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It is interesting that people who hate government are so desperate to be involved in its epicenter. Thus we have Bennett of Utah and now Lugar of Indiana who are insufficiently right wing to cut the mustard, and must go – and have gone.

 Apparently the rationale of the far right wing is to get into government so that they can destroy it. There seems to be an attitude that government is inherently bad and that we must follow the constitution in order to defray its excesses, real or imagined. This view is the opposite of the view of the Founders who wrote the constitution and considered government to be a noble exercise of representative democracy, the central thread/rationale for having a government in the first place.

I am of the opinion that a lot of the line we hear from the right is false by design; that they care little of the real issues of the day (unemployment, international trade issues, the environment etc.), but use them very cynically for the purpose of effectuating their real design, which is to make the rich and corporate class richer with a view toward a form of a latter day feudalist state in which we are the vassals and corporations are (effectively) the state. I have blogged on this topic a couple of times to this effect.

Methodologies to make this happen include privatization efforts (designed to make profits and remove public control over public matters such as education, social security and other now government programs where lots of money is there for the taking). It is important in such a scheme of things that all such programs subject to privatization be trashed by pre-takeover propaganda about how  cost ineffective and un-American they are, how government cannot do anything right, and how private enterprise can come in on the white horse and save the day.

There are those of us who disagree with this cozy assessment; we have seen the bankrupt prone Trumps, Gilded Age trusts, the Enrons, Madoffs et al. and have witnessed firsthand the performances of those on the white horses in our recent bailouts of these intrepid horsemen, who never met an asset that could not be securitized.

These are our saviors? Spare us!

It appears that the role of government should properly be to bail out the rich but leave the poor and the veterans under the bridge in the far right wing’s philosophy of government. It seems to me that if the only real purpose of government is to serve as a blocking back for the rich ball carrier to make money, whatever the pretense and propaganda, then it is time to cancel the game. I, for one do not wish to participate in such a phony excuse for government, where money capital writes and enforces the rules ranging from sexual mores to the air we breathe. There are numerous and better options, and all involve an active engagement of the citizenry and a refusal to sell our public wealth and our futures as serfs serving a corporate culture.

 We should show corporate privatizers the gate and proceed to flesh out our own futures (financed in part by more equitable taxation rates – the latest outrage being that GE has paid an annualized rate of only 2.3% on its billions in profits over the last decade, a far less rate than many pay who are on food stamps)! Such disparities in financing America (among other things) must cease – now!  GERALD E




Professor Kennedy’s blog today laments the loss of fair play in politics, citing the psychological profiling of Cambridge Analytical as evidence of our descent, and asking for commentary. The following, slightly edited, was my response.

Our democracy is not fading before our eyes because of our ability to harness facts and psychological profiles better than ever; rather it’s how we process such harnessed information through the sieve of our own biases which have been created by the likes of Fox, Grover Norquist and other right wing people and organizations interested primarily in making the rich richer at the expense of the poor and middle class. It’s a long way from the pamphleteering of Thomas Paine and Karl Marx to Cambridge Analytical and other algorithm-heavy sources of information, but new and better means of communication (and thus manipulative ability) do not change the idea of America, an idea grounded in democratic values and without which we have nothing and are mere widgets and ATMs and citizens no longer.

Those who would destroy this American “idea” for power and money (such as the Kochs and Mercers) are the real “enemies of the state” as their democracy-destroying antics are played out in political daylight by such as Bannon, McConnell and Ryan (the latter an Ayn Rand devotee). Bannon’s idea of “deconstruction of the administrative state” and as a self-admitted Leninist should have given every thinking American reason to reject Trump’s choice as his chief adviser, but this strange amalgamation of socialism and capitalism espoused by Bannon which targets the state for extinction in his attempt to mix theoretical oil with water persists with the terminally narcissistic Orange Buffoon and his Putin embrace, market-roiling tariffs, denials of reality that do not fit his narcissistic preconceptions etc. Bannon is officially gone but his ideas are far from gone as Trump is busily involved in deconstruction of the administrative state (one of the priorities of Lenin during the Russian Revolution in the early 20th century).

Our task? We must defeat any candidate of any party who is fronting for the Kochs and Mercers and their ilk because these people would destroy our democracy in their lust for money and power via their handmaidens in the Congress and Oval Office and, as I often write here and elsewhere, democracy is our most important asset held in common and one of the last few things worth dying for, and we need not wait for June 14th to storm the Bastille in its defense.     GERALD       E



I have written incessantly about the crying need to (honestly) reform the internal revenue code and the bankruptcy act.

When bankruptcy judges are empowered to void labor contract and pension plans for corporate workers while approving bonuses for the executives of such corporations it becomes clear to a fault that the statute which allows such wrongdoing is in need of serious repair, and the lopsided tax treatment of capital at the expense of labor has been unfair for so long as not to need description.

What we are seeing in this particular Toys r Us foray into Chapter 11 is seen all too often > Hedge funds buy the company, load it up with debt while running away with the accounting “profits,” then upon its “failure to perform” run off to bankruptcy court with a Chapter 11 petition upon which the court typically takes away negotiated rights of its workers in (among other) perhaps vain attempts to keep the company in business, attempts which often fail, after which vulture corporations such as the one Romney retired from come in and cannibalize the company’s assets or, in some instances, come up with a plan to continue in business which the court will approve – and the beat goes on, and on, and on, as the financialization of commerce and industry and privatization of government continue.

Without real reform of both the internal revenue code and the bankruptcy act it’s almost enough to make one consider becoming a socialist. Almost but not quite. Yet.       GERALD       E



A large part of the current crisis has to do not with Trump but with the Republican failure to reign in his excesses, which are legion, daily, and deadly to our democracy – or what is left of it with his assaults. Apparently Republicans want to run their majority advantage as long as possible on behalf of their donor base, not recognizing or choosing not to recognize that when an authoritarian takes over our government and our democracy evaporates, their donor base they are so anxious to protect are along with the rest of us also totally subject to the whim of the authoritarian. By doing nothing about Trump, one can say in the broadest sense that those in the Republican leadership are complicit in the approaching destruction of our democracy – our most valuable asset held in common – and that their failure to reign in this wannabe dictator is the equivalent of a vote for Hitler in 1933 Germany.

Trump’s constant reiteration that Putin is “a strong leader” tells us that he would like to emulate such leadership, kill drug dealers a la the homicidal Filipino president etc., all signs of his not so hidden desire to take over the other two branches of our supposedly co-equal branches of government, folding their powers into that of the executive. When and if that happens, any pretense that we have a democracy is gone, and once democracy is gone it is very difficult to resurrect if not impossible in a police state setting. Let’s tell Republican politicians at both state and federal levels to clean up their Oval Office mess – or be swept aside by the approaching blue tsunami which is coming into view since, literally, our democracy is at stake.     GERALD       E


Following is my response to a blog seeking commentary today, slightly edited.


I think Trump’s latest tweet openly criticizing Mueller’s investigation is in itself an act of obstruction of justice and more, considering his station as a prospective criminal defendant as Mueller’s investigation continues to unexpectedly uncover financial crimes beyond the reach of traditional definitions of obstruction. I have been writing and predicting elsewhere that Mueller will not indict a sitting president but rather choose to submit his final report to the Congress for purposes of impeachment.

With new evidence of a much broader set of possible crimes and conspiracies beyond mere obstruction reaching from Facebook to joint money laundering with Russian oligarchs, I am ready to recant and now think that Mueller may try his luck with a submission of his findings to a grand jury and indict Trump and others along with submission of his report to the Congress.

There is dispute among us lawyers on both sides of the bench as to whether a sitting president can be indicted and a dearth of case law in support of one proposition or the other. I am on the side that says a president can be indicted while sitting because the Constitution does not prohibit it and we should uphold the rule of law and the constitutional application of the Equal Protection Clause on the basis of what you are alleged to have done rather than who you are.

In all events and in view of the cascading evidence that this is a RICO case what with all the racketeering going on in the Oval Office among Trump, his relatives, Russians and others in his inner circle, all illegal activities but unrelated directly with obstruction though ancillary to it given the majesty of the Oval Office, and since Mueller goes where the evidence leads him, I would not be surprised to see a grand jury indictment of Trump by either Mueller or the State of New York, or both, and if Trump is sitting, perhaps we can have the Supreme Court clarify us on the issue of whether a sitting president can be indicted. I think there is a good chance that the court will vote in the affirmative, and that a petit jury will subsequently convict, but time and further evidence of wrongdoing or lack thereof will tell.

Leave a Re



One of the reasons why we have had wage inequality for almost four decades is that libertarians and Republicans have implanted right to work laws in formerly industrialized northern states while hollowing out such industries by their export to China and elsewhere, a double whammy to our economy. As one of the results, positive for American multinational corporations and their handmaiden Wall Street bankers but negative for ordinary Americans, our economy has lagged in growth behind that of the world average for several years as workers do not have the wherewithal to stoke aggregate demand, the sole arbiter of economic growth, resulting in trillions in losses to our economy in productivity and the consequent loss of income and wealth our economy could have engendered but for such demand-deadening policies.

Without unions as a countervailing force to corporate employers, I do not look for substantial improvement in economic growth, and Republican fantasies that you can borrow your way into economic growth by a tax bill our grandchildren will be paying for strains reason. Tax cuts with borrowed money paid to the wrong people will not enhance economic growth, the Dow is irrelevant, and as the toxic effects of Trump’s tax bill take hold, I am predicting a recession either this year or next with final timing dependent upon externalities which have not yet come into view, such as geopolitics involving Putin, Trump et al., which could hasten or delay the coming downturn.

Contrary to Republican predictions of trickle down success for our future (when eminent economist Joseph E. Stiglitz writes repeatedly that  trickle down economics  “has never worked in a large economy” – and ours is large), it is clear to me that increased employment and chump change increases in wages will be eaten up by interest rate increases and inflation and that we are set to shortly experience economic contraction rather than economic growth due, as usual, to lack of aggregate demand occasioned by demand-deadening policies. The proper policy, of course, is one that provides for robust increases in median wages which would in turn stoke aggregate demand which would, in turn and perhaps surprisingly, increase profits for the rich and corporate class who have been resisting increases in median wages for almost forty years . However, I’m not holding my breath waiting for such an enlightened economic proposal to find its way through the legislative maze and land on Trump’s desk.      GERALD       E


Right wingers and the super rich are joined in an unholy alliance which has done a framing number on the rest of us with their propaganda that those of us who want a more equitable distribution of the income and wealth of our economy are communists, socialists, leftists et al., when we are nothing of the kind – we are only interested in economic justice – and those apostles of greed are not.
The problem is in our lopsided view of how we reward capital over labor, both of which are necessary to produce the economy’s income and wealth. Now we know that new billionaires are being created at an accelerated rate while ordinary Americans are falling into poverty due to wage inequality. I find this politically, economically, morally repugnant, and not only unnecessary but operating as a drag on the performance of the economy itself. There is room in our economy for a fairer and more equitable sharing of the income of our economy between capital and labor – lots more  room – and if labor were justly compensated for its contribution to the economy’s income such an increase in income would bring about an increase in aggregate demand, the sole arbiter of economic growth, which would in turn increase capital’s share of the larger pie.
I also fear for the future of working Americans when increasingly sophisticated automation replaces their labor contribution to the economy, especially since it will be the billionaires who own and control such automation, which suggests that the lopsided treatment of rewards to capital over (labor as we know it) may become worse.
I think we should be working on the effects of this sea change in production and distribution now – right now – as in, how are we going to distribute the fruits of our economy to those who are not working because there is no work for them to do, their former contributions to the economy supplanted by automation, among many other human problems occasioned by this transition from an industrial to an information age, such as what kind of changes in our mores and folkways must we undergo to agree to pay people for not working?
Experts smarter than I am (and they are legion) are, I hope, working on the political, economic and social changes we are going to have to make to cope with automation as it continues to flower at an accelerated rate. The Protestant work ethic of “no work-no eat” obviously has to go, and the idea that “welfare” is bad has to go as well, among other early casualties in such accommodation of humans to their new environment. I don’t know what changes tomorrow will bring, but I do believe that we are in for enormous changes in how we are going to acclimate humanity with full blown automation and think we should be working on such accommodation before we reach emergency status – like now.        GERALD         E



The topic for discussion on Professor Kennedy’s blog today was Trump’s ignorance of economics and in particular, his proposal to place tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. She asked for commentary, and the following, slightly edited, was my contribution.

Supply and demand even before Adam Smith was never a perfect measure of trade costs or a foundation for mythical free market theory, but it was perhaps the best we could do coming out of late medieval times into an industrial economy powered by steam, which changed everything. Trouble is, as applied today and in re Trump’s tariffs, and as Joseph E. Stiglitz writes in his books, tariffs distort the economy, one which we had hoped would have a degree of market normalcy in obedience to the theory of supply and demand. Tariffs reward or punish trading partners based on domestic political concerns and supposed unfair treatment by one of the other, and thus corporate efficiency, the law of comparative advantage and other so-called iron rules of economics become secondary to politics and not economic systems, whether socialist or capitalist. Result? Higher prices, inflation, unemployment etc.

Trump (apparently in a fit of pique) had no good reason to invoke Section 232 (empowering him to act as a matter of national security in setting tariffs) since I think all of us can agree that Canada and Mexico (who are badly affected by his proposed tariffs) are not likely to invade the United States. To further destabilize the equity, debt and commodities markets, he is now threatening to withdraw from the WTO (World Trade Organization) if they rule against his tariff-setting. Good luck on the Dow and the millions employed in our export industries.

It appears Trump is intent on bullying the world of global trade but this is not 1950, when the rest of the world (notably Europe and Japan) depended upon the United States to rebuild their ruined cities and rescue their war-torn economies. The EU, Japan and now China  and some emerging economies are stern competitors in their own right in the global marketplace, and other than the United States as a market, are not all that dependent on us as they once were. They are in a position to trade among themselves as proven by China and Germany, the two leading countries in the world enjoying hundreds of billions of dollars in trade surpluses annually, while we are by far the leading trade deficit country in the world with trade deficits in the hundreds of billions of dollars annually, including within such number a deficit of over a billion dollars a day to China alone.

The promised retaliatory tariffs against our export and other industries resulting from Trump’s tariffs will increase our already stratospheric deficits and are certain to enhance unemployment in our export industries far out of proportion to the steel and aluminum jobs his tariffs “save,” including but not limited to hundreds of billions of dollars lost to investors as the Dow and employment tank, consumer prices inflate, we endure endless recession and the income and wealth in productivity which would otherwise have accrued to us from our economy is lost forever, etc.

Wake up, Don. Our trading partners have options. American exceptionalism, if it ever existed, is now defunct. It’s over. This is not 1950. You cannot wall out competition in a global economy, and unlike then, we now have competition – strong competition. Let’s forget tariffs and other forms of protectionism and adopt policies that make our businesses more efficient so that they can compete in this global economy, starting today.    GERALD     E