unaccountable minority that believes in its own superiority.

Clearly. Capitalism is done. The huge tower, falling for so long and looking so lovely and seemly moving so effortlessly, is about to crash. And great will be the fall thereof…

Full text:

On a Friday night last month, I moderated a debate in Manhattan about whether we should scrap capitalism. It was organized by the socialist magazine Jacobin; defending capitalism were editors from the libertarian publication Reason. Tickets for all available 450 seats sold out in a day. So Jacobin moved it to a venue that holds around twice as many. The extra tickets sold out in eight hours.

When I arrived, people were lined up for blocks; walking to the door, I felt like I was on the guest list at an underground nightclub. Most attendees appeared to be in their 20s and 30s, part of a generation that is uniquely suspicious of capitalism, a system most of their elders take for granted.

The anti-Communist Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation was alarmed to find in a recent survey that 44 percent of millennials would prefer to live in a socialist country, compared with 42 percent who want to live under capitalism. For older Americans, the collapse of Communism made it seem as though there was no possible alternative to capitalism. But given the increasingly oligarchic nature of our economy, it’s not surprising that for many young people, capitalism looks like the god that failed.

Nowhere is that clearer than in the wretched tax bill passed by the Senate in the early hours of Saturday morning, which would make the rich richer and the poor poorer. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the bill directs the largest tax cuts as a share of income to the top 5 percent of taxpayers. By 2027, taxes on the lowest earners would go up.

Millennials, a generation maligned as entitled whiners, would be particularly hard hit. As Ronald Brownstein argued in The Atlantic, the rich people who would benefit from the measures passed by the House and the Senate tend to be older (and whiter) than the population at large. Younger people would foot the bill, either through higher taxes, diminished public services or both. They stand to inherit an even more stratified society than the one they were born into.

Here’s one example. The Senate bill offers a tax break for parents whose children attend private school. But it cuts deductions for state and local taxes, which could make it harder to fund the public schools where the vast majority of millennials will send their kids.

There is no coherent economic rationale for what Republicans are doing. Academic economists are basically unanimous that the Republican tax plan would increase America’s deficit, which Republicans used to pretend to care about. With unemployment low, many experts say the economy doesn’t need a stimulus. The tax cuts are likely to increase the trade deficit, which President Trump purportedly wants to reduce. Republicans often say they want to simplify the tax code, but as the accountant Tony Nitti argues in Forbes, the tax bill would make much of it more complex.

How to explain this smash-and-grab legislative looting, which violates all principles of economic prudence? Part of it is simple greed, but there’s also an ideology at work, one that sees the rich as more productive and deserving than others. Louise Linton, the wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, spelled it out on her Instagram feed in August, responding to an Oregon mother who had the audacity to criticize Linton’s use of a government plane: “Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country?”

Lest you think that’s just the sputtering of a modern Marie-Antoinette with poor grammar, consider what Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa, told The Des Moines Register about the need to repeal the estate tax, which falls only on heirs of multimillionaires and billionaires. “I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies,” he said. By this logic, Linton, or Trump’s children, are more socially useful than anyone irresponsible enough to live paycheck to paycheck.

Not to be outdone, the next day, Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, argued that Congress still hasn’t reauthorized the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which he helped create and still claims to support, because “we don’t have money anymore.” He went on to rant against the poor: “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves — won’t lift a finger — and expect the federal government to do everything.” It was unclear whether he was talking about the nearly nine million children covered through CHIP or their parents.

After the fall of Communism, capitalism came to seem like the modern world’s natural state, like the absence of ideology rather than an ideology itself. The Trump era is radicalizing because it makes the rotten morality behind our inequalities so manifest. It’s not just the occult magic of the market that’s enriching Ivanka Trump’s children while health insurance premiums soar and public school budgets wither. It’s the raw exercise of power by a tiny unaccountable minority that believes in its own superiority. You don’t have to want to abolish capitalism to understand why the prospect is tempting to a generation that’s being robbed.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter (@michelleinbklyn) and join me on Facebook.

 

Using Trump

Trump has become a trope.

Many groups have taken our intense emotional reaction to the Trumpian antics and begun to use them to further their own agendas — and some very diverse agendas they are, including both right and left on the American political spectrum.

This blog post by Caitlin Johnstone, the Australian writer I’ve been reading recently, lays it all out. I’m not sure she’s spot-on about everything, but she certainly does give us food for thought…

The thing that concerns me the most is the idea that we are losing focus on the war-mongering and empire-building behind the anti-Russian obsession fueled by the idea that the Russians promoted Trump and dissed Hillary. This is a trend we need to be aware of if we want to avoid some inevitable descent into wider war.

Caitlin Johnstone’s Fascism Came to America

A new paradigm

What are we worried about?

I mean this not in the sense of “why worry? everything’s gonna be fine.” Though, of course, everything is going to be fine, from a backed-off perspective and all that. But in the meantime, for our children and our grandchildren and those future generations to whom our concerns should be directed if we wish to consider ourselves decent human beings and legitimate passers-on of the torch of dwellers on the Earth, things are pretty much going to shit in a hurry.

And, of course, yes. I’ve been saying this for a while and I probably will keep saying it… but truly, things do seem to be accelerating that downward spiral. And not only that. Yes. Not only that. The things we really should be concerned about are changing so fast that most of us are spending a lot of time worrying about and perhaps even working on things that don’t really matter any more.

Not that I’m abandoning progressive causes, but really, much of the progressive movement, and ALL of the liberal movement, is just pretty much irrelevant to the real issues in the world today.

We are so focused on the insanity and absurdity in the White House and the whirlwind of stupidity it generates that we probably are missing what we really should be concerned about. I’m not suggesting conspiracy here, but in effect, the Trumpification of amerika is 99% distraction. For example, whether or not he collaborated with the Russians is irrelevant, really. A lot of progressives are so captivated by the media storm on this issue that they seem not to see that EVERYONE tried to manipulate that election, and sorting out who did what is probably impossible.

The real problem now is that liberals and progressive alike are being manipulated into anti-Russian stances that further destabilize the world and play into the hands of the military and intelligence people who want a good excuse to vilify the Russians. I mean, I despise Putin but he’s not so much worse than say Bill Clinton that I would start World War III over his shenanigans. They — the war-monger element, whoever they are — are trying to push U.S. public indignation over it all into the same mind-set that Bush and Company generated to justify invading Iraq and later Afghanistan and whoever else we can fuck with in the interests of the oil-igarky.

This latest article from Caitlin Johnstone, the Aussie I read on Medium, is just another example of how things are going deeply wrong and it’s pretty much gonna be totally irrelevant what party is in power or even what ideology the ruling class professes.

We are controlled worldwide by this Empire that transcends parties, states, ideologies — and becomes just pure power.

Caitlin points out some of the specifics of this, and though I think she may be a little over the top on some of it, certainly calls into question the current paradigm of progressive resistance. If we intend to preserve some space in the world for open-minded, skeptical thought and a radical approach to living on the planet, we have to stay current. That means spending a lot of time slicing up false pinàtas is probably a waste of energy.

The most important thing we can do right now is step back from all the old ideas of what the world is like and look really closely at everything without a preconceived notion of what and who is right or deserves attention and support.

It’s not an easy time. It may be critical. This could be our last window for making positive change.