Breaking News: Progressives Are Now, Officially, The “Adults In The Room”

Remember back in the olden days — during the 2016 election — when progressives were universally viewed as crackpots? Remember when universal basic income was understood to be a pipe dream that could never work in the real world? Remember when universal, single-payer health CARE and free pre-k and community college for all were things that other countries did but that Americans (being rugged individuals) would never tolerate or want so why bother thinking about them? Remember when America simply took for granted that most Americans didn’t care about voting in anything but presidential elections (where, even then, only half of America reliably voted)? Remember when progressives rolled their eyes at the very thought of Joe Biden being president? Funny how Life changes, yeah? It’s now the Progressives who have hoisted Joe Biden and his agenda — mostly the Progressives’ agenda — onto their backs and set themselves on a forced march from which they will not be deterred because they know: tens of millions of Americans are counting on them to do the right thing. Meanwhile, all around them, chaos rules. The similarity to a schoolyard is downright shocking. Good thing there are adults here to supervise.

As we stand here today, the only political entity with a clearly stated agenda is the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. The Congressional Progressive Caucus focuses on these seven planks:

• Provide COVID Relief that Meets the Scale of the Crisis and Addresses the Disproportionate Harm to Black, Indigenous, People of Color and Other Vulnerable Communities

• Put People Back to Work, Give Workers More Power, and Transform to a Clean Renewable Energy Economy.

• Ensure Health Care for Everyone

• Defend and Expand Voting Rights, Strengthen Democracy and End Corruption

• Dismantle Racism, White Supremacy and Inequality in All Institutions

• End Endless Wars and Invest in Diplomacy and Peace

• End Corporate Greed and Corporate Monopolies

There’s actually way more than seven big ideas in there. But, every single one is good and worth pursuing because they’ll produce a better America where the rising tide floats every single boat. That Progressive ideal isn’t anathema to most Americans. Quite the contrary. 62% of Americans “somewhat or strongly support passing both President Biden’s Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan together using budget reconciliation.” Not only do most Americans want what Progressives want, they want President Biden to use whatever means necessary to get that legislation passed and the government working FOR them. That, really, is the Progressive “Big Idea”: that government — being us — is obligated above all to be there for us in whatever ways we want or need it to be there. THAT is the nature of a democracy. We govern ourselves for our mutual benefit. Yes, there are individual rights, but where individual rights and the groups’ rights butt heads, the group must almost always win.

Rugged individuals couldn’t care less about governing. They have it in their heads that no one should have the power to govern them — or regulate them — or even tell them “no”. They’ve got a ten year old boy’s idea of freedom: “You’re not the boss of me!” Being little boys without the brain structures to comprehend the consequences of their actions, they don’t understand that freedom isn’t even remotely free — and can’t be. Freedom comes with great bennies but also great responsibilities. It’s a package deal however. That’s what people on the right either forget or ignore. They want their rights but couldn’t give a flaming fig if you get yours. What that really means is they don’t care about rights period. They want what they want and they intend to take it.

In our current argument, the Progressives, the Democratic Party and the majority of Americans are being held hostage by two things: the Republican Party (a given) and the Democratic Party’s “moderate wing”.

The Republican Party is now so far gone that Liz Cheney is considered a heretic. If not for our news media’s rabid insistence that Republicans are all still “honest actors”, we might already be miles further down this story’s tortured road. The majority of Republicans now insist that Joe Biden stole the election from Donald Trump (the ultimate enfant terrible because he’s also a traitor). They know for a fact that this is bullshit but insist it’s true anyway. Adult behavior, that is not. Adult behavior in the GOP could have reasserted itself — should have asserted itself — before they nominated Trump. They had the perfect out to remove him from their midst; and they could have looked damned patriotic while doing it.

June 15, 2016 — a room somewhere in or near the Capitol. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walks into a meeting of Republican leaders and says — out loud (it was recorded!) — “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” Afraid that the conversation would continue, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan insisted that the subject remain a secret between them. “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.” All anyone had to do was call the FBI with what must have been some pretty substantial (and substantiated) suspicions. Even if they were just suspicions, they owed it to their oaths of office to DO something — other than keep a secret like a mafia family.

The Republicans know for a fact that but for Russia, Donald Trump would NEVER have become president. Take Russia out of the 2016 equation and Donald Trump doesn’t get past the primaries. He never gets into the game to begin with and why would he? The last thing on earth a crook wants is undue attention on where his money came from. When the Trumps realized that connecting their money to Russia (as Junior did here) was a bad idea, they stopped talking about it. They never stopped taking the money though. Our news media have worn divots into their scalps from scratching their heads so hard as they ponder “what is Trump’s hold over the Republican Party?” Sure, sure — Trump’s base can play havoc come primary time. Are Republicans that craven that hanging onto a job “trumps” their integrity? Oh, look — in the woods — there’s a pile of bear shit!

Republicans aren’t just politically craven, they’re outright criminal. Our news media — and the moderate wing of the Democratic Party — have softened those criminal edges into a “political point of view”. That’s what circumventing the Will Of The People in a democratic republic is: criminal. It’s an attempt to subvert the Peoples’ will toward some other entity’s will. That is completely against the law — a thing Progressives have always recognized but, at long last, are getting to shout from the rooftops. A political party dedicated to ending American democracy (against the will of the majority) is not a political party, it’s a criminal enterprise. Their actions aren’t political, they’re criminal acts for a political purpose but criminal acts above all. Bottom line: the Republicans are now criminals. Their agenda is a criminal agenda and their end game (the end of the greatest experiment ever in human self-government) a betrayal. They represent racism, misogyny, bigotry and permanent (white) minority rule. I’ll sum it up for us: evil.

What the Republican Party stands for is evil.

So, why do moderate Democrats want to compromise with them? Do moderate Democrats — that’s what Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are in theory — actually believe that Democrats should negotiate with people out to destroy the very democracy we’re talking about? What would the compromise with such a point of view be? We sell “part” of our democracy down the river? We sell out some Americans to the benefit of other Americans? We float some boats but not all boats?

That IS what moderates are demanding — that Democrats (whose agenda the majority supports) should negotiate away things the electorate wants in order to gain… what? The tell that one side is negotiating from bullshit’s point of view is that they talk about a number — like $3.5 trillion — like it wasn’t connected to policies meant to help Americans — the “Of the People, by the People and for the People” Lincoln was talking about. “That number’s too big!” is a bullshit statement because it doesn’t qualify what it means. Too big for what? Too big compared to what? Too big from whose point of view?

Moderates, apparently, see “too big” from the Republican point of view — a criminal point of view that sees government service as a way for the government (tax dollars) to service THEM. Our dumb-as-dirt news media insist that Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema represent some “point of view” that has a valid point (and wouldn’t it be swell if some reporter actually pinned either of those two down on whose point of view they’re actually repping here). What point of view could possibly weigh more than the point of view of their constituents? See where I’m going? It’s exactly where Joe & Kyrstan stand — up to their necks in corruption.

In our current political environment, America stands poised at a crossroads. We will go one way or the other. There is no middle ground, no moderation. In one direction lies the authoritarian shithole of Republican wet dreams. In the other is the America as yet unrealized where the exceptionalism promised by E Pluribus Unum (our country’s motto) finally manifests itself in reality. Moderates and centrists will have to pick which of those two roads they want to go down. Spoiler alert: America’s going down the E Pluribus Unum road. As potent a force as fascism is, in the past, it’s succeeded in homogenous cultures like Weimar Germany. Even “good Germans” saw their German-ness as more important than defending Jews (outsiders to German culture).

Here in America though, “American” is a far more recent “invention”. Nothing like the “German” national identity exists in America outside white supremacists — a small minority here. Fascism relies upon a large group’s bonding together despite their moral misgivings — their cultural connections being the glue that binds them. E Pluribus Unum may result in “unum” (together) but the “pluribus” is the big difference between America and Germany. For America to succumb to fascism, all those groups white people have abused would have to agree on some level to let that continue because they don’t want to rock the cultural boat. Trust me on this: that is not going to happen.

E Pluribus Unum says so.

How We Think Of “Work” Doesn’t Work Anymore

Back when I was a pup, way, way back in the ancient 1960’s, the “work” paradigm went something like this (assuming you made it to high school): “High School – College – Job At IBM Or Xerox Or Ford Motors For Life – Retirement At 65 – Death Not Too Long After If You’re Male, Not Too, Too Long After If You’re Female”. The work you did was more or less generic. Your whole career, such as it was, was all about taking one for the team because you expected the team would be there for you when you needed it. Your employer (for life) would take care of your salary (of course) and your health insurance. They’d also take care of your retirement — tying their future fate together with your later years. Of course, they’d be there come the day — it’s America, FFS! But, something else was happening meanwhile — something below the surface of it all. While America was working, corporate America — monied America — was working against us all.

Though profits and productivity increased, wages did not. That wasn’t an accident or a coincidence. Back in the 1950’s, when America’s economy boomed, the retail-retail top tax rate for people earning mega-bucks was 91%. No one paid that; when all was done and said, the effective tax rate for the more-money-than-God set was 42%. That’s not too far from today. In other words — the wealthy (having gotten far wealthier since then) could easily pay that difference without even missing it.

Now, let’s be real where the super wealthy are concerned. Nothing any one person does, will do or has ever done could possibly justify anyone having the kind of wealth the super wealthy now possess. Even a great idea born of one person’s verifiable genius demands that countless others get involved in order to shuttle that great idea from the abstract into reality. Contrary to Donald Trump’s thinking, NO ONE alone can fix ANYthing. It’s not just child-rearing that takes a village. Here in the real world, it takes a village to do literally ANYTHING.

The problem is, rich people immediately assume they deserve their wealth (regardless of whether they do or don’t). Whether a trust fund or good fortune have smiled upon them, the rich tend to think their being rich is part of some divine plan. That’s how we ended up with kings and queens insisting (all evidence to the contrary) that their blood was superior to everyone else’s. It’s how we ended up with the idea that an ordinary (fallible) priest takes on the papal robes and immediately becomes INfallible. Um, no, actually — the infallible thing does not in fact happen. The robes only add layers of clothing. Nothing else.

I have spent my entire adult life in the gig economy. It’s not a new thing. What’s new is that more and more people realize they’re living in it, too, now. They realize they’ve been living in it for a while. And they won’t be getting out of it. The gig economy is now THE economy.

America is not prepared for it.

That’s because we keep thinking of “work” in the old fashioned way. We need to stop doing that right bloody now.

Is All Work Created Equal?

Hell, no. But it’s kind of the wrong answer to the wrong question. It should really be framed as “Is all work equal to the worker doing it?” We’d normally ask it in the reverse: “Is the worker equal to the work?” That’s why we insist on resumes and job interviews and character references. We want to make sure we’re hiring someone up to the task. Even better — someone who’ll excel at the task and make us look like geniuses for hiring them. An unemployed rocket scientist or brain surgeon would find their skill sets wasted doing shifts at McDonald’s. But, by the logic of unemployment compensation, you better have a good excuse for not taking the first job offered you.

The brain surgeon doing a shift at the takeout window will walk away with $120 worth of bounce in her step — not much bounce when her monthly nut costs thousands. Yes, she’ll no longer be “unemployed” but her job will both take up her time and fail to pay for her existence. Not exactly the point of the exercise. Let’s say that by hook or by crook the clever Brain Surgeon finds a way to make ends meet on $2400/month (that’s $600/week X four). That wouldn’t be the case, of course — taxes, unemployment, Social Security and Medicare have to be taken out BEFORE any money got to the Brain Surgeon. Take away 25% — what it will likely cost the Brain Surgeon. Working full time, she’s got to make everything in her life fit inside $1800/month.

The simple fact is that no one living in most urban environments in America can thrive on $1800/month. A couple making $3,600/month has a fraction more wriggle room but bigger expenses. Throw in a kid and it would have to be a miracle that this family isn’t living on the street somewhere. Yet, this happens all the time in America. People work their asses off like hamsters in a wheel — getting nowhere, having zero to show for it.

We got here because we love money more than work. We love money more than any work product especially when t’s not ours. We assume the higher one gets paid, the more valuable the work. Spoiler Alert: that’s bullshit. The most valuable work is that which builds, nurtures and sustains us AS a culture. Teachers are incredibly valuable as are any people who chose to work in day care and early childhood development. If we paid people what they were worth in the broadest possible sense to the culture they call home, the distribution of money would be very different from how our society hands out its financial rewards.

The biggest cost in most businesses is labor. The people who “do it all”. That’s also where most businesses try to keep their expenses down. Of course, one must have a budget in order to successfully run a business. But, we’ve loaded businesses up with obligations that maybe they shouldn’t be obligated to — like their employees health insurance. For the record, this anomaly began in America during World War Two. To keep as much money as possible directed toward the war effort, big companies were prohibited by law from giving anyone raises or by luring new hires with promises of more money. The workaround a number of big companies found was offering new hires and valued employees “Hospital Insurance” policies that would help in the event that they or their family encountered a health emergency that put them in the hospital.

After the war ended, these workarounds should have ceased. But a lot of very big companies were now doing it — and, as America had no real health care infrastructure at the time — no system that valued health CARE (not the insurance that covers part of the cost of the care) — health insurance offered by one’s employer became a “thing” in America that Americans expected as part of their employment. That may sound good on the surface, but it’s been nothing short of a disaster for the bulk of Americans and American families who either can’t afford the insurance or aren’t capable of navigating a system that — profit driven as it is — wants to make money, not pay for benefits.

The big companies quickly realized that running a health insurance business for your employees is expensive and unrewarding. The health insurance business was invented to “solve” that problem. It’s utter rubbish that “Americans love their health insurance”. No, they don’t. No one loves their insurance. Insurance companies are GATE KEEPERS standing between an American and the health care of health care provider they want or need. They add nothing except cost. And, while government can indeed be terribly inefficient and subject to graft, so can the corporate world. At least with a government, we can (eventually) vote the bastards out. When a corporation has control of you, of your life, there’s little recourse — except governmental intervention.

The Covid-19 pandemic exposed America’s many flaws in terrible ways. The first question our health INSURANCE (versus CARE) system asks when anyone walks in its door isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?” That’s a problem if people can’t pay. They won’t go to get fixed. If they’re sick, they’ll continue to BE sick. They could easily make more people sick. As the delta variant has made clear, viruses untamed begin to mutate making the problem of solving them that much harder. When even the vaccinated can still get sick, we’re in a bad, bad place.

The reason Universal Basic Income has worked everywhere it’s ever been tried — the reason it’s working for us now (despite so many states already reasserting their more Dickensian way of doing things) — is because the money we pay people almost always goes directly into the economy. People use the UBI to pay their bills and buy things. Rather than taking the first job offered them, people receiving UBI (without having to worry about justifying it) tend to wait for jobs best suited to their skill sets and financial needs. When they do accept work, it’s invariably at a higher salary which means they’ll pay more taxes back into the system — helping to keep the whole thing going.

It works. it’s working. And it understands that we can make work and workers and working far more productive by giving work and worker more time to find each other. As more factory and retail work gets robotized, more people will have to find different jobs — maybe even whole different careers. The nature of a gig economy makes that more easily do-able. But that gets both do-able and productive when we stop thinking of work as punishment for not being rich and, rather, as a means to an end.

The rest of the world works to live while most Americans still live to work. That’s another unexpected benefit of the gig economy — it will force Americans to re-think why they work, what they do when they work and how to reap the most possible rewards from their work.

Above All, The Whole Point Of Slavery Is Stolen Labor

At its bottom line, slavery steals labor. That is, it refuses to PAY FOR labor, choosing to TAKE IT from the laborer instead. Yeah, sure — the slaver may have to feed, clothe and house his slaves, but these are all just the “costs of doing business”. At the end of the (working) day, the slaver’s savings on labor will far, far outweigh any hard costs of keeping his slaves. The proof? Slavery proliferated in America.

Two crops grew in the American south that made slavery especially “attractive” to cost-conscious Southern farmers: sugar cane and cotton. Prior to mechanization, both were unusually labor-intensive. If cotton plantations had had to pay a living wage to its workers — instead of stealing their slaves’ labor — they would, in theory, never have become successful. Or, economic success would have been harder to achieve and maintain. That’s from a white, monied perspective.

From the perspective of the person taken from their home and homeland and shipped halfway across the globe to forcibly pick a stranger’s cotton for twelve hours a day for literally no money? This is monstrous. It’s criminal. It’s deeply, irredeemably immoral.

Though formal slavery ended, we’ve always allowed an informal kind of slavery to exist here in America. Every time we give money more credence than human beings, we keep slavery alive. Same token? Every time we, as consumers, go hunting for a cheap pair of socks? We’re doing the exact same thing.

The whole point of moving production from, say, America to, say, Bangladesh is because the laws in Bangladesh allow companies to treat and pay their employees even more poorly than here in America. In some places, literal slave or prison labor makes the goods we buy. Why doesn’t that disturb America to its core? Because America still empowers slavery. We still give slavery a political voice via the Electoral College. The EC is literally slavery voting.

To be fair, America was a commercial enterprise first, an experiment in human self-government second. While the Pilgrims may be emigrated to these shores in search of “religious freedom, once here, they behaved as exploitatively as everyone else. They just justified their exploitation a little differently.

The fact that Mitch McConnell and the GOP don’t want to put money directly into Americans’ pockets — even as we all struggle under the crushing weight the pandemic has placed on our economy — is just the latest iteration of Republicans being slavery-minded. In Marxist thinking, “surplus value” is the value of work minus what it costs the worker to produce it. The question: who gets to profit from a worker’s “surplus value”? The worker or the the worker’s boss?

Of course, the fairest answer would be something both feel respects their input. It’s just a fact — conservatives value money way more than the human beings who actually did the work to create that money. Conservative thinking believes in the right (and might) of kings. If you’re rich, it’s because God wants you to BE rich. It’s just a fact: an awful lot of those theists actually believe THEY personally are God so, of course “God” wants them to “be rich”.

Conservative money despises the whole idea of Universal Basic Income because it would completely destroy slavery. If no one has to work for crap money — if UBI allows them to wait for work more suited to their temperament, skill set and future — as hard data already demonstrates, those people end up getting better jobs that pay better wages, give them greater financial security and — bonus points — causes them to PAY MORE IN TAXES BACK TO THE SYSTEM. Whereas trickle down hands money to rich people — in the hopes that they’ll buy things or pay people (how the trickle would eventually “get down”), UBI cash flows the economy from the bottom up.

What do people receiving UBI do with their money? Do they hoard it like banks do (or did after the 2008 bailout)? No — THEY SPEND IT: on their rent, on food, on clothing, on their education. On their children and families. The cash FLOWS INTO the economy at a local level which then floods the whole system with cash.

But, if — like a republican — down deep, you secretly long for the return of literal slavery — the idea of workers doing what they want (even if it makes everyone and everything more productive)? Apparently, that’s a bridge too far. It’s not head-scratchingly hard to figure out.

Look at the past. Listen to everything Republicans insist they want. Look at how hard Republicans have fought to enslave as many Americans as they can via economic hardship.

It’s not a coincidence. To every Republican, slavery isn’t just a blast from the past, it’s what Republicans want to have for breakfast every day. More to the point, slavery is what Republicans want every American to have for breakfast — every damned day.

Conservatives vs Progressives Can Be Summed Up As “Me vs We”

Trumpism is conservatism on steroids (plus copious amounts of snorted powdered Adderall). If one had to sum up Trumpism in one word, it’d be “me”. “Me” is the one country Donald Trump has fealty toward. Well, “Me” and Vlad Putin. But that’s not ideological fealty. Trump isn’t loyal to Putin because he believes in “Putinism”. Rather, it’s the fealty that a crime boss (Putin) demands from his underlings and capos (Trump). “Me” is the core weakness Putin holds over Trump. Putin is exploiting Trump’s absolute adoration of “Me”, Trump’s willingness to indulge “Me”, make “Me” richer even if doing it is illegal or downright treasonous.

Trumpism = Me-ism. And now, so, too do Republicanism and conservatism.

To be fair to conservatives, they do come by their Me-ism honestly. That is, it’s completely organic to who they are. Conservatives love the Libertarian notion of the “rugged individualist” — that “I alone can fix it” guy. They all see themselves as “rugged individualists”. This dovetails nicely with the conservative, institutionalist idea of religion — a neat twist that turns “Do unto others” into “Do what we say or else”. Conservatives all claim to know God’s will better than you (so you better shut up!) That’s because conservatives don’t believe IN God, they believe they ARE God. So, how could anyone be the “boss of them”?

See how that works?

Conservatives, as their names says, want to conserve. Fair enough. The next logical question: WHAT do conservatives want to “conserve”? Since one can’t conserve the future (it doesn’t exist yet), one is left conserving the present which means conserving the past since that’s what the present reflects — what’s left of the past. THAT is what conservatives want desperately to conserve — as much of the past conserved in the present as possible. Why? Was the past better?

For them, yes. Yes, it was. In the past, conservative values (white, Christian, male) dominated all conversations. “All men are created equal” didn’t mean “all men”. It didn’t mean “all people” either.

For conservatives, the past was infinitely better than they fear the future might be. Which is why they resist change. And progress. Change and progress are antithetical to conservatives and conservatism. That’s not a rap or a judgment. It’s simply a fact. It’s part of the DNA of any conservative argument — resistance to change because of a preference for how it was before.

“How it was before” is a problem for Progressives because “how it was before” was racist, bigoted, misogynist and ignorant. And it’s entirely antithetical to democracy because the majority of Americans aren’t those things. We keep voting against those things but getting the opposite result. It’s like someone was constantly getting in the way of change — of the progress toward real fairness, real justice and a truly level playing field that the majority of Americans want.

Donald Trump pointed out a basic truth that every Republican knows: when more Americans vote, they vote against Republicans and for Democrats because they don’t want what Republicans are selling. Democracy is a marketplace of ideas. In the binary marketplace that is American Democracy, more Americans want to buy Progressive ideas than conservative ideas: a vigorous social safety net, socialized medical CARE (not insurance; insurance doesn’t provide care, it’s a payment mechanism for it) that won’t bankrupt a person (or their family) just because they got sick, UBI, a healthy climate, women’s and minority rights, full LGBTQ participation in American life, a clear separation between Church and State. As Trump put it, if every American voted, Republicans would never win another election.

Exactly so, Donald, exactly so. It’s a testament to how good most Americans are. We want our individual rights respected. But we also recognize that there will always be a dynamic tension between “me” and “we”. If not everyone in the “we” is getting the same “me” treatment? Then it’s like NONE of “we” is getting the “me” treatment. We can’t be truly free until we’re ALL free. Otherwise, we’re just pretending to be “free”.

Even the nature of our protests is different. Most Progressives protests were masked and, at least, had the pandemic’s toll and impact in its head.

Conservative protests?

They’re masked when they must be but you can see “You’re not the boss of me!” burning in their eyes. They’re armed to the teeth. They’re not there to protect anything — other than the scared little boy inside them. As Kyle Rittenhouse was shooting those two UNARMED protesters to death, was he striking blows for freedom? Or was he, down deep, saying “Eff you, man, you’re not taking away whatever it is that I’m so desperately afraid of losing!”

The reason most conservatives fear “we” is because it doesn’t look like them — or what they think “me” should look like: Northern European white people. Christian. Rich.

That’s what conservatives think “American Exceptionalism” is. Them. And their money. They couldn’t be more wrong. American Exceptionalism is spelled out in our motto: “E PLURIBUS UNUM”. Out of many, one. America is the product of diversity. That’s the “PLURIBUS”. The “UNUM” isn’t a bunch of unums making one giant “unum”, it’s an unum borne of the pluribus. “We” has always been essential to the American ideal.

Our mistake thus far has been that we’ve EXCLUDED so many Americans FROM that ideal. Good thing We The People stepped in at the very last second to pluck our democracy back from the selfish, greedy, corrupt conservatives who, frankly, never had much use for it anyway.

There will always be dynamic tension between “me” and “we”. That’s not a bad thing. It’s baked in to our experiment in human self-government. Our duty is to keep the tasting spoon handy. Don’t let the mix get TOO “we” (that will undermine the “me” and we don’t want to do that either).

Maybe we need to reframe our differences. Maybe conservatism isn’t the political opposite of progressivism. Maybe conservatism is an island unto itself. What if we think of “moderation” as the political opposite of progressivism. Rather than “forward v backwards”, what if we thought of the future in terms of “forward v forward with greater deliberation”? After all, whether we like it or not, the future is coming at us. We will face problems in the future that we haven’t even considered yet.

If we don’t anticipate them — by building the future into our plans — then we’ll be caught out when the future arrives. Kinda like the Trump White House prepared America for the pandemic.

See? We are living in a live “Me v We” test tube. “Me” thinking produces sickness and death. “We” thinking does not.

Like there’s really a choice here?

Fact: There Is No Conservative Solution To A Crisis Conservatism Caused

If I was to continue the alliteration, I’d say: Ka-ching!” That’s because it’s so on the money. We are in a crisis… no, we’re in a storm of crises. If only we had just one crisis to deal with this second, it’d be bad enough. But Donald Trump and the Republican Party have brought us to a place where we now face multiple crises on multiple fronts — and all because they are trying desperately to hold onto power that was never legitimately theirs.

Conservatives aren’t criminals and conservatism itself isn’t the “enemy”. Conservative greed is the enemy — as is everything that’s flowed from that greed like, say, their willingness to compromise themselves with Russia. Conservativism’s problem is it’s unsaleable to the majority of Americans. When more Americans vote, they vote for Democrats. That’s just a stone cold fact. Hell, even Donald Trump knows it. The whole point of voter suppression (up to and including hobbling the Post Office) is to stop more people from voting because of how most of them will vote.

Conservatives could have seen their diminishing place in our politics and done something respectable — like find a rock solid place in it. The truth is, progressives like me do need a counterweight if only to keep us honest. But that counterweight needs to be honest, too. And, right now, conservatism can’t claim a lick of honesty.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with capitalism. There’s everything wrong with crony capitalism. The Republican Party just proved that point for all eternity.

Crony capitalism is the conservative fix for everything. It doesn’t matter what the problem is — or whether it ever gets solved — so long as the right amount of money lands in their pocket along the way. The rich get richer while everyone else grows more impoverished, trapped and angrier. But the money that runs capitalism runs both ways.

An economy built on consumers and their confidence will die without them. More specifically, the giant corporations fattening themselves by selling products to American consumers rely on those consumers’ ability and willingness to buy. Problem 1: if those consumers are too broke to buy your products, you’re dead. Problem 2: if those consumers refuse to buy your products because they hate what you stand for, you’re deader than dead.

Here’s the tell: On April 19, 2017, Fox News canned Bill O’Reilly. At the time, O’Reilly’s “The O’Reilly Factor” was Fox News’ top-rated show and its biggest cash cow. O’Reilly wasn’t a “journalist” and didn’t have to play by “journalistic rules” (as if Fox ever has!) but his appearance on a news network gave the utter claptrap that was his stock in trade the “sheen” of news. O’Reilly allowed Fox News to have it both ways. And then, suddenly, that music stopped.

Women did it.

It’s simply a fact: women make the majority of buying decisions in American households. They do the majority of the grocery shopping. They buy the majority of the clothing for their households. They work, they run carpools, they buy cars and gasoline and because they’re now increasingly the principle earners in more and more American households, if they suddenly decide to cancel culture a product? That product will be cancelled, no going back.

All those big corporations whose products women regularly buy? They got the memo. Not wanting to be cancelled, they told the 21st Century Fox Board that they would no longer advertise their products on Bill O’Reilly’s show. They did not want their brands associated with Bill O’Reilly’s brand. For the Fox board, it wasn’t a hard decision. They fired Bill O’Reilly (for reasons they could have/should have fired him years before).

When the marketplace spoke loudly enough, the money reacted. And the marketplace reacted to the economic power of the women within it. Those women are now taking political power with two hands. I’m going to generalize here — male that I am: female biology dictates communal decision-making over unilateral decision-making. No woman would ever say “I alone can fix it” because (here I go generalizing again about women) she knows that no woman can bear and rear a child alone. It really does take at least one other person to help at some point or neither baby nor mama will survive. It really does take a village to raise a child. It takes a village to almost everything — especially in a democracy.

It’s just a stone cold fact: no one can do anything “alone”.

That’s the petard on which conservatism is now hanging itself. Their belief that they alone could “fix” it.

This absolutely a problem of conservatism’s making. Conservatism made it because they were greedy. The way out can’t possibly be more greed.

The way out isn’t some middle option either. Anything that doesn’t put the full weight and potential of the American government at the disposal of We The People has no business being in the discussion. We can smell it’s greed from here.

Even doing everything perfectly will not guarantee that we get a free ride of some kind that magically returns our lives to how they were pre-pandemic. But the results will be exponentially better than what we’re doing to ourselves now. We’re in the process of learning (playing the part of lab rats) how Universal Basic Income works — and how it bolsters and builds an economy rather than undermining it (as conservatives insist, their parsimony cranked up high). We’re learning the lesson that health insurance is not the same thing as health CARE and that literally everyone needs to be included in a universal health CARE system because (in a world where pandemics might now be regular occurrences) we can only ever be as healthy as the least healthy person among us.

Pandemics begin with one person and spread from there.

We’re learning that human decency is, in fact, more important than money. As all those corporations are learning quickly, decency must be part of everyone’s brand going forth. It’s not going to be an option.

The Black Death killed feudalism. It turned an oppressive economic system upside down — giving labor an upper hand it never had before. The result was the guilds, a growing middle class, the birth of capitalism and, finally, the industrial revolution.

We won’t know if this pandemic has the same century-long impacts. We’ll be long dead when those histories get written. But, I bet we get a taste. We’ve already gotten one.

History will judge some of us very harshly. Conservatism won’t be blamed for causing America to nearly collapse but it will be seen as being on the wrong side. I’m not sure, really, how conservatism will eventually get back on our “right” side. What will it take for us to trust their motives again? We’d be foolish to accept their claims of rehabilitation on faith.

I’m absolutely certain nothing conservatives say can help rescue America from what conservatives have done to America. I’m almost as certain conservatives can’t help rescue themselves from what they’ve done to themselves.

I hope they understand if some of us refuse to lend them a hand when they beg for one.

There Simply Is No Conservative Way Out Of This Mess; Conservatism Put Us Here

How do pandemics happen? After the pathogen gets revved up — and finds its entree into human hosts — the next important event is denial.

China denied it had a problem. That made their problem exponentially larger — and then made their problem EVERYONE’S problem. Coronavirus became OUR problem because we’re humans sharing the planet with authoritarian liars. It became a bigger problem than it needed to be because Donald Trump knows he must remain president at all costs; the instant he stops being potus, a shitload of legal problems will begin. Trump is such a day trader that he thinks not testing anyone will solve his problem — because if there aren’t test results saying Americans have or are dying from the coronavirus (and Covid 19 the disease it causes). it means the coronavirus problem isn’t happening.

Just like if the stock market is up, it means “Trump good” and if the stock market is down, it means “Democrats bad”.

Conservatives are especially good at denial. Remember — conservatives want to “conserve”, just like their name says. What do they want to conserve? It can’t be the future — you can’t conserve what doesn’t exist, right? But you can conserve the present — which is what conservatives think of as a “compromise”. In their minds, too much of the past has already been lost. If we just keep things as they are forever — conserving them — they’ll be happy.

Never mind that “how things are now” is still grossly unfair to a whole lot of people — many of them black, brown, LGBTQ, immigrant or undocumented. The playing field is not now nor has it ever been level.

Conservative values are inherently racist values. The America conservatives want to conserve caters to white, male Christians. It cedes all primacy to them because they’re white, Christian and male. White, Christian male conservatives — the rich ones — declared war on the rest of us. The Kochs, the Mercers et cetera saw the demographic handwriting on the wall: they weren’t just going to be a minority, they were going to be a powerless minority unless they did something. Having money — and power in their hands — they did something.

They gerrymandered. They suppressed votes. They hitched their wagon to Russia and Donald Trump. Anything and everything to make conservatism — via minority rule — a permanent fixture in American politics. Conservatism has no intention of compromising. Newt Gingrich even said that part out loud, remember? What Democrat would ever say “I alone can fix it” and expect a huge chunk of those listening to nod along in agreement?

Conservatism is greed. And greed never makes anyone smarter.

If a million Americans succumbed to Covid19, that would not make Republicans unhappy. They’re hoping that the overwhelming majority of the dead are Democrats — completing the coup d’etat they launched in 2016 with their Russian pals. What a shame for them that Trump-loving Republicans will fill most of those body bags because they believe Trump and refuse to quarantine or social-distance themselves from others.

The conservative response to Trump’s relationship with Russia was to shrug. Of course — it’s THEIR relationship with Russia. They can’t “solve that”, can they? They’re owned — and want to be.

The conservative response to the coronavirus pandemic is to insist the economy is way ore important than anyone’s health. As always, conservatives frame everything from the point of view of a false choice. The world has to be this way or that way. Wrong question.

Ours is a consumerism-based economy. It works when people buy things. Demand rules. If there’s no demand? There’s no economy. And consumers afraid that a restaurant meal may be fatal will not dine in restaurants. They won’t go to gyms or barber shops or yoga classes or night clubs or bars or stadiums. They won’t have CONFIDENCE in their own personal safety. They won’t “buy” anything

And if people don’t buy then no one can sell. There will not be any sort of “economy”. The conservative “way out” is not a way out at all. It’s a way in deeper. As we’re already experiencing. See? We ARE the receipts to the conservative argument. Remember how trickle down economics resulted in zero trickling down? Same thing. We’re the lab rats.

What scares the shit out of conservatives — aside from the fact that they got us here — is the fact that even THEY know the only way out is via Progressive policies and approaches. The fact is, the federal government COULD cash flow Americans for a period of time — Universal Basic Incoming EVERYONE. That money won’t sit in anyone’s pocket (except maybe the already wealthy). Instead it will flood the economy with cash as people buy the goods and services they need (and want).

Does this come at a cost? Of course it does. We will pay higher taxes — but what’s the alternative? Total ruin? The people who WILL bear the brunt of the tax burden are those who can already afford it — the 1% who now hold 80% of the wealth. They did not “earn” that money. They took it. Not the same thing.

Let’s remember one other thing: those tax dollars We The People will use to cash flow us out of this mess that conservative thinking did to us? It’s OURS. We paid it in via our tax dollars (that includes every tax we pay in addition to just federal income tax). That money isn’t conservatives’ to parcel out. It’s OURS. And if we say WE need it now to help us — we’ll take and we’ll use it.

Conservatives now stand for racism, sexism, bigotry, corruption, treason, propaganda and death. How in hell’s name does one compromise with any of that? One can’t, of course.

That means there’s really no room at the table for moderation either. After all — what are we moderating between? Progressivism and corruption?

We will get through this. We’re the majority — by a lot. And Americans have no history of giving in to fascism — especially the more diverse parts of us — the majority that conservatives are so afraid of. We will not stand for this. We just won’t. And the increasing number of women running for office? They won’t stand for it either.

We will emerge from this a very different nation with different values. Not “different” actually — more honest. More human. More humane. More socialized.

We can’t continue on with a health system based on insurance rather than care. If only one person catches the virus again and they can’t afford to be treated? They won’t get treated. Instead, they’ll start the whole infection cycle all over again. We can only ever be as “healthy” as a nation as the least healthy among us. That’s so “Jesus-y”, isn’t it? All “Do unto others”.

When Republicans are swept from political office all across the country — they absolutely will be (and EVERY American’s vote is required to make that happen) — Progressive values and legislation will take hold and take off.

And it will all be because conservatives got to have their way.

The irony is already delicious.

Pay People ‘To Do Nothing’? Actually, It Makes EVERYBODY Better Off – So Says THE DATA…

The concept goes by a couple of variations on the theme of ‘Guaranteed Minimum Income’ or ‘Universal basic income’ (UBI).

It is — strangely enough — a place where Extreme Progressive Left & Extreme Libertarian Right meet in a fond embrace; different reasons entirely but love is love, yeah?

The concept sounds to the uninformed ear like ‘FREE MONEY’.  It is… but it’s not.  It obligates you to nothing — yet frees you up to do EVERYTHING.  If you want to live within the narrow, narrow margins that a UBI provides for — you can do that and not disappear into a crack — or a homeless shelter.  Or you can bide your time PRODUCTIVELY — training yourself (using the money), honing your skills (using the money) until a JOB OPPORTUNITY that PAYS MORE and MAKES YOU HAPPIER because you’re doing something you like at least and are good (and, now, well trained) at — comes your way.  When you get hired for THAT JOB then — it will PAY MORE, have MORE BENEFITS and — (bad news to Americans) pay more taxes into the government so that (good news to Americans) every American can RECEIVE just such a UBI.

Fortune talked about the idea last year —

http://fortune.com/2017/06/29/universal-basic-income-free-money-silicon-valley/

Let’s start with the Expected RW Christian Knee-Jerk Reactions…

“…Critics have a buffet of objections to choose from—it undermines productivity, it rewards laziness, it’s socialism by another name.”

Do those, um, critics have DATA to back any of that up or is that, once again, THEIR REPRESSIVE, IGNORANT FEELINGS about ‘lazy people’ talking instead of FACTS?

Facts would interfere with their FEELINGS about the facts…

A couple of thoughts from the article to consider —

“There’s no doubt that it would be unprecedentedly, astronomically expensive. The concept also violates a core tenet of capitalism, by assuming that this technological revolution, unlike others before it, won’t create better jobs tomorrow to replace the ones it erases today.”

And —

“Universal basic income (UBI) would insulate displaced workers from poverty and quell the potential for unrest during a profound and painful economic transition. Theoretically, it might spur innovation and encourage people to take entrepreneurial risks. It would almost certainly alter the definition of “work” by attaching compensation to whatever people choose to do with their time, including absolutely nothing.”

What the article doesn’t do (maybe I read it too quickly) — What  happens to an economy — when more and more of its ‘contributors’ (and it’s a healthy MIDDLE CLASS that drives demand, not Rich Guys who already ‘have everything’) make more money, spend more money & pay more taxes into the system itself — that would create and drive not only short-term financial security but Long-Term financial health and prosperity, too.

When more of the Commonweal succeeds, the Commonweal itself succeeds even more.  It’s just math.  What a UBI does is guarantee the Math.  And the Math — when given a chance, ‘guarantees it’…

This is from The New Yorker (thank everything in creation that THAT magazine is still around!)

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/06/20/why-dont-we-have-universal-basic-income

At least read the first paragraph.  Here — allow me —

“In the mid-nineteen-seventies, the Canadian province of Manitoba ran an unusual experiment: it started just handing out money to some of its citizens. The town of Dauphin, for instance, sent checks to thousands of residents every month, in order to guarantee that all of them received a basic income. The goal of the project, called Mincome, was to see what happened. Did people stop working? Did poor people spend foolishly and stay in poverty? But, after a Conservative government ended the project, in 1979, Mincome was buried. Decades later, Evelyn Forget, an economist at the University of Manitoba, dug up the numbers. And what she found was that life in Dauphin improved markedly. Hospitalization rates fell. More teen-agers stayed in school. And researchers who looked at Mincome’s impact on work rates discovered that they had barely dropped at all. The program had worked about as well as anyone could have hoped.”

There’s Gold here, waiting to be mined.  Imagine having to give yourself the courage required to get filthy, stinking rich — even metaphorically — and doing nothing about it.