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Est. April 5, 2002
February 02, 2017 - Issue 684

World Powers
Beginning to Understand
Conditions that Produce
President Trump


"The people are beginning to understand
that reckless behavior, whether it emanates
from the White House or elsewhere, must be
confronted directly and it must be confronted
by individuals and organizations that are
working together, in solidarity.  Otherwise, it
will be business as usual in the political
swamp that is Washington, D.C."

Earlier this month, about 3,000 of the world’s business and political powers gathered in Davos, Switzerland, and heard from some of their own that the worldwide crisis in income and wealth disparity is about to have repercussions that they are not likely prepared to solve in any peaceful way.

For example, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, told the gathering that the unrest among ordinary workers was fueling populism, while Meg Whitman, chief of Hewlett Packard, told her audience, according to International Business Times, “It's up to leaders in this room, particularly in the technology field, to think 'How do we help manage the transition of people who have been disrupted by robotics or automation' – which, by the way, is a far bigger cause of job losses in the US than economic globalization.”

It is difficult to know whether she was just tossing in the comment about job loss due to globalization, as opposed to automation and computerization, or that she actually wants the American worker to forget that the millions of jobs shipped to low wage countries were done without regard to the millions of families that have fallen into a lower standard of living or even into penury. Either way, both reasons for the loss of well paying jobs and the alarming disparity in wealth and income is the greatest in a century, not only in the U.S., but also in most countries.

But it was Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce company, that gave the U.S. business and political bigs the toughest criticisms of the week, when he said, as reported by Business Insider: “In the past 30 years, America had 13 wars spending $2 trillion ... no matter how good your strategy is you're supposed to spend money on your own people. The money goes to Wall Street. Then what happened? Year 2008 wiped out $19.2 trillion in US income ... What if the money was spent on the Midwest of the United States? The other countries steal jobs from you guys — that is your strategy. You did not distribute the money in the proper way.”

For Ma, the “proper way” of distributing at least some of the money that American corporations and their political enablers generated from the global economy would have been to make the investments in the people, in the cities, in the rural areas and in agriculture, in education, in health care, in roads and bridges, in housing, and improvements in the quality of air, water, and soil. Instead, they gathered it to themselves and paid themselves in ways that the Robber Barons of a century ago would have envied.

The wars that the U.S. has initiated have indeed deprived American citizens of what they needed during all of that time: health care for all, housing, education (especially among the most needy communities), jobs that pay a living wage, for example. A fraction of the $19.2 trillion would have provided for most of this and started to close the gap between the rich and the poor of America.

It is quite well established that the U.S. wars and the preparation for war has forced the living standards of all Americans downward, but especially the standards of those who were at the bottom third of the income scale: the elderly, the disabled, the sick, blacks and other minorities, those who live in the abandoned regions of the country (flyover country), and those with limited education.

Those hardest hit, no matter what their station in life, are undoubtedly the young, the “millennials,” who have been told they must have a college degree or more to make it in the modern economy. Not that education for its own sake is not a fine thing; the lie in this is that these young people are projected to be the first generation that does not do better economically than their parents. In fact, the news media are full of stories of college graduates who have returned to live in their parents’ homes, because they can’t find work in the field for which they were educated and the jobs available to them are such low paying service sector jobs that it will take decades to pay off their student loans.

It’s a recipe for disaster for the millions so affected, for their families, and probably most important, for the good of the entire economy of the country. Meantime, the rich and their political allies meet in luxury in Switzerland, wondering aloud about the possible outcome of the growing disparity between the rich and the poor across the globe. But, there is no widely publicized plan to deal with this growing problem and its dangerous outcomes.

Out of the White House this week, the first week of the Trump presidency, there was no sign of a plan to turn things around to make the economy fairer or to take the burden of student debt from the young. Rather, there was a vigorous display of racism and Islamophobia in Trump’s order on immigration, which, according to some experts, is unconstitutional or dancing around the edge of unconstitutionality. It is something that only a long trip through the court system will determine. In any event, the new president is off to a shaky start and to the most casual observer, he is doing exactly what he did on the campaign trail: Mocking and insulting those who disagree with him, while he continues to shoot from the hip, not even aiming in the general direction of any target, except at the moment, at Muslims at home and abroad.

The response has been electrifying, to say the least. Hundreds of thousands have swarmed airports around the country in opposition to his edict to halt immigration and the misery that his order has visited upon numberless families affected, both in the U.S. and the various countries he has targeted.

Building on the women’s march in Washington, on the day after his inauguration, the anti-Trump demonstrations blossomed and there are millions who are ready to stand against his erratic approach to problems as he sees them with the same vigor and in ever-greater numbers.

The people are beginning to understand that reckless behavior, whether it emanates from the White House or elsewhere, must be confronted directly and it must be confronted by individuals and organizations that are working together, in solidarity. Otherwise, it will be business as usual in the political swamp that is Washington, D.C. Rather than draining the swamp, as Trump promised on the campaign trail, he has diverted rivers of Right Wing propaganda and policies to make the murky waters deeper.

Talk of impeachment is in the air in America, mainly (so far) about the way Trump deals with foreign policy, particularly in countries where he has considerable business interests, but that may only be the beginning. There are many other issues that could bring him down, since he cannot go on issuing executive orders and, in effect, ruling by fiat. He doesn’t seem to know that there are three branches of government, each separate from the others and he’s in charge of only the executive. He must learn that he has to work with the other branches and that he cannot control them, as he controls his business empire.

Jack Ma might have made the most cogent comments, while the rich were in retreat in Davos: the U.S. spends too much money on war and preparations for war and too little on the people, who have little control over the priorities of the federal budget. A few trillion dollars spent domestically would go a long way toward reducing the yawning gap between the rich and the other 90 percent of Americans. First, though, Trump and his Right Wing backers need to learn that there is more to running a country than issuing orders and that this is, at least in its founding documents, a “nation of laws, not men.” He may not be capable of learning something so straightforward, but then, he doesn’t read much.

Will those with their hands on the reins of power listen? That remains to be seen, but the beginning of Trump’s term of office has not started on a good note. To even things up a bit, there is one thing that millions of citizens need to do and that is keep the walking shoes in good condition. Columnist, John Funiciello, is a long-time former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.




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David A. Love, JD
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