Friday, May 13, 2016

Trump and the Descent Into the Maelstrom

We are all seeing endless stories trying to "explain" where Donald Trump came from and how he has managed to do what he has done this year.  I put that word "explain" in quotation marks, because almost none of these stories really goes much beyond trying to demonstrate that Trump is a unique phenomenon that really has nothing to do with true Republicans or true Conservatism.  In my opinion, Trump's rise is a perfectly logical step in the devolution of the Republican party,  a process which has been going on not merely since Obama was elected, not since George W. Bush, not since Reagan, but for at least a hundred years.  It is important to understand this, because Trump is by no means the end stage of this process; things will only get worse in the future.

To explain this, I have to talk about economics.  In the last century, there have been basically two economic theories in the capitalist world: So-called "supply side" economics, also known as "Austrian school" economics in an attempt to make it sound more European and intellectual, and Keynesian, or what might be called "demand side" economics.

 It is a considerable over-simplification to put things in the following terms, but basically, Keynesian economics suggests that the capitalist economy is driven by demand.  According to this theory, it is demand, not the actions of producers that drives economic activity; if people don't want to buy things, companies are not going to hire anyone to make or sell them.  Supply side economics denies this seemingly unquestionable fact, and attributes all growth to the hard work of business owners, with everyone else in the world just along for the ride.  Those who follow supply side economics, consequently, tailor government to cater solely to the needs of the rich, and during hard economic times insist that the answer from the government is to cut spending and taxes, leaving the profits of the rich untouched, while severely damaging the purchasing power of everyone else.  Demand side economics, during economic downturns, insists that the opposite approach is the only viable one; increasing government spending and job creation to keep enough economic demand to prevent the collapse of the capitalist system.

We have had, now a century to try both of these theories, and as anyone with the slightest honesty knows, Keynesian economics has swept the field every time.  The Great Depression was massively increased in its severity by government policies under the three 1920's Republican Presidents, which catered almost exclusively to the rich; the downward spiral continued unabated under those policies until 1933, when Roosevelt's Keynesian policies began an almost immediate reversal in the economic state of the nation.  The only time this recovery faltered was in 1937, when Roosevelt mistakenly allowed himself to turn away from Keynesian economics, a reversal that was quickly corrected when he saw the results and returned to his previous policy.

"Demand side" economics pretty well won the day at that point, and continued to be applied in the United States, during the greatest economic boom we have ever known.  It was not until the time of Reagan, when enough of the short-memoried American people had forgotten this history, that Republicans were again able to return to their former bad behavior, and the country began its inevitable slide into disaster, culminating in 2008, when the economy dropped off the cliff.

And let me make this clear:  The only reason why we did not have a total depression in 2008 was that, in 1929, Democrats had to wait over three years to take over and stop the Republican economic suicide, while in 2008, the Democrats took over in three months.

Well, what does this have to do with Trump?  Here's the thing: in the first place, supply side economics and its austerity policy is ludicrous on its face.  When the economy is facing a crisis of demand, how can deliberately cutting demand further possibly do anything other than make things worse?  Second, we now have a hundred years' experience, from the Depression to the disastrous experiments in austerity in Europe in recent decades, contrasted with the boom years when taxes were high on the rich, that shows us that supply side economics does not work.

In fact, supply side economics is (in typical Repubican fashion) not a theory, not grounded in any empirical evidence or real logical thought, but simply a malign fairy tale, spread thoughtout the world by rich people who are the only ones that benefit in any way from getting governments to follow its dictates, while everyone else loses.  This phony theory is pushed by "academics" at places like the University of Chicago and Stanford, schools founded by the hyper-rich, with the intent of fabricating justifications for what they intend to do, regardless of the consequences.  This gives corrupt politicians license to do the bidding of the rich, despite its inevitably disastrous results.

Now comes the relevant part here.  How do you get tens of millions of voters to sign on to economic theories that are preoposterous on their face, and have caused disasters every time they have been tried?  You can't do this rationally, so about thirty years ago, the real owners of the Republican party hit upon the only possible solution:  To cultivate a voting base that hates science, hates reason, hates facts, and has been trained to make all of their decisions based on anger, racism and greed.  And that is what they did; both overtly, by crushing funding for public education, forcing public schools into a "test-based" curriculum where whoever controls the tests determines what can and cannot be teached, selling our education system off to private bidders, and working around the country to elect the most reactionary, fact-hating people they could find to their school boards; and implicitly by teaching the susceptible for three decades that people who actually know things are nothing but a cynical, self-serving elite who spread falsehoods to serve their own greed.

Let me remark here, that this incessant work over the last decades has not served merely to sucker people into buying into supply-side economics; it has worked to cultivate opposition to the clear facts of global warming, create popular support for ending regulations that protect us all from the depredations of Capitalism, and an endless series of laws and regulations designed to do nothing but steal from the poor.

Trump could disappear tomorrow, and these people will still be with us.  And defeat only fills them more and more with rage and a lust for revenge.  We have seen these people grow increasingly strident with every passing election.  At this point, being dead wrong angers them just as much as it would be if they were proven right.  Hatred and anger fill their lives now, and they are going to continue to push themselves into a more and more intractable position, until a super-Trump comes along and leads them into their promised land of fascism and race hatred.  Only the Republican party itself can really undo this tragic situation, and it will never do that, because without ignorance and hatred, they have nothing.

I actually think that having a few States split off and go their own way might be the best solution for all of us, because the alternative could be an American ISIS, or even worse, an American Reich.  I have, I am sorry to say, been watching this progression since at least the 1980's, and fearing where it would lead; despite telling myself over and over again that something would stop it, because it couldn't happen here, nothing has stopped it, and at this point, I don't know what could.

Note:  In response to Anonymous' comment (not that Anonymous, needless to say, as he didn't call me a "butt fucking faggot," nor is he capable of thinking on an adult level)  I thought I would add a chart of GDP during the pertinent period in the late twenties and thirties.  This doesn't challenge anything he said, but I thought it added something to the picture.


Anonymous said...

"The only reason why we did not have a total depression in 2008 was that, in 1929, Democrats had to wait over three years to take over and stop the Republican economic suicide, while in 2008, the Democrats took over in three months."

It's important to mention that regulations and government help programs did not allow the 2008 financial situation to get worse. Back in 1929 we had neither of those aids.

I think FDR and Reagan's financial strategies were perfect examples of opposite financial approaches, and both had the Congressional votes to implement those policies to their fullest.

History and the facts tells us which system worked better. FDR led us to the greatest economic growth in world history, Reagan's policies led us to the multi-trillion dollar debts we now have.

If we don't learn from history we are bound to repeat our mistakes.

Green Eagle said...

Well, it is certainly true that Reagan and his cohorts did not manage to dismantle every wall protecting us from economic disaster, but they certainly managed to destroy enough of them to send us down the slope into 2008. I do, however, look at the stubbornness with which the Hoover administration refused to back away from their economic policies after 1929, as things got worse and worse, and see the almost immediate turnaround that resulted from even the initially inadequate Roosevelt administration response, and shudder to think of what might have happened had the McCain, the Hoover of this century, had managed to have his hands on the levers after the collapse.

Anonymous said...

Sorry you have had trouble with someone else, but you are a jackass

Green Eagle said...

Okay, Anonymous, you are out of here too. I treated your remark with respect, and you responded with a meaningless insult. I have no time any more for people like you. Don't come back.

Zog said...

Fitting that you mentioned that Anonymous on Friday the 13th.

Is that Anonymous still trying to send messages? And what about Dikran, the other headache?

Green Eagle said...

As I mentioned to Anahid, Anonymous seems to have given up. Dikran still sends frequent meaningless comments to me, but I'm not falling for it. With Dikran going to all that trouble, I really expected an explosion from him over my recent three part post linking Ted Cruz to the Armenian genocide, but I got nothing. I guess irrelevant taunts is about all he is good for.